Aaron it out

Chad Aaron of Ethridge, Tenn., wins the 2010 AFS Invitational on Wheeler Lake with a three-day total of 52-10.

DECATUR, Ala. - Fishing bass tournaments is a manic game: one minute everything is going right and you are on top of the world; a minute later disaster strikes and you are lower than the Titanic. Chad Aaron of Ethridge, Tenn., now knows about the roller coaster ride called tournament bass fishing. This year he signed up for all the American Fishing Series events in the Southeastern Division with his highest hopes pinned on Pickwick, his home lake. By season's end he had not scored one AFS check, and finished a very disappointing 71st at Pickwick. In short he had sort of stunk his season up and his only chance to air it out was to go out on top at the AFS Invitational on Lake Wheeler. Practice went great for Aaron at Wheeler and just when things were looking up: bam, disaster struck again. On Tuesday, while trailering his boat, he was involved in an auto accident which left his bass boat lying in a ditch. From there he had to scramble to borrow a boat and all the while the biggest cold front of the year was bearing down on Wheeler, whipping it into a frenzy with northwest winds blowing right down its gut. Yet somehow through it all Aaron was able to keep his composure and today he indeed ended up on top by winning the AFS Invitational worth $24,810. "This goes a long way in helping make up for an awful year," Aaron said. "It's funny how things work out for the best, though. Losing my boat in the accident was kind of blessing in disguise: I have a smaller 18-foot boat with a 150 and I ended up borrowing a 20-foot boat with a 225 and it made all the difference. I was running a long, long way in that wind and it would have taken me forever to get there and back in that rough water with my little boat and I might not have done as well." Aaron's daily weights at Wheeler tell the story of his domination this week: 21-12, 15-1 and 15-13 for a three-day total of 52-10 giving him a winning margin of some 15 pounds.Chad Aaron dominated the tournament with Wheeler bass that looked like this, which gave him nearly a 15-pound winning margin. The auto shop spray booth operator spent his week far up the Tennessee River on Wheeler fishing isolated rock piles in 14 to 20 feet of water that broke the current. His key lures included a homemade ¾-ounce jig teamed with Lake Fork Crawtube (watermelon/red) fished on 15-pound test Vicious fluorocarbon; a Lake Fork Tackle Flutter Spoon and a One-Knocker Spook. On day one the jig was his dominant bait. One day two the spoon played a role in catching his bigger fish. And today he used the spook. Despite being up the river, Aaron still had to deal with the wind as it was blowing straight down his primary stretches. "That wind makes it hard to hold the boat but I think it really helps the fish bite," Aaron said. "I love fishing current and one thing I've come to realize is they bite better when it's roughed up a bit out there. When it's dead calm the bite is usually a lot tougher, even when they're really pulling current." As for Aaron's future, he's not sure what his plans hold in professional fishing. But he'll certainly be fishing at least one more big tournament in the near future - the Forrest Wood Cup next August - as his win also qualified him for that event. Snider second Kevin Snider, the AFS Angler of the Year in the Southeast Division, finished runner up with a three-day total of 37-12. Kevin Snider of Elizabethtown, Ky., finished his 2010 season off strong: in addition to being the AFS Southeastern points leader, he finished runner-up at Wheeler this week. Snider ended the week with an 11-pound, 5-ounce catch today, which gave him a three-day total of 37 pounds, 12 ounces worth $10,633. Snider spent the week in the power line area of the lake dragging jigs over stumps and mussel bars in 6 to 10 feet of water. His jig set up was a ¾-ounce homemade jig (black/blue) teamed with a Prowler Flappin Craw trailer (green pumpkin) and tied to 12-pound test fluorocarbon. Today his jig bite shut off so he switched to a Carolina-rigged Brush Hog to tease them into biting. Folse thirdDarryl Folse of Addis, La., took home third place with a three-day total of 33-6. Darryl Folse of Addis, La., finished third with a three-day total of 33 pounds, 6 ounces worth $5,671. Folse spent his week fishing in Limestone Creek, flipping a jig to laydowns in 15 to 20 feet of water. His jig was a ¾-ounce black/blue jig team with a plastic chunk (sapphire blue) tied to 15-pound Trilene fluorocarbon. "I went with a heavy jig because I wanted a fast fall in the deeper parts of those laydowns," Folse said. "I think that fast fall makes them strike out of reaction. And I like the black and blue color because the water back there is pretty dirty and it just shows up better in that colored water." With the bright sun today his jig bite fell off so Folse adapted by going to a white ¼-ounce Boo-Yah spinnerbait. Eichmann fourth Pat Eichmann of Nancy, Ky., finished fourth with a three-day total of 30-12. Pat Eichmann of Nancy, Ky., finished fourth with a three-day total of 30 pounds, 12 ounces worth $4,962. This marks Eichmann's third top-five in his last three AFS tournaments. Eichmann primarily used two lures this week: a Carolina rig and football head jig. His Carolina rig was tipped with a green pumpkin Baby Brush Hog and his football jig was black and blue with a Zoom Fat Albert twin-tail grub. He fished both lures on 15-pound test monofilament. Chapman fifth Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.Va. finished fifth with a three-day total of 30 pounds, 9 ounces worth $4,253. His finish at Wheeler compliments his Angler of the Year points title in the Northern Division.Bill Chapman, the AFS Angler of the Year in the Northern Division, finished fifth with a three-day total of 30-9. Chapman spent most of the week some 40 miles up the Tennessee River fishing a One-Knocker Zara Spook on 12-pound test monofilament. When his topwater pattern would fall off, he would go to pitching a green pumpkin Tender Tube on 10-pound test around stumps. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the FLW American Fishing Series Invitational: 6th: Donny Bass of Naples, Fla., three-day total of 30-9 7th: Shane Long of Sarcoxie, Mo., three-day total of 30-6 8th: Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, three-day total of 27-3 9th: John Voyles of Petersburg, Ind., three-day total of 26-7 10th: David Young of Mayfield, Ky., three-day total of 22-15

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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/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

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/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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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/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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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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 »

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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