UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Chick stick

Pro winner Clifford Pirch holds up his kicker fish from day four on Lake Chickamauga.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - When the 150 Walmart FLW Tour pros blasted off Thursday morning, nearly every single one of them took a left out of Chester Frost Park. When Clifford Pirch took a lonesome right, he knew he either made a really bad decision, or a really good one. With Lake Chickamuaga's fluctuating water levels, Pirch's stable, protected marina areas turned out to be very good decisions. Pirch came into the fourth qualifier of the year prepared to sight-fish for spawning bass with over 75 waypoints in his GPS. But when the water dropped nearly 3 feet, many of those bass were left high and dry. Pirch caught what he could the first two days off beds until torrential downpours Friday afternoon muddied up his water. But relative to others, he was still in good shape with approximately a foot of clarity. When he couldn't sight-fish, Pirch turned to a pitching a jig under and around boat docks, to riprap and to lay-downs. The bite slowed a little each day, but the Payson, Ariz., pro was still able to scrounge up Clifford Pirch skips a jig under a walkway as a flotilla watchesmore than enough for his first Tour-level win. "I chose that area because its stable and it has a lot of vertical structure for fish to go up and down with as the water fluctuates," said the two-time U.S. Open champion. "If I could find a population of fish in those places, I really felt like I could keep up with them. These bays were steeper and covered in riprap and some were dredged out, which meant they did not have a natural drain. All of those things contributed to keeping the water cleaner. The last two days it was all about putting my bait in front of as many ambush points as possible. The wood-rock mix was especially good." On day four, Pirch got his first keeper bite at 9 a.m. and second at 10. It was nerve-wracking for much of the day, but at 1:30 p.m. his fourth keeper bit and it was his 6-pound kicker fish. Soon after No. 5 was in the livewell as well. Those last two fish came from a bay he hadn't previously touched. With the sun slowly warming the water Sunday, Pirch found two fresh fish that were just pulling up to spawn. "It was really slow, just an absolute grind. It was one of the most excruciatingly grinding days I've ever had. There were times where I went hours without a bite. But after I caught that big fish I knew that things were looking good. I had one hour left to explore this pocket and get a fifth fish. Ten more yards and I caught a 2-pounder and that was it. I got five bites and I caught all five of them. Any time that happens that's just a blessing. I don't know how else to explain it. I got exactly what I needed, and man, I'm thankful. Things have to go perfect to win a Tour event and they did this week." When pro winner Clifford Pirch didn Those five keepers weighed 16 pounds, 10 ounces, bringing his total weight to 77 pounds, 3 ounces. After taking the lead on day two, Pirch won with a 6-pound, 11-ounce margin. All of his 20 weigh fish were largemouths and they all came from areas south of Chester Frost Park to the dam on the lower end of the lake. Pirch's main sight-fishing bait was a bright-colored Roboworm creature bait, but he caught some the first two days on a jighead worm as well. He credited much of his sight-fishing success to his Polarized Typhoon Optics. During the latter half of the tournament, his go-to bait was a 1/2-ounce Pepper Jig with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer. Pirch earned $125,000 for the win and now has accumulated over $645,000 in FLW Outdoors competition. "I'm pretty spent. It's one of those deals where you leave it all out on the lake. I'm worn, but I'm excited. It's been a fun time." Fukae finishes second Each of the last two days, Shinchi Fukae pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the afternoon. Although he caught a limit Sunday, there was no magic. Fukae's final-day stringer weighed 10 pounds, 15 ounces, giving him a total weight of 70 pounds, 8 ounces. Shin Fukae bags another keeper "I stayed close this week, fishing on the other side of the park (Chester Frost)," said the 2004 Angler of the Year. "I was fishing for bedding fish in shallow water the first two days. That was before the water was high. So I went back there this afternoon and I couldn't get any bites there, so I wanted to try the boat docks. But I couldn't skip the bait under the docks because of the high water. Even Bryan Thrift cannot do that." In addition to skipping docks, Fukae targeted shallow-water brush piles, drains and seawalls. Early in the week he found several largemouths spawning next to the seawalls over gravel. To catch these fish, he would drop his Power-Pole down and make repeated casts to the same area. His two key baits this week were the shallow-running Lucky Craft RC 2 and the Yamamoto Flappin' Hog. He Texas-rigged the creature bait with a 3/8-ounce weight. Fukae was most productive on day four when he fished new water. Like Pirch, he benefited from protected coves. But his water didn't stay quite as clean as Pirch's. Two of his four prime stretches were ruined after Friday night's rain. For his first FLW Tour top 10 since the 2009 season opener, Fukae earned $35,000. "I'm happy with second." Monsoor third Third-place pro Tom Monsoor holds up his biggest bass from day four on Lake Chickamauga.While most of the pros struggled with up and down water levels, Tom Monsoor felt right at home. The Mississippi River rat is used to dynamic fisheries and his two-pronged approach clearly demonstrated that. When the water was low, Monsoor moved off the bank and fished emerging hydrilla. By mid-April, the grass had grown 6 to 8 inches in some areas and Monsoor would swim and hop his bait over it. When the water was high, the La Crosse, Wis., native fished bulrushes. Under both scenarios, he used his Tom Monsoor swimming jig with a Yamamoto grub trailer. And both patterns worked in the dirtier water up the river. "We have all kinds of bulrushes back home and the fish just love them," he said. "I won the first EverStart Northern event they ever had doing the exact same thing." Monsoor said the water was actually too high on day four. The bulrushes produced 15 pounds, 2 ounces, but overall the fish were scattered, not concentrated. He finished the tournament in third place with 69 pounds, 5 ounces, earning $30,000. And his day-two largemouth weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces stands as the biggest bass of the entire tournament. Canterbury climbs to fourth Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury started the day in ninth place and rose to fourth via a 19-pound, 9-Scott Canterbury caught the heaviest limit on day four - 19 pounds, 9 ounces. The Alabama pro finished in fourth place.ounce limit, the heaviest stringer of the final day. Canterbury finished the tournament with 67 pounds, 8 ounces, earning $25,000. "With the water fluctuating, I changed areas every day," said the Springville, Ala., native. "I fished upriver the first day. The second and third days I fished down lake. I started today down lake and decided at 11:30 a.m. to make a 40-mile run up the river. "During the spawn especially, I look for that clear water because they really don't like to chase a bait." Canterbury caught the lion's share of his fish this week flipping a Jackall Sasuteki craw. His best color was June bug, but he ran out of that and fished with green pumpkin Sunday. When he saw the water temperature dropped to 52 degrees this morning, he switched to a ChatterBait with a Zoom Speed Craw and caught two keepers. When it warmed back up, he went back to flipping. His best flipping success came in the thick formations of wood. "I wanted to look (sight-fish) this week, but I had to move out to transition banks. I did catch a 7-pounder on bed on day two. That day you couldn't really see the beds, but I could see the stumps and then I'd just fish them." Hite fifth National Guard pro Brett Hite steadily climbed the leaderboard each of the four tournament days. He Pro Brett Hite finished fifth with a total weight of 62 pounds, 9 ounces.started in 32nd place with 16 pounds, 1 ounce, and then improved to 14th on day two after catching 17-3. On day three he caught 14-8 and made the top-10 cut in the last spot. On Sunday he caught 14-13 to finish fifth with a total weight of 62 pounds 9 ounces, earning $20,000. Hite fished most of his tournament down lake, but also had one productive spot up the river above the town of Dayton. On day four, he fished down lake exclusively - sampling three pockets just north of Chester Frost Park. "I used the same bait all week," said the Phoenix, Ariz., native. "It's a new bait called the Brett Hite Signature Series Phenix Vibe jig. I used two colors - GP (green pumpkin) Shad and Brett Hite Delight (dark green/chartreuse). I tipped the GP Shad with a white Yamamoto swimming Senko and the Delight with a green pumpkin swimming Senko." Hite would cast the Vibe jig to the bank over isolated stumps, shoreline bushes and grass. The bushes and grass were most effective when the water was up. "It was just chucking and winding all day." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga: 6th: Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., 58-15, $17,000 7th: Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., 57-11, $16,000 8th: Jay Keith of Camden, S.C., 57-0, $15,000 9th: Randy McAbee Jr. of Bakersfield, Calif., 54-4, $14,000 10th: JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., 51-13, $13,000 The next FLW Tour event is slated for Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., May 5-8, the fourth of six Majors.

Tags: headline-story 


Devere Takes BFL Wild Card Win

The decision of what to fish come tournament time can be difficult for most. For others – like Mike Devere – relying on a single bait that you have confidence in is all you need. Devere’s one bait, one rod method was strong enough to carry him to victory by nearly 2 pounds in the BFL Wild Card held on Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »


Hanselmania 4.0

Saturday, in Paducah, Ky., on the shores of the Ohio River, Ray Hanselman rewrote history for the second time this season. After winning all three 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division events, which had never been done before, Hanselman came to Kentucky and won the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 3 Coverage

The final day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River will largely be fished on the Tennessee River, as all but two anglers rolled up it to chase smallmouths. READ MORE »


Hanselman on the Verge of Four-Peat

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River was fished primarily on the nearby Tennessee River and resulted in a major shuffling of the leaderboard. In the end, Ray Hanselman rose from second to first and will lead the top 10 into the final day with 30 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 2

After two days of competition, Ray Hanselman leads the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River, but as the leaderboard has reflected, the river’s hefty smallmouths are certainly capable of producing some fireworks and providing some surprises. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 2 Coverage

Down at Paducah, the start of day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship was just about perfect – a light wind, temps in the low 40s and no fog. That’s not the case elsewhere. READ MORE »


Barnes Blasts 21 on the Ohio

On day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River David Barnes Sr. of China, Maine, hauled exactly 21 pounds of smallmouth across the stage to take the lead on a day that was tough for many. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 1

Shortly after David Barnes electrified the Rayovac FLW Series Championship weigh-in with his leading weight of 21 pounds of smallmouths, Ray Hanselman followed suit with an all-smallmouth limit weighing 19 pounds. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 1 Coverage

Updates from day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River. READ MORE »


McCaig Wins Neely Henry Regional

There are times that a little local knowledge helps you in a bass tournament, and then there are times it does not. And sometimes, it pays to ignore past experiences altogether, as Mark McCaig figured out en route to winning the Oct. 22-24, 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Neely Henry out of Gadsden, Ala. By disregarding what his local experience might have suggested he do and approaching the tournament a little differently, the Oxford, Ala., boater posted a three-day total weight of 45 pounds, 7 ounces to take home the $20,000 winner’s purse as well as a 2015 Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »


Goodwin Wins at Lake of the Ozarks

Day-two leader Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., held on to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Mercury at Lake of the Ozarks Oct. 22-24 by bringing four bass to the scale on the third and final day. Those fish weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. His three-day total of 14 bass weighed 43-13. For the win, Goodwin earned $20,000 and a new Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »


Walters Wins Wateree BFL Regional

Todd Walters relied on a combo pattern to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional on Lake Wateree. The North Carolina boater fished rocky cover upstream and brush piles in the lake's clear lower end. The two-part program produced a three-day winning weight of 47 pounds, 4 ounces, which was 11 pounds better than second place. READ MORE »


Uribe By An Ounce

After Jody Jordan brought 24 pounds, 5 ounces to push his total past 66 pounds on the final day the crowd waited with bated breath for day two leader Joe Uribe Jr. to bring his fish to the scale. As Uribe transferred his third bass from the bag to the scale, he shook his head and whispered back “you’ve got it,” to the watching Jordan. READ MORE »


Anderson Wins KY Lake Regional

You might say there weren’t any surprises at the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake Oct. 15-17. The techniques of the top 12 pros who fished the final day were typical of the Tennessee River in fall: surface fishing with frogs and Zara Spooks and winding Rat-L-Traps and ChatterBaits. The winners weren’t surprising either: Ryan Sykes of Hamilton, Ohio, won the co-angler division for the second consecutive year, and Tennessee pro Brent Anderson earned his sixth win on the Kentucky/Barkley system since 2009. READ MORE »


Grover Takes Co-angler Title on Clear Lake

Rick Grover of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., pulled in 55 pounds, 5 ounces of bass for the Rayovac FLW Series co-angler win on Clear Lake. All told, it was worth a new Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 3



Uribe Takes Lead and AOY at Clear Lake

Joe Uribe Jr. jumped into the lead going into the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake. Uribe caught 20 pounds, 13 ounces on day two for a total of 44 pounds, 8 ounces and was the only pro to weigh more than 20 pounds both days. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

When the scales had closed after the second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake, no doubt more than a few anglers breathed a sigh of relief that they were still in contention. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake has been a little slower than day one. READ MORE »


Crutcher Cracks 29-9

Midway through a weigh-in that was noticeably lacking in super-sized bags, Mark Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., lit up the leaderboard with 29 pounds, 9 ounces of Clear Lake goodness. READ MORE »