Saving the best for last

Confidence in his plan let Kyle Porter to his first Stren Series victory.

OAKLEY, Calif. - In final-round weigh-ins, anglers typically build drama by weighing their catch from smallest to largest. So, when Kyle Porter started his show-stealing performance with a 4-pounder, he red-lined the drama meter and raced to the finish line at the Stren Series event on the California Delta. In the final Western Division event of 2008, the Acampo, Calif., pro capped a highly competitive campaign with his heaviest stringer of the contest. After placing second on day one with 28-7, Porter Pro winner Kyle Porter anchored his 31-pound, 7-ounce stringer with this 11-pounder.dropped to sixth on day two, moved back into third on day three and then rocked the final-round weigh-in crowd with a whopping 31-pound, 7-ounce stringer - the event's second largest (behind Mike Andrews' 36-3 on day one) - that pushed his aggregate weight to 100 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned Porter $25,000. "It's been an unbelievable tournament," Porter said. "I came into this tournament not really feeling that I could win, but I knew I could get a limit each day. I just got lucky, and that's how fishing goes." Targeting mostly tule points and flooded timber, Porter's primary weapon was a 5/8-ounce red-black jig with a June bug-colored Zoom Chunk pork trailer, but he also caught a keeper on a frog bait when that bite Flipping a red and black jig with a Zoom chunk trailer produced most of Kyle Porterturned on for an hour in the afternoon. Recalling the frenetic action, Porter said: "I fish the Delta a lot, and you have bad days and you have super, crazy days - this was one of those days." The tournament opened with clouds, wind and moderate temperatures, but that picture quickly morphed into one of clear skies and brutal heat as high as 102 degrees. The final round saw wind returning late in the day, but the heat wave combined with predictable tournament-level fishing pressure pushed the fish around and required a lot of looking. "It does help to know a lot of areas on the Delta," Porter said. "I spent $75 a day in gas the last two days, running spot to spot, but it paid off." Porter said that belief in his plan was the key to his success. Although a frog yielded one of his biggest fish, he stayed true to the jig that has delivered several years of productivity. "It was the confidence to keep that bait in my hands and not change." Zipton's consistency leads to second Jeremy Zipton turned in the most consistent performance on the pro side, but he never got the big bites he needed.Discovery Bay, Calif., pro Jeremy Zipton turned in the Pro Division's most consistent performance, but Porter's huge day put the top spot out of reach. Nevertheless, his final-round score of 22 pounds, 4 ounces gave him a 96-pound total. For the majority of the tournament, Zipton pitched wacky-rigged green-pumpkin Senkos into tules, but he also caught two of his final-round fish on a crankbait. His largest fish, an estimated 7-pounder, ate a crankbait 25 minutes before he had to return. An accomplished local club angler, Zipton was competing in his first Stren Series tournament. Consistency, he said, hinges on persistence. "It's just plugging away and sticking with what I know. I just went out today and stuck to my milk run. It worked so far, so why change if it's not broken?" Looking back, Zipton said his only regret was something beyond his control. "In the whole tournament, I never had a big bite. Out here, 6-, 7- and 8-pounders are big bites, but they're not big enough." Raza raises his position to third Third-place pro Chris Raza spent his final day flipping a blue jig with a Double Wide Beaver.Delta veteran Chris Raza of Roseville, Calif., flipped a blue jig with a Double Wide Beaver all day and gathered 22 pounds, 2 ounces for a total of 86-0. His final round work moved him up from seventh. Integral to Raza's presentation was proximity. He'd sit right over his flipping spot and practically drop his jig right on the fish's head. Not only does this maximize the reaction effect, it keeps the game at a manageable range. "When I'm flipping, I like to be close," he said. "If I get a big one, either he's going to work me or I'm going to work him. The closer the better for me." Wacky chatter keeps Venkus in fourth Timothy Venkus of Wilton, Calif., fished a wacky-rigged green-purple-flake Senko and the original Fourth-place pro Timothy Venkus caught his second bass of 10-plus pounds on the final day of the tournament.ChatterBait - modified with a colored blade and a trailer - around tules and reeled in 18 pounds, 11 ounces for a fourth-place total of 85-9. Although two small fish drug down his weight, Venkus' final-round catch included a kicker weighing 10-plus pounds - his second double-digit bass in as many days. He credits divine intervention: "The key was that God was on my shoulders. I've never fished this well before." Teen tackles tops pros, takes fifth At 18 years old, Hunter Schlander was the youngest pro in the final round.Eighteen-year-old pro Hunter Schlander of Modesto, Calif., has idolized many of the pros he fished against, but he showed no mercy in sacking up a nice limit weighing 19-3. His total of 85 pounds, 8 ounces earned him fifth place. Notably, Schlander finished just an ounce behind fourth and two ahead of sixth. Schlander fished a brown-and-purple jig around rocks with sparse tules in 3 to 4 feet. After placing seventh on day one, the high school senior move up two spots on day two and remained in fifth for the remainder of the tournament. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the Stren Series California Delta event: 6th: Zack Thompson, Orinda, Calif., 85-6 7th: Beau Joudrey, Oakley, Calif., 79-10 8th: Sean Stafford, Fairfield, Calif. 78-1 9th: Jeff Michels, Lakehead, Calif., 77-10 10th: Mike Andrews, Oakley, Calif., 75-4 Western Division AOY Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., parlayed a strong performance on the Cal Delta this week into an Angler of the Year award in the Pro Division of the Stren Series Western Division. His season total of 717 points edged out runner-up Cody Meyer, who ended the year with 715. Lee started out the season with amazing third-place finishes in back-to-back events on lakes Shasta and Havasu; he placed 61st at Clear Lake; and his 20th-place Cal Delta finish sealed the deal. In the last three years of fishing full seasons of the Stren Western schedule, Lee has won AOY, ranked third and 10th in the points.

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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

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-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 »