Gene’s pool

REDDING, Calif. - With all the hype about how close this Stren Series Western Division opener was thanks to the plethora of five-bass limits at Shasta Lake, Gene Gray left no doubt about who won this tournament. The pro from Atascadero, Calif., popped another 13 1/2-pound bag in Saturday's finals and left everybody else behind by more than 2 1/2 pounds. After leading Wednesday with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces - which was bolstered by a hefty 5-15 kicker spotted bass - Gray hovered around the 10-pound range the next two days to make the cut. On Saturday, he managed to hook into another big spot, a 5-10 kicker, limited out at 13-8 and blew his fellow Shasta finalists out of the water with a winning four-day weight of 47-3. "That fish came at about 2 o'clock," Gray said. "I knew it was a giant fish, but I didn't know it was that big." As predicted, this limitfest was decided by the rare kicker fish that came across the scale. It just so happened that Gray caught two of them this week, but by no means were they accidents. His fishing strategy was about as simple as it comes. While some competitors fruitlessly spent time trying to catch bigger fish on a swimbait presentation that just wasn't happening, all Gray did was dangle a Yamamoto Senko, wacky-style, throughout the week. The slower-than-slow approach worked to a tee under the wintertime conditions, especially as temperatures dropped toward the end of the week. Gene Gray"It's the greatest bait that's ever been made," said Gray, who caught his winners Saturday on a 4-inch green-pumpkin-and-purple Senko with an 1/8-ounce weight. "You can weight it, go weightless - anything you want to do with it, you can. I just have a lot more confidence in it when I do it wacky-style." Two things may have helped Gray hook into those big kickers. One, he scented his baits, which he believes helped him with his hookups immensely. Two, he fished up the Pit River arm of Shasta Lake. There, not only did he find schools of slightly larger fish, he felt right at home dropping his wacky-rigged Senko to suspended spotted bass in the deep, clear water. "Where I live (in Atascadero), we have Nacimiento Reservoir, and it's just like this place. They're very similar in shape and the way they fish. It has big rock walls, and that's what I target here," Gray said. "This lake just makes sense to me. I just go out, try my thing, and it works." For his victory in the Stren Western Division opener at Shasta Lake, pro Gene Gray earned $25,000 cash.Unlike many anglers who reported catching 40, 60 or even a hundred fish a day, Gray said he only averaged about 15 or 20 keepers a day. And that was by design. "I think the places I was fishing, there weren't as many fish, but I really believe those areas had a little bigger fish," he said. "Today the wind died down a little bit; it was calm all over the Pit arm. That really, really helped me because I was fishing with such light weights." Gray's familiarity with this lake has earned him trips to the Saturday rodeo before at Shasta. He finished eighth at last April's Western Division stop here, and last weekend he finished sixth in a WON Bass tournament here. But finally - at his home lake away from home - he has captured his first big win, not to mention a $25,000 victory check. "Can you believe it? I still can't believe it," he said. "I've been doing this for 15 years, and this is the highlight of my career right now. I'm just in awe." Pro Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, Calif., earned his second Western Division top-10 finish with a 44-pound, 8-ounce four-day total, good for second place. He caught a 10-pound limit Saturday.Meyer second with 44-8 Cody Meyer, a young pro out of Grass Valley, Calif., earned his second Western Division top-10 finish and $8,301 with a 44-pound, 8-ounce four-day total, good for second place. His limit weighed 10 pounds even Saturday, and he said it was all he could do after pushing his luck early in the week. "I burned out all my fish the first day, so I pretty much just ran around looking for stuff the last couple of days," he said. "But I had a great weekend. It was an awesome time." Meyer said he caught his fish mainly on a ¼-ounce darthead with 6-inch Roboworms and Smallie Beavers. Pro Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., caught a 9-pound, 1-ounce limit Saturday and took a third-place finish with a 44-6 four-day total.Tuck slips to third After a rousing start to the week, Friday's pro leader Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., could only muster a 9-pound, 1-ounce limit Saturday and fell to a third-place finish with a 44-6 four-day total. He earned $7,471 plus a $5,000 Ranger bonus. "I started out every morning throwing a Voodoo swim jig, and that's how I found most of my fish. Then later in the day I switched to a ¼-ounce Limit Lures darthead and a Prism Craw Roboworm," he said. "I had a lot of fun and caught a lot of fish this week, but next time I'm going to win this thing, man. I'm tired of finishing second and third." Pro Mike Menne of Redding finished fourth with a four-day total of 42 pounds, 3 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 9-4 Saturday.Local Menne fourth Mike Menne of Redding, Calif., led the local pro contingent by finishing fourth and collecting $6,641 with a four-day total of 42 pounds, 3 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 9-4 Saturday. "It was considerably colder today, but I just fished hard and hit a lot of spots," said Menne, who said he threw a ¼-ounce darthead and caught all of his fish on a tube. "I was fishing between 10 and 40 feet, and I just went through a lot of fish." Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., rounded out the top five pro finishers with a four-day weight of 42 pounds even. He caught a limit weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday.Strader climbs to fifth Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., rounded out the top five pro finishers with a four-day weight of 42 pounds even. He caught a limit weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday and earned $5,810 for fifth place. "I was doing something a little different in that I was fishing shallow this week," said Strader, who also weighed in one smallmouth. "I was just throwing a 3/8-ounce football-head Spider jig at the bank." Rest of the best A great crowd braved chilly temps Saturday afternoon to watch the tightly contested final weigh-in in Redding.Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at Shasta Lake: 6th: Gary Howell of Stockton, Calif., 41-15, $4,980 7th: Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., 41-14, $4,566 8th: Bill McLaughlin of Redding, Calif., 41-12, $4,150 9th: Jim Davis of San Jose, Calif., 41-11, $3,735 10th: Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., $3,321 All of the top 10 pro finishers caught limits all four days of the tournament. Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Southeast Division contest at Lake Seminole near Bainbridge, Ga., Jan. 31-Feb. 3. The next Western Division tournament is the second event of the season. It will be held at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Feb. 21-24.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ledges-lift-wilson-to-top

Ledges Lift Wilson to Top

Tim Wilson of Gas City, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Guntersville. For his victory, Wilson earned $5,584. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-two-in-a-row-for-fox

Two in a Row for Fox

Dwight Fox of Gainesboro, Tennessee, weighed four bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Fox earned $4,463. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-bluff-walls-carry-meredith

Bluff Walls Carry Meredith

GROVE, Okla. – Mitch Meredith of Hulbert, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Meredith earned $7,165. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-tidwell-slows-down-for-title

Tidwell Slows Down for Title

MCCORMICK, S.C. – Brian Tidwell of Seneca, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Tidwell earned $3,021. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ginter-gets-the-win

Ginter Gets the Win

CELINA, Ohio – Gary Ginter of Maplewood, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Ginter earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-jig-does-the-trick-for-roselle

Jig Does the Trick for Roselle

MARBURY, Md. – Mike Roselle of La Plata, Maryland, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Potomac River. For his victory, Roselle earned $6,235. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-day-4-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-morrow-thrift-neck-and-neck

Morrow, Thrift Neck and Neck

Georgia pro Troy Morrow brought in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula to increase his tournament total to 54-13. Morrow maintains his lead for the second consecutive day, but he won’t sleep comfortably tonight with North Carolina hammer Bryan Thrift just 4 ounces off the lead with 54-09. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 3

Troy Morrow is leading the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. However, with one day left to fish, he has a big problem going into the last day: Bryan Thrift. The Shelby, N.C., pro is just 4 ounces behind Morrow. Here’s how Thrift and the rest of the top five caught their fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-lake-eufaula-day-3-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »