Fritts Blitz take two

Tums pro David Fritts holds up his check for winning the Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - Tums pro David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., and crankbaits go together like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and restrictor plates. In all of professional fishing, there is none better with a "cranking plug" than David Fritts. In fact, Fritts even has a moniker to describe his signature cranking technique - the Fritts Blitz - a patented named given to his dominating crankbait bite when he won his first Bassmaster Classic on a cranking plug in 1993. And for the last four months, the Fritts Blitz has resurfaced to dominate FLW Outdoors events. Fritts won the Walmart FLW Series event on Clarks Hill back in October. Then he went to the FLW Series East-West Fish-Off and finished third. Today, the Blitz continued as Fritts added yet another win to his impressive resume of cranking wins by winning the Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville. After catching three bass for 14 pounds, 4 ounces on day three, Fritts returned fire today with five bass weighing 23 pounds, 13 ounces to come from sixth place to win. This week set up perfectly for Fritts in that there was a dominant bite in the grass that kept a vast majority of the field occupied with rattling lipless crankbaits in shallow water.The Blitz is on: David Fritts was in his cranking zone today. And while most pros used a wind-and-grind technique in the grass, Fritts snuck off to his favorite riprap and road bed on one of the bridges crossing Guntersville and cranked rock with Rapala DT-10 crankbaits. The DT-10 and rock combination was his go-to pattern, but he also had it supported solidly with a secondary pattern that involved dragging a football jig on a main-river ledge. "Most of my fish came off the rocks and riprap on the DT-10, especially the last two days," he said. "But over the first two days, I caught five really big bass, dragging a ¾-ounce Fat Ratz football-head jig with a Zoom Speed Craw on a little honeyhole along the main river channel. It's a little high spot that comes up to about 7 feet on top, and it's got some good rock all around it. But for some reason that place did not pay off yesterday or today." As for his DT-10s, Fritts primarily used two colors: chartreuse-and-brown and plain shad. Both were tied to 10-pound-test Suffix line. "Yesterday, I just could not get in the zone - I couldn't get lined up right and hit my targets like I needed to," Fritts said. "But today, buddy, I got in the zone - I mean I was in my element. Most people cannot sit there and cast to a single rock under the water and hit it 30 or 40 times in row. But that's what it took to get those fish to eat that crankbait. I had to hit the spot over and over again, without missing it, until one finally bit. "And overall, I think the fish just bit a lot better today," he added. "I went though probably three or four limits of fish today. And when you're getting that many bites, it really helps tell you what the fish want." As for his $200,000 win, Fritts remained true to why he loves to fish crankbaits. "I don't do this for the money," he added. "I do this to win. And that's why I fish the way I do and why I love crankbaits so much - they are winning lures, and this is another Rapala win." Newby second Berkley pro Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., finished second with a two-day total of 37 pounds.Berkley pro Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., finished second with a two-day total of 37 pounds. What makes Newby's runner-up finish such a heartbreaker is that he only weighed in four fish both yesterday and today. And with a deficit of just 1 pound, 1 ounce, another single Guntersville keeper would have given him a $200,000 win. "I've been on the winning side of close calls several times when things went my way, so I'm not complaining," Newby said of his $55,000 finish. Newby may have won the unofficial award of least number of miles traveled by a pro in the top 10 for his finish. He was fishing in the Siebold Creek area, where he had located a "little drain" off a flat that connected to the main river. Newby's bites were not numerous, but they were certainly quality bites, as his four-fish catches weighed in at 18-1 and 18-15, respectively. And he did note that each of the last two days he lost fish that would have won the event for him. His key lure was a red ¾-ounce rattling lipless crankbait fished on 30-pound-test Spiderwire braid, tied to a 5-foot length of 17-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. Newby liked the enhanced sensitivity of the braid, but noted that sometimes the braid would catch the hooks of his lure and foul up his casts - the fluorocarbon leader eliminated that problem. Dudley third Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., finished third with a two-day total of 34 pounds, 11 Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., finished third with a two-day total of 34 pounds, 11 ounces worth $45,000.ounces worth $45,000. Dudley spent the week fishing out on the main river channel, targeting a mixture of rock and grass. He used a 1/2-ounce rattling lipless crankbait in a "baby bass" color and fished the lure on 17-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon line with an Elite Tech Riggin' Stik. "This type of fishing is all about covering miles of water and finding the little sweet spots by feeling what your bait is doing," Dudley explained. "That Berkley fluorocarbon allowed me to feel the difference between rock and grass, and that's so critical. You can cover miles of pure grass and then feel just a rock or two in there, and that's where you're going to get bit. But if you never feel that difference in what your bait is hitting, you'll never know that sweet spot is there." Colson fourth National Guard pro Ramie Colson of Cadiz, Ky., finished fourth with a two-day total of 34 pounds, 3 ounces worth $35,000.National Guard pro Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz, Ky., finished fourth with a two-day total of 34 pounds, 3 ounces worth $35,000. Colson used a 1/2-ounce Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap all week, targeting milfoil. "The whole key where I was fishing was a mix of milfoil in hydrilla," Colson said. "There was some green hydrilla on the bottom, but interspersed in the hydrilla were tufts of milfoil that stood up above the hydrilla. And when you hit one of those clumps of milfoil with the Trap - you better hang on. I could tell when I was about to get a bite because I'd feel the bait run across one of those milfoil tops, and it would change the vibration of the bait." Mann fifth Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., finished fifth with a two-day total of 29 pounds, 13 ounces for Tom Mann, Jr., of Buford, Ga., finished fifth with a two-day total of 29 pounds, 13 ounces for $30,000.$30,000. Mann spent most of the week fishing a Rapala Rattlin' Rap in areas just above the BB Comer bridge the first two days and then retreated to Town Creek today and twitched a Rapala X-rap over grass lines in 3 to 5 feet of water. "The whole key to that place I was fishing earlier in the week was a good mix of green hydrilla and milfoil," Mann said. "Most of the grass out here now is dormant and has that slimy, mucky look to it. But wherever there were strips of good, green grass, that's where the fish were." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Walmart FLW Tour Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville: 6th: David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., two-day total of 28-12, $28,000 7th: John Tanner of Quitman, Texas, 27-12, $26,000 8th: Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., 24-14, $24,000 9th: Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., 22-8, $22,000 10th: Craig Dowling of Grant, Ala., 19-8, $20,000 Catch a video recap from each day's action at the Lake Guntersville event with FLW Outdoors On-Demand video. To access the video, click here." Coming up The next FLW Tour event will take place March 12-15 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo.

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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-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 »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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