UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Christie wins wire to wire

Pro winner Jason Christie holds up part of his 14-pound, 13-ounce final-day stringer.

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Many professional anglers go their entire career questioning if they'll ever win a tour-level bass tournament. But for Jason Christie, a fisherman of immense talent, it was never a question of "if" but "when." When turned out to be the third Walmart FLW Tour qualifier of 2011 on Lake Hartwell.

Four times in his career Christie has led an FLW Tour event, only have to have it slip away for one reason or another. In 2009, he led the Beaver Lake tournament heading into the final day only to fall to fourth. But Christie never doubted his breakthrough win would come and neither did those who know him well.

Although he had never previously visited Lake Hartwell, Christie immediately liked what he saw - especially the backs of the creeks that contained what he called "Oklahoma water." The best water he found in practice was located in Beaver Creek. It was dirty, extremely shallow and had a ditch running through it. And it proved to be the perfect place for the largemouths that are staging and spawning.

"One of the reasons I picked that creek was it had the most feasible water and it was landlocked with riprap, which allowed it to heat up faster," said the Diet Mountain Dew pro. "So you're going to have some prespawn fish, some fish that are spawning and maybe some postspawn fish. I mean, they're going to spawn in there for another month. It's just a big area with some really big fish. And it looked like Wolf Creek back home on Grand Lake."

During the first two days of the tournament, those big fish showed up in bunches as Christie sacked over 20 pounds both days. But things got tougher the last two days and the Park Hill, Okla., native almost abandoned his honeyhole on day four.

"I made an entire pass through my best stretch of water this morning and I didn't get a bite. I was on the A closer look at Jason Christieverge of leaving. Then I moved off the bank a bit, across to a little half-moon - a little notch in the bank that has a deep cut that runs into it and caught my first fish and that told me to stay. You don't know how close I was to leaving. And if I would have left it wouldn't have been good. I just settled down and that's the wisdom you get the older you get."

From there, the fish came much easier and Christie finished the day with 14 pounds, 13 ounces. His main lure this week was a 1/2-ounce Booyah spinnerbait (white and chartreuse) with a single gold Colorado blade. On day two, he sight-fished three of his keepers with a Yum F2 Mighty Bug. Christie tied these baits to 25-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon.

"The wire on that spinnerbait is light, so when you throw it, it has the same thumping vibration as a Boogie Bait. And the fish like that vibration, especially this time of year."

While he had the right bait, Christie's stealth approach was crucial. In addition to making long casts, he would turn off his electronics and put his Power-Poles down for long stretches.

"It was super shallow and the fish were spooky so the key was not putting the boat on top of them."

With a total weight of 70 pounds, 11 ounces, Christie won the tournament wire-to-wire with a 10-pound Jason Christie celebrates after winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell.margin. Of his 20 weigh fish, all were largemouths and all but four came from Beaver Creek. The others came from Shoal Creek.

"People don't realize how hard it is to win a four-day tournament. And it's not done very often out of one area. After the second day I had come in with two big bags and I still had to catch them two more days to win. There's a lot of pressure leading wire-to-wire, no doubt. But I felt like I coped with it better today than I have in the past."

Christie earned $125,000 for the win and he now has victories at FLW Outdoors' three different circuit levels - the Bass Fishing League, EverStart Series and FLW Tour.

"This win goes to the people who support me back home in Oklahoma," said an emotional Christie. "They're sitting there watching me right now - my wife, my kids, my parents, uncles and friends."

Ehrler climbs to second

Being an ultra-competitive angler, Brent Ehrler never likes finishing runner up. But this was one second-place finish he could handle.

"I'm ecstatic," said the Redlands, Calif., native. "I had no chance to catch Christie at all. It almost feels like winning the tournament for me. I was just looking to move up today."

Brent Ehrler charged into second place on the final day with 15 pounds, 8 ounces.Ehrler fished different patterns and different water each day of the tournament. He started on day one by sight-fishing and making casts to bass suspended under docks. Later in the day he also mixed in a jerkbait. On day two, he had a few sight-fish left then got on a real strong pattern skipping a weightless wacky-rigged Senko way under docks.

That pattern completely died on day three, but Ehrler discovered a new, bizarre pattern. He noticed that as he pushed his trolling motor pedal, the commotion of the prop caused the bass to rise up. Ehrler believes the movement of the water perhaps resembled that of a school of blueback herring. Once they came up, they'd follow his Yamamoto Kut Tail worm and shaky head all the way down to 15 feet and eventually eat it. In addition to this off-the-wall pattern, Ehrler threw a Swimming Senko.

On day four, he fished the wacky-rigged Senko and shaky head/Kut Tail worm combination. His key areas were the three major creeks near the dam. True to his western roots, he preferred the clearer water.

"This was an interesting tournament in that I caught almost all my fish in areas I never practiced. I was just fishing new water every day and that's really nerve-wracking."

For finishing in second place with 60 pounds, 11 ounces, Ehrler earned $35,000.

Colson third

Ramie Colson Jr. continued his steady ascension up the leaderboard Sunday. With a 14-pound, 4-ounce limit, Colson rose from sixth to third. He finished the tournament with 59 pounds, 4 ounces, Third-place pro Ramie Colson Jr. holds up his kicker from day four on Lake Hartwell.earning $30,000. For most of the week, Colson fished near Christie in Beaver Creek. While Dan Morehead and Christie shared one side of it, Colson had the other side pretty much to himself.

"My side was flatter; his side had a ditch running through it which brought in more fish," explained Colson. "But I really didn't have to share any water."

Colson started each morning throwing a wacky-rigged Zoom Trick Worm (green pumpkin magic). He would slide a nail weight into the worm to give it extra action and throw it around clumps of stickups.

"Later in the afternoon the fish would get more active and I'd throw a 5/16-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait in white and chartreuse. The Trick Worm was almost guaranteed to get me a limit, but the best quality came on the spinnerbait."

While Christie thought most of the fish in Beaver Creek were spawning, Colson wasn't so sure.

"I honestly don't think they were (spawning). I think they were just up getting ready for the spawn and they'll actually do their thing on the next full moon."

With the bite slowing and Christie looking to seal the deal Sunday, Colson ran to Shoal Creek and ended up catching his best three fish there.

"I climbed each day of the tournament so I'm pleased. And I never lost any fish that hurt me."

King fourth, tied for AOY lead
Fourth-place pro Stacey King holds up his biggest bass from day four on Lake Hartwell.
Stacey King wasn't particularly excited about his chances of catching a big bag on day four. He was worried the cooler temperatures combined with overnight thunder and lightning would push his shallow-water spawning fish off the bank. But King still caught 12 pounds, 1 ounce Sunday, which pushed his total weight to 57 pounds, 10 ounces.

"For most of the week, I threw a Zoom lizard (black) and a Chompers Salty Sinker (green pumpkin candy) in the stained water," said the Reeds Spring, Mo., pro. "I fished them Texas-rigged with a 3/16-ounce slip sinker. But today I caught two of my biggest fish on a ChatterBait."

King fished a handful of creeks in the Tugaloo River, including Gum Log and Eastanollee.

For fourth place, he earned $25,000. But most importantly, King shares the Angler of the Year lead with Thrift with 396 points apiece. And with a Tour qualifier on Table Rock, his home lake, left on the schedule, King likes his chances.

"It's a long road, there's no doubt about it. But I really feel good about the way I'm fishing."

Thrift fifth
Bryan Thrift finished the Lake Hartwell tournament in fifth place with 55 pounds, 13 ounces.
Thrift's attempt to win back-to-back qualifiers came up just short as the Chevy/Damiki pro finished in fifth. Thrift found a great area - a riprap bank around a bridge in Gum Log Creek. He pounded this shallow-water staging area with crankbaits - primarily a Damiki DC 100 in real shad color. And while the area was good early, it slowly depleted and Thrift didn't know where else to turn.

"There was one rock on that stretch that I made repeated casts to," said the Shelby, N.C., native. "I bet I caught over 40 fish on that one rock on the first day and a bunch of big ones on the second day. If they ever drop the water down, I have about $150 worth of crankbaits on it."

Thrift's day-four stringer weighed 10 pounds, 7 ounces - pushing his total weight to 55 pounds, 13 ounces. He earned $20,000 and is on pace to defend his AOY title.

"I really stubbed my toe the first day when I dumped a couple big fish."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell:

6th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., 55-2, $17,000
7th: Joe Thomas of Milford, Ohio, 54-2, $16,000
8th: Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., 54-1, $15,000
9th: Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., 50-12, $14,000
10th: Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., 50-10, $13,000

The next FLW Tour event is slated for Lake Chickamauga in Chattanooga, Tenn., April 14-17, the third of six Majors.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2011-03-24-lake-hartwell 

/news/2016-02-10-dudley-links-up-with-livingston-lures

Dudley Links Up with Livingston Lures

Livingston Lures has added three-time Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year David Dudley to its pro-staff. The Virginia pro joins two-time FLW AOY Andy Morgan and former FLW Rookie of the Year Stetson Blaylock on the Team Livingston roster. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-power-pole-extends-partnership-with-flw

Power-Pole Extends Partnership with FLW

FLW announced yesterday that JL Marine Systems, manufacturer of Power-Pole shallow-water anchor systems, has signed a sponsorship extension for the 2016 season. This will be the sixth consecutive season that the two organizations have partnered. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-flw-college-fishing-western-conference-opens-season-on-shasta-lake

FLW College Fishing Western Conference Opens Season on Shasta Lake

REDDING, Calif. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 20 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Western Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-lake-shasta-set-to-host-costa-flw-series-opener-presented-by-minn-kota

Lake Shasta Set to Host Costa FLW Series Opener Presented by Minn Kota

REDDING, Calif. – The Costa FLW Series is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 18-20 for a tournament presented by Minn Kota when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the first stop of 2016 in the Western Division. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-montgomery-targets-prespawn-bass-for-win

Montgomery Targets Prespawn Bass for Win

Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, Ala., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-top-10-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee

Oklahoma’s Bradley Hallman sewed up his first Walmart FLW Tour victory at the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats by pitching and punching reed heads in the South Bay area with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. Hallman stuck with his program despite up-and-down air temperatures, high winds and all the curveballs Mother Nature could throw at him. Here's how the rest of the top 10 got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-08-top-10-baits-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Lake Okeechobee

The Walmart FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee went from a tight race to a runaway in a hurry when Bradley Hallman just wouldn’t stop catching the big ones. As for the lures he used, and those put to work by the rest of the top 10, some Okeechobee staples were applied as well as a few oddball baits. If you’re thinking of heading down to the Big O or anywhere else in Florida soon, you might want to acquire a few of the lures they fished. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-hallman-wins-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Wins Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought just two bass to the scale Sunday totaling 6 pounds, 8 ounces, but it was still enough to earn the win at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s four-day cumulative total of 16 bass weighing 71 pounds, 2 ounces earned him the win by an impressive 14-pound, 14-ounce margin over second-place pro Alex Davis of Albertville, Alabama, and $100,000 in the tournament that featured 169 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing in the first FLW Tour event of the regular season. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-big-hall-man-on-okeechobee

Big (Hall)Man on Okeechobee

It was the Bradley Hallman show all week long at Lake Okeechobee at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. Though, the Norman, Okla., pro struggled on day four and brought in only two fish for 6 pounds, 8 ounces, he pulled off the wire-to-wire victory in his first event on Tour. The 13-pound, 9-ounce lead that Hallman built up through the first three days of competition was enough that he didn't actually have to weigh his fish today. Hallman's tournament total of 71 pounds, 2 ounces far exceeded the 56-04 caught by runner-up Alex Davis. For the win, Hallman earned $100,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-lake-okeechobee-day-4-coverage

Lake Okeechobee Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 3

Across the board, weights fell off on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. No one in the top 20 crossed the 20-pound mark. Cloud cover, which prevented the water temperature from rising much above 65 degrees, and low water clarity might both have slowed the replenishment of bass moving into spawn. Tournament leader Bradley Hallman experienced a bit of a stall in the action as well, bringing just four fish to the scales, but he still managed to increase his lead to 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-hallman-extends-lead-on-day-three-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Extends Lead On Day Three At Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Anchored by an 8-pound, 10-ounce kicker, pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought four bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces to extend his lead to more than 13½ pounds heading in to the final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s... READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-can-anyone-catch-hallman-

Can Anyone Catch Hallman?

Despite catching only four keepers on day three, Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman extended his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. With a day-three weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces and a tournament total of 64-10, his margin over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-montgomery-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-bulldog-division-opener-on-lake-eufaula

Montgomery Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division Opener on Lake Eufaula

EUFAULA, Ala. – Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-okeechobee-day-2-coverage

Okeechobee Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »