UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Hastings hangs tough, wins first FLW Tour title

Pro Aaron Hastings shows off his first-place check for $125,000.

AUSTIN, Texas - Faced with the pressure of fishing against pretournament favorite and hometown hero Clark Wendlandt, young gun Aaron Hastings never blinked. With $125,000 on the line at the season-opening Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Lake Travis, Hastings fished as though Travis was his home lake, catching 10 bass during the final round that weighed 19 pounds, 9 ounces.

Despite heading into Sunday's competition with a 2-pound lead, Hastings was still the heavy underdog. He had fished one area for the entire tournament while Wendlandt seemingly had numerous options. Furthermore, fellow young guns Bryan Thrift and Craig Dowling were breathing down his neck.
Aaron Hastings holds up his last two fish before winning the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Lake Travis.
But none of that mattered. What mattered was putting fish in the boat, and Hastings did just that, catching roughly 15 keepers on the final day. His best five weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces, which secured his first FLW Tour title and 125 large.

"I'm amped," he said. "The money is great, but to me it's all about the competition and catching fish. It really doesn't get any better than this."

The Middletown, Md., pro never altered his pattern - contour breaks under floating docks located in the back of Cypress Creek Marina. The lack of wind Sunday helped him pinpoint his casts. Hastings primarily threw a drop-shot with a 4-inch Aaron's Magic Roboworm on 6-pound Berkley Vanish. Then he threw it again, and again. He knew tournament-winning fish were in the area, it was just a matter of finding where they repositioned. On day four, they were located in 18 to 24 feet of water.

"I fish the same way every day," added Hastings. "I don't feel pressure anymore. I know my ability. I know what's inside of me. I definitely have the nerves for this."

A standing-room-only crowd was in attendance for the day-four weigh-in at the Austin Convention Center.For more proof, Hastings didn't have a single keeper in the boat at 11 a.m. yesterday, but instead of panicking and running to a new spot, he adjusted. He said that was the biggest mental decision of the entire tournament.

"You just have to have faith in your abilities. I never missed a bite all week. You should have seen the look on my cameraman's face when I was lifting fish in the boat with 6-pound line. When I flipped that last fish over the catwalk, I stood up and said, `This is over.'"

The 2007 season is only Hastings' second year on the FLW Tour. Last year was extremely difficult, but he is no stranger to success, as he was the 2005 Stren Series Northeast Division points champion. Interestingly enough, Hastings beat out none other than Wendlandt to claim the points title. In fact, after capturing the points title, Hastings was featured as one of the young pros to watch in a 2006 preview story by FLWOutdoors.com writer Rob Newell. It appears Newell's story was written just a season too early.

Thrift rallies for second

Pro Bryan Thrift lays his kicker bass on the scale Sunday.At takeoff Sunday morning, Thrift didn't exactly exude confidence. He was catching fish, but each and every day he was getting fewer and fewer bites. On day four, he caught a dozen keepers, weighing five for 10 pounds, 9 ounces. Thrift's limit, caught with a 1/2-ounce Shooter Lures jig tipped with a small Zoom salty chunk, was the heaviest of the final round.

For his efforts, the Shelby, N.C., native earned $50,000 with a final weight of 17-15.

"I just haven't been around big fish," said Thrift, who was fishing floating boat docks and pontoon boats. "In my six days of practice, my biggest fish was about 2 1/2 pounds. But this is awesome. I'll take $50,000. I'm not greedy.

"I am getting married July 21, so this money will definitely not go to waste; it will probably go toward the wedding and a house."

Thrift has already notched 10 top-10 finishes and three victories out of only 28 FLW Outdoors events. This, however, was his first top-10 on the FLW Tour. Expect more to come as the Tour visits Lake Norman in April, located only 45 minutes from his home.

Dowling third

In his first FLW Tour event, Craig Dowling placed third and won $40,000.Much like Hastings, Dowling was fishing a marina located in the back of a creek. Dowling caught his fish with a homemade 1/16-ounce finesse jig tipped with a Yamamoto shad-shaped worm. During the opening round, he used a green-pumpkin worm, but he switched to the smoke variety today. He rigged his tiny jig with 15-pound Power Pro braided line and used an 8-pound Sugoi's leader.

The result was a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 13 ounces and final-round total of 15 pounds, 5 ounces. He finished the week in third place and earned $40,000.

"I give a lot of credit to the worm I was using," said the Madison, Ala., pro. "I think the fish saw a lot of finesse worms during the week."

Wendlandt falls to fourth

Leander, Texas, pro Clark Wendlandt holds up his biggest fish from day four on Lake Travis.Wendlandt, a Leander, Texas, pro, gave the raucous Austin-area crowd what they wanted Sunday afternoon. When he reached into his bag for fish No. 2, out came a 4-pound kicker. Most in attendance thought that was just the start of good things to come. Unfortunately, that was Wendlandt's last fish.

The Kellogg's pro's key baits this week were a Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait and a homemade 9/16-ounce jig tipped with a green-pumpkin Gambler cricket, fished around docks.

After his 24th tour-level top-10, Wendlandt's career earnings with FLW Outdoors now surpass $1.245 million. Consider that Hastings hasn't even fished 24 tour-level events in his entire career.

While he felt the added pressure, Wendlandt certainly wasn't a victim to the home-lake jinx.

"I probably had enough fish on to win the tournament," said the two-time Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year, who broke off two fish Saturday and two fish Sunday. "I've never seen them bite a jig that good on Travis before."

Shuffield limits, claims fifth

Pro Ron Shuffield finished the final round on Lake Travis with seven bass that weighed 13 pounds, 8 ounces. Making his first FLW Tour top-10, Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., caught a limit of bass weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces today to push his final-round total to 13-8, good for fifth place and $20,000.

Shuffield caught his fish this week with a 3/4-ounce football-head jig, tipped with either a Yamamoto or a Zoom twin-tail trailer.

"Once you get to the final round, there's only one place that matters, and that's first place," said the seven-time BASS winner.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers in FLW Tour competition at Lake Travis:

6th: Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., 11-5, $19,000
7th: Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa.,11-3, $18,000
8th: Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., 10-14, $17,000
9th: Jerry Green of Del Rio, Texas, 10-9, $16,000
10th: Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., 6-9, $15,000

Coming up

The next FLW Tour event, the second of the season, is scheduled for the Fort Loudoun-Tellico Lakes near Knoxville, Tenn., March 29-April 1.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2007-02-15-lake-travis 

/news/2016-07-29-two-for-one

Two for One

The sibling partnership has done that with staggering ability. The two have a practice system in place that, while simple, has generated success north to south. That system, and the teamwork that makes it possible, is about to get its greatest test this week at Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-28-early-reports-from-wheeler

Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-celebs-seminars-on-deck-for-the-cup

Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bass-and-bbq-festival-set-for-forrest-wood-cup-expo

Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bk-s-year-as-the-champ

BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »