Lake Mead magician

HENDERSON, Nev. - Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. In tournament fishing, the infinite wisdom of Cool Hand Luke generally carries little water because "nothing" is an undesirable descriptive for a day on the lake. Simply put, it translates into no catches and lost winnings. Not so for Jeff Michels. The pro from Lakehead, Calif., won the second Stren Series Western Division contest of the season at Lake Mead, collecting $25,000 and a new Ranger boat, with a four-day total weight of 31 pounds, 11 ounces. And he did it without catching a single bass in Saturday's final round. Count Jeff Michels as the world's biggest fan of this year's switch to the cumulative-weight format. "That is not the way I wanted it to happen," an exasperated Michels said Saturday evening. "I thought my chances were slim to none. I really thought Tim had me." "Tim" is local pro Tim Klinger, who made a menacing push toward the top of the leaderboard over the last two days and who had his sights set squarely on Michels Saturday. However, Klinger, who ultimately finished fourth, was a lesser worry to Michels than he realized. He had bigger problems in the form of Sean Stafford and even John Mikkelsen, the respective second- and third-place finishers. And of course, there was that minor little detail about catching nothing. The pink factor "I didn't get a single bite today," Michels said. "In that clear water when we didn't have any wind, they just wouldn't bite. I saw a bunch of fish where I was fishing, but I just couldn't get them to bite. Boy, those last two hours of the day were the longest two hours of my life." Michels won this event by virtue of the whirlwind he rode on Lake Mead over the first three days - literally. His three, solid, double-digit limits came as a cold front moved through the area Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, whipping the desert impoundment into a nasty froth. As Stafford described it: "You know, I've fished all over the West, and Thursday was the biggest water I've ever seen. The only times I've seen water like that before were the last two times I was here." However, the wind lay down like baby for Saturday's final round, and it greatly impacted the bass bite - most notably the lack of one experienced by the winner. The top 10 pros caught a collective 10 fish as a group. Stafford's three-bass catch weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce was the heaviest of the day, and nobody else caught more than two fish. Four pros, including Michels, zeroed. To say the least, it seemed that the pros who qualified for finals under windy conditions had a little bit of trouble adjusting to calmer water. Still, Michels won this thing outright. His near-8-pound lead coming into the finals was more than enough cushion on a tricky fishing day. Jeff MichelsHow he got there over the first three days was simple enough: He found a magic bait and some good holes on the lower end of the lake. In practice, Michels found success with a Senko on his drop-shot fishing in Las Vegas Wash and Swallow Bay. However, the Senko bite dried up shortly before tournament time, and he was forced to do something that he almost wouldn't admit: He had to go pink. "Without (co-angler) Justin Regelin, my practice partner, I would not be standing here," Michels said. "I was whacking them with those Senkos, but then they stopped biting. He had these 4 1/2-inch Morning Dawn worms that he'd initially bought for his daughters to play with, and he just happened to bring them on this trip. I mean, these things are pink as (heck). It took about four hours of him beating me really, really bad before I finally put on a Morning Dawn worm. That's the only bait I threw the entire week." Pro Sean Stafford's three-bass catch weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce was the heaviest of the day. He finished second with a total of 28-7.Stafford tops for the day, climbs into second Collecting $7,005 for second place with a four-day weight of 28 pounds, 7 ounces, Stafford's three-bass catch Saturday really was the only noteworthy sack of the day for the pros. The pro from Fairfield, Calif., said he fished an Original Gitzit and brush hogs on offshore ledges in 20 to 40 feet of water. In simplest terms, he adapted best to Saturday's calmer, sunnier conditions. "I had several ledges, and I was rotating them," Stafford said. "I just had to watch the sun and keep moving to where a ledge would create shade for the fish. Otherwise, they'd get in too close to the ledge, and it was too hard to get at them. The problem was, the first day and the last day I left my fish too early, and I regretted it." Pro John Mikkelsen of Temecula, Calif., who held onto third place with a three-day weight of 26-14.Mikkelsen third Ringing in with just one bass - but a decent one at 3 pounds, 2 ounces - was pro John Mikkelsen of Temecula, Calif., who held on to third place with a three-day weight of 26-14. He collected $6,305. "There were fish on the spot where I caught them yesterday," he said. "I could see them, but the wind and the weather wasn't blowing on them, and they just didn't want to eat." Klinger's comeback stalls, takes fourth Klinger, a pro from Boulder City, Nev., still has yet to win the big one at home. He caught just one bass Saturday weighing 2 pounds, 15 ounces and finished fourth with a final weight of 26-13. He won $5,604. "The other day I lost a couple of giants, so that hurt. But this is still pretty good for not practicing," said Klinger, who arrived at the Lake Mead tournament straight off the Lake Travis Wal-Mart FLW Tour event the week before. "One of these days, if you keep coming here, I'm going to win one." Pro Charley Almassey of Oakley, Calif., finished fifth with a four-day total of 25 pounds, 1 ounce. He caught two bass weighing a collective 6-6 Saturday.Almassey climbs to fifth In ninth place coming into the day, pro Charles Almassey of Oakley, Calif., finished fifth and earned $4,904 with a four-day total of 25 pounds, 1 ounce. He caught two bass weighing a collective 6-6 Saturday. "These fish just have bony mouths, and when you fish with light line like I am, you've got to make sure you stick them," he said. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at Lake Mead, based on four-day combined weight: 6th: Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., 25-0, $4,203 7th: Dennis Kolender of Henderson, 22-7, $3,855 8th: Tom Phillips of Corona, Calif., 20-6, $3,503 9th: Tom Matsunaga of Gardena, Calif., 20-0, $3,152 10th: Fred Ward of Phoenix, 18-10, $2,803 Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Central Division contest at Bull Shoals near Bull Shoals, Ark., Feb. 28-March 3. The next Western Division tournament is the third event of the season. It will be held at Clear Lake near Kelseyville, Calif., April 25-28.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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