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/2015-04-26-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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/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

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/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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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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 »

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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