Texas A&M scores with major comeback effort

After starting the final round in fifth place, Texas A&M's Paul Manley and Andrew Shafer blew away the competition with a 17-2 limit.

NATCHITOCHES, La. - The only good thing about starting the day in last place is that there's only one way to go. Of course, how far you go depends on how bad you want it. Obviously, Andrew Shafer and Paul Manley of Texas A&M wanted the National Guard FLW College Fishing Texas Regional Championship title in a big way. After placing fourth on day one with 6 pounds, 10 ounces, Shafer and Manley caught 6-11 on day two and dropped to fifth. That must have really irritated them, because Monday they sacked up the tournament's heaviest catch - a 17-pound, 2-ounce limit that was nearly 4 pounds heavier than their first two days' total of 13-5. Referring to his morning prediction of a strong final-round performance, Shafer said, "We told ya'll weThis nice pair of Sibley Lake largemouths helped Andrew Shafer contribute greatly to his team were going to come in here and open up a can on `em." That optimism came as a complete dismissal of the "last place" stigma. "We told everyone that we were going to do something different and we were going to go out there and compete. We had nothing to lose, so we went out there and did our best and the big ones bit." Shafer said that weather contributed to his team's success. With a cold front bearing down on northwestern Louisiana, day three began with early-morning showers that tapered to a drizzle by the 7 a.m. launch. Persistent cloud cover kept fish roaming, and the impending temperature drop had them chewing. Paul Manley caught this chunky bass on a spinnerbait.Shafer caught all of his day-three fish on a gray-colored ChatterBait with a Lake Fork swimbait for a trailer. "Everybody was throwing spinnerbaits, but the fish liked that little change in action (with the ChatterBait). It still had the vibration and the movement, but a little change helped," Shafer said. "The bass are feeding on shad right now, so I put that swimbait on, and it looks amazing in the water." Manley got two of his fish on a gray spinnerbait with chartreuse skirt tips and caught his last keeper on a Texas-rigged Speed Craw (green-pumpkin with chartreuse pincers). Topping the field, he said, was a pleasant surprise to cap a great day on the water. "It feels good, but we weren't expecting it - we thought we had about 13 pounds," Manley said. "This morning, we went out hoping to jump maybe a spot or two, but once we got our three biggest fish, we realized we had a shot at (winning). We started getting a little more serious at that point." In both of the previous two days, the winners caught their fish mostly around cypress trees and docks.Perched nervously in the hot seats, Andrew Shafer and Paul Manley get a message of encouragement via live video feed from Texas A&M supporters. Their bites came later in the day, and they caught all their keepers after 1 p.m. Today, they started out by probing grass lines, but soon transitioned to stands of dead lily pads and found their fish roaming the perimeters. "They were out on the edges in some holes in the pads," Shafer said. "They were really aggressive. When we hooked one, we'd say, `Oh man!' When Paul hooked his big one, he said, `I can't turn it - it's a monster!' "Every fish we hooked, we got it in the boat. We just did what we had to do, and it worked out." For their efforts, Manley and Shafer won $25,000 for their school and a Ranger 177TR with an engine for their bass club. The boat will be wrapped in the school colors. Texas State improves to second Texas StateRetaining the second-place position in which they began day three, Jay McCollum and David Cosner of Texas State University added 10 pounds, 13 ounces to the 6-9 and 10-3 they caught the first two days. They ended their run with a 27-9 total that earned $12,500 for their school and another $12,500 for their club. Cosner said that he and McCollum tried to fish wind-swept points, but quickly deduced that the day's excessive wind - often gusting to 30 mph - was pushing loads of bait into backwater coves. The important adjustment, he said, was to relax and focus on covering the water thoroughly. "I started second-guessing myself this morning, and I really had to tell myself to slow down," Cosner said. "I started off fishing a jig, but then I started throwing a spinnerbait, and it paid off. We caught all of our keeper fish on spinnerbaits." The Texas State anglers used 1/2-ounce white Booyah spinnerbaits. Given the day's dim conditions, they switched from metallic blades to painted blades. They caught their fish on spinnerbaits with chartreuse willow blades and white Colorado blades. "The water was murky, and it was on the rise from all the heavy rain," Cosner said. "Also, the sun wasn't out, so metallic blades wouldn't flash." McCollum said that diligence was his biggest ally today: "I had a plan, and that plan was to throw a spinnerbait all day. If I hadn't have caught my last fish when I did, I probably would have put that rod down because my wrist was killing me." Froggy Tarleton State stays in third Tanner Morgan and John Anderson of Tarleton State may have settled for third place, but they'll beJohn Anderson threw a Horny Toad and caught three good fish for Tarleton State. remembered as the most-improved team of the tournament. Day one found them in 15th place with 4-6, but sacking up 10-6 - the heaviest day-two weight - pushed them into the final round at third place. Today's weight of 10-5 kept them in the same spot with a 25-1 total that earned $5,500 for their school and the same for their club. Anderson and Morgan caught all of their fish on Horny Toads in watermelon-red and green-pumpkin. Heeding the advice of another team that did not reach the finale, they determined that frogging would be a good fit for the prevailing conditions. "Cloud cover and rain normally brings the fish shallow, so we thought the (frog baits) would be a good plan for working the pondweed," Anderson said. Morgan, who caught three big keepers in a deep hole on day two, said today's windy conditions forced them out of several promising spots: "I think the wind really limited us a little bit. We had some good stands of pondweed that we caught some fish out of early, and then when the wind picked up, we couldn't get another bite in there. "We had to go find some spots that were out of the wind. Our deep hole that we fished yesterday was getting pounded by the wind. We fished it a little bit, but the wind was just too much for (that spot)." Wind-blown Northwestern settles for fourth Local anglers, Jeffrey Rich and Aaron Sistrunk of Northwestern State finished fourth.The hometown favorites, Jeffrey Rich and Aaron Sistrunk of Northwestern State, represented their school well by reaching the top five and improving each day. They placed eighth on day one with 6 pounds, 3 ounces, improved to fourth on day two with 7-6 and ended in fourth by catching 8-2 for a tournament total of 21-11. Throwing frogs and spinnerbaits, the local anglers were anticipating the opportunity of fishing a promising spot where a seawall with adjacent depths of 6 feet rolled off into about 14. The spot produced big weights quickly in practice, so Rich and Sistrunk figured they had an ace in the hole. "We really wanted to fish our deep fish today because we knew that they'd bite, but the wind just didn't go the right way - it blew straight in on our spot at about 30 mph," Rich said. "The waves were so big they were going over into the (homeowner's) yard. I tried to stay on the spot with the trolling motor on (high), but it was too rough for us." Certainly, the local favorites would have preferred a win, but of the two $4,000 checks that he andAfter leading for two days, the Baylor team dropped to fifth on the final day. Sistrunk won for their school and their bass club, Rich joked, "Me and Aaron are now the all-time leading money winners for Northwestern State University." Baylor bottoms out with fifth Baylor University's Jay Holland and Andrew McAdams led days one and two with catches of 10-15 and 6-5. They stumbled on the final day with just three fish for 3-6 and ended in fifth with a total weight of 20-10. Holland and McAdams won $3,000 for their school and the same for their bass club. The Baylor anglers fished 1/2-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits with gold and silver willow blades. The colors were Mouse (gray skirt) and Hot Mouse (gray skirt with chartreuse tips).

Tags: headline-story  david-a-brown 

/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

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/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 »