Thrice is nice for Martin, Wendlandt

Pro winner Scott Martin holds up his largest bass from day four on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - When Scott Martin came across a series of offshore rock piles in practice, he stopped to investigate. These isolated sweet spots, located on a Missisquoi Bay flat, were loaded with largemouth bass hiding in a mix of healthy grass, and Martin thought they could potentially go the distance. Clark Wendlandt, however, had no intentions of winning the tournament. His sights were set on becoming the first to win three Angler of the Year titles. Both pros had their game plans come to fruition on day four of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain. For Martin it was special because he was fishing with a heavy heart this week as his Scott Martin bows up on another one.maternal grandmother passed away the day before the tournament began. He said he dedicated his third FLW Tour title to her and could feel her presence with him on the water. After weighing in four bass, Martin needed one more keeper to knock off Anthony Gagliardi. He looked into his bag, reached down for his fifth fish and said, "She wasn't just a top-10 grandma, she was a championship grandma." The Clewiston, Fla., native later elaborated on the win. "I have such a peace about this," said Martin, the son of legendary angler Roland Martin. "If I could keep this confidence and peace the rest of my life, I think I could win every tournament. What I envisioned this week was flying to Oklahoma (site of funeral arrangements) with a trophy in hand. Hopefully that will provide some joy in a sorrow time." Of Martin's three victories, two have came on Champlain, the other on the Pascagoula River. In 2004, the National Guard pro sight-fished exclusively for spawning smallmouths. Since that tournament, no angler has won a tour-level event on Champlain with entirely smallmouths. He located some bedding National Guard pro Scott Martin celebrates after learning he won the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain.brown bass this week, but he caught and weighed only one of them. Instead, smallies were a backup for his brilliant largemouth strategy. Sitting in 5 to 8 feet of water, Martin's postspawn fish were gravitating to a healthy mix of milfoil and eelgrass. Martin said the grass was critical because Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks region have experienced a cool and wet spring. The grass Martin found was about the best the northern portion of the lake had to offer. His three main baits were a Texas-rigged Berkley Chigger Craw (green-pumpkin), a Lucky Craft Fat CB B.D.S. 3 crankbait (Tennessee shad) and a Strike King Series 5 crankbait. On the crankbaits, he tied 12-pound Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line and he used the same line, but in 17-pound-test, on the creature bait, which was pegged with a 3/8-ounce Tru Tungsten weight. During the two-day opening round, Martin said half the fish came on the Chigger Craw and half on the For winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, pro Scott Martin earned $125,000.crankbaits. On day three, the percentage moved to 75-25 in favor of the crankbait, and on the final he estimated it was 90-10. "It seemed like the bigger fish wanted the moving baits as the tournament progressed. I used the crankbait as a search tool as a way to find them and get them going, and then I thoroughly combed through the area with the Chigger Craw." Martin finished the final round with a total weight of 36 pounds, 4 ounces - superseding his 2004 winning weight of 32-8. The latest $125,000 check put his career earnings with FLW Outdoors past the $1 million mark. "They're all special," Martin said of his victories. "This puts me in a class with only a few other guys." Wendlandt first to win three AOY titles It was his goal all season, but undoubtedly it wasn't as easy as he made it look. After watching his AOY counterpart Luke Clausen stumble on day three, Wendlandt knew the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year title was his if he could just stay consistent. Resisting the urge to run south on day three in stiff southerly winds, Wendlandt calmly punted and scraped together 12 pounds, 12 ounces up north. With much calmer seas on day four, the Leander, Clark Wendlandt holds up his trophy after winning the 2009 Land OTexas, native returned to Ticonderoga, the area he had been fishing during the opening round. Today, he caught a workmanlike 15 pounds, 11 ounces and put the finishing touches on his third AOY campaign. Throughout the week he was throwing a Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait and flipping a Gambler Cricket. "Coming into this event, I felt I had to make the top 10 to have a chance," he said. "I figured Brent (Ehrler) or Andy (Morgan) or Luke would catch them, and they did. I have a great amount of respect for Luke, and since we both made the top 10, we both deserved to win." Wendlandt expressed gratitude to his sponsors and said the key to his latest title was never bombing at any of the six qualifiers. He also thanked Castrol pro Mike Surman, his friend and roommate during the season. "AOY is about being consistent. To me, it's about figuring them out at every lake we go to." With 1,096 points, five more than Clausen, Wendlandt takes home $25,000, a Ranger 198VX powered by a 200-horsepower Yamaha outboard and another $25,000 for winning Ranger Cup. "Winning AOY is my goal every year. I think it's the most impressive achievement in bass fishing." Gagliardi climbs to second Gagliardi had his best performance of the four-day tournament, but it still wasn't enough to pose a serious threat to Martin. Throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 in ghost-brown color and a drop-shot rig Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi finished second and earned $50,000 with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 9 pounces.with a Lake Fork Hyper Finesse Worm, Gagliardi caught a stout 19-12. Four of the fish were smallies - one a healthy largemouth. The three biggest came on the Sammy. When the wind blew yesterday, he Carolina-rigged with a Lake Fork Baby Creature. He presented these baits in 12 to 14 feet of water. "Coming into this tournament, my sights were set on just making it to Pittsburgh," he said. "After bombing at Kentucky Lake, I just didn't want two bad tournaments in a row." Gagliardi's best spot was within the Windmill Flat area, and he oftentimes fished within sight of Clausen. Although the bite was slow in tough conditions Saturday, he knew bringing in only four bass had cost him any chance at winning the tournament. "I lost a 5-pounder yesterday, and I knew that was it. I just needed one more. There's no other way I could have done it. Today went great, but there just aren't enough 5-pounders." For 33 pounds, 9 ounces, he earned $50,000. Like Martin, Gagliardi also surpassed the $1 million mark in career FLW Outdoors earnings. "I had a decent practice," Gagliardi added. "I wouldn't say it was a great practice by any stretch. That happens a lot with me. A lot of times I catch more fish than I think I'm catching in practice." Hardin climbs to third The heaviest limit of day four came from Mark Hardin, as did the heaviest limit of the entire tournament (22-2 on day one). Pro Mark Hardin caught a 20-pound, 2-ounce sack Sunday and finished third overall.Hardin's smallmouth area, located south of Rouse's Point, turned back on with the better weather Sunday. The Jasper, Ga., angler caught five bass weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces. "I really thought the opportunity was there," Hardin said. "It was one of those magical places where there are just tons and tons of fish. The wind hurt me yesterday, but it hurt everybody." Hardin's key baits were Mega Bass and Lucky Craft jerkbaits as well as a Carolina rig with a Zoom Speed Craw. Hardin worked these baits over a slight elevation on a flat that went from 16 feet to 14 feet. For a final-round total of 33-3, he finished third and earned $40,000. If not for a culling error yesterday, he would have finished second. This was the first cut Hardin has made since the 2006 FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. Yelas retains fourth Jay Yelas boats a keeper.If the tournament title went to the pro that caught the most keepers, then Jay Yelas would likely be holding the cardboard check above his head. Yelas said he averaged roughly 25 keepers per day in the Missisquoi Bay area. Like Martin, he used a Chigger Craw, but he threw it on the 1/2-ounce signature Berkley Gripper flippin jig. He chose this set-up when flipping clumpy milfoil mats and skipping docks. He also worked in a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm in blue-fleck color, which he dragged over a protected rock pile, which was similar to Martin's. While both pros fished in Missisquoi, Yelas stayed on the lower-middle end. Today his program worked to the tune of 17 pounds, 8 ounces. Combined with his day-three weight of 14-5, he finished with a final-round total of 31 pounds, 13 ounces. He earned $30,000. "My goal was to be in the top five and have some momentum going into the Cup. The Forrest Wood Cup is the only major title I haven't won." Mabrey slides to fifth Pro Kyle Mabrey fell from second to fifth after catching only 13 pounds, 2 ounces Sunday.Lake Champlain is known for extremely tight leaderboards, so Kyle Mabrey knew he had to have a banner day in order to catch Martin, who started 2 pounds, 4 ounces ahead of him. Like he has all week, Mabrey ran 75 miles south of the takeoff site, and his final destination was just south of Ticonderoga. Mabrey did a little bit of flipping, but his bread and butter was casting a Lucky Craft Fat CB B.D.S. 3 crankbait in chartreuse-shad color on the edges of milfoil. He started the tournament with a Bomber Fat Free shad, but felt the lure made too much noise. On day two he switched to the Lucky Craft 3 and caught 20 pounds, 10 ounces. Tied to his crankbaits was 30-pound Spiderwire braid. "To me, the key was throwing a crankbait that made no noise. This was not a reaction bite - they were eating." The McCalla, Ala., pro actually caught two fish on one cast today as a pair of largemouths each grabbed one of his treble hooks. Overall, the bite was slower on day four even with more fishing time. "I lost two good fish today that were probably between 4 and 5 pounds." Ultimately he placed fifth and earned $20,000. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers at the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain: 6th: Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., 29-4, $19,000 7th: Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, 28-7, $18,000 8th: Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., 27-14, $17,000 9th: Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, 27-9, $16,000 10th: Clausen of Gainesville, Ga., 20-2, $15,000 Coming up The $2 million Forrest Wood Cup is scheduled for the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., July 30-Aug. 2.

Tags: headline-story  brett-carlson 

/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 »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »