UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Yoder’s rollercoaster ride results in wire-to-wire win

Pro winner Michael Yoder holds up his biggest bass from day three on Falcon Lake.

ZAPATA, Texas - For the diehard angler, a trip to Falcon Lake is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For Michael Yoder, that is a severe understatement. His past three days on the legendary Rio Grande River impoundment will never be forgotten. Yoder's week can best be described as a rollercoaster filled with peaks and valleys. He launched his boat Thursday morning knowing that his only reliable spot was located 18 miles south of the takeoff site on the Mexican side of the lake near the dam. He also knew the forecast called for dangerously high winds out of the north. Thankfully, he reached his primary area without too much difficulty. Once he got there, he tied into some amazing fish - 38 pounds, 4 ounces worth of Falcon Lake bass to be exact. But he knew the ride back would be brutal. Battling giant waves, Yoder wrecked just about every piece of equipment on his boat from his trolling motor to his graph to his livewell pumps. But at the A closer look at Michael Yoderend of the day, he was in safe and had accumulated a 9-pound lead. "My boat was a mess when I came in, but I have to thank Ranger for staying up with me until 10:30 Thursday night making sure I would be ready to go Friday morning," he said. Day two saw colder conditions and slightly diminished winds. Once again, Yoder ventured south - braving the elements. As the temperature plummeted, the bite slowed. Instead of throwing the tilapia-pattern crankbait (made by 6th Sense Custom Tackle) he used on day one, Yoder was forced to go to a jig. His jig of a choice was of the football-head variety and was hand-tied by the company Fish Diffee. He tipped it with a Gene Larew craw in green pumpkin color. The result was another solid limit weighing 27 pounds, 11 ounces. With much calmer conditions Saturday, he started fishing shallow scattered rocks in his primary area but the bite was off. He scrambled around some and eventually returned to his sweet spot shortly after noon only to find commercial tilapia fishermen occupying the area. Rather than panic, Yoder went with a gut feeling and started Carolina rigging with a Zoom lizard out deep. "There was a nearby island and I basically just started dragging until I felt brush," said Yoder. "I found them stacked up in one spot that was about 25 feet deep." At 2:35 p.m. the Texarkana, Ark., pro tied into his fifth and final keeper - a Falcon Lake beauty that weighed nearly 8 pounds and pushed his final-day stringer to 27-9. At the time, Yoder was thinking that specific fish sealed the deal on his first victory. "At 2:45 I decided it was time to leave. I turned the key and got nothing." Pro Michael Yoder celebrates after winning the inaugural FLW American Fishing Series event on Falcon Lake. What transpired next was a mad scramble of switching batteries and matching black wires with black wires and red wires with red wires. The engine eventually started and he was able to check in with a few minutes to spare. "I'm applying as a mechanic at NASCAR next week," quipped Yoder. Yoder then reflected on his first American Fishing Series event as a pro. "What a week. There have been a lot of ups and downs. But it's all been worth it." For winning the inaugural American Fishing Series event, Yoder claimed $25,000 and a fully equipped 198VX Ranger. His total weight of 93 pounds, 8 ounces surpassed the winning weight (92-2) of last year's Falcon champion - Joe Don Setina. "It feels incredible to be up here but there's a lot of friends and family that helped me get here.' Combs' 41-1 not enough Imagine catching 41 pounds on the final day of a tournament and not winning. That's what is running through Keith Combs' mind right now. His official day-three weight from Falcon was 41 pounds, 1 ounce. Not only was 41-1 his personal best, it was also the heaviest single-day catch in FLW Outdoors Pro Keith Combs holds up a giant Falcon Lake bass he caught on day three. Combs finished the event in second place.history. The smallest fish in his creel weighed nearly 8 pounds and his biggest weighed almost 10. "It was a great day from start to finish," said the Del Rio, Texas, pro who guides on both Amistad and Falcon. "We were blessed with great weather for a change and wow that was fun. I couldn't wait to weigh them in." Combs said he caught one of the giants on his second cast of the day and they hit approximately every 20 minutes after that. Ironically, his big sack came within sight of the Zapata County Boat Ramp. He fished the same area on day two, but minor adjustments made all the difference. "I was fishing a road bed and I think I was lined up wrong yesterday. Today I threw to where the boat was positioned. I either didn't fish it slow enough or I was lined up wrong. Its amazing how a minor adjustment can make such a big difference." That road bed, which was in approximately 12 feet of water, was a migratory route for both pre- and postspawn bass. The road bed ran across a giant flat to the main river channel. While several other anglers were working the channel, Combs had the road bed to himself. To catch his fish, Combs used mostly a Carolina rig with a Zoom Brush Hog. Occasionally he mixed in a spinnerbait. He said the key to his success was the area and his Power Tackle rods, which allowed him to quickly draw the mean Falcon Lake bass out of the brush. Combs' consolation prize was $8,000. He more than likely won't be fishing the next Texas Division event. Instead, he'll be practicing for the FLW Tour season opener on the Red River. Mullins third With a three-day total of 76 pounds, 14 ounces, pro David Mullins finished the Falcon Lake event in third place. Coppell, Texas, pro David Mullins finished the tournament with a total weight of 76 pounds, 14 ounces. His five-bass limit Saturday weighed 23 pounds, 8 ounces - his lightest performance of the event. Throughout the week, Mullins alternated between fishing deep and shallow. But whatever depth he worked, he stuck with a Brush Hog as his bait of choice. When shallow he flipped it and when deep he drug it with a Carolina rig. To illustrate the point, one of Mullins' day-three keepers came from 2 feet of water and another came from 60 feet. His primary area was located on the south end of the lake. On days one and two the ride back to weigh-in was wicked and he was glad to be in a 21-foot Ranger. "It wasn't fun, but we got back," Mullins said. His third-place finish, his first top 10 at the Triple A level, earned him $6,000. Morton, Cremo round out top five In fourth place was Etoile, Texas, native Justin Morton with a three-day total of 70 pounds, 5 ounces. After sticking 25-8 and 23-9 on days one and two, Morton managed 21-4 on day three. While most of the pros were employing plastics, Morton used a crankbait. "I was ripping a Norman DD-22 just like I would rip a Rat-L-Trap through the grass at (Sam) Rayburn," he said. This was Morton's first trip to the top 10 and he earned $5,000. Richard Cremo dropped from second to fifth after managing only two bass worth 9-13 Saturday. He finished the event with a total weight of 68 pounds, 7 ounces - worth $4,500. Like Morton, this was Cremo's first time making the cutoff. "I never expected anything like this," Cremo said. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity." Cremo fished six miles northwest of the boat ramp and worked a point in 12 to 15 feet of water. He used three baits - a spinnerbait, a Carolina rig and a jig. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the American Fishing Series Texas Division event on Falcon Lake: 6th: Randy White of Haslet, Texas, three-day total of 66-9, $4,000 7th: Tim Reneau of Del Rio, Texas, 66-9, $3,500 8th: Michael Herron of Paris, Texas, 65-7, $3,000 9th: Rob Burns of Plano, Texas, 64-0, $2,500 10th: Christopher Brasher of Spring, Texas, 57-4, $2,000 The next American Fishing Series event will take place Feb. 4-6 on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Jasper, Texas.

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Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

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Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

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Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

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Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »