Dill delivers

A long run paid off for James Dill, as his target area produced tournament-winning fish.

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. - Making a 50-mile run takes commitment. Doing so on a shivering-cold morning with a stinging rain requires an absolute certainty in the objective. In short, that was the script for James Dill, who won the American Fishing Series Central Division opener on Lake of the Ozarks. The Laurie, Mo., pro left the dock at the Grand Glaize Recreation Area and made a two-hour run up the lake to fish the fertile backwaters he located during practice. Conditions were right, and Dill made the decision to stake his tournament fortunes on these distant spots. "I found a couple of creeks loaded up with fish, and I knew I could go there every day and catch a limit," heJames Dill caught his winning fish on a Crocogator jig in the Ozark Craw color. said. "I just didn't know what the limits would weigh. It was a long run. I will say that - a long run. My non-boaters, I have to give it to them; they hung with me to run that distance." Dill caught all of his fish on a 5/16-ounce Crock O Gator Zapper jig in the Ozark Craw color. "I used the same jig all day today," Dill said. "It just comes through the rocks and brush really good." After two days of mostly sunny conditions, day three saw a cold front roll through the area in the morning. Anglers faced rain, sleet and snow throughout the day, and air temperatures topped out around 38 degrees. Finding a warm spot was essential to Dill's success. "The water temperature up there has been 47 degrees for a good week, and the other week I had 50 in Finding creeks with warmer water was intrinsic to James Dillthere," he said. "I just keyed on that. All of these fish were just coming in, and they were staging on the channel banks. You can go to any channel swing up there and catch fish. I caught probably 14 keepers up there. It was just a good bite today." With many of his fish biting gingerly, Dill said that hookups required heightened sensitivity and response. Fifteen-pound Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line facilitated this. "It was really just a matter of feeling them. Those fish would pick up the jig and just hold it. You had to keep a rhythm going and keep contact with that jig. If you didn't have rhythm going, you'd never feel them. If that rhythm stopped, you'd better set the hook." Dill placed seventh on day one with 13 pounds. He improved to fifth the next day by adding 13-15. In the final round, he caught his best bag of the tournament - 16-1 - and posted a 43-pound total. He won $22,121 plus a Ranger boat, motor and trailer. Kowal sticks with jerkbaits, finishes second Shawn Kowal of Linn Creek, Mo., grabbed the second-place spot on day two and never budged. He caughtOne of the tournament limits all three days, with weights of 15-12, 13-6 and 12-14 yielding a 42-pound total and $7,521. Kowal said he struggled to get a big bite on day two, and he hoped that he had a spot with quality fish identified for the final round. Regrettably, he said he let the crowd factor get to him. "I made some pretty good decisions the first two days, and I really thought that today I'd catch a lot bigger fish," he said. "I had the spot to probably win this tournament, and I left it too early. There were a lot of boats in there. Today, there was a (local) tournament launching from (this area), and there were four other boats in there. It was tight, so I figured I'd make a run and finish out my limit, but it didn't work out quite that way." Targeting specific notches in the shoreline contour, Kowal fished Megabass jerkbaits, including a hot new color that has not yet been released to the public. "I was fishing pretty warm water, so I could move the bait pretty fast," he said. "This afternoon, I fished in cooler water, and I had to let it sit for a while. I just had to keep changing up until I figured out what they wanted." Newly engaged Garrison takes third Holding at third place, Earl Garrison IV missed his Day Three limit by one fish, but his 12-5 weight showed he was around good fish.After placing third on day one with 15-11, Earl K. Garrison IV of Bull Shoals, Ark., kept that position on day two with 13-1. He added four fish that weighed 12-5 on day three for a 41-1 total worth $5,309. Garrison caught all of his fish on Megabass jerkbaits, some of which were custom painted by Fall Creek Lures. "I had two rods out every day, and I just alternated colors on different spots," Garrison said. "It was real simple fishing, but I just came up one short today." After weighing his fish on day one, Garrison surprised his girlfriend Jennifer Swackhammer with a marriage proposal - on her birthday. Jennifer said "yes," and Garrison said she is the catch of his life. Ives makes big run, takes fourth Steve C. Ives of Rockford, Ill., ran about 17 miles from the launch site, fished with rods and jigs from hisMoving up four spots to finish fourth, Steve Ives had three feisty smallmouth in his limit. company, Top 10 Tackle, and caught a strong limit weighing 14-7. Pairing that with his first two weights of 12-4 and 13-10 gave him a fourth-place score of 40-5 worth $4,424. Three of Ives' final-day keepers wore brown suits with stripes on their faces. "Those smallmouth were a real surprise, and that big one was a joy because I was having a tough morning when I got that one," he said. Ives described his bait presentation: "Sometimes I was dragging it, and sometimes I just stopped it. When the bite slowed down, I really slowed down the jig. I'd pull it against the structure and just let it sit for a second. I'd wait, and usually a fish would come by and pick it up." Taylor falls to fifth Bub Taylor of Tontitown, Ark., led the Pro Division after day two, but dropped to fifth with a tournament total of 39-8. He earned $3,982. Best of the rest Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW American Fishing Series Lake of the Ozarks event: 6th: Roger Fitzpatrick of Eldon, Mo., 38-14 7th: Marcus Sykora of Osage Beach, Mo., 38-3 8th: Joe Partain of Farmington, Ark., 35-12 9th: Bob Richardson of Granite City, Ill., 33-6 10th: Mike Foree of Osage Beach, Mo., 32-0

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/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

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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 »