Bite by bite

The first and second-place boats take off as the final round of BFL All-American action started with sunny skies and light wind.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A gaggle of Canada geese searched for breakfast in the dew-dampened grass on a hill overlooking Fish Hatchery Ramp. Feeding one bug at a time, their diligent foraging mirrored the task of boater and co-angler finalists fishing Lake Hamilton in the 25th annual Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy. After two days of thorough pickings by a full field, the finalists will have to look hard for productive Canada geese foraging on a hill overlooking the launch site mirrored the challenging task of rounding up a limit of bass.waters as weekend boat traffic guarantees plenty of company. For all competitors, success or failure will hinge on time management and bite optimization. Those who make the right decisions and catch everything they hook will fare well. Day three brings mostly sunny skies and light breezes; somewhat of a synthesis between the calm, overcast conditions of day one and the bright, windy weather of day two. A morning topwater bite could offer make-it-it-break-it potential, but once the sun hangs high and fish head for depth or cover, the real hunt begins. Leading the boater field since day one, Kim Carver of Milledgeville, Ga. caught the event's only double-digit stringer (11-6) on day one, but struggled on day two with just 5-7. Seeking his second BFL All-Top boater Kim Carver will give his topwater plug a good workout today.American win (his first: 1988 in La Crosse, Wis.), Carver said he'll start with a surface bait and work deeper as the day warms. "I have to go throw my topwater plug this morning and hope for one bite - two would be fantastic," he said. "I got one yesterday (on topwater), but it wasn't as big as I wanted. I could go over (to my spot) and catch another big one, which on this lake, a 2 1/2- to 3-pounder is a big fish. One fish like that would put me on the edge of locking in the victory." Carver's weight goal: "Eight pounds would be fantastic; seven and I'll probably win." Less than a pound back at 16-1, second-place boater Shayne Berlo of Vienna, Va. hopes he can makeIn the second place boat, Shayne Berlo and his co-angler partner Michael Roy bring a double shot of big bass potential to day three. it three consecutive days of finding the kicker fish. On day one, his 4-pound, 1-ounce fish took Snickers Big Bass honors and one nearly 3 pounds on day two helped move him up from fifth place. "My success has been predicated on finding one big fish per day," Berlo said. "I have to get another big fish today, or multiple big fish would be nice." Both of Berlo's big fish bit jigs, but as a self-described "junk fisherman," he'll try a variety of baits to try and identify consistent patterns. His big-fish jig will definitely get wet today. Berlo's co-angler partner Michael Roy of Ivy, Va. also found a nice kicker on day two. His 4-4 missed Co-angler Michael Roy will use a hybrid wacky worm rigged Texas style for weedless presentations.the Big Bass award by one ounce, but it anchored the day's heaviest stringer in both divisions - 9 pounds, 2 ounces - and moved Roy up 27 spots. Roy caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged watermelon Zoom trick worm. He hooks the worm Texas style for a go-anywhere weedless presentation. Third place boater, Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind. maintained his position from day one, despite a small limit. He caught 9-14 on day one and followed with 5-5. He'll rely mostly on his trademark "Stupid Tube" - a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce jig with the head positioned inside a green pumpkin tube. McWilliams said the day's bright conditions should favor his preferred bait. "When it's sunny, that pushes the fish back under docks and cover, and this bait works very well in (these scenarios)." Tournament logistics The BFL event, which runs May 29-30, assembles 108 anglers from 26 states and offers a top boater In the fourth-place boat, Ray Griffin, foreground, and his co-angler partner Robert Crosnoe strap on their PFDaward of $140,000 and a top co-angler award of $70,000. The boater and co-angler champions will also advance to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17, where the boater will compete with top anglers from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series and The Bass Federation for as much as $1 million - the sport's biggest award. The entire field competes Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight. The top-10 boaters and co-anglers advance to Saturday, and the winners are determined by the heaviest three-day weight. Action continues at today's final weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. (Central Time) at Summit Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd. in Hot Springs. Wednesday's conditions: Sunrise: 6:30 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 72 degrees Expected high temperature: 88 degrees Water temperature: 72 degrees Wind: from the SW 8 mph Humidity: 44 percent Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: morning-story  david-a-brown 

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-weather-woes-greet-college-anglers

Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

It was supposed to be a shallow-water bassfest, with largemouths and spots roaming Lake Murray’s shoreline to feast on spawning blueback herring. That still might happen as the FLW College Fishing National Championship plays out the next three days here, but the fishing is more likely to be ad lib than follow any script. The dreary, damp weather that settled over the region Wednesday during the last day of practice is the culprit. Not only did it hamper the efforts of contestants looking for the last bedding fish of the season, but also those depending on a consistent blueback herring bite to gin up the action. Still, the consensus of opinion is that one pattern or the other will prevail, and settle the question of college bragging rights for the next year as well as send the winning team to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in August. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-13-top-10-patterns-from-sam-rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

With heavy rainfall swelling Sam Rayburn Reservoir, this Angelina River impoundment had risen 5 feet above normal level by the start of the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament. This gave fish and fishermen access to miles of shoreline forest and brush that normally stand in mere inches of water – if not on dry ground. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-12-top-10-baits-from-sam-rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

With Sam Rayburn swollen to 5 feet above its normal water level, the top 10 pros broke out various flipping and punching rigs to pick apart newly flooded cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hanselman-wins-back-to-back

Hanselman Wins Back-to-Back

Once you get Ray Hanselman going, just get out of his way. The Del Rio, Texas, pro is riding an incredible high right now after sewing up his second consecutive Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division win. Hanselman won the opener on Lake Amistad in February, then backed it up this week with a win on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in an event presented by Mercury. For his final-day limit, Hanselman plowed deep into Rayburn’s flooded cover to track down a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 10 ounces, raising his three-day total to 60-08 for a win by more than 7 pounds. For his efforts, Hanselman earned a cool $35,815 check and another trophy to add to his mantle. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-wilson-tops-co-anglers-on-rayburn

Wilson Tops Co-anglers on Rayburn

Dan Wilson caught one of only three co-angler limits on the final day of competition to come back from fourth place and win the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Consistency was key for Wilson, who weighed in 11 pounds, 1 ounce on day one, then followed with 13-04 and 14-15 on days two and three, respectively. His three-day total of 39-04 bested day-two leader Bryan New of North Carolina by 3 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-rayburn-day-3-midday-update

Rayburn Day 3 Midday Update

A chilly morning greeted the top 10 pros and co-anglers for the final day of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, but a warm sunrise filtered by scattered clouds bespoke the gorgeous conditions forthcoming. Winds have dropped off to barely a breeze, main-lake running is easy, and the coves and creeks where most anglers are fishing are glassy smooth. Fish surely pulled tighter to cover with the sunny conditions, but that probably makes little difference, as the majority of anglers have been flipping close to trees and into dense buck brush since day one. The heavy, tangled spots with vines seem to be the prime targets again today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-hanselmania-returns

Hanselmania Returns

He’s back at it again. Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, won the season-opening Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Amistad, and today he weighed in 23 pounds, 5 ounces on the second day of competition at stop No. 2 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Hanselman vaulted into the tournament lead with a two-day total of 43-14. “Hanselmania” leads by 5 pounds, 6 ounces over Denny Brauer, also of Del Rio, who is in second place for the second consecutive day. The leader’s stringer is even more impressive considering that Hanselman lost three 5-pounders this morning and caught 23-5 on a day when only one other pro weighed more than 20 pounds, and only three others weighed more than 18 pounds. Day-one leader Joe Don Setina weighed in only four keepers for 11 pounds today. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-rayburn-day-2-midday-update

Rayburn Day 2 Midday Update

With only one fish in the livewell at 10:30, Joe Don Setina was probably hoping for a repeat of day one – at least the part where he sacks ’em up in the second half. We found the leading pro fishing the Black Forrest area that he worked the first day, and he’s sticking with the same routine of flipping heavy cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-setina-overcomes-slow-start

Setina Overcomes Slow Start

Pittsburg, Texas, pro Joe Don Setina is off to a hot start in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division this season. After a top-10 finish at the opener on Lake Amistad, Setina jumped out to the day-one lead on Sam Rayburn today. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Setina, however. He says nothing went right for him this morning, when he lost fish, snagged trees and finally had to sit down and collect himself before continuing on. After refocusing, Setina caught his first keeper at about 11 a.m. and proceeded to sack up 23 pounds, 6 ounces for a slim 8-ounce lead over second-place pro Denny Brauer, who also finished in the top 10 at the Amistad opener. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 1

Overcoming a tough start, Joe Don Setina rallied to take the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event presented by Mercury on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He’s fishing flooded trees and bushes like most of the field and weighed in 23 pounds, 6 ounces. With the lake at a 15-year high thanks to recent rains, Rayburn’s bass are scattered, often in areas that are difficult to reach. Some pros are muscling their way through the thick stuff to search for bedding fish, while others opt for working the perimeter of the flooded zone for postspawn bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-anglers-brace-for-rough-weather

Anglers Brace for Rough Weather

At the morning takeoff, Texas pro Jim Tutt joked about putting on his rainsuit in the warm, dry sanctuary of the cove where the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn would soon commence. However, upon leaving the protected waters just east of the Sam Rayburn Dam, anglers soon found a very different mood that’s likely to worsen as the day progresses. Cloudy morning skies generally foretell some type of weather system coming or going, but this afternoon and evening will see some pretty fierce meteorological mayhem making its way across the Midwest and Mississippi Valley regions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-swollen-rayburn-challenges-anglers

Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level. Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-front-and-center

Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-record-catch-for-record-college-field-

Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-guntersville-grab-bag

Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-toho-midday-report-day-2

Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-boom-or-bust-at-toho

Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-24-tour-opener-timed-right-for-florida-spawn-fireworks

Tour Opener Timed Right for Florida Spawn Fireworks

It’s always nice to kick off a new season with the proverbial bang, but the Walmart FLW Tour might very well mark its 20th anniversary with a Boom. READ MORE »