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: headline-story  brett-carlson 

/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 »

/news/2015-05-15-morrow-marches-ahead

Morrow Marches Ahead

Day two at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State at Lake Eufaula challenged anglers with tougher conditions as clouds and wind hindered much of the offshore bite. But while some of the top 10 struggled to duplicate their success from day one, Troy Morrow moved from second up into the driver's seat with a day-two catch of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. His total for the event stands at 39-09, giving him a 1-04 lead over day-one leader Clent Davis. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 2

Troy Morrow took over the lead on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. Morrow did most of his damage late in the day once other pros in earlier flights had checked in. He’s working a milk run of brush piles, as are many of the top pros, but the continued fishing pressure is starting to really affect the bite. Here’s how the rest of the top five is dealing with the pressure. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-lake-eufaula-day-2-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 2 Coverage

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