A good win for Goodwin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The $1 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American championship saw three different leaders in three days of competition, but it was who ended up on top today that mattered most. The last man standing on the Ohio River was yesterday's No. 3 Shonn Goodwin, who weighed in five of the 12 bass caught today on the boater side to take the All-American crown and $100,000 cash. The marketing manager from Moore, Okla., emerged victorious after one of the most grueling tournaments in recent memory. He caught 3 pounds, 15 ounces on the first day to end up in 12th but climbed to third yesterday with 7 pounds, 2 ounces. His day-three limit weighing 5 pounds sealed the deal, as his combined total of 16 pounds, 1 ounce was enough to beat runner-up Curtis Samo by 1 pound, 10 ounces. Sweetening the pot is the fact that as the All-American champion, Goodwin will compete in the prestigious $2 million Forrest Wood Cup as a pro, where he will be angling for a top prize of as much as $1 million cash. That event will take place in August on Arkansas' Lake Ouachita, not too far from Goodwin's Okie homeplace. Shonn Goodwin reacts to his $100,000 All-American victory.There to cheer him on today were his wife, Cindy, and their 6-month-old "miracle baby," Sophie. According to Cindy, the first thing the big paycheck will go to is a college fund for the little one. To earn that college money, Goodwin had to overcome a 1-pound, 11-ounce deficit as the No. 3 boater heading into today, and he did it the hard way - by running nearly 250 miles south to the Rocky Point-Deer Creek area. "I made a commitment to run a long ways," Goodwin said. "It was hard work, almost 250 miles a day in that bass boat. It's really nerve-racking, because if you make one bad decision, you're out of luck." The long run left Goodwin only about two and a half hours per day to try to catch fish. "I couldn't second-guess myself," he said. "I didn't have time to make adjustments. I lost a couple of fish, but it didn't matter. I executed well and got enough bites to scratch out a win." Goodwin's bait of choice this week was a square-billed crankbait he called the RC.5. The presentation was an odd choice in a week when most fishermen were opting for a slower approach. The difference, he says, was key. "I was cranking it really fast across the stumps," he said. "That creates a reaction bite. Almost everybody was flipping slow, but the crankbait moves so fast that the fish don't have time to reflect; they just react. That's contrary to what a lot of people were doing." The alternative presentation also made Goodwin's long run worth it. While many competitors this week opted for a long run, his company in the top three were staying close. In the end, the long run won out. Shonn Goodwin earned the All-American winner"I felt like I was around the fish to win," Goodwin said. "It took me two and a half hours to get there through the lock. I was either going to catch them or not - there was not much I could do about it. I caught a limit and I thought about winning, but they were so small, I wasn't very confident." He knew that if day-two leader Calvin Davidson had any fish at all, even with a limit, he might not have enough to win. But when Davidson came up empty-handed, it became Goodwin's time to shine. Next up - Arkansas in August. "I've been to Ouachita," he said. "I like to fish there, but I've only fished it a couple of times. I'm excited to take a look." Goodwin is an Okie Division veteran who was ranked fourth in 2006 to advance to regional competition at Wright Patman, where he finished fifth to earn a trip to the All-American. His resume includes 11 top-10 finishes and three victories, including today's. Samo remains a bridesmaid in second Curtis Samo finished second with 14 pounds, 7 ounces. He has finished second, third and fourth in All-American competition but still has no win on his resume.Perennial All-American contender Curtis Samo of Rochelle, Ill., came close yet again today but ultimately had to settle for second with a three-day catch of 14 pounds, 7 ounces, worth $25,000. Samo's All-American stats now include a second-, third- and fourth-place finish - and seventh and ninth place - but still no wins. "I guess it wasn't meant to be," he said onstage. "I honestly thought this would be my tournament to win." It was a tough tournament for anybody to win, as the Ohio River was a formidable foe all week. Samo ended day one in seventh with 5 pounds, 4 ounces and caught 6 pounds yesterday to rise to second. He caught two bass today - double the number of what a lot of finalists caught - that weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces that ultimately put him 1 pound, 10 ounces shy of the leader. "You want to put yourself in a position to win, and I did that, but I had five keeper bites, and I lost three of them," he said. "You can't do that in a tournament this tough." Samo was working several different baits this week, and he was fishing close by, affording him the opportunity to fish multiple spots. He started off this morning fishing riprap in a spot where he had caught a keeper each of the first two days. "I started throwing a crankbait, and the line got wrapped around a rock," he said. "There was a fish on the end of it, and it pulled right off. That fish probably would have won it for me." He then relocated to another spot where he had previously caught some smaller fish and landed a good-sized bass on a swimming jig, only to have his heart broken by the crankbait again. "I started throwing it and I got another one, and it pulled off," he said. "I bopped around different places, and it was a long time between bites." One last trick in his bag was a Boy Howdy topwater that had handed him good fortune earlier in the week, and that lure was ultimately the straw that broke the camel's back. "I had a 2-pounder jump over my bait," he said. "With about an hour left, (co-angler partner) Mike Williams caught two fish, so I think we figured something out, but it was probably too late." While coming so close yet again to an All-American victory is understandably difficult, Samo, ever the professional, took it all in stride. "I've been second, third and fourth," he said. "I'm inching up." Davidson comes up empty, lands in third Despite not catching any fish today, No. 3 boater Calvin Davidson still shows a little enthusiasm. Yesterday's leader Calvin Davidson of Plainfield, Ind., had a day much like yesterday, when he caught 7 pounds, 3 ounces to take over the lead with 12-12 over two days. There was just one fundamental difference. "It was a lot like every other day; I just didn't get the bites," Davidson said. "I felt like I fished pretty well. I felt confident I could be in the top 10, but I never dreamed I'd be leading it. This morning, I had more wires coming out of me than a 911 call center, and it was unnerving." Indeed, Fox Sports Net was on hand with all the tricks of the trade, including hat cams and all manner of mikes and gadgets. It's enough to make any weekend angler a little nervous when it's their first time in the spotlight. But Davidson gamely continued on, pitching a 3/16-ounce Prowler tube with a Bite Me jighead to try to land some bass. "I was swimming it through balls of fry," he said. "The other fish get aggravated and come up and eat. I caught five of my eight fish on that tube." Like Samo, Davidson played it close all week, fishing within about five miles of the launch ramp, he estimates, in Harrod's Creek. Davidson was the 29th-ranked angler in 2006 Hoosier Division standings, which enabled him to compete in the Kentucky Lake Regional, where he finished fifth. That finish sent him to this week's All-American, his first. His three-day catch of 12 pounds, 12 ounces earned him $14,000 plus $18,000 in Ranger and Evinrude contingency bonuses. He was also the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup contingency program, earning him a brand-new 519VX Ranger boat. Yurko, Newberry score top-five finishes Ronald Yurko took fourth place with 11 pounds, 7 ounces over three days.Taking fourth place and $13,000 is Ronald Yurko of East Point, Fla., with 11 pounds, 7 ounces over three days. He also earned another $16,000 in Ranger and Evinrude contingency bonuses. "The beds were all empty, and the fish were all gone," Yurko said. "I gave it my all, and that's all I could do." Ultimately finishing fifth was day-one leader Dicky Newberry of Houston with 11 pounds over three days. He earned $12,000 plus $14,000 in Ranger and Yamaha contingency bonuses. "We did all we could do," said Newberry, who also dealt with a back rendered sore from casting. "We fished hard today. That's the way it goes." Rest of the best Matthew Mize holds up something rarely seen on stage today - a bass. His three-day total of 10 pounds, 8 ounces earned him a sixth-place finish.Rounding out the top 10 boaters on the Ohio River: 6th: Matthew Mize, Ben Lomond, Ark., six bass, 10-8, $11,000 7th: Thomas Southern, Sylacauga, Ala., five bass, 10-5, $10,000 plus $10,000 in Ranger, Yamaha bonuses 8th: Richard Heath Jr., Beaverdam, Va., six bass, 9-9, $9,000 plus $4,500 Ranger bonus 9th: Jeff Benson, Holmen, Wis., five bass, 8-0, $8,000 10th: Jamey Black, Sheridan, Ark., five bass, 7-11, $7,000 plus $3,500 Evinrude bonus

Tags: headline-story  jennifer-simmons 

/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 »

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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 »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

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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 »

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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

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/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

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/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 »

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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 »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

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Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »