Ericksen tops heavyweights at Clear Lake

San Jose, Calif., pro Steve Ericksen leads day one of the Stren Western on Clear Lake with five bass weighing 27 pounds, 7 ounces.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. - Two California bass pros rooming together during the Stren Series Western opener on Clear Lake got upgraded to the penthouse suite Thursday. Steve Ericksen and Adam McAndrews are enjoying the view from the top of the leaderboard, having turned in the heaviest weights of the opening day at 27 pounds, 7 ounces and 26-11, respectively. The area has been soaked with wet weather in recent weeks and just started to crawl out of a cold front today, so weight expectations for this Clear Lake tournament had been relatively low. With the sun breaking through the clouds midday, the bite heated up and weights came in strong Thursday, with 15 pros and two co-anglers passingt the 20-pound mark. A San Jose, Calif., native, Ericksen said he struggled while prefishing before things turned around for him today. He reported catching a lot of bass during practice, but they were coming deep and weren't the right size. Capitalizing on six of only seven bites today, he exchanged quantity for quality to come up with his massive five-bass limit in only his second FLW Outdoors event as a pro. "I had a really rough practice," he said. "I'm not a deep(-water) fisherman." Ericksen did manage to catch a couple in relatively deep water, 15 to 20 feet, while fishing the southern part of Clear Lake with heavy jigs. But it was the midlake area of the northern side where he really found his stride, fishing "a really slow, methodical presentation" in 8 to 12 feet of water. "Angles are very key to my bite," he said, "as well as the speed of my retrieve - too slow and they won't bite, too fast they won't either." Ericksen said he cast all kinds of big plastic creature and imitation baits, in natural and dark colors, to his Pro Adam McAndrews of Santa Clara, Calif., is in second place at Clear Lake with 26-11.north-lake targets. He would make passes up and down the docks, whether new or in disrepair, and tules until he found just the right presentation to entice a bite. "Hopefully they'll hold up," he said of his fish-producing spots. "I didn't hit `em too hard in practice, so I've got that going for me." McAndrews right behind There's never room for two at the top of a fishing tourney, so McAndrews will be gunning for his travel partner's spot when competition resumes Friday. And he may just hope Ericksen talks in his sleep - about his honeyholes on the north side. "We ran around the south end all day," McAndrews said, adding that he never strayed too far from Kinocti Harbor (the takeoff site). "We were just fishing down south and fishing slow." The Santa Clara, Calif., pro was understandably tight-lipped about the methods he used to acquire a 26-pound, 11-ounce limit, but allowed that he fished "mostly soft plastics in 12 to 15 feet." Ironically, his failure to execute on a few fish Thursday has actually bolstered his confidence heading into day two. "We're going to get `em tomorrow," McAndrews said. "I missed three or four good ones today, so I've got those to go back to." And if McAndrews, fishing in only his second FLW Outdoors event this week, needs any more incentive to outfish his friend, making up for 2008 could be added to the list. Last year they both fished the Clear Lake event in the Pro Division with this final score: Ericksen, 56th and $825 in earnings - McAndrews, 177th and $0. Pro Rob Riehl is in third after day one at Clear Lake.Riehl's in third The Stren Western rookies will have to work hard to fend off veteran Rob Riehl, however. The Tracy, Calif., pro is not only a Stren Series standout - three top-10 finishes on the California Delta - he's making waves at the tour level. Riehl fished the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western circuit in 2007 and 2008, finishing the seasons ranked 28th and 16th, respectively, with the latter earning him a trip to the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup. "I'm swinging for the fences tomorrow," Riehl said. "I'm due for a win; I've been fishing really consistently for four years now." The five-bass limit Riehl caught today weighed 26 pounds, 2 ounces, leaving him only a pound and some change out of the lead and giving him confidence. But it didn't come easy; he said he lost seven fish, including a string of six in the span of 20 minutes. "I didn't think I was around fish," he said of his practice, "but that changed today." Riehl fished the north end of the lake in the Lakeport area, flipping Zoom Brush Hogs and a black-and-blue jig to 1 to 2 feet of water. Pro Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., is in fourth after day one at Clear Lake.Lee in fourth Angels Camp, Calif., pro Robert Lee brought a 25 1/2-pound limit to the scale today, also giving him confidence heading into day two despite losing "a couple big ones." "I'm ready," he said. "I've got the bites, I've got the pattern; we'll see what happens." Part of his self-assurance likely comes from his experience. Lee is the reigning Angler of the Year in the Stren Western Division, where he has notched five top-10s. And like Riehl, Lee has fished the last two years in the FLW Series Western, where he has scored a top-10 and been ranked as high as 21st. Perhaps in an effort to keep others from finding the ones that got away, Lee didn't want to divulge any specifics about his locations or techniques at this point in the tournament. He said simply that he "fished the whole lake ... circled it" and added that he was using reaction baits and jigs. Pro Mathew Saavedra of Redding, Calif., used this 9-11 lunker to land in fifth place after day one at Clear Lake.Variety works for Saavedra According to Redding, Calif., pro Mathew Saavedra, he virtually threw everything but his depth finder at Clear Lake's bass population to sack a limit Thursday weighing 24-10. "Swimbaits, jigs, worms ... we caught `em on a little bit of everything," he said. Saavedra fished both ends of the lake, with his morning bite the strongest when he was on the north side. He fished in anywhere from 5 to 15 feet of water throughout the day, but landed his 9-11 kicker (just an ounce away from Big Bass) in 6 feet of water on a brown Pepper Custom Baits jig. Sunny skies finally broke through the wet, cloudy weather Thursday afternoon, and a few anglers crossing the weigh-in stage said they hoped things would go back to dreary for day two. But more said the warmth was just what was needed to kick-start the Clear Lake bite, and Saavedra concurred. "I think it's going to bring those fish up shallow," he said of tomorrow's forecast for better weather. "It should help me for sure." Big Bass Edging out Saavedra for Big Bass honors in the 11th hour was pro Chad Martin of Plumas Lake, Calif., whose 9-12 lunker earned him $333 and helped propel him into sixth place. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one in the Stren Western at Clear Lake: 6th: Martin, five bass, 23-4 7th: Troy Lindner of Los Angeles, five bass, 22-7 8th: David Valdivia of Norwalk, Calif., five bass, 22-0 9th: Jeff Billings of Clearlake, Calif., five bass, 21-11 Tommie Goldston of Gardnerville, Nev., leads the Co-angler Division in Stren Western competition at Clear Lake after day one with a 22-12 limit.10th: Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville, Calif., five bass, 21-9 Goldston has Midas touch in Co-angler Division Tommie Goldston of Gardnerville, Nev., better get used to the spotlight. He first competed in the Western Division last year as a co-angler, but managed to rack up a top-10 finish plus a berth into the Stren Series Championship - all that fishing three qualifiers, one shy of a full slate. He proved it was no fluke Thursday by leading the Co-angler Division with a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 12 ounces to give himself nearly a 2-pound lead heading into day two. He fished the south end of Clear Lake in two different spots "about the size of a football field." "I'm doing the same thing that everybody else is doing," Goldston said. "I caught my fish shakin' soft plastics in 9 to 20 feet of water." Goldston didn't want to reveal too much about his method, other than to say he caught fish on baits in seven different color schemes. He had more to say about pro partner Dave Nollar, however: "I got to fish with one of the ambassadors of the sport ... and just one of the best human beings on Earth." Kyle Baker of Lancaster, Calif., is second in the Co-angler Division after day one at Clear Lake.Baker breaks 20 Another co-angler making waves is Kyle Baker of Lancaster, Calf., who is in second with a five-bass limit weighing 20-15. Baker is just kicking off his second year of Stren Series competition after a stellar 2008 debut in which he ranked No. 9 in the Western Division, notched two top-10 finishes and qualified for the Stren Championship. Baker was runner-up at last year's event on the Cal Delta, and he came in third at Clear Lake. With today's performance, he's poised to repeat or improve upon the latter finish. "It felt good," he said of his day fishing with pro Wayne Breazeale. "I tried to capitalize on the bites I had." Those bites came throughout the day on the north end of the lake, fishing a Zoom finesse worm on a shaky head in 10 to 20 feet of water. Big Bass The Co-angler Division Big Bass award of $166 went to Ken Stevens of Redding, Calif., for his 7-pound, 13-ounce fish. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 11 co-anglers after day one in the Stren Western at Clear Lake: 3rd: David Keithahn of Patterson, Calif., five bass, 19-11 4th: Charles Peak of San Jose, Calif., five bass, 19-2 5th: Sean Kavanaugh of Chico, Calif., five bass, 18-13 6th: Craig Smith of Truckee, Calif., five bass, 17-14 7th: Arthur Narverud of Napa, Calif., five bass, 17-9 8th: Mark Haworth of Hollister, Calif., five bass, 17-7 9th: Tami Jennings of Saint George, Utah, five bass, 16-11 9th: Garrett Maddex of Oakdale, Calif., five bass, 16-11 9th: Thomas Wang of Saratoga, Calif., five bass, 16-11 Day-two competition starts Friday at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time at the marina at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa located at 8727 Soda Bay Road in Kelseyville.

Tags: headline-story  patrick-baker 

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

It’s been eight years since Dayton, Tenn., pro Andy Morgan lifted a Walmart FLW Tour first-place trophy over his head, and that win came at Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark. Today, Morgan once again put himself into position for a Beaver Lake championship by taking over the lead at the halfway point of the FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac. Morgan’s day-two limit weighed 15 pounds, 7 ounces for a two-day total weight of 28-09. He and the rest of the top 20 pros will take off from Prairie Creek Marina tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. The FLW Expo begins at noon at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, followed immediately by the day-three weigh-in. 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

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/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

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-lanter-wins-on-rend-lake

Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-college-title

Gamecocks Win College Title

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-national-title

Gamecocks Win National Title

As any good Palmetto State bass fisherman will tell you, home lake advantage only works if you’re consistent in your catches from day to day. Anthony Gagliardi proved it here on Lake Murray last summer in the Forrest Wood Cup, and the University of South Carolina proved it again in the FLW College Fishing National Championship that concluded Saturday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-hallman-prevails-on-grand

Hallman Prevails On Grand

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-lake-murray-midday-update-day-3

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 2

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-college-championship-race-tightens

College Championship Race Tightens

READ MORE »