Welcome to victory, Lane

LA PLATA, Md. - It took him 20 tries and a whole mess of Potomac River largemouth bass this week, but Bobby Lane finally won an FLW Outdoors tournament. Lane sealed the deal at the Stren Series Northern Division opener by catching a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces in Saturday's finals and finishing the tournament with a winning four-day weight total of 65-14. It was the smallest limit of the week for the pro out of Lakeland, Fla., but the 7 1/2-pound lead he carried into the day was enough to fend off a surge from runner-up Ryan Park, who finished with 60-1 for the tournament. "This is what it comes down to. You just try to keep it exciting, I guess. They sure were bigger earlier in the week," Lane said. "It did get tougher as the week went on, but things just kept going my way. I missed some great opportunities today, and I thought it was going to kill me." Lane won this event on the merits of his first three days of fishing. Every day, he started flipping grass mats in Chicamuxen Creek and then would move later in the day to a little grassy spot he found near Smallwood State Park to try to cull some bigger fish. Doing that the first three days, he pounded out more than 15 pounds of bass each day, including the week's heaviest stringer on Thursday, a 23-3. He used the same approach Saturday, but fishing pressure and some lost fish left him with just over 9 pounds at the end of the day. "I didn't think they weighed 9 pounds, to be honest. I only had eight bites, and I lost two of them," he said. "But I didn't do anything crazy today; I didn't go blind-fishing or anything. I just flipped and flipped and flipped the same areas I have all week." The flipping phenom from the shores of Lake Okeechobee found the Potomac to be very receptive to his grass-fishing mastery, not just this week, but also last month in FLW Tour competition, as well. He finished third in that big-money event. For his victory, Bobby Lane earned $25,000 cash and a $40,000 519VX Ranger boat powered by Yamaha.This week, he flipped a 1 1/3- to 1 1/2-ounce weight with a Berkley Chigger Craw on 50-pound Spiderwire line. He started the morning throwing green-pumpkin baits, and then switched over to watermelon-candy as the day wore on and the sun came out. Another trick he used is that he "shined" his Tru Tungsten weights, sanding them a touch to give them a little extra sheen. "Yeah, the Potomac's been good to me this summer," he said. "Switching to watermelon-candy in the afternoon was the ticket, though. It looks more like the baitfish they feed on here during the day punching through that mat instead of that brown stuff they eat in the morning." It's been a good month all around for Lane, who had 19 prior FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes throughout the Wal-Mart BFL, Stren Series and FLW Tour ranks and more than $275,000 in career earnings. He finally closed the deal in his 20th visit to the final round, and with the win he added another $25,000 in cash and a new Ranger to his trophy chest, plus all the boat, motor and Ranger Cup contingency money. His total haul topped $75,000 this week, which will come in handy considering the birth of his son, Robert Jr., some two weeks ago. "It feels really good to say you won one finally," he said. "You join a pretty small group of guys who can say they've done it." Pro Ryan Park of Mount Joy, Pa., caught a relatively good limit Saturday - 11 pounds, 1 ounce - and finished second with 60-1.Park settles for second Park, who hails from Mount Joy, Pa., caught a relatively good limit Saturday - 11 pounds, 1 ounce - but he knew he'd need the catch of a lifetime to overtake Lane, who had a 7 1/2-pound lead on him coming into the day. "I figured coming into today that, realistically, the only way I could win was if I caught them really good and (Lane's) Spiderwire got caught in a crab pot and pulled his flipping stick into the river," Park said. "I won't say that I `fished chicken' today, but I went out to make sure I got a limit today. I was just worried about maintaining No. 2. But maybe next time I won't do the same thing." Park said he avoided fishing his main area of grass mats early Saturday, opting instead to grab a quick limit in Mattawoman Creek before going hog-hunting. But even that wasn't easy. "With the wind yesterday, the grass mat on my best spot broke into three pieces and blew into the bank, so there wasn't even really that much to fish," he said. "I caught four or five fish after Mattawoman Creek, though, so I'm satisfied. I don't think I played it too safe." Park said he caught about 75 percent of his fish this week flipping a Sweet Beaver with a 1 1/2-ounce weight. He earned $8,917 for second place in the Pro Division. Coming in with the heaviest catch in the finals was Jess Caraballo of Danbury, Conn., a 16-pound, 4-ounce limit. He finished third for the pros with 57-14.Caraballo lands biggest sack, climbs to third Coming in with the heaviest catch in the finals was Jess Caraballo of Danbury, Conn. His 16-pound, 4-ounce limit outweighed the next-heaviest bag by 5 pounds and launched him up the pro ranks into a third-place finish with a four-day total weight of 57-14. He earned $8,026. "I was fishing right next to Bobby (Lane). We talked all day long just back and forth about what we were catching. In the morning I'd fish Chicamuxen Creek, and then I'd go up to Mattawoman," Caraballo said. "Yesterday, he kind of got lucky because I made a mistake not staying with my fish. After I left, another guy went in there, and he told me he lost a 6-pounder in there. So I went back there today." While he finished third, Caraballo wasn't unhappy with his results this week. He usually fishes FLW Outdoors events as a co-angler, but he has fished the Stren Northern Division as a pro the last three years. And his results at the Potomac River have only gotten better each year: He's gone from a complete zero the first year to 109th the second year to third place this year. Plus, he won the Co-angler of the Year title on the FLW Tour this season, and he saw a certain symmetry to his finish this week. "It's only right that I came in third," he said. "At the first FLW Series this year at Okeechobee, I came in third. At the first FLW Tour at Lake Travis, I was third. And here (the first Stren Northern event), I'm third. It makes sense." Nick Gainey of Charleston, S.C., finished fourth for the pros with a four-day total of 54 pounds, 15 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 11-4 Saturday.Gainey fourth Nick Gainey of Charleston, S.C., finished fourth for the pros and earned $7,134 with a four-day total of 54 pounds, 15 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 11-4 Saturday. "Today was my worst day. I had a limit by 7:30 and I culled two or three times, but than that was it. I didn't get that 5-pounder, which you need here," he said. "But I feel like I got a little revenge on the Potomac River. Last year in August here, I finished dead last. So this is a little payback." Gainey said he caught his fish flipping a jig with a Zoom Speed Craw trailer. Pro James Kemper of Frankfort, Ky., tallied 54 pounds, 1 ounce for the tournament and finished in fifth place. He caught a limit weighing 10-13 Saturday.Kemper fifth Pro James Kemper of Frankfort, Ky., tallied 54 pounds, 1 ounce for the tournament and earned $6,242 for fifth place. He caught a limit weighing 10-13 Saturday. "I did a lot of just junk-fishing this week," he said. "I could go out and limit with a finesse worm. Then I'd leave that and catch them on a Strike King jig. I had one grass mat about as big as that (weigh) table where I caught five good, solid fish." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at the Potomac River: 6th: Terry Olinger of The Plains, Va., 52-12, $5,350 7th: Thomas Wooten of Huddleston, Va., 51-14, $4,905 8th: George Acord Jr. of Lancaster, Pa., 50-7, $4,459 9th: Michael Hall of Annandale, Va., 50-6, $4,012 10th: Sparky Petersen of Laytonsville, Md., 48-5, $3,568 Coming up The next Northern Division event, the second of the year, is scheduled for the Detroit River at Trenton, Mich., Aug. 15-18.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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

TBF Championship Tips Off

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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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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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 »

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »