UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Sweet taste of victory

JASPER, Texas - "When it's your time, it's your time." Those were the wise words of Stephen Johnston, who finally earned the Stren Series victory he's been hunting for so long, and he did it close to home at the Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir with an astonishing four-day weight of 70 pounds, 2 ounces. Johnston annihilated the competition this week, ultimately taking the victory by 11 pounds, 11 ounces after leading three of the four tournament days. His worst day was yesterday, when he brought in 14 pounds on a day that was tough for everyone, and he brought in Saturday's heaviest limit today en route to a victory that tastes so sweet because of how long it's been coming. "I've been doing this a long time," said Johnston, who before today had five FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes on Sam Rayburn and another three on his home lake of Toledo Bend without a victory. "Over the years, I've had guys tell me that once you get that first win, they come easy. I had a terrible practice, and then everything just came together. I just felt that I was going to win this tournament." Winner Stephen Johnston poses with his hard-earned trophy.Johnston left this tournament considerably richer, having won $25,000 plus a fully rigged Ranger boat for the win, and he won another $3,000 in Ranger Cup money. The key to his victory, he says, was slowing down when the tough conditions demanded it. "Right off the bat today, with that northeast wind and high pressure, I talked myself into slowing down," he said. "I pulled up on my first place and slow-fished it with a Texas rig, and I didn't catch a thing. In 30 minutes, I had one keeper." On a good day at Sam Rayburn, a solid limit can be had in 30 minutes. But Johnston didn't let the tough bite get to him. Rather, he buckled down and fished harder. "I just started covering water," he said. "I knew I was able to catch 10 to 15 keepers a day, and today wasn't a moving-bait day. With them pulling water, it pulled fish out of the bushes and into what I was doing." Johnston reported fishing a Sebile crankbait early and then moving on to a Texas-rigged lizard. "I was fishing a Sebile Flat Shad, and with the water falling, the fish quit chasing," he said. "I took a Texas-rigged lizard and slow-fished the bushes and was able to catch them." Johnston caught one of three pro limits today, and with his recent top-10 performance at the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail event on Lake Amistad, he has kicked his career back into high gear. Johnston fished the Stren Series and the TTT in the past, but about three years ago, he decided to back off and spend more time on local circuits with his sons, now 16 and 17. After discussing it with his family, Johnston decided this year to re-enter Stren and TTT events, and without a doubt, he is off to a phenomenal start. Gibson moves up to finish second Shane Gibson jumped from 10th to second with a day-four limit that brought his combined total weight to 58 pounds, 7 ounces.Jumping from 10th place to second is Kilgore, Texas, pro Shane Gibson, who caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 8 ounces today to bring his four-day total to 58 pounds, 7 ounces. For Gibson, the trick was staying consistent throughout a myriad of changing conditions. "I was dragging a Big Bite Bait lizard, fishing inside grass lines," he said. "I stayed with it from the time I got here until today, and I caught at least two limits a day." These inside grass lines were on points that led into the drains, and for Gibson, a Carolina rig helped put the knowledge gleaned from 17 days of fishing Sam Rayburn to good use. "When the weather started warming up, my big fish left," he said. "When the temperature dropped, it pulled them back down to where they needed to be." Also working well for Gibson was a familiarity with Sam Rayburn in February. "I just ran a pattern," he said. "I knew this time of year that when they leave, there's another bunch that takes their place, so these areas stay full of fish." This was Gibson's first Stren Series top-10 performance and his seventh top-10 overall. Guzman drop-shots his way to third Jim Guzman scored his first top-10 finish with a third-place showing on Sam Rayburn.Also moving up the ladder is Jim Guzman of Coldspring, Texas, who moved from sixth place to third with the only other limit on the pro side, a five-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces that bumped his four-day total to 53 pounds. "I've just been drop-shotting," he said. "I could cover a lot more ground quicker." Guzman practiced for 10 days and said that while the changing weather conditions this week did make the bite a little tougher, his fish pretty much stayed the same. "I caught them in practice but a lot deeper," he said. "I practiced in the cold, and the bite didn't change for the most part." He was drop-shotting a trick worm and said the color didn't seem to matter. This was his first top-10 finish. Millender, Haralson score top-five finishes Randy Millender had a tough day four and fell to fourth with a combined total of 52 pounds, 11 ounces.In the No. 4 spot is Randy Millender of Teague, Texas, with a four-day weight of 52 pounds, 11 ounces. He had his most difficult day yet today, catching only three bass worth 3 pounds, 10 ounces. "It was tough," he said. "I was catching them in front of the buck brush with a Carolina rig, but this cold weather knocked them in the head. I could not get them to bite today." Millender was Carolina-rigging a 6-inch green-pumpkin lizard. Behind him in fifth is day-one leader Charles Haralson of Laredo, Texas, with a four-day weight totaling 52 pounds, 8 ounces. He, too, struggled today, bringing in only three fish worth 5-15. He caught 20-2 on the first day, but has seen his weight fall every day since. "The fish moved," he said. "I wasn't familiar enough with the lake, and I couldn't find them. I had to hunt new water every day, and I managed to scratch out a limit every day but today. I tried to pick an area and catch everything that area had to offer." Rest of the best In eighth place on the pro side is Tommy Durham with 50 pounds, 3 ounces.Rounding out the top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn: 6th: David Truax, Beaumont, Texas, 18 bass, 51-13, $6,000 7th: Stan Burgay, Timpson, Texas, 18 bass, 51-2, $5,500 8th: Tommy Durham, Waxahachie, Texas, 18 bass, 50-3, $5,000 9th: John Bond, Owasso, Okla., 17 bass, 46-9, $4,500 10th: Dicky Newberry, Houston, 15 bass, 42-12, $4,000 Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Western Division contest at Lake Mead near Las Vegas Feb. 21-24. The next Texas Division tournament is the second event of the season. It will be held at Lake Amistad in Del Rio March 21-24.

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/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

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Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

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Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »