UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Rodriguez comes from behind for TBF Mid-Atlantic win

SEAFORD, Del. - Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, Fabian Rodriguez of Ocean City, Md., busted the heaviest sack of the three-day TBF Mid-Atlantic Divisional on the Nanticoke River to emerge as the overall champion and No. 1 on the Delaware state team. Rodriguez's final-day haul of 13 pounds, 10 ounces not only propelled him to the top but also helped the Delaware team land in first in the all-important race among the teams. In TBF divisional competition, tournament cash awards are given to the teams that catch the most fish over the course of the tournament's three days, and seven teams competed in this week's event - teams from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. The Delaware state team, pictured here, caught the most bass over three days of competition, earning their team No. 1 status and the tournamentAs a team, Delaware led the competition among the seven teams all three days of the event, ultimately catching 161 bass weighing 254 pounds, 1 ounce to best the New Jersey team, which came in second with 238 pounds, 2 ounces of bass over three days. Each of the seven teams sent 12 competitors to this week's divisional, with half their team members competing as boaters, meaning they brought their own boats, and the other six competing as nonboaters. Boaters and nonboaters were randomly paired each day. Rounding out the team rankings are Pennsylvania in third with 194-3, Virginia in fourth with 192-3, West Virginia in fifth with 191-6, Washington, D.C., in sixth with 176-3 and Maryland in seventh with 168-4. The 12 anglers on each team were also competing this week against one another, as the No. 1 angler from each team advances to the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater. Each team's runner-up also earned a championship slot but as a co-angler. The 14 contenders who qualified for the championship this week will join other qualifiers from six other TBF divisionals at next year's nationals. This week's Mid-Atlantic Divisional was the final divisional of the 2007 season. Rodriguez rebounds to claim overall title As the overall winner, Rodriguez earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer and also landed in the 2008 TBF National Championship as the boater delegate from the Delaware team. As the No. 2 angler on the Delaware team, Larry Taylor Jr. of Seaford advances to the championship as a co-angler. Rodriguez caught five bass on day one that weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces to sit in fourth on his state team. His weight fell a bit on day two, as he weighed in a 7-pound, 8-ounce limit that bumped him to fifth on his team, nearly 3 pounds behind the leader. But the tides turned for him today in more ways than one, as he weighed in more bass than anyone had at one time all week - his 13-pound, 10-ounce limit - to bring his three-day total to 29 pounds, 9 ounces. That catch propelled him to a 1-pound, 14-ounce Delaware win and a 1-pound, 10-ounce overall win. "Honestly, I prayed a lot," he said to explain his extreme reversal of fortune. "Even when I missed fish, I didn't get antsy. I did miss a really nice fish this morning, which got me jittered up, so I got my partner to take the front of the boat while I sat down and had something to drink and settled my nerves." Rodriguez competed this week as a boater, and his primary presentation this week was a topwater bait that he worked a little more aggressively than normal. "I used a Trophy Series Scum Frog in natural green," he said. "I fished a lot of different areas. I was looking for reaction strikes, and sometimes I was the one reacting. It's a topwater presentation, and most of the time, everybody works it kind of slowly to make it bob up and down. I'm more aggressive. I buy them 50 or 100 at a time because I'll go through 10 of them in a day. I'll rip them out of trees if I have to." The trick, he says, is to cut the tail of the Scum Frog about 3/4 of an inch, and using braided line and a stiff rod, Rodriguez makes it walk the dog like a Zara Spook. "It's coming through the trees and overhangs, anything like that," he said. "It's a reaction strike, is what it is." Rodriguez is Delaware's youth director, and he is also the youth director for his own club's junior chapter. He's hoping his come-from-behind performance this week will inspire the Delaware youth he mentors. Needless to say, he's fired up about his championship berth, particularly with it being so unexpected. "I am ecstatic to say the least," he said. "I'm surprised. I'd like to thank the Lord above for watching over me. I couldn't have done it without the support of FLW, the TBF and everybody. My voice is starting to get a little shaky now; it's starting to settle in a little bit." Sancho wins New Jersey by 3 ounces Joseph Sancho took victory in New Jersey by only 3 ounces.Coming in second on the overall list is Joseph Sancho of New Windsor, N.Y., whose three-day catch of 27 pounds, 15 ounces handed him the New Jersey victory by only 3 ounces. He is followed on the New Jersey team by Ron Schneider, who advances to the national championship as a co-angler. Sancho caught a solid 10 pounds on day one and followed that up yesterday with 10-11 that put him in the New Jersey lead. His weight fell today to 7 pounds, 4 ounces, but it was still enough to keep him on top. "Basically, I had seven bites today, and I lost two decent fish that would have given me close to 9 pounds," Sancho said. "It was just a slower bite today; the fish just weren't there." Sancho was flipping a jig with a Bear Paw trailer, which he said was key to his success this week. "Bear Paw puts Mega Strike in their plastics, and I think the fish were really keying on that," he said. "It makes a difference. The fish were biting funny. They would bite and jump into the tide, and you'd have a hard time reeling up and catching them because they were coming toward you. But with that Mega Strike on there, I think they held the bait a little longer, and that let me catch a couple of them." Sancho will be competing in his first national championship, and to say he is looking forward to it would be an understatement. "I'm really happy," he said. "There are so many feelings. This is the first time, and I'm really pumped up. This show here is just amazing. The way everybody runs it, it's really impressive." Mahan goes wire to wire, scores huge Maryland win Howard Mahan claimed the Maryland win by an 8-pound margin.Winning the Maryland team by an eye-popping 8 pounds is the man who led that team all week - Howard Mahan of Oxford, Pa., with a three-day catch of 27 pounds, 6 ounces. That beat Richard Martin Jr.'s combined catch of 19 pounds, 6 ounces and sent Mahan and Martin to the 2008 nationals as a boater and co-angler, respectively. Mahan was a steady force all week, as he caught 8-12 on the first day to lead and improved that a little on the second day with 9-12. Today he caught a limit weighing 9-1 to secure his slot in the championship. "It was pretty much the same," he said of the final day. "I struggled a little bit more today because of the tide. The bite was late, but it was pretty much the same; I just needed the low tide." Mahan was fishing a 1/4-ounce green pumpkin homemade jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer to land the majority of his bass. "Most of the fish came on a jig, and most of the fish were tight and shallow," he said. "We did catch a few on a Senko. My (nonboater partners) caught fish on Senkos all week, but the better fish came on the jig." Mahan too will be competing in his first-ever national championship. "I'm pretty excited," he said. "It's something new for me; I don't know what to expect. I look forward to it." Hanshaw dominates West Virginia Leading the West Virginia team all three days is Charlie Hanshaw of Sissonville, W. Va., who ultimately took the win and the West Virginia championship boater slot with a three-day total catch of 26 pounds, 7 ounces. Behind him in second and thus advancing to the nationals as a co-angler is Robert Harkness of Elizabeth, W. Va., with a combined catch of 23 pounds, 12 ounces. Hanshaw led his team despite falling weights each day and mechanical trouble on day two. Nevertheless, he did weigh in a five-bass limit each day and ultimately won his team by a 2-pound, 11-ounce margin. "I was mostly flipping and pitching a jig and Senkos close to wood and rock or any kind of hard target," Hanshaw, a boater, said of his winning methods. "It got tougher every day for me. I think my weights went down a pound each day. There was more pressure, and it just got tougher and tougher." That fishing pressure Hanshaw referenced is likely responsible for the type of bites he found himself catching today. "Today I caught more fish, but they were smaller," he said. "I wasn't able to get any quality bites versus the other days, when I was able to get a couple of quality bites." Quality bites or not, Hanshaw did manage to weigh in five today that totaled 7 pounds, 12 ounces, the heaviest day-three catch of any West Virginia angler. "It was a great time coming up here and meeting people and being with a group of guys from West Virginia and getting to know them better," he said. "It was a good experience overall. A club is the best route to get going - it pays off." Three-day leader Williams claims Virginia win Robert Williams led the Virginia team wire to wire and will represent them as a boater in the 2008 TBF National Championship.Leading the Virginia team wire to wire was Bobby Williams of Washington, D.C., who ultimately claimed the team victory and championship boater slot with a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 26 pounds. That bested the 25-8 weighed in by William Roberts of Fairfax, Va., who finished second in Virginia and will advance to the nationals as a co-angler. "I caught all my fish on Senkos today," said Williams, adding that he used crankbaits and spinnerbaits in addition to his Senko on the tournament's first two days. The 5-inch, red-and-black-flake Senko was weightless, rigged wacky-style. Williams had his toughest day yet today, bringing in only 6-9 after weighing in limits worth 9-5 and 10-2 the first two days. He credits good partners, including his day-two nonboater Brian Barnes of Delaware, with his championship-caliber success. "Words can't describe it," he said of his boater slot in the '08 nationals. "It's great. None of this is possible without good partners and teamwork in the boat. Brian Barnes, a local here, put me on fish yesterday and allowed me to fish those same fish today. Without his help and a lot of others', I wouldn't be here." Shanz busts big sack to win D.C. team Danny Shanz caught 10 pounds, 11 ounces on the final day to emerge as the winner from the Washington, D.C., team.On days one and two, Danny Shanz of Adamstown, Md., sat in fourth place on the Washington, D.C., team, but he leapt to the top today with a personal-best catch of 10 pounds, 15 ounces that raised his combined total to 24-14, enough to win the D.C. title by 2 pounds. With the win Shanz advances to the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater alongside No. 2 D.C. angler Peter O'Donnell, who advances as a co-angler. For Shanz, a buzzbait and a Senko the first two days kept him in relative contention, but a Senko and a Baby Brush Hog were the ticket today, as he was flipping and skipping into brush that was on the bank. He said he fished four areas and remained unaffected by the Nanticoke tides. "No water is too shallow to catch these fish, especially on tidal water," he said. "I caught fish today in 8 inches of water. It just blew my mind. I wouldn't think they'd be there, and I'd flip it over there just to see if they were there, and bam, there they were. It was pretty awesome." Shanz competed as a boater this week and will be making his third national-championship appearance. He finished 10th in the Co-angler Division at this year's TBF National Championship on Lake Wylie. Belinda emerges as Pennsylvania winner In TBF divisional competition, ties are first broken by the total number of fish caught, and that rule resulted in a heartbreaking situation for Pennsylvania's Michael Sabbi, who led his team the first two days and the overall field yesterday. Sabbi caught 23 pounds, 2 ounces of bass over three days to tie with Tom Belinda of Hollidaysburg, Pa., but Belinda emerged the victor with 15 total bass caught, compared to Sabbi's 11. As a result, Belinda advances to the 2008 nationals as a boater while Sabbi advances as a co-angler. "I feel bad for my co-angler who's going with me, because we tied," Belinda said. "Hats off to Mike Sabbi." Belinda won the title fair and square, though, hauling in catches of 6-6, 8-9 and 8-3 over the tournament's three days to claim the victory and his first national-championship slot. "I can't wait," he said. "I just want to thank the Lord for everything. If it weren't for him, none of this would be possible." Like many, Belinda found a jig to be most useful this week on the Nanticoke tides, though a slight change today seemed to be the ticket. "I was catching them on a jig all week, but (today) I couldn't get bit, and I ended up throwing a Smallie Beaver," he said. "I fished the same area all three days, up in Broad Creek." What's next Shown here are the anglers who qualified for the 2008 TBF National Championship via the Mid-Atlantic Divisional.The 14 anglers who advanced to the 2008 TBF National Championship from the Mid-Atlantic Divisional await the announcement of that tournament's host site. They will join contenders from the Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western divisionals for the top national awards, which include the "Living the Dream" package for the winning boater. 2007 national champion Dave Andrews earned paid entry into either the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour or FLW Series, and he also competed in the 2007 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American and the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, bass fishing's premiere event. He also earned a cool $10,000 for winning the TBF National Championship. The 2008 event will be held sometime next year at a site to be announced.

Tags: headline-story  jennifer-simmons 

/news/2015-08-31-top-10-patterns-from-lake-erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Most of the other top top-10 finishers found their fish over rocky bottom structure around the Pelee area. Drop-shots and crankbaits dominated the catches. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-webster-runs-and-guns-for-win

Webster Runs and Guns for Win

Michael Webster of Gastonia, North Carolina, brought a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 9 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division Super Tournament on Lake Wylie with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Webster earned $4,476. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-experience-pays-for-boggs

Experience Pays for Boggs

Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tennessee, brought five bass totaling 13 pounds, 12 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division Super Tournament on Old Hickory Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 2 ounces. For his victory, Boggs earned $4,257. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-jig-crankbait-carry-gray-to-victory

Jig, Crankbait Carry Gray to Victory

Brandon Gray of Bullock, North Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division Super Tournament on Kerr Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 14 ounces. For his victory, Gray earned $5,886. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-hemken-searched-deep-for-bigger-bites

Hemken Searched Deep for Bigger Bites

Shawn Hemken of Walshville, Illinois, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division Super Tournament on Lake Shelbyville with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce. For his victory, Hemken earned $6,882. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-topwater-lifts-ragan-to-top

Topwater Lifts Ragan to Top

Thadeus Ragan of West Park, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 26 pounds, 8 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division Super Tournament on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 47 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Ragan earned $6,922. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-martinkovic-runs-away-with-title

Martinkovic Runs Away with Title

Chris Martinkovic of Hamilton, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 9 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Hoosier Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Martinkovic earned $6,244. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »