Lady(bug) luck

Having won the Stren event at Clear Lake in March, Roy Hawk is the first angler to score back-to-back Western division victories.

PAYSON, Ariz. - Ladybugs are bad news for aphids, but good news for bass anglers. There may be little scientific evidence for the latter premise, but it seemed plausible for Salt Lake City, Utah, pro Roy Hawk in his commanding victory at the Stren Series Western Division tournament on Lake Roosevelt. Like a savvy gardener, who appreciates the pest-controlling appetites of the red shelled flying insects, Hawk smiled when he saw one of those aphid eaters in the weigh-in tank. Standing next to CliffordJoined by his son Sonny and girlfriend Chariti Wilkins, Roy Hawk shows off one of his winning bass. Pirch, the local pro who had taken the lead with 38-3, Hawk said: "I hate to tell you this Clifford, but there's a ladybug in my (tank). Maybe that's good luck." Notably, Hawk and Pirch both caught the same weight (13-14) on day three. However, Hawk's heavier bags on days one and two (14-12, 13-12) gave him the edge going into the final round. Placing third on day one, he took over the lead on day two and finished with 42 pounds, 6 ounces - a winning margin of 4 pounds, 3 ounces. Throughout the tournament, Hawk caught most of his fish by slow-rolling an ounce spinnerbait along deep ledges in 10 to 16 feet with sparse brush at the mouth of the Tonto River. Since he helped design A signature series spinnerbait and a half-ounce jig were Roy Hawkthe bait for Pepper Custom Baits, it's only fitting that the color is named "Hawk's Secret." He also caught fish on a Pepper jig with a green-pumpkin Yamamoto trailer. Hawk, who won the Stren Series Western Division event on Clear Lake in Kelseyville, Calif., in March, became the first angler to win back-to-back tournaments in this division. He's also leading the division's Angler of the Year points race. For his victory, Hawk earned $20,423 cash and a fully rigged Ranger boat. Hawk said his personal faith plays a significant role in his success: "Glory be to God. He gives me the peace and comfort to not worry about the small issues so I can just go out there and go fishing. I'm not worried about the money; I'm not worried about the pressure. I don't care if I blank. This is a dream come true to be able to stand up here and do this." Pirch finishes strong, moves to second Despite his inherent advantage of local knowledge, Pirch admitted that he had a tough tournament for the same reason as everyone else. The cold front that pushed into the area a day before the tournament torched many of the plans established during practice. "I really had to scratch around," he said. "That cold front changed things for me. I expected to be able toNational Guard pro Clifford Pirch caught his biggest bag of the event on day three and advanced to second place. sight-fish all week. I was looking at some big fish (in practice), but it just never happened." Pirch said he got most of his fish on weightless, wacky and Texas-rigged Berkley Power Worms fished around flooded brush. Exemplifying the "never give up" mentality essential to competitive fishing, Pirch recalled a moment of last-cast heroics. "At the end of the day, I had about a minute and a half left before I had to leave for the weigh-in," he said. "I had run out of targets, and I had one about 100 yards ahead, but it would have taken all of my time to trolling motor to it. I pulled my trolling motor up, threw my vest on and idled up to the spot. "This was the last target on the whole bank, so I said a prayer: `Lord, I have to get one more good fish.' I threw out toward this log and let it go down about 5 feet. I was just about to pull up the trolling motor when my line (came tight). I set the hook and got my last fish over the slot limit." Pirch earned $8,169. Meyer maintains third place California pro Cody Meyer endured mechanical problems and a painful scorpion sting on his way to third place.You wouldn't know that Redding, Calif., pro Cody Meyer was new to Lake Roosevelt by his solid performance. Combining a 10-pound, 12-ounce effort on day one with a big day-two bag of 15-7 and a final-round limit weighing 7-14, Meyer finished with 34-1 worth $6,536. Meyer said he'd hoped to replicate the topwater action he enjoyed on day two, but that never materialized, so he switched to soft plastics. The fish that did rise on his surface baits only looked at the plug without striking. Adversity plagued Meyer throughout the tournament in the form of navigational issues, trolling motor malfunctions on two consecutive days, and a scorpion that snuck into his sleeping bag and delivered a nonvenomous, albeit painful, sting. "I'm just happy to have made the top 10," Meyer lamented. Stachowski steps up to fourth Gaining a notch from day two, David Stachowski of Tucson, Ariz., caught a limit weighing 10-13 to Despite breaking a rod on a large fish, David Stachowski still managed to find a nice limit that moved him into fourth place.finish with 33-12 worth $5,719. Stachowski fished a Texas-rigged green-pumpkin brush hog and surmised that the cold front actually helped his cause by positioning fish tighter to cover. On his first spot, Stachowski flipped his bait next to a tree and came tight on what felt like the bass of a lifetime. The fish wrapped up deep and Stachowski ended up losing the giant and breaking his flipping rod in the process. Demoralized, Stachowski recomposed himself and went back to work. On his next cast to the same spot, his rod doubled with another huge fish. This time the angler prevailed, but when the fish rolled topside, the sight of its whiskers helped Stachowski get past the previous loss. "That made me feel better knowing that the first fish was probably a big catfish also," he said. "That helped me calm down and get back to fishing." Kerr chatters into fifth Using a chatterbait and a drop shot, Justin Kerr moved up two spots to fifth place.Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., caught a limit weighing 10 pounds 10 ounces in the final round to finish with 33-4 worth $4,902. In the first two rounds, he posted weights of 11-3 and 11-7. Kerr said he used a ChatterBait to cover water and locate fish, after which he'd work a drop-shot. This strategy yielded 30 to 50 fish each day. Best of the rest Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers at the Stren Series Lake Roosevelt event: 6th: Duane Dunstone of Reno, Nev., 33-0 7th: Michael Wright of Grass Valley, Calif., 32-14 8th: John Fuqua of Port Hueneme, Calif., 32-9 9th: Jimmy Savoini of Prescott, Ariz., 29-4 10th: Matt Shura of Gilbert, Ariz., 27-13

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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 »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

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-spawn-looming-at-beaver-lake

Spawn Looming at Beaver Lake

As the pros who fish the Walmart FLW Tour begin practice on Beaver Lake, this jewel of northwestern Arkansas could be setting up for another spring spawn showdown. 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 »