Cecil slam dunks Stren Series field for win

HEMPHILL, Texas - Russell Cecil, a tackle representative from Willis, Texas, turned a scant 8-ounce lead in the Stren Series event on Toledo Bend into a commanding 9-pound margin of victory Saturday by bringing the biggest five-bass limit of day four weighing 19 pounds, 15 ounces. Cecil's four-day total came in at 76 pounds, 8 ounces to give him his first Stren Series win of his career. He collected $25,000 cash and fully rigged Ranger Boat for his victory. "What really makes this so sweet is the caliber of fishermen I had to beat to win," said Cecil, who referred to the field of the top 10 anglers as the "Toledo Bend All-stars." "I can't tell you how many times those guys have beaten me over here. Beating them on their home water is no small feat; they're such legendary anglers to me." Perhaps what helped propel Cecil to victory the most was his fresh perspective of the lake. With limited knowledge of the fishery, he found a few key places during practice that delivered his win. "I do know where some of the common community-type stuff is here," he said. "But I knew that with the McDonald's event going on, there was no way I could rely on those places for three or four straight days. So I committed several days of practice to fishing obscure flats and breaks on the lower Russell Cecil hauled in day four's heaviest catch - 19-15 - for the win.end that did not have much grass on them." Instead of practicing on the traditional grass areas, Cecil moved out to deeper water and began Carolina rigging water in 18 to 20 feet, searching for key stump beds near deeper breaks. During the last two days of competition, those deeper, less pressured areas ended up being his clutch spots. "The first two days I fished grass like everyone else," he explained. "My first 35 pounds from the first two days came from flipping deep grass. On day three, I moved out to the deeper stumps and discovered that those places had a lot more fish on them than I initially thought." While flipping and pitching the grass, Cecil used a Big Bites creature and a Lake Fork creature topped with Lake Fork 1-ounce and 3/4-ounce tungsten weights, tied to 65-pound-test braided line. "When I saw a really thick clump on my depth finder, I'd go to the 1-ounce weight to get through it," he said. When Carolina rigging the deeper stumps, he used a Lake Fork Ring Fry and a Big Bites little creature with a 1-ounce weight and a 30-inch, 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. As for his winnings, Cecil added, "We just finished building a house, so it couldn't have come at a better time." Harold Allen second Pro Harold Allen of Shelbyville, Texas, finished second with a four-day total of 67 pounds, 8 ounces and collected $8,082 for his finish.Harold Allen of Shelbyville, Texas, finished second with a four-day total of 67 pounds, 8 ounces and collected $8,082 for his finish. Allen focused his efforts on submerged wood north of the midlake region. "It was classic summertime fishing," Allen said. "I was targeting channel breaks and the end of old ridges that contained lay-downs on the bottom. Some places were 14 feet of water falling off into 25, and one of my best places was 25 feet falling off into 50 feet." Allen used a pair of V&M worms in a red-bug color: a straight-tailed Pork Pin worm and a large 11-inch ribbon-tail model. The Pork Pin was teamed with a 1/4-ounce weight while the 11-inch worm was paired with a 3/8-ounce weight, and both were fished on 15-pound monofilament. Mark Allen third Finishing up in the third-place position was Mark Allen of Kemp, Texas, with a Finishing up in the third place position was pro Mark Allen of Kemp, Texas, with a four-day total of 64 pounds, 12 ounces worth $7274.four-day total of 64 pounds, 12 ounces, worth $7,274. Allen fished in the midlake Carrice Creek and Cypress Bend area, targeting the outside edges of grass in 14 to 16 feet of water. His primary lures were a Wave Worm Tiki Dude craw and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver creature bait, both topped with Lake Fork Tackle 3/4-ounce tungsten weights and both fished on 65-pound-test Stealth braid. "I used my electronics to stay on the edge of the grass, pitching my baits to thick clumps," Allen said. "With that technique, 99 percent of the fish hit it on the initial fall, especially when it punches through the deep grass." Johnston fourth Pro Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, ended the Toledo Bend event in fourth place with 62 pounds, 15 ounces for $6,466.Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, ended the Toledo Bend event in fourth place with 62 pounds, 15 ounces for $6,466. Johnston spent his tournament in the Six Mile Creek area pitching a 1-ounce Falcon jig and a 1 1/4-ounce Stanley jig to deep grass edges, especially edges that coincided with points and drains. "In the mornings, the fish were positioned right on the edge of the grass, and that's when I used the 1-ounce jig" he noted. "Later in the morning, they would tuck up in the thicker grass along the edge, and I would go to the 1 1/4-ounce for better penetration." Both of Johnston's jigs were pumpkin-green with a craw worm trailer and tied to 65-pound-test Shakespeare Ugly Braid. "Good electronics are a key component for that type of fishing," he added. "And a Lowrance 125 is hard to beat for deep grass fishing." Johnston also caught some fish off planted brush piles on a 7-inch ribbon tail worm. Burgay fifth Stan Burgay of Timpson, Texas, cranked his way to a fifth-place finish with a Pro Stan Burgay of Timpson, Texas, cranked his way to a fifth place finish with a four-day total of 60 pounds, 8 ounces for $5657 in winnings.four-day total of 60 pounds, 8 ounces for $5,657 in winnings. Burgay fished in the north end of Toledo Bend with deep crankbaits, including a DD-22 and Bomber 9A. He avoided the pressure of the community grass holes by fishing the corners and points of offshore ridges that were sweetened with stumps and wood. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the final day of the Stren Series Texas Division event on Toledo Bend: 6th: Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, four-day total of 60-3, $4,849 7th: Glen Freeman of Converse, La., four-day total of 57-15, $4,446 8th: Jeff Buchanan of Zavalla, Texas, four-day total of 45-2, $4,041 9th: Shane Gibson of Kilgore, Texas, four-day total of 41-4, $3,637 10th: Yarri Schreibvogel of Sam Rayburn, Texas, four-day total of 38-13, $3,234

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/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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