UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Record-breaking redemption

Pro winner Brandon McMillan holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Lake Okeechobee.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - Lake Okeechobee is back, and the bass fishing has never been better. No one knows that more than local Belle Glade, Fla., pro Brandon McMillan. Fresh off a second-place finish at the recent EverStart Series event, McMillan surpassed the coveted 100-pound mark and set the new Walmart FLW Tour record for heaviest total weight. The win is special for McMillan for several reasons. For starters, he led the EverStart event with one day left only to slip to second. And in 2009, his father Jimmy won the FLW Series event on Okeechobee. The family now has claimed two Tour-level victories in three years on the Big O, hauling in a quarter-million dollars in the process. Brandon McMillan celebrates after winning the 2011 FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee.McMillan started the tournament determined to flip mats, despite the urge to sight-fish in the warm, sunny weather. The more pressure the lake received, the stronger his pattern got as the chopped-up vegetation (eel grass, cattails, hydrilla, Kissimmee grass) served as the perfect retreat for weary prespawn females. Later in the tournament he caught a few postspawn bass - meaning he worked the ideal pattern in that fish were both coming and going to the mats. He wasn't getting as many bites as the other finalists, but the average size was much bigger. McMillan focused on the Dyess Ditch area of the lake, located approximately 12 miles southwest of the Kissimmee River. This was the same area he fished during the EverStart event. On day one he caught 27 pounds; on day two he sacked 28-14. Yesterday he put 25-5 in the boat, and today he rallied from fourth to first on the strength of a 25-pound, 7-ounce limit. "When I started this tournament, I didn't think sight-fishing could go the distance," McMillan explained. "I thought flipping was the deal, but when they whacked them like that the first two days it worried me. I didn't know if I'd be able to catch up. I didn't know I could win under the mats, but I thought I had enough to make the top 20." But the near-perfect weather experienced the first three days changed significantly Sunday. Clouds Pro winner Brandon McMillan celebrates with his father and brother after winning the 2011 FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee.rolled in and the wind picked up - all but killing the sight-bite for pro leader Chad Prough and second-place Peter Thliveros. While the minor front made a difference, McMillan said that his experience at the EverStart event taught him how to relax and execute when the title is on the line. "I never missed a beat today, and that's what I'm most proud of. I got five good bites, and I put all of them in the boat." McMillan's key baits this week were a black-and-blue Bruiser Intruder and a Gambler BB Cricket in river-bug color. He mainly used the Intruder, but if the mat was too thick, he'd pitch the Cricket. Both lures were tied to 80-pound Sufix braid and presented with either a 1-ounce or 1 1/2-ounce weight. His preferred rod was a 7 1/2-foot G. Loomis flipping stick. As for his future fishing plans, the 27-year-old UPS driver is signed up for the remaining three FLW Tour Opens. "I am going to see how I do in those and then reevaluate. But this win changes everything; I won't have For winning the 2011 FLW Tour season opener, pro Brandon McMillan claimed $125,000.to make a house payment for many years. "I've dreamed about this (winning) for a long time; I watched my dad do it. To go head to head against guys like Tharp, Morgan, Scroggins and Peter T. is just unbelievable. And to win it here, in front of everybody I know and grew up with - it doesn't get any better than that." For a total weight of 106 pounds, 10 ounces, McMillan earned $125,000. He also etched his name in the FLW Tour record books next to heaviest total weight. Tharp second One of Randall Tharp's biggest goals in bass fishing is to win at Lake Okeechobee. While Guntersville is considered his home lake, he travels to Okeechobee every winter to enter a few tournaments and sample some of the best bass fishing southern Florida has to offer. This year Tharp moved to Okeechobee early and has spent nearly two months whacking and stacking. He took fifth at the EverStart and was among a handful of pretournament favorites for the Tour event. The title once again proved elusive, but Tharp seemed comfortable with this result. In years past, he's lost under some unusual circumstances such as mechanical failure. "I just wanted one of us to win this tournament," said Tharp, who fished within sight of McMillan all week. "I would have liked it to be me, but Brandon's a class act. If you would have told me that I EverStart pro Randall Tharp finished the FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee in second place with 102 pounds, 2 ounces.would've caught over 100 pounds and not won the tournament, I would have said you're crazy. I will get my win down there (Okeechobee), there is no doubt I will." There is clearly a mutual respect between the two anglers. McMillan said the most nerve-wracking part of the entire week was watching Tharp stick fish. When Tharp caught his kicker Sunday, McMillan said he about puked. On day two when Tharp broke his strongest flipping stick, McMillan was kind enough to loan him one. Each angler would start on opposite sides of the 300-yard stretch and work their way to the middle, which was typically the best part of the mat. They'd meet each day at approximately 9:15 a.m. Amazingly, neither angler broke the pattern to start on the sweet spot. "We slugged it out; I can't describe how intense it was. I have never experienced the emotions I felt that final day. My adrenaline is still going. I really knew it was going to come down to either him or me." Tharp's day-four stringer weighed 20 pounds, 14 ounces - pushing him over the century mark to 102-2. For finishing in second place, he earned $35,000. Before he heads to Beaver Lake for the first FLW Tour Major, he'll make a detour and fish his first-ever Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans. Tharp's main flipping bait was the Attraxx Mystic Bug with either a 1 1/4- or 1 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight. When he spotted a fish on bed, he would use the new Attraxx Predator Craw with a 1/4-ounce weight, a bait he specifically designed. Tharp tied 70-pound Diawa Samurai braid to the Bug, 55-pound braid to the Craw. Prough falls to third After catching 30-pound-plus limits each of the first two days, Prough slowly saw his bountiful Chad Prough wails on another one.area run dry. His day-four catch weighed 13 pounds and pushed his total weight to 100 pounds, 15 ounces. For third place, the Chipley, Fla., native earned $30,000. "I have no regrets," said Prough. "These were the best four days of my life, and I gave it everything I had." Prough shared the Kings Bar area with Thliveros and Fred Roumbanis. As the bite dwindled, Prough performed the best among the three - an impressive feat considering this was his first Tour-level event. "It was cloudier and windier for sure, but I think most of the females finished and left. This morning I had to resort to catching a limit of bucks. At 10 a.m. I knew it was time to vacate, and I ended up upgrading in other areas." Like McMillan, Prough used the Bruiser Intruder. He also mixed in a Reactions Innovations Trixie Shark as a search tool. The Trixie Shark was especially productive early in the tournament. Scroggins fourth Terry "Big Show" Scroggins put on a big show in his first-ever FLW Tour event - catching a 12-pound, 2-ounce bass Sunday, the biggest of the four-day slugfest. He found that brute at 9 in the morning. Terry Scroggins shows off a 12-pound, 2-ounce bass he caught on day four of the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee.Unfortunately, he was unable to pair it with any other kickers, and his stringer weighed only 22 pounds, 1 ounce. Scroggins finished the tournament with 99 pounds, 9 ounces - earning $25,000. Like many, Scroggins employed a two-pronged approach. His search bait was a Smithwick Devil's Horse, which was particularly effective because he could stop it over a bed and it would retain its position. In contrast, some of the more popular swimbaits like the Skinny Dipper and Big EZ sink when paused. "I nicknamed the Devil's Horse the donkey, because you fish it slow and steady. A lot of times they just roll on it, but then they've shown themselves and I could pitch back to it." Once he had a female located, Scroggins would employ a Yum Money Craw (molting-craw color). "I had three 7-pounders saved for today, but they must have swam off over night." Scroggins' primary area, located near the mouth of the Kissimmee River, was shared earlier in the week with 11th- and 12th-place pros Glenn Browne and Trevor Fitzgerald. Powroznik fifth Each of the last two days, Duracell/Gillette pro Jacob Powroznik covered so much water in search of Fifth-place pro Jacob Powroznik holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Lake Okeechobee.spawning bass that his trolling-motor batteries died. It was a pattern he committed to from the start, and instead of focusing on open areas, he pushed his boat back into thick reeds and hydrilla. He focused his efforts on the north end of the lake, up around Horse Island. On day four the Prince George, Va., native caught a limit worth 18 pounds, 2 ounces - by far his lightest sack of the week. His lone kicker Sunday weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and fell to a Gambler Big EZ swimbait. Powroznik's four-day cumulative weight registered 95 pounds even, good enough for fifth place and $20,000. "I caught 95 percent of my fish this week on a new Attraxx bait I designed called the Jacobug," said Powroznik. "The best color was watermelon-red, but I also used white. "Today might have been a different story if the weather had been different. The clouds and wind made it much harder to sight-fish. Where I was fishing, there was 4 feet of water. They were spawning underneath the hydrilla, and you had to look under there, which was tough without the sun." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee: 6th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., 89-1, $17,000 7th: Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., 85-3, $16,000 + $500 from Big Bass 8th: Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 84-9, $15,000 9th: Peter Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Fla., 82-14, $14,000 10th: Jake Morris of McKee, Ky., 82-8, $13,000 The next FLW Tour event is slated for Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., March 3-6, the first of six Majors.

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

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 »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

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 »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

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 »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

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 »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

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 »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-17-elkins-looked-deep-on-erie

Elkins Looked Deep on Erie

Matt Elkins of Spencerville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament on the Detroit River. For his victory, Elkins earned $5,337. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-17-manson-targets-shad

Manson Targets Shad

Scott Manson of Covington, Ohio, weighed four bass totaling 8 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Manson earned $5,205. READ MORE »