UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Old Hickory Lake

Overdue no more

Pro winner Chris Gilman holds up his biggest fish from day four on Leech Lake.

WALKER, Minn. - It is official. As of 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2010, Chris Gilman is no longer the best tournament walleye angler never to have won a tour-level championship. It was 20 years in the making, but it was more than worth the wait for the Chisago City, Minn., pro. Gilman, with multiple PWT wins and an Angler of the Year title on the FLW Walleye Tour, has long been considered the most consistent pro in the sport. But he's always coveted a championship victory, and Leech Lake proved to be the perfect venue. Gilman ran a two-tier program this week - targeting overs in Walker Bay's deep water and unders in the shallow Goose Island Flats area. According to a state-enacted slot limit, anglers had to release all walleyes 18 to 26 inches in length. In addition, only two fish over 26 inches in length could be kept each day. On the final two days of the tournament, anglers could keep only four fish and weigh one over 26 inches. Coming in, Gilman thought getting consistent overs would be a tall task, yet he managed five of the An emotional Chris Gilman celebrates after winning the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship.allowed six during the four-day tournament. On day one, he sacked a steady 10-pound, 4-ounce limit. On day two he managed two overs and improved to 15-8. Day three was the pivotal day as he caught a four-fish limit weighing 9 pounds, 4 ounces. But more importantly, the pros ahead of him failed to catch an over and his deficit shrunk from 5 pounds to 5 ounces. "Coming off the water that day, I really thought I had a good chance at winning," Gilman recalled. "Pat (Byle) had had a tough day, and all of a sudden I realized I wasn't that far out of it." With confidence on his side, Gilman sacked 7 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day. His over came in the boat at 10 a.m. at a spot he had hardly fished. But once he left Walker Bay, he found the "under" fishing extremely difficult. In fact, he managed only one of his three allowed unders. "This afternoon when I brought in only one 14- to 18-inch fish, I thought I had blown it. When I saw my name on the screen, I was stunned. I truthfully thought I blew it." Gilman described his techniques as nothing fancy. When he rigged in Walker Bay, he used a 1 1/2-ounce Wing It slip sinker, a 6-foot leader and redtail chubs. His main line was Sufix braid and his leader was 8-pound Sufix fluorocarbon. When he jigged, he used 8-pound Sufix Seige with an 1/8-ounce VMC Dominator jig. While he always rigged with bigger chubs, he jigged with both smaller redtails and rainbow minnows. While the rigging spots were mainly deep boulder humps, the shallow jigging spots had green elodea weeds. Pro Chris Gilman sets the hook on a keeper walleye Wednesday morning. "Watching my locator was real important, as I did not fish very much unless I saw the right marks. I have a Lowrance HDS 10, and it was real easy to see which spots had fish on them. I pretty much knew if I was going to get one or not by looking at my locator." Gilman, a legend in the sport for his focus and determination, then reflected on his latest milestone. "It`s an accomplishment I'll always be proud of and I'll never forget. I think winning Angler of the Year last year was a harder accomplishment, but, man, this is something I've always wanted. You know how much time and effort (Gilman breaks up) - it`s just amazing how much work all of the anglers put into this sport, and to have it pay off is just so gratifying that I can't even explain it." For winning the FLW Walleye Tour Championship, Gilman earned $40,000 plus an additional $2,676 from the optional pot. Filkins slips to second Heading out as boat No. 1 this morning, rookie pro Terry Filkins paid no attention to his chasers and instead focused on his pattern, a pattern he said he wasn't going to change no matter what. Filkins Second-place pro Terence Filkins holds up his 6-pound, 9-ounce kicker from day four on Leech Lake.stayed true to his word and grinded out another over weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces. He caught another eight fish or so, but all fell between the 18- to 26-inch protected slot. "I just could not get the small fish," he said. "It would have been great to win, but to finish second against all these guys - that's a fabulous feeling." To catch his fish, Filkins rigged with 1/2- and 3/4-ounce Wing It slip sinkers and big redtail chubs. His primary area, and essentially his only area, was a deep-water saddle in Kabekona Bay. While this area received considerable pressure, Filkins plainly outfished the crowd. He would work up and down the saddle at approximately .4 mph, fishing in water as shallow as 22 feet and as deep as 35 feet. Early in the tournament, Filkins' fish were positioned a foot to a foot and a half off the bottom. But during the final round, they were pinned to the bottom. "I was trying to stay as vertical as I could. That's why I struggled a bit yesterday without my bow mount. The kicker engine was surging too much. And this was such a finesse bite that I had to be able to feel my way through the bites." Filkins finished with 41 pounds, 14 ounces and earned $5,000 for his second-place finish. Byle rebounds for third Fourth-place pro Pat Byle holds up his over from day four on Leech Lake.After taking a zero on day three, day-two leader Pat Byle rebounded with a three-fish catch weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces, the heaviest stringer of the final day. Byle finished the year-end championship with 40 pounds even, earning $12,000 thanks to $8,000 in boat and motor contingencies. Fishless at noon, Byle finally ran into a school of four big arcs. Moments later he had his over in the boat. The Colgate, Wis., native fished many of the same Walker Bay areas as Gilman. Byle, however, did not spend nearly as much time on the main lake. In particular, he had one spot in Walker Bay that was absolutely loaded. He described it as two small humps the size of a living room on a deep flat. To trigger these deep fish, Byle rigged with redtail chubs. While the spot was incredibly productive, Byle took several dead-fish penalties as oftentimes happens with deep fish. "I'm thrilled with third," Byle said. "I did the exact same ting today as I did yesterday. I just couldn't control my boat yesterday in that weather. Today I decided to sit on my spot until I got an over." Meleen misses opportunities, finishes fourth E-Team pro Paul Meleen finished fourth with a four-day total of 38 pounds, 15 ounces.As the water temperature dropped, Paul Meleen became increasingly confident in his shallow-water program. Although he, too, sampled Kabekona, Meleen did most of his damage spot-hopping on the eastern side of the main lake. Meleen would sample up to 40 small rock reefs in a day. As the week progressed, he was able to trim that number to 18. Once there, he'd snap-jig with giant 8-inch chubs. "That wind just electrified those areas," Meleen said. "Leech Lake is one of the most wind-driven fisheries in the world. Without it today, it was much more difficult." Meleen still had his chances early this morning. He had several bigger overs pinned up, including one he estimated at 11 pounds, but lost all of them. The Isle, Minn., native finished with a four-day total of 38 pounds, 15 ounces and earned a fourth-place check worth $7,500 plus $803 in optional pot money. "My Side Imaging allowed me to fish much faster. When I came up to a spot, if I saw fish, I'd fish it. If I didn't, then I was on to the next spot. And if you drive over these areas, the fish spook. So having Side Imaging was really key." Courts fifth National Guard pro Mark Courts finished fifth at the 2010 FLW Walleye Tour Championship on Leech Lake.Like Meleen, National Guard pro Mark Courts was employing a shallow-water program on the main lake. His primary area consisted of a small section of shoreline lined with boulders and gravel. In windy conditions, the spot was almost perfect. But on day four the calm conditions cleared up the water. And shallow-water walleyes are typically shy when the water is clear. The two fish he caught Saturday weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces, bringing his total weight to 31 pounds, 15 ounces. "A lot of guys didn't think about the shallow water," Courts said. "But as long as there was wind, the points and rock humps were effective. I know a lot of guys hated that weather yesterday, but I absolutely loved it." Unlike Meleen, Courts slowly worked a Northland Shiner jig with rainbows - oftentimes barely moving his bait. Thanks to $3,000 in contingencies, Courts earned $5,500. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists at the FLW Walleye Tour Championship on Leech Lake: 6th: Scott Steil of Richmond, Minn., 30-7 (four-day total), $2,000 + $1,750 Evinrude bonus 7th: Dean Arnoldussen of Appleton, Wis., 27-1, $1,500 + $1,500 Evinrude bonus + $669 optional pot 8th: Brian Brosdahl of Max, Minn., 25-3, $1,250 + $1,250 Evinrude bonus + $535 optional pot 9th: Don Loch of Iron Mountain, Mich., 20-0, $1,000 10th: Kevin Merrill of Pierre, S.D., 18-7, $750

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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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Shawn Hemken of Walshville, Illinois, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division Super Tournament on Lake Shelbyville with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce. For his victory, Hemken earned $6,882. READ MORE »

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Topwater Lifts Ragan to Top

Thadeus Ragan of West Park, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 26 pounds, 8 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division Super Tournament on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 47 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Ragan earned $6,922. READ MORE »

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Martinkovic Runs Away with Title

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Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

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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

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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

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Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

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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

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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 »