UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

This one didn’t get away

The third time was the charm for Willis, Texas pro Russell Cecil, who returned to Sam Rayburn Lake after two previous disappointing tournaments and cashed the winner's check.

JASPER, Texas - Twice before, Russell Cecil saw victory vanish on the final day of a tournament on Sam Rayburn Lake. This year he made sure the big one didn't get away. The seven-year pro from Willis, Texas, took a 7-pound, 4-ounce lead into the final day of the second Stren Series Texas Division tournament of the season and made it hold up despite a shaky final. But Cecil doesn't care how he got the job done, just that he finally got it done. "Funny," he said, "last year on the last day I caught 20 pounds and didn't win. This year on the last day I caught 11 pounds and won. You just never know with fishing." Cecil's three-day weight of 58 pounds, 11 ounces earned him a check for $25,000 and a fully rigged Ranger boat package worth $40,000. He held off a hard charge by Scotty Villines of Ponca, Ark., who couldn't overcome a tough first day (14-3) despite a massive 25-pound sack on day two and a 14-9 sack on day three. Had Villines overcome his lead, Cecil might well have chalked it up to a his typical Rayburn luck. Before losing here last year to Dicky Newberry by 1 pound, 12 ounces, he was disqualified in 2007 for bringing six fish to the docks. This year he got redemption, but it wasn't easy. "I sure didn't catch 'em today," Cecil said. "It got tough on me. I guess I didn't make the right adjustments today." But neither did a lot of other guys as the tournament wore on. Despite a warming trend and massive in-shore movements by bass, many anglers reported a tough bite. None of the pros topped the 20-pound mark Saturday, which was the standard to be measured by on the first two days. For some reason, the water near shore got murkier despite a complete lack of rainfall. Some theorized that an algae bloom is under way. For a sight-fisherman, that makes it tough, and Cecil was intent on sight-fishing at this tournament. He did it for the first two days, but changed gears Saturday when he thought the near-shore fish had been worked over too hard. So he threw a Rat-L-Trap instead and brought 11 pounds, 14 ounces to the scales, seventh best among pro contestants on the final day. In essence, he won the tournament on the first two days with a combined weight of 46 pounds, 13 ounces, which was too much for the others to overcome. Cecil said his primary area got crowded as the week went on. He pulled his limit early the first day and got out of there to avoid drawing a crowd. But others soon found the spot, including Cody Bird, who finished 20th, and Scotty Villines, who finished second. "It was murderers' row in there," Cecil said. "I thought, `This isn't good.'" But the spot's effectiveness was illustrated by the fact that he returned on day two and had 18 pounds in the livewell by 10:30 a.m. He finished the day with 23 pounds, 9 ounces. Scotty Villines made a hard charge at the leader, but came up short and in second place with 54 pounds, 2 ounces. "But when I saw what Scotty weighed (25 pounds, 6 ounces), I thought it was over," Cecil said. His best bait all week was a Big Bite swimming minnow. Villines makes it close Villines started the day in second place, and that's where he finished, though he did make a good run at Cecil with a 14-pound, 9-ounce bag on the final day to earn $10,000. "I knew I was around the fish, but I just wish I could have gotten them to go the first day," said Villines, whose three-day bag totaled 54 pounds, 2 ounces. In practice he used a wacky worm and found a lot of big fish near stumps. But on the first day they were gone. However, his co-angler that day was fishing the other side of the boat in deeper water and pulled 16 pounds, which Villines used to his advantage. "I tied on a fluke and and put the hurt on 'em," he said, referring to his 25-pound sack on day two. "I did Stephen Johnston had the best final day catch of all pros with 17 pounds, 13 ounces, but it wasnsome sight-fishing when I saw a good one, but mostly I was fan-casting while looking for fish." A white baby fluke was his best bait. Johnston's best-day bag isn't enough Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, admits he's not much of a sight-fisherman. He spent the entire tournament working away from the bank, and that may have cost him a few pounds. But on Saturday he weighed the heaviest bag among all pros, 17 pounds, 13 ounces, which he caught using a Carolina rig with a 6-inch lizard. He finished the tournament with 52 pounds, 4 ounces worth $8,000. "I really like a Texas rig," he said, " but I had to put it down today and drag that Carolina rig. I got on my butt seat, slowed down and took my time. It was a struggle today." Andy Gaia of Tomball, Texas finished Day 1 with 21 pounds, 11 ounces, good for fourth place in the pro division. Another sight-fisherman takes fourth Andy Gaia of Tomball, Texas, sight-fished all week and said he caught 30 keepers during the week using a Craw Worm. He said, in some instances, he spent too much time working individual fish and probably should have kept moving. "My biggest fish I lost yesterday with about 10 minutes to go," he said. "So I went back there this morning and caught it in the dark." He wrapped up the tournament with 51 pounds, 15 ounces worth $7,000. Lupe Garcia makes most of long trip "This lake is great," said fifth-place finisher Lupe Garcia, who weighed 51 pounds, 10 ounces in three days. "I just wish I didn't live nine hours away." The Springdale, Ark., pro made the most of the long journey to Sam Rayburn by cashing a check for $6,000. He also picked up an additional $450 for the Big Bass of the tournament, a 9-pound, 3-ounce behemoth he caught on day two. On the final day, if he could have had one half that size it would have improved his finish considerably, as he weighed 13 pounds, 4 ounces and finished fifth.Lupe Garcia made the most of the long drive from Springdale, Ark. by placing fifth with 51 pounds, 10 ounces. "When I got here everybody said the Rat-L-Trap bite was over," said Garcia, who used the bait almost exclusively this week. "But I caught almost 25 pounds with it yesterday. But I'm not fishing bank fish. I'm fishing ridges." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros to finish the Stren Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn: 6th: Todd Castledine, Nacogdoches, Texas, three-day total of 50-9 7th: Charles Bebber, Willis, Texas, 48-12 8th: Toby Hartsell, Livingston, Texas, 46-11 9th; Wade Grooms, Bonneau, S.C., 45-14 10th: Robert Baney, Montgomery, Texas, 45-4

Tags: headline-story  vince-meyer 

/news/2015-08-01-browne-sticks-to-the-bank-to-win

Browne Sticks To The Bank To Win

A lot would have had to happen for Glenn Browne to relinquish his hard-earned lead on the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain. It turned out that a lot did happen, but with help from his friends and a great pattern, Glenn Browne socked 18 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day for a 63-pound, 8-ounce total and a payday of $34,097 plus a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-01-champlain-midday-update-day-3

Champlain Midday Update Day 3

Day three of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain started with a beautiful sunrise and light rain that had tapered off by the beginning of takeoff. For leader Glenn Browne, the beauty was soon marred by a breakdown that occurred shortly into his run south. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain definitely shook up the leaderboard. While Glenn Browne took a huge lead, the rest of the pack swapped around and remained pretty tight. Browne is catching his fish down south near Ticonderoga, but the north end has also produced very well for the rest of the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-browne-crushes-again-leads-by-6-

Browne Crushes Again, Leads By 6+

Averaging 20 pounds or more is a difficult thing to do in a multi-day tournament on Lake Champlain, but Glenn Browne might be on his way to doing it in the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano. After two days, the Ocala, Fla., pro has run to Ticonderoga twice and sacked up nearly identical bags for a total of 45 pounds, 8 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-champlain-midday-update-day-2

Champlain Midday Update Day 2

While day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was wracked by high winds and rain in the morning, day two has been almost as good as Champlain can be. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-cioppa-leads-on-champlain

Cioppa Leads On Champlain

David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Mass., weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces late in the weigh-in to grab the lead after the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. Cioppa weighed all largemouths and says that he caught the entirety of his weight by about 9 a.m. from one location in the northern end of the lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 1

Lake Champlain was rough and wild on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano, and a bunch of the anglers still got it done in a big way. David Cioppa caught largemouths in the Inland Sea, but the rest of the top guys spread out all over the massive lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-champlain-midday-update-day-1

Champlain Midday Update Day 1

Takeoff was placid enough, with a beautiful sunrise and a light breeze in the slightly protected corner that is Plattsburgh. By about 6:30 a.m., day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was already beginning to get rough. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-21-top-picks-from-icast

Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-renfrew-fished-to-win

Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-docks-and-rocks-key-for-synders

Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-jig-crankbait-carry-powroznik

Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-persistence-pays-for-arning

Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-rod-roundup

New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-terminal-tackle

New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-flw-announces-2016-tour-schedule

FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-reels-to-try

6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-lines-from-icast-2015

6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-icast-best-of-show-winners-

ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-10-new-frogs-and-toads

10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »