Double whammy

MANNING, S.C. - At the beginning of the 2007 Stren Series Southeast Division season, Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., had one simple goal: to win the Stren Southeast points race. The Angler of the Year in each of the five Stren Series divisions receives only a trophy, but for Ellis, it's not about rewards. It's about a sense of accomplishment. "I finished sixth in the points last year," he said before competition began Saturday morning. "So this year, I made a concerted effort to stay focused on the points." He started the year at Lake Okeechobee with a 36th-place finish. He grinded his way through an ultratough Lake Seminole event, where he checked in a small limit each day for a 14th-place finish. Then he journeyed to Lake Eufaula for an eigth-place finish. Coming down the "home" stretch at Santee Cooper, the well-known Santee expert sat in second place in the points race, 24 points behind Jesse Draime of Longbeach, Miss., and he knew that his goal was within reach. As he suited up for competition this morning with both a Santee win and a points title on his mind, it was hard to know which was the cake and which was the icing. "Of course, there is more financial reward in winning the tournament," he said. "But, I've already won here on Santee once before, and I've never won the points. Financially, I favor winning the tournament. But from the standpoint of personal goals, I favor the points title." After sacking 27 pounds, 5 ounces in the final round of competition on Santee Cooper today, Ellis ran away with both the icing and the cake, leaving hardly a crumb or a smidge of frosting for his competitors. His four-day total came to 86 pounds, 7 ounces, giving him a 9-pound margin of victory in the tournament. And as for the points title, he clinched it with 745 points.Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., wins the Santee Cooper Stren Series event and the Stren Series Southeastern Divison points title for 2007. All week Ellis fished the Bonneau area of Lake Moultrie, targeting brush-sweetened stumps that he has spent years preparing in the bottom of Lake Moultrie. "I've fished these lakes for nearly 35 years, and in that time I've learned where some of the best stumps are that the big fish spawn around," Ellis explained. "When the lake gets low in the winters, Chuck (Howard) and I wade out to these stumps and nail brush to them." Ellis has cleverly designed his stump-sweetening project around his boat position. "I'll attach brush to two to three stumps in a semicircle that will all be within casting distance of my boat," he revealed. "Then I GPS where I want my boat to be positioned relative to that brush rather than GPSing the brush itself." In terms of lures, Ellis relied on a weightless Zoom Trick worm, Senko and Zoom 4-inch lizard tied to 6- and 8-pound-test line. He cast the lures to his sweetened stumps and worked them ultraslow, allowing each cast to settle about 30 seconds before moving it. "It's been a special week," Ellis said after accepting his two titles. "Winning both is special, but what's really special is winning it right here at home in front of all these fine folks. "Every year a lot of these people drive from all over South Carolina to come see me weigh in here. Last year I let them down with a second-place finish in the tournament and a sixth-place finish in the points. But this year, I got them both, so this is for all my supporters that have come here year after year, waiting for this win." Hutson second Fishing his first Stren event, Mark Hutson of Moncks Corner, S.C., weighed in an astounding 28 pounds, 2 ounces today to finish runner up with a four-day total of 77 pounds, 6 ounces.Fishing his first Stren event, Mark Hutson of Moncks Corner, S.C., weighed in an astounding 28 pounds, 2 ounces today to finish runner-up with a four-day total of 77 pounds, 6 ounces. "I did what I like to do all week," Hutson said. "Sight-fish." Hutson also fished Lake Moultrie in the Bonneau and Hatchery areas, targeting sight-fish around stumps and cypress trees with a Zoom green-pumpkin Ultra-vibe Speed Craw tied to 20- and 40-pound-test braid. "It's been pretty slim pickings down there all week, but today I saw the biggest wave of fish I've seen all year move up," he said. "My partner (co-angler champion Brad Rodrigue) and I had all of our fish by 11 or 12 o'clock; it was just an awesome day of fishing." Kremer third After weighing in just 6 pounds, 10 ounces yesterday, After weighing in just 6 pounds, 10 ounces yesterday, Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., rebounded big today with 21 pounds, 14 ounces. Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., rebounded big Saturday with 21 pounds, 14 ounces. He finished fourth with a four-day total of 71 pounds, 13 ounces. Kremer sight-fished a Culprit Wooly Booger and a Culprit topwater frog for his catch today. Kremer also ended up second in the Stren Series Southeast Division points race with a total of 729 points. Thrift fourth Bryan Thrift weighed in 23 pounds, 10 ounces today to round out his four-day total at 70 pounds, 9 ounces.Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., capped off his Stren Series season with yet another Stren top-10 in fourth place. He weighed in 23 pounds, 10 ounces today to round out his four-day total at 70 pounds, 9 ounces. "I was sight-fishing in the lower lake," Thrift said. "I used a white Zoom lizard. "I chose the white color because I was making such long casts to the beds; I couldn't really see how close the fish was getting to the bait. But with that white, you can see it good, and whenever that lizard disappeared, I knew it was time to set the hook." Howard fifth Ken Ellis' brush-planting partner, Chuck Howard of Elloree, S.C., finished fifth with a four-day total of 66 pounds, 11 ounces.Chuck Howard of Elloree, S.C., finished fifth with a four-day total of 66-11. Ellis brought in his biggest bag of the week, 20 pounds, 8 ounces, today. Similar to Ellis, Howard used weightless Trick Worms in a watermelon color on light line. He fished isolated stumps and trees in Lake Moultrie. "They really moved up today," he said. "I caught more fish today than I have all week." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Santee Cooper Stren Series event: 6th: Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., four-day total of 61-15 7th: Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., 59-3 8th: Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., 57-2 9th: Nicholas Turner of Jones, Ala., 50-15 10th: Ryan Worthington of Middleburg, Fla., 47-13

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/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

He left the dock this morning in 7th place, eight and a half pounds off the lead. And when he returned this afternoon, Dave Lefebre shocked the weigh-in crowd with a come-from-behind Walmart FLW Tour win that left his competitors shell-shocked. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-29-lewis-smith-lake-day-4-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

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/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »