Gagliardi’s gamble pays off

Anthony Gagliardi and family accept the $125,000 check for his FLW Tour win at Table Rock.

BRANSON, Mo. - On day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake, Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., was in full-on survival mode, just hoping to scratch out enough weight to get a $10,000 check. He had weighed in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on day one, which got buried by a rush of 18- to 20-pound limits brought in by his competitors, and he lingered in 41st place. With just two keepers in his livewell at midday on day two, thoughts of dropping completely out of the money in the second Tour event of the year were beginning to creep up on him. Then the sixth sense that earns top pros like Gagliardi FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles kicked in. He moved his boat off the bank, picked up a deeper-diving jerkbait and began fishing where his boat had just been sitting - and bingo - the winning move of the tournament came into focus. Two days later Gagliardi found himself holding a $125,000 check as the winner of the Table Rock event with a two-day total of 28 pounds, 14 ounces. "I still can't believe it," Gagliardi said. "Two days ago I was scratching and clawing just to get a check, and now here I sit the winner - unreal. After I moved out on Friday and began fishing over deeper water, I caught 18 pounds immediately, and it all suddenly made sense as to how the fish were positioned on the points. In essence, I had been fishing up too shallow and moving out was the key move, no doubt." Gagliardi's "Eureka" moment on how the fish were relating to the points came from a long history of fishing suspending jerkbaits over channel-swing banks in cold water on lakes like Hartwell and Clarks Hill near his home in South Carolina. "These fish were relating to the points here much in the same way they do back home this time of year," he explained. "They suspend out off the bank on channel-swing points - but not bluff points that drop straight off into the channel. I was not keying on sheer vertical stuff; rather, it had to be a point that tapered off more gradually into 18 or 20 feet before reaching the channel. Those kinds of points give the fish something to relate to and suspend over." Though the Chevy pro did not find this pattern in practice, he had several places that fit the bill when he discovered it on day two. "I was up the James River on day two when the light came on and I realized what was happening," he said. "Right then I remembered every place like it I had fished in practice. The problem was many of the better points were up the White River. I had one creek in particular up the White that had a series of these channel-swing points that set up perfectly for this kind of fishing." After making the top-10 cut with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 3 ounces, Gagliardi took a major gamble and ran up the White on day three to see if his hunch was correct - and it was. A close look at Anthony Gagliardi"I was right," Gagliardi said. "I returned to those points in the creek in the White River, and instead of fishing right up on them like I did in practice, I backed way off and began jerking a Lucky Craft 100 DD (with the bigger lip) so it would get down a lot farther in the water column - and that was the deal. I caught 14 pounds, 6 ounces on day three and really started to understand how the fish were positioned." Gagliardi's Lucky Craft 100 DD was tracking down about 8 feet, and he figures the fish were suspended in about 10 feet, right over the very end of the point in 20 feet before it broke into the channel. Earlier in the week, especially on day one, Gagliardi had been using a standard Lucky Craft Pointer 78 and Pointer 100. But once he realized the fish were set up out deeper, he relied on the deeper Pointer 100 DD the rest of the tournament. As for a win after somewhat of a top-10 dry spell (he has not made a top-10 since 2007), Gagliardi noted that having the Forrest Wood Cup on his home lake (Lake Murray) in 2008 made him fish much more conservatively last season. "Above all, I wanted to make the Cup last year, and I did not gamble near as much in my fishing," he added. "This tournament reminded me that sometimes big gambles are necessary in tournament fishing." Suggs broken up about runner-up When Folgers pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., realized he missed out on the FLW Tour win at Table Rock by just 11 ounces, he had to take a few seconds to contain his emotions. "I really felt like I had the strategy to go the distance," said Suggs. "And to come that close - I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty torn up about it. Now all the second-guessing begins."Folgers pro Scott Suggs just missed a win by 10 ounces Suggs' final-day catch of 12 pounds, 7 ounces gave him a two-day total of 28 pounds, 4 ounces, and he took home $50,000 as a consolation. Even before the Table Rock event began, Suggs took the fickle nature of the lake's shallow largemouth bite into consideration, and he spent a lot of practice time looking for schooled-up spotted bass - something other competitors might have deemed a waste of time. But Suggs' plan all along was to have five swimmers in the well before he went shallow each day. "I spent one whole day of practice doing nothing but idling huge flats in 100 feet of water, using my Lowrance electronics to find schools of bait and bass suspended over trees," Suggs said. "And I found just what I was looking for - spotted bass suspended in about 25 to 30 feet of water over 40- and 50-foot trees. That Lowrance unit showed everything beautifully: the trees and the bass suspended right over the tops of them - it was picture perfect." Even on day one when the field smashed the largemouths up shallow, Suggs just smiled with his 17-10 limit. On day two, he bided his time with another 17-12 limit and made the cut, lurking in third place. Suggs' plan did not really start to shine until day three, when the wheels ran off the shallow largemouth bite for many and he stayed consistent with a 15-13 catch, which put him in second going into the final day. The stage was set for the true genius of Suggs' carefully laid strategy today, but he ended up just short of his target. Suggs' bread and butter in the morning was to swim a 4-inch Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait through schools of suspended spotted bass over 130 feet of water. His unique swimbait rig consisted of threading the little Hollow Belly on a Jewell Bait Company 1/2-ounce jighead and securing the swimbait on the jighead with his own homemade bait-keeper system - something Suggs plans to keep under wraps for while. He then fished the setup on 12-pound-test Trilene 100% fluorocarbon. After getting a limit of spotted bass early (usually by 9 a.m. each morning), Suggs would then cull up by casting and swimming a ¾-ounce Frank Divis jig on channel-swing banks. "A lot of guys were cranking channel-swing banks with Wiggle Warts, but I was swimming that heavy jig down through the rocks, and the fish were eating it," he said. Each of the first three days, Suggs could cull up handsomely with the jig, but today it produced only one decent cull. "Now, seeing how close I was to winning, I wish I had just used the swimbait in those deep schools all day long," he said. "I left those deep fish biting this morning to go to the bank, and had I stayed there, I'm sure I could have culled up ounces at a time all day. Earlier in the week, I actually caught some quality largemouth from those deep places as well - there were some bigger fish out there. But I felt like I had the winning strategy by culling up on the bank, and ironically, in the end, my winning strategy is what got me beat." Canterbury third Scott Canterbury scored his second top 10 in a row in 2009 at Table Rock Lake, finishing third.Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., finished third with a two-day total of 26 pounds, 3 ounces worth $40,000. After day three, Canterbury looked like he was going to make the shallow largemouth bite go the distance by leading the event with 16 pounds. Today, he fell just a couple of bites short of his first FLW Tour win with three quality bass weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces - 2 pounds, 12 ounces shy of the winner's circle. But after two top-10s in the first two Tour events of the season, Canterbury is now tied with David Walker for the Angler of the Year lead at 391 points. "It just was not my turn, again," said Canterbury. "I fished flawless all day today - I got my three keeper bites in the boat - that's all I can do. But now I'm in contention for Angler of the Year, and honestly, that would be a bigger accomplishment for me than winning a tournament. I know we still have a long season ahead of us, but if you were to give me a choice between my first win and an Angler of the Year title - I'd take the Angler of the Year." Canterbury spent the week fishing far up the White River, throwing Wiggle Warts and a jig. "I was fishing the steepest banks I could find, leading into the backs of spawning pockets," he said. "The best banks were the steep ones that had big rock mixed in with pea gravel. I kept my boat in 10 to 12 feet, and I was trying to hit rocks in 4 to 5 feet with the Wiggle Wart." Morehead fourth Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., finished fourth with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 2 ounces.Dan Morehead finished fourth at the Rock. Morehead spent his week in the midlake area, just before the rivers split. He alternated between a MegaBass Vision 110 jerkbait in "pro blue" and a Storm Wiggle Wart, both tied to 8-pound-test P-line. The jerkbait accounted for roughly 85 percent of his keepers weighed. "My best places were channel-swing banks with submerged cedar trees," Morehead explained. "I'd keep my boat out in about 20 feet of water and make long casts over about 10 feet of water." Walker fifth BP pro David Walker scored his second top 10 in a row of 2009 at Table Rock with a fifth place finish.BP pro David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., finished fifth with a two-day total of 23 pounds, 1 ounce worth $20,000. Walker was fishing up the James River with a Wiggle Wart and ¾-ounce jig most of the week. His jig was tied to 22-pound Sunline fluorocarbon, and the Wiggle Wart paired best with 10-pound-test Sunline. "The jig really did most of the damage this week," Walker said. "And I went with a heavy jig for the sake of speed - I needed to get it to the bottom fast because I was covering a lot of water each day, and I didn't have time to wait on it. The bite was all a reaction bite around transition rock banks. "Today I had to compensate for the brighter, windless conditions by going to the dirtiest water I could find." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake: 6th: Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., two-day total of 14-5, $19,000 7th: Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif., two-day total of 6-11, $18,000 8th: Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., two-day total of 5-11, $17,000 9th: Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill., two-day total of 4-5, $16,000 10th: Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas, two-day total of 0 $15,000 Coming up The next FLW Tour event will be held on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C., April 23-26, 2009.

Tags: headline-story  rob-newell 

/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

Nobody saw it coming. Nobody but Dave Lefebre, that is. The Erie, Pa., pro came into the final day on Lewis Smith Lake 8 pounds, 8 ounces off the lead set by Oklahoman Zack Birge. Lefebre was in seventh place. He was chasing a rookie pro who appeared to be on a rock-solid pattern. But at takeoff ceremonies before the final day began, Lefebre hinted that he had found something special. He was confident he could catch a huge bag of fish. He suspected that Birge might struggle. And he was right on all accounts. In front of a jam-packed crowd in Jasper, Ala., Lefebre won the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude with the second-best five-bass limit of the tournament – 19 pounds, 5 ounces – in shocking come-from-behind fashion when Birge brought in only four bass that weighed 5-2. Lefebre’s four-day total of 65-5 earned him the $125,000 payday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-29-lewis-smith-lake-day-4-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

Day 4 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »