University of Florida goes all the way

The University of Florida's Jake Gipson and Matthew Wercinski swept the event on Lake Monroe.

SANFORD, Fla. - Turkey day is just around the corner, and the University of Florida's Jake Gipson and Matthew Wercinski are giving "thanks" that five bass "gobbled" their baits and stuck a big "feather" in their caps at the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeast Regional Championship on Lake Monroe. Now that we have the holiday metaphors out of the way, let's look at how the Gator duo won the tournament. Gipson and Wercinski took the lead for the University of Florida on day one with with 12 pounds, 12 ounces and then added 9-9 on day two. Their final-round score was 7-12 for a three-day total weight of 30 pounds, 1 ounce. UF's go-to bait for most of the tournament was a Zoom Magnum Speed Worm fished on a 6/0 heavy-gauge hook with a clear, plastic screw-lock weight. On days one and two, ripping the worms acrossAlthough the kicker fish eluded them, UF the tops of grass beds proved most effective, but today found the fish in a foul mood, and they just didn't want to chase the fast-moving presentations. "We had been catching our fish really shallow around matted grass," Gipson said. "When the sun was out (on days one and two), the bass would get under those mats and it was purely a reaction bite on top. But today it was cloudy, so I think those fish were out roaming, and they weren't willing to come up and eat that topwater (presentation)." Downsizing to Texas-rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hogs was the final-round strategy. Gipson and Wercinski found most of their day-three action in a hole at the mouth of a creek. Although both anglers fished the same baits, Gipson started catching fish early, while Wercinski had to tough it out for several hours before finding his keepers. "It was the mental game for me today because I didn't have a fish until after noon," Wercinski said. "It was rough." AuburnGipson described the fundamental elements of his University of Florida team's success: "There were two keys - the first was to keep our heads down and keep fishing. Every day, we caught a fish with less than an hour to go, so we had to keep plugging away. "The other thing was teamwork. The first day, I had my limit early and I was helping (Wercinski) get his limit. I was rigging stuff for him, keeping him in the front of the boat and staying out of his way so he could catch them. The second day, we reversed roles. He had a limit early, and I didn't have my limit until a half-hour (before the end of fishing time). We just kept helping each other out." For their efforts, the UF anglers won $25,000 for their school and a Ranger 177TR, wrapped in their school colors, with a motor for their bass club. Gipson and Wercinski, along with all of the top five teams, will fish for the University of Florida in the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship April 10-12, 2010, in Knoxville, Tenn. The winning team at the national championship will qualify for the prestigious 2010 Forrest Wood Cup. Gipson said that his team's victory and the prize boat will provide a great boost for the UF bass club that he and Wercinski founded: "We started this club a little over a year ago, and it has grown quite a bit. This is really going to help us out a lot." Auburn's Parker and Baker finish in second They had the heaviest weight (8-4) and the only limit of day three, but in the end, Auburn's Shaye BakerA mighty and Dennis Parker couldn't overtake the Florida team, and the Tigers settled for second with a total weight of 27-11. On days one and two, their weights were 9-13 and 9-0. For the first two days, Baker and Parker caught most of their bass in a spring-fed creek where clear, shallow water required stealth presentations with weightless Texas-rigged finesse worms and Fat Albert grubs on 10-pound fluorocarbon line. "We caught one fish in the main lake, but we had nine keepers between us yesterday and seven between us on the first day," Baker said. "We wanted to go back in the same creek today and give it a shot because we knew there were still some fish in there, and every ounce counts." Fortune favored Baker, and he stuck three keepers in short order, but Parker's luck lagged a little. Baker said he had not intended to fish the entire creek, but they ended up having to fish it all the way to the Three good fish from Auburnend, where Parker found his first keeper. He bagged his second on the way out of the creek, and then Baker recalled a certain tree with all the right features, including the memory of producing a fish in practice. "For whatever reason, that tree just looked right in practice, and I said, `That's the magic tree,'" Baker recalled. "So we idled 400 yards (from the creek mouth) to this one tree, Dennis throws up there about three times, and on the third cast, about halfway back to the boat the fish hits, and he put it in the boat. That was his third fish and our limit." Parker pointed to team spirit as the key ingredient to Auburn's success: "Shaye really carried me today. I was getting discouraged - I had one break off early, and I had a couple others that wouldn't commit (to the bait). On the first two days, I had my limits by 9 o'clock, so today I was starting to get down and second-guessing myself. Shaye just kept building me back up and telling me, `Just keep doing what we're doing. We know there's fish in here, so just keep your head down.' "Every time, I'd push a little harder. This is our fourth day fishing (including practice), and it really helps if you have a partner that's willing to carry you like that." Auburn's Rodgers and Peek advance to third Starting day three in fifth place, Auburn's Richard Peek and Caleb Rodgers had only one way to go, andRising two spots from fifth, Auburn they took that upward direction, gaining two spots for a third-place finish with 20 pounds, 2 ounces. The Tigers bagged three keepers on the final day for 5-14. They had 7-4 on day one and 7-0 on day two. Day three's prolonged period of overcast conditions worked in favor of this Auburn team. Days one and two had clouds with scattered periods of sunshine. Today saw gray skies from the launch until midday. "We've needed cloudy weather all week - that's what we planned for, and that's how we practiced," Peek said. "We actually had it this morning for an extra hour or two. We had two better bites and got them in the boat, but once the sun came out about 11 a.m., our bite died down." Peek and Rodgers fished a Skinny Dipper swimbait on a weighted 5/0 wide-gap hook and a Texas-rigged Zoom Chigger Tail Worm in the Bama Bug color. They flipped the worm and swam it across the tops of lily pads and hydrilla. When they found holes in the vegetation, they let the worm drop into these openings to further tease the bass. Peek said that his team had two more shots at good fish, but the nature of their tactics inherently claims a few fish. "We hooked two more good ones that were way back in the lily pads, and we couldn't pull them out." UCF represents for fourth Representing the tournamentWith infectious enthusiasm, no doubt spurred by tremendous support from a very vocal audience of their fellow Knights, the University of Central Florida's wildly popular team of Dustin Lauer and Matthew Norman managed just three fish for 1-15 on day three and retained their fourth-place position with a total of 19-5. Targeting hydrilla and bulrushes on the lake's west side, the UCF anglers caught their fish on frogs and flukes. Lauer said the day's calm conditions hurt their efforts: "It was a nice day - a little too nice. We actually needed a little more wind movement and a little bit of rain to kick that bait up and get the bass biting. We were kind of banking on that." The hometown crowd went nuts when Lauer and Norman weighed the largest bag of day two - 10 pounds, 10 ounces - and rose three spots from seventh to make the top five. The UCF anglers got no less love on day three, despite a slow day. Thanking their supporters, both anglers expressed pride in carrying the UCF banner this week and promised to do so at the championship in Knoxville. "We worked so hard - this lake is tough," Lauer said. "We're going to go Knoxville and fish our hearts out and represent our school." Young Harris struggles, finishes fifth It was a tough day for Clint McNeal and Brad Rutherford of Young Harris College, as the anglers slippedAvoiding the goose egg, Clint McNeal boated a single bass for Young Harris College. two notches to finish fifth with a total of 19 pounds, 2 ounces. The anglers started the tournament by placing fourth on day one with 9-0 and rose to third on day three with 8-14. McNeal caught a single bass weighing 1-4 on day three. The anglers had fared well by throwing topwaters and flukes at schooling fish on days one and two, but they could not find such activity in the final round. With today's wind much lighter than the previous two days, Rutherford surmised that the baitfish were being herded into the areas where they had previously found schooling bass. Without the food concentration, the predators were not forming their feeding groups. McNeal said he was thankful for his one fish: "That fish came five minutes before we had to come in. We stopped on one last place and hit it just to try, and it paid off. We were worried that we were going to come in with a goose egg."

Tags: headline-story  david-a-brown 

/news/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-johnston-targets-beds-for-big-limit

Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-football-jig-helps-bates-net-title

Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-hipsher-hops-ledges-for-victory

Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-lauer-wins-on-ohio-river

Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-creature-bait-does-it-for-berhorst

Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-potomac-river-day-4-coverage

Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Wendlandt suffered a mechanical failure with his rig just a couple of hours into competition that prevented him from running his big motor on plane. He was stuck, more or less, and planned to fish with the trolling motor as best he could before being towed back to the ramp early. If it’d played out as planned, Wendlandt would have lost significant fishing time and probably wouldn’t have weighed in a limit. Fukae would let nothing of the sort happen when he came across Wendlandt on the water and heard what had happened. In 16th place and fishless at the time, Fukae insisted that Wendlandt trade boats, effectively ending his tournament and giving Wendlandt the chance to catch 14 1/2 pounds and maintain his lead with a three-day total of 47-02. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-thrift-flirting-with-second-aoy-title

Thrift Flirting with Second AOY Title

Bryan Thrift can’t say for certain what baits will sit on his front deck during the final Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015 on the Potomac River, which is set to kick off this Thursday, but he’s quick to say what will not join him – the memory of his 2010 Angler of the Year title. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »