UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

King Clapper dominates Chevy Open wire to wire

Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, wins the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open in Detroit with a two-day total of 45 pounds, 9 ounces.

DETROIT - Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, considered by many to be a fishing icon due to his contributions to the sport, made his 25-year dedication to the pursuit of smallmouths on Lake Erie pay off in a big way Sunday by winning the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open. Clapper led the event from beginning to end and finished the job today with a 22-pound, 6-ounce stringer, which gave him the win with a two-day total of 45 pounds, 9 ounces, over a 6-pound margin of victory. Clapper can be thought of as the grandfather of offshore fishing for smallmouths on Lake Erie. Many of the innovations and advancements that are standard components of Great Lakes fishing these days can be indirectly traced back to Clapper's tenacious desire to go out into the middle of Erie and tangle with giant smallmouths. Well-known Midwestern tournament anglers like Joe Balog, Kevin Vida and Mark Zona have all been influenced by Clapper. "Some of us have Steve to thank for our careers in fishing," said fishing TV personality Mark Zona, who has competed against Clapper in Stren Series events in the past and maintains a friendship with him to this day. "He taught us all so much about running big water and targeting offshore smallmouth - and he has always been extremely generous with his knowledge and information. We, in turn, have passed it on, and now we have young pros like Trevor Jancasz who are like third-generation beneficiaries of Clapper's Great Lakes pioneering." While Clapper has helped refine techniques like tubing and drop-shotting for deep-water Finishing the job: Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, shows off his tournament winning smallmouths that came from the depths of Lake Erie.smallmouths on Erie, he is best known for his contributions to navigating big water with a bass boat. Like a European explorer looking for gold in foreign lands, Clapper ventured far out into Erie long before the days of GPS technology. Clapper's first boat was a Ranger 198V, which was 18 feet long. "I used to go out there with just a compass," Clapper laughed. "And what's so bad is I'd find a great fishing spot out there in the middle of nowhere, catch a bunch of fish and never be able to find it again. "I'll put it to you this way, most of my best spots I found while I was looking for my other spots," he chuckled. "Back then, we didn't go out there on days like yesterday (day three)," he added. "Equipment has gotten a lot better." Zona remembers meeting Clapper for the first time about 12 years ago. "I walked up to his boat, and he had everything double-tied down with straps and he had two GPSs - one in the console and one on the bow," Zona related. "I thought to myself, This dude is out of his mind. These days, using additional tie-downs and two GPS units is a standard in tournament fishing everywhere. "In tournaments I would run out into Erie about nine miles on a real nasty day, and I thought I was somebody," Zona continued. "Clapper would come in with a big sack of smallies and tell us he rode out there 25 miles. We thought he was lying, but he wasn't. He pioneered long boat rides out into the middle of Erie to fish for giant smallmouths. Many folks don't realize the contributions that man has made to our sport." Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, gets a kiss from his wife after winning $200,00 in the Chevy Open.Despite winning seven Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League events over the years, Clapper has never won many of the Stren events in which he has competed. Before this win today, his total FLW Outdoors winnings were $109,000. Today he nearly tripled the amount with his $200,000 Chevy Open winner's purse. "This helps make up for all those seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths and other top-10s in Stren events where I couldn't close the deal," Clapper said. In terms of his fishing this week, Clapper ran some 30 to 35 miles into Lake Erie around the Pelee Island area. He focused his efforts on subtle rises and ridges that come up out of 26 feet into 23 to 22 feet. The ridges featured "rocky spots" or "rough places" on top of them. During the week he targeted his fish with drop-shots and tubes. The drop-shots featured Berkley Gulp gobies and Poor Boys gobies while the tubes were ISG goby-colored tubes over a ¾-ounce Bite Me Big Dude head with a rattle. "There is something about that Gulp scent - I've never seen anything like," he said. "You can drop a regular plastic down there and nothing happens. But you drop one of those Gulp-scented baits down, and all kinds of perch and gobies start pecking it and nibbling it - you can feel them just tearing it up. "I think all those little fish, gathered around chewing on it, attract the attention of smallmouths. You can tell when a big smallmouth is getting ready to bite because all the little pulls and tugs suddenly stop and then there's a big thump." Clapper also noted that when things slicked off today, he began "snapping" his tube off the bottom with vicious snatches of the rod to provoke two of his best fish into biting. Long takes second All week BFGoodrich Tires pro Kevin Long of Berkley, Mich., kept climbing up through the All week B.F. Goodrich pro Kevin Long of Berkley, Mich., kept climbing up through the standings finishing in the runner-up spot with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces worth $75,000.standings, finishing in the runner-up spot with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces, worth $75,000. Long spent the week in St. Clair. During the first three days, he fished depths of 16 to 18 feet, but today he moved shallow to catch 20 pounds, 10 ounces. "When it gets calm and slick like it was today, I like to move up shallow where I can see the sand, grass and fish," he said. "With good visibility, you can see the targets you need to be casting to from much farther away. I fished a mixture of lures, but my biggest fish came on a Lucky Craft Pointer 100 jerkbait. For some reason, when it gets calm, they really like that jerkbait." Baksay finishes third Pro Terry Baksay of Easton, Conn., stayed in St. Clair all week as well, finishing third with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces, worth $50,000.Terry Baksay of Easton, Conn., stayed in St. Clair all week as well, finishing third with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces, worth $50,000. Baksay's main lures were a Berkley Gulp Leech on a drop-shot, a Rapala X-10 jerkbait and a Lucky Craft Pointer 100 jerkbait. "I went through three bags of those leeches today," Baksay. "It's just crazy how those smallmouths eat that stuff." When the wind slicked off, Baksay moved a little shallower into 13 feet of water and began throwing jerkbaits to targets he could see. Moleski fourth Thomas Moleski of Elkhart, Ind., took home $40,000 for fourth place with a two-day total of Thomas Moleski took fourth place with 39-1 over the final two days. The ambulance manufacturer earned $40,000 as the No. 4 pro.39 pounds, 1 ounce. Moleski fished Lake Erie all four days, concentrating on depths of 25 to 26 feet. "When the wind lays like it did today, I do things a little different than when it's blowing," Moleski said of his 19-pound, 12-ounce catch. "For one thing, I keep the boat a lot farther from the target and make long casts, because I don't want the shadow of the boat to spook them off their spot. When it's rough and windy, it distorts all the shadows, and I'll get right over my best stuff and fish it vertically." Moleski relied on drop-shot Gulp baits and Poor Boys darters. "Another thing is, when it gets calm, I just hold the bait still down there," he revealed. "I don't shake it or drag it or even move it. I think the more motionless the bait is on calm days, the better it works, especially with the scented products like Gulp!" Schenk takes fifth Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., spent his week out on Lake Erie, which garnered him a fifth-place finish worth $30,000. Schenck drop-shotted Berkley's new Gulp Alive products out on little rises and humps in 25 feet of water. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open in Detroit: 6th: Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., two-day total of 37-13, $29,000 7th: Josh Myers of Chatham, Ont., two-day total of 35-10, $28,000 8th: Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, two-day total of 28-6, $27,000 9th: Christopher King of South Amherst, Ohio, two-day total of 18-6, $26,000 10th: Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., two-day total of 16-15, $25,000 The next FLW Tour event coming up is the Big Daddy of them all: the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark., August 2-5 where one pro could make bass-fishing history by winning $1 million.

Tags: headline-story  rob-newell 


Browne Crushes Again, Leads By 6+

Averaging 20 pounds or more is a difficult thing to do in a multi-day tournament on Lake Champlain, but Glenn Browne might be on his way to doing it in the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano. After two days, the Ocala, Fla., pro has run to Ticonderoga twice and sacked up nearly identical bags for a total of 45 pounds, 8 ounces. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain definitely shook up the leaderboard. While Glenn Browne took a huge lead, the rest of the pack swapped around and remained pretty tight. Browne is catching his fish down south near Ticonderoga, but the north end has also produced very well for the rest of the field. READ MORE »


Champlain Midday Update Day 2

While day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was wracked by high winds and rain in the morning, day two has been almost as good as Champlain can be. READ MORE »


Cioppa Leads On Champlain

David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Mass., weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces late in the weigh-in to grab the lead after the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. Cioppa weighed all largemouths and says that he caught the entirety of his weight by about 9 a.m. from one location in the northern end of the lake. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 1

Lake Champlain was rough and wild on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano, and a bunch of the anglers still got it done in a big way. David Cioppa caught largemouths in the Inland Sea, but the rest of the top guys spread out all over the massive lake. READ MORE »


Champlain Midday Update Day 1

Takeoff was placid enough, with a beautiful sunrise and a light breeze in the slightly protected corner that is Plattsburgh. By about 6:30 a.m., day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was already beginning to get rough. READ MORE »


Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »


Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »


Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »


Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »


Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »


New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »


New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »


FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »


6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »


6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »


ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »


10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »


7 Terrific Topwater Baits

If you don’t like fishing topwater, just give up fishing already. These seven new baits will help you get your surface-fishing fix next season. READ MORE »


Critters and Craws

Nearly everyone already has a tackle box overflowing with soft baits. That said, there are always more to try. If you’re looking for something new, the following might do the trick. READ MORE »