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

Bennett bags bass fishing’s biggest payday

FLW Tour pro Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif., holds up his check after capturing the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - As the old saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. No one understands that more than Duracell pro Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif., who turned his junk-fishing ways into a bass-producing pattern to win $1 million dollars in the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup. All week, the words "junk-fishing" filled the media room in the Colonial Center during post-tournament interviews as pro after pro described their fishing patterns on Lake Murray this week. Many pros dubbed their patternless catches as "junk-fishing" or "trash-fishing," terms that refer to going down the bank casting to "junk" such as lay-downs, willow trees, docks, grass, riprap, seawalls or anything else that gets in the way. In the beginning, Bennett also described his fishing as junk-fishing. He spent day one fishing deep, shallow and everywhere in between to bring in a limit weighing 11 pounds, 15 ounces.Duracell pro Michael Bennett just realizes he has won a million dollars. He returned to the water on day two to "junk it up" again, and that's when he discovered the treasure among the trash. At one point during the day on Friday, he moved shallow and began casting a Snag-Proof frog along docks and grass when he hit a stretch of bank that produced three 3-pound-plus bass. "And that's when the light bulb went off," Bennett explained. "Every one of those bites came from docks where the dock's shade line intersected with the bank grass - that was the ticket. Those were the right components: where the dock met the edge of the grass in the dock's shade." After finishing a limit on day two at about noon, and knowing he had made the cut, Bennett perhaps made the winning move of the tournament. He quit fishing for about an hour and just drove around the midsection of the lake, looking for the perfect combination of dock shade and grass lines for the finals. During that time, he did not fish - he simply drove around marking the likely looking spots. "After I found several key areas to start on the next morning, I knew I had to get the deep-fishing notion out of my head," Bennett explained. "So I spent the last couple of hours of day two fishing deeper with drop-shots and shaky heads. I had bites in practice doing that, so I wanted to make sure that pattern was dead. I never had a bite fishing that way on day two, and that's when the shallow commitment started." Bennett's weight of 15 pounds, 5 ounces on day two put him in the lead going into the final round where the weights started over. And when the new tournament started on day three with just 10 pros, Bennett started his tournament anew as well, armed with just a pair of frogs and a lot of trolling motor juice. His primary frog was a Snag-Proof Frog in a color called "Fred," named after BASS pro Fred Roumbanis, who won an Elite Series event on Murray in May with that very same frog. "I probably caught 70 to 80 percent of my fish on that frog this week," Bennett said. "And I fished it on a Fenwick Elite Tech Frogging Stick paired with a Revo 7.1 high-speed reel." The other frog was a buzzing type of toad, which only accounted for a few of his keepers during the week. "I ran to those areas that I had found on day two - the ones that had the right components, but that I had not fished," Bennett said. "And that's where I ended up catching all my fish on day three. The neat part was that it was all new water to me - I had never fished it. But that was a key part to the pattern: It had to be new water. Fishing over water I had already fished in the previous days was pointless." Bennett felt that the fish he was catching from those specific areas were resident fish, not fish that would replenish any time soon. Duracell pro Michael Bennett shows off two of his tournament-winning bass.The Duracell pro held the lead after day three with 16 pounds, 3 ounces, but by then he had worked himself into a bind. "I fished every piece of new water I knew of on day three to catch my limit," Bennett explained. "I had nothing else to go to on day four." But Bennett found a way to milk his pattern even further today. "Earlier in the week, I had the luxury of fishing big stretches of docks and grass," he explained. "I refused to return to those places, so I had to start fishing much smaller stretches of the right stuff - single docks or pairs of docks." He caught three bass on the frog pattern Sunday and, late in the afternoon, returned to a piece of riprap to catch one of his better fish on a shaky head, rigged with a Berkley hand-poured finesse worm in oxblood color, just before check-in. That fish, caught on Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon, just happened to be his second biggest fish of the day, helping him win the $1 million first-place prize. His four bass today weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces for a two-day total of 24 pounds, 15 ounces. After receiving his million-dollar payday, the 24-year-old Bennett was at a loss for words to explain what had just happened to him. "I can't even explain it," said an exasperated Bennett. "I'm an absolute wreck - I can't even write my own name right now (for autographs) I'm so shook up. It's a dream come true, and the magnitude of this has not even begun to set in yet." Lefebre second Kellogg's pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., finished in what is perhaps the most difficult spot in professional bass fishing - runner-up at the Forrest Wood Cup. Lefebre rallied today with another limit today, but his solid daily weights from the previous Kellogg's pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., finished in what is perhaps the most difficult spot in professional bass fishing - runner up at the Forrest Wood Cup. But he still collected $100,000.days fell off to 6 pounds, 8 ounces today, giving him a two-day total of 19 pounds, 12 ounces. The weight deficit Lefebre needed to win the $1 million was considerable: 5 pounds, 3 ounces. Yet, that does little to ease the pain. "On one hand, I'm disappointed," Lefebre said. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: I was in a position to win a million dollars, and I may never be in that position again. On the other hand, I thought second paid $50,000, and I just found out it pays $100,000, so I'm pretty pumped about that." As for lost fish that may have cost him the win, Lefebre noted that his day four was not exactly flawless. He did have at least two missed opportunities on what he believes were much better fish. "But I don't want to dwell on that," Lefebre said. "I did what I came here to do, and that was to catch a limit every day. I figured if I did that, I'd win, and I didn't. And if I couldn't win, I wanted Michael to win - he is a good dude." As for Lefebre's pattern, he spent the week up the Little Saluda River fishing a five-mile stretch of river that he had come to learn well over eight days of fishing. The key to his pattern was fishing small depressions along the bank. "Most of the bank up there was 2 to 3 feet deep, and anywhere it dipped to 4 or 5 feet along there was key, especially if it had any cover with those depressions," he explained. The Kellogg's pro spent the week with just one bait in his hands: a 6-inch Berkley Powerbait Flippin'Tail worm in June bug, teamed with a 3/16-ounce Penetrator weight fished on 12-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line. He pitched the Texas-rigged worm to bushes, lay-downs and overhanging branches that coincided with the small depressions. He also noted that his hook, a Gamakatsu Sugoi hook made for Yamamoto Custom Baits, played a critical part in his success, calling it the perfect hook for that type of light-line flipping and pitching. Bolton third Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., finished third with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 9 ounces worth $75,000.Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., finished third with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 9 ounces worth $75,000. Bolton junk-fished up in the rivers for a majority of the event, relying on several baits for his catches during the week, including a Spro Frog fished on 50-pound-test Berkley Ultracast braid, a Texas-rigged Zoom Trick Worm flipped on 20-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon, a Pop-R and an 1/8-ounce Picasso jighead rigged with a Zoom 4-inch Finesse Worm. "When I was up the river, I focused on willow trees, grass and any dark spots in the water," Bolton said. "When I came down the lake, I fished a few key docks with a shaky head." "The Spro Frog produced my two biggest bass during the week - a 4-pounder and a 6-pounder," he added. "But I actually got saved by the shaky head today. I only had two keepers at 3:15, ran back down the lake and caught three keepers off one dock to finish my limit." Baumgardner fourth Snickers pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., finished fourth with a two-day total of 16 pounds, 9 ounces worth $60,000.Snickers pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., finished fourth with a two-day total of 16 pounds, 9 ounces worth $60,000. For most of the week, Baumgardner relied on Zoom Horny Toads in June-bug and green-pumpkin colors tied to 17-pound-test 100% Fluorocarbon line. He fished shallow pockets in the midsection of the lake. The best places were pockets that had small flats in the backs of them with a little shoreline grass," he described. "Also, the shallow points between pockets were good. I was mostly targeting cruising and roaming fish, so the best plan for me was to cover water and make a lot of casts." Vida fifth Berkley Gulp pro Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., rounded out the top five pros with a FLW Tour pro Kevin Vida weighs in his catch. Vida ultimately finished in fifth place at the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.two-day total of 15 pounds, 11 ounces worth $50,000. Vida hunted visible "wolf packs" of bass along a two-mile stretch of the main lake that featured a series of points and pockets that he meandered through, looking for the packs. "I have no idea what these fish were doing," he said. "I'd just be fishing along and all of a sudden see a pack of bass coming down the bank. They seemed to prefer a kind of sand and rock mix, but I was really apt to see them anywhere." Vida used a magnum Pop-R tied to Berkley Sensation monofilament line when searching for the bass. When he made visual contact with the bass, he would fire a Berkley Shaky worm in green-pumpkin and a Mizmo watermelon finesse worm at them to get them to bite. "Seeing the bass before they saw me and making long casts to them was the key," he said. "Once the fish saw me, they just would not bite." Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray: 6th: Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., two-day total of 13-8, $45,000 7th: Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., two-day total of 13-3, $40,000 8th: Brian Travis of Conover, N.C., two-day total of 11-1, $35,000 9th: Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., two-day total of 10-0, $30,000 10th: Jay Yelas of Corvallis, Ore., two-day total of 6-10, $25,000

Tags: headline-story  rob-newell 

/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 »