The winds of change

Tarking a more relaxed approach to the final round helped Philip Garcia turn in a winning performance at Clear Lake.

KELSEYVILLE, CALIF. - Even the tallest towers can crumble. That's the lesson Yuba City, Calif., pro Philip Garcia learned en route to winning the Stren Series Western Division on Clear Lake. Entering the event in second place, Garcia trailed Lincoln, Calif., pro Wade Curtiss by 9 pounds, 9 ounces. Curtiss set the bar high on day one with his limit weight of 34 pounds, 11 ounces. He led the pro field each of the first three days, but a final-round stumble gave Garcia the opening he needed to steal the spotlight with the final day's heaviest stringer - 17-3 - and a winning four-day total of 73-10 worth $25,000. On a day marred by the chill and blustery conditions of a brutal cold front, Garcia decided to give stress and anxiety a day off and go to work with a more productive attitude. The specter of big fish lost and the task of climbing the tall mountain of Curtiss' lead had worn on his psyche. However, the final tournament day dawned with Garcia sporting a new mindset. "I think that being so far behind the leader actually helped me relax," he said. "I didn't worry about (Curtiss' weight) - I just went fishing and had fun. Believe it or not, at 6:49 a.m., I had my limit," Garcia said. "I caught them all on a swimbait - five right in a row." Philip GarciaAfter securing his limit in an area with a lava-rock bottom in about 20 feet, he fished a wacky-rigged cinnamon-black Senko and a 1-ounce football jig. The larger head may have been overkill, but it was less likely to tangle in the rocks than a lighter head, and that meant more fishing time. Working his jig in a broad, sweeping pattern with high arcs and deep falls, Garcia created a more boisterous presentation that agitated low-lying bass. "It was more of a reaction bite with the jig than the fish nosing down on it and eating it. This is a technique I use for spotted bass, because they're more aggressive." Helpful to his day's results, Garcia said, was targeting a protected area: "Where I was fishing was nice and smooth." Final-round slip lands Curtiss in second Hampered by wind, Wade Curtis threw a swimbait and caught four fish to place second.Wade Curtiss of Lincoln, Calif., had an impressive run. However, in the end, Mother Nature has a way of humbling anglers now and then. Bringing a 66-pound total into the final round, Curtiss was the odds-on favorite to sweep the show, but ultimately settled for a second-place finish with 72-13. He wanted to fish tule stands in the midlake area, but extremely rough water denied him access. "I couldn't fish the spots I wanted to fish because of the weather, so I ended up going to Cache Creek." Curtis used swimbaits and red crawler worms on drop-shots. The only pro to not weigh a limit in the final round, he finished just 13 ounces behind Garcia. A fifth keeper would have pushed him into the top spot, but Curtis had no regrets or speculation. "I had four bites and got all four of them." Long run rewards Copple with third place Fishing dropshots and wacky rigged Senkos in the north end of Clear Lake gave Scott Copple a third place finish.Scott Copple of Lehi, Utah, made a grueling run to the north end of the lake and fished an area known as "The Keys," where canals, rock edges and weeds present a diverse array of targets with a wind break from houses. Fishing a drop-shot with a 4-inch worm and a wacky-rigged 5-inch black-and-blue Senko, Copple bagged the day's second largest stringer - 17-1 - and finished with a third-place total of 71-5. "First thing, I got them on the rock banks, and when I couldn't get that to go anymore, I slid over to the weeds and started dropping the Senko in the holes," he said. Stone chisels out fourth-place finish Looking for the homerun bites, Jared Stone fished big swimbaits and finished in fourth place.After entering the final round in third place, Jared Stone of Lakeport, Calif., weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces to end his campaign with a 70-3 total worth fourth place. Stone caught his fish on a 7-inch Osprey swimbait in 4 to 8 feet of water. Slinging a large bait, he said, requires attention and preparation: "Once you throw it, you have to get ready for a monster to eat it. You just have to know that every cast could be a big fish." Stafford takes the gypsy road to fifth Without any distinct pattern to pursue, Sean Stafford went junk fishing and scratched out a limit for fifth place.No plan - no problem. Fairfield, Calif., pro Sean Stafford took a lot of ribbing from fellow anglers, but his reliance on junk fishing carried him to a fifth-place finish with 68-2. His final-round limit weight of 13-7 was hard to come by. "Every day, I came in with 15, 16, 17 rods out," he said. "I wasn't really on anything. I just kind of bounced around the lake this week. I probably used seven or eight different baits to get (my fish). The wind kind of hurt me today because I didn't have any key spots to sit on. I just caught them here doing this and there doing that - hard to do when there's 6-footers out there. Best of the rest Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the Stren Series Clear Lake event: 6th: Brian Nollar of Homer, Alaska, 66-11 7th: Ron Colby of Page, Ariz., 66-8 8th: Cody Meyer of Redding, Calif., 66-2 9th: Corey Fenske of Granite Bay, Calif., 64-11 10th: Jason Milligan of Anderson, Calif., 61-7

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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/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

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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 »

/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-spawn-looming-at-beaver-lake

Spawn Looming at Beaver Lake

As the pros who fish the Walmart FLW Tour begin practice on Beaver Lake, this jewel of northwestern Arkansas could be setting up for another spring spawn showdown. 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 »