Ehrler at another level

National Guard pro Brent Ehrler drags a five-pound kicker to the net.

BRANSON, Mo. - On the Bassmaster Elite Series, there is Kevin Van Dam, and there is everyone else. On the FLW Tour, there is Brent Ehrler, and then there is everyone else. What Ehrler has accomplished in the sport of professional bass fishing the last three years is nothing short of remarkable. And what he's presently doing to the Table Rock Lake bass is downright incredible. In what has been a difficult event for most, Ehrler is putting on a classic prespawn clinic. How good was it? At 9 a.m., when FLW Outdoors writer Rob Newell caught up with him, Ehrler already had an 18-pound limit in the boat. In his first 30 minutes, Ehrler boated eight keepers; the two biggest were healthy largemouths that went over 5 pounds. After catching his second kicker from his primary area, Ehrler attempted to describe his emotions. "Man I am so excited; my heart is thumping so hard right now," he said. "This is awesome." With a two-day total of 38 pounds, 8 ounces, Brent Ehrler has accumulated a whopping 8-pound, 5-ounce lead. At weigh-in, Ehrler still hadn't calmed down. He described the point he's working as the best prespawn spot he's ever fished. "I've never found a spot like this before. I basically found it out running around looking at my Lowrance electronics. It's basically just an underwater point, and there's a ledge that goes from shallow to deep. I'm fishing the deep side of the ledge over the trees with reaction baits." Ironically, Ehrler's biggest fish in his 22-pound, 2-ounce limit didn't come from his primary area. He left the magic spot a little after 10 a.m. and attempted to locate similar areas. He found nothing with similar capability, but the upgrade helps - especially now that the FLW Tour has a four-day, accumulated-weight format. "The best part is that no one's been there yet," Ehrler continued. "But I'm worried someone might poach in. You just never know. If they don't, I think I can win the tournament there. It's a staging spot that could get better as the water warms. And I'm not worried about wind or any weather condition. It's one of those spots where that doesn't matter." With a two-day total of 38 pounds, 8 ounces, Ehrler will take an 8-pound, 5-ounce lead into day three. "I'm so excited to get back out there tomorrow." Wurm retains second In second place is Hot Springs, Ark., pro Mike Wurm, who caught 16 pounds, 14 ounces on day one and 13 pounds, 5 ounces on day two. While Ehrler is fishing for a reaction bite, Wurm is dragging a Hot Springs, Ark., pro Mike Wurm is in second place with a two-day total of 30 pounds, 3 ounces.small jig on the bottom in a painfully slow fashion. This is the exact method he used to win the 1999 FLW Tour qualifier on Lake Murray. "Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday, except that I didn't get a 6-pound kicker," said Wurm. "I had my limit of largemouths by 11 a.m., and I made two culls." Wurm is running 45 minutes one way to get to his honeyhole. This area is large, and within it he has four different points and banks upon which he focuses. Once he's there, he pulls out an Eakins' jig with a Zoom Critter Craw trailer and fishes in approximately 25 to 30 feet. "I love to throw a finesse jig on a spinning rod, and now I've figured out how to make it even better. I'm using 10-pound braid with a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader, and that is the difference. I'm setting the hook quickly, and it's going directly into the top of their mouth. And the braid helped a lot too with those tree fish. The line does not break near as bad." While Ehrler is worried about other anglers encroaching, Wurm has no such problem. He's boat No. 1 Friday morning, and he runs an Evinrude-powered Ranger boat. Pugh third Pro Greg Pugh slipped from first to third after catching four bass Thursday that weighed 10 pounds, 8 ounces.Falling to third place is day-one leader Greg Pugh. After sacking 18-11 Wednesday, Pugh managed four keepers today from the same area that weighed 10 pounds, 8 ounces. "It was much tougher," said the Cullman, Ala., pro. "I caught four keepers, four non-keepers, and I lost three. I got 11 bites." Three of those keepers were largemouths, and the other was a "lost" spotted bass. Pugh says, despite the slower day, he's still confident with where he's at - both literally and figuratively. "I know there's fish there - good ones too. But today the wind blew up the creek, and yesterday it blew with it. I think that really affected me. The sunshine is good though; it helps bring them into the trees." Pugh's total weight heading into the cut day is 29 pounds, 3 ounces. Thrift fourth Three ounces behind Pugh is Shelby, N.C., pro Bryan Thrift. After catching 14-13 on day one, Thrift Bryan Thrift is in fourth place with 29-3.sacked 14-3 today to bring his total weight to 29 pounds even. Like most of the top pros, Thrift has been capitalizing on a strong early-morning bite. "Yesterday morning I got bites on just about every cast; it was incredible," he said. "Today I was a little worried at first because I didn't get a bite on my first three casts." But the action quickly picked up as Thrift received eight bites in the next 30 minutes. Four of those were keepers, and he boated all four. That's noteworthy because he would have made the cut last year at Table Rock if not for missed fish. "After that, I ran a long ways to my other place and caught my fifth keeper on my first cast. And that was it. I caught four largemouths and one spotted bass." Thrift is using 3/8-ounce and 1/2-ounce Damiki jigs in water 14 to 25 feet deep. "This is a totally different pattern from what I did last year. Last year I fished standing timber, and the areas I caught my fish would never replenish. I think my best spot is replenishing this year, which is good because No. 2 isn't as good." Chevy pro Dion Hibdon posted the comeback limit of the day -- 21-2 -- to jump from 73rd to 5th with a two-day total of 25-10 Hibdon storms back for fifth After catching only two bass for 4 pounds, 8 ounces yesterday, Chevy pro Dion Hibdon stormed back with a 21-pound, 2-ounce limit today. At the halfway point in the tournament, his two-day total stands at 25 pounds, 10 ounces. Hibdon is a noted deep-water fisherman who excels in the Ozarks. He calls Lake of the Ozarks home, but has quite a track record on Table Rock as well. Last year he finished 16th, one place ahead of his father, Guido. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake after day two: 6th: Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., 25-8 7th: Robert Harkness of Elizabeth, W. Va., 25-7 8th: Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., 25-0 9th: Joe Thomas of Milford, Ohio, 24-15 10th: Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., 24-11 Melton clings to co-angler lead In Thrift and Rose, Shane Melton has been paired with two of the best anglers in the sport of bass Shane Melton caught three bass Thursday weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces to retain his lead in the Co-angler Division.fishing. But credit Melton for making the most of his opportunities. While he caught an impressive 13-pound, 9-ounce limit with Thrift, he managed 6 pounds, 15 ounces with Rose. Melton's day-two catch came on three bass, two of which were largemouths - the other a spot. "It was a lot like yesterday," said the Greentown, Ind., native. "It seems like if you don't get it done by 10:30, you don't get it done. I've drawn out two of the best in the game, and that seems to be the pattern." Melton fished in 14 to 25 feet of water with Thrift yesterday, and he fished in 20 to 25 feet of water with Rose today. "I really figured if I could catch 6 or 7 pounds a day, that would be good enough. When I put those three in the boat, Mark told me I'd be in the lead. To be honest, it's a little overwhelming." Co-angler Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., is in second place with a two-day total of 16-9. Forrest Wood Cup champion second Co-angler Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces to assume second place after Thursday's competition. Roberts' limit was the only one of the day among the co-anglers and only the second overall. It also cut the difference between first and second to less than a pound. "We started in a dirty-water area," said Roberts, who has a two-day total of 19 pounds, 9 ounces. "He (partner Jason Cordiale) worked one side, and I worked the other. We were fishing a 2-foot drop in about 10 feet of water. The fish were basically moving up the creek, and we were sitting in a staging area, waiting for them." Roberts, who weighed all largemouths, used a Cumberland Pro 3/8-ounce casting jig in "oops" color (brown/orange/chartreuse mix). He tipped the jig with a Barren River craw. If Roberts surpasses Melton tomorrow, it would be back-to-back victories. Fishing fans may remember Roberts won the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup on the Three Rivers, fishing behind Michael Iaconelli. Rest of the best Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala., retained third place with one additional bass weighing 4 pounds, 2 ounces. Lee's total weight is 13 pounds even. Despite not catching a keeper bass Thursday, Darrell Mitchell of Taneyville, Mo., only fell from second to fourth. Mike Foree of Osage Beach, Mo., moved up to fifth place after catching three bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Foree's total weight is 11 pounds, 10 ounces. Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake after day two: 6th: Chad Parks of Olive Branch, Miss., 11-13 7th: Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind., 10-13 8th: Jason Law of Waycross, Ga., 9-10 9th: Steven Meador of Bella Vista, Ark., 9-5 10th: Sean Stepp of Stafford, Va., 8-13 Day three of the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake will begin Friday at 7 a.m. at the Table Rock State Park Marina, located at 380 State Park Marina Road in Branson, Mo.

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 »

/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-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

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

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/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 »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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