Minderman makes it happen

Sean Minderman defined consistency by weighing bags of 20-plus pounds each day.

STOCKTON, Calif. -Sean Minderman learned to read between the lines - the lines separating tules from outer grass beds - en route to winning the EverStart Western Division event on the Cal Delta. Like most, Minderman fished the Delta's abundant shoreline vegetation. However, there was a particular configuration that proved most productive for him. "There are tules on the bank, and then you have weeds," Minderman said. "If you have a space between the two - that's what you're looking for. The males will move into those areas and make the nests, and then the females will move into those areas to feed or spawn." The Spokane, Wash., pro entered the day in second place, just under 2 pounds off the lead.Washington pro Sean Minderman reacts to the news of his victory. He began his campaign with a day-one weight of 22-14 that put him in ninth place. On day two, he sacked up 24-8 and climbed to second. Today, he added 20-15 - the day's second largest catch - and tallied a three-day total of 68-5. Minderman varied his baits throughout the event. On day one, he fished an unweighted Texas-rigged Senko, switched to flipping a Sweet Beaver on day two and threw the Senko and a drop-shot with an ox-blood Roboworm today. In a field marked with some of the Delta's top sticks, it was Minderman's consistency that clearly made the difference. He was the event's only angler to break 20 pounds on all three days. His catches included two legitimate toads - a 9-3 on day one and a 10-15 the next day. Texas-rigged Senkos and dropshots with Robo Worms delivered Sean Minderman"I don't even know how to explain this," Minderman said. "It was just like there was a light shining on me all week. With that (10-15), I was looking up there and thinking, `There's a 6-pounder.' Then, all of a sudden I hook it and as it's swimming out of there; it looks like a beaver." With the Delta's tidal fluctuations compounding the basics of daylight and wind dynamics, locating giant fish that are ready to go defines great fortune. "Catching a fish like that, it's about showing up where that fish has moved up. They are not up for very long. They'll move up for maybe an hour or two, and then they'll move off. Being there at the right time when they're there, that's half the battle. It's a matter of finding those key areas and then trying to understand when they'll move up and when the tide will be low enough for you to see them. "I had an excellent week. I didn't get the big ones today, but I got three solid fish." Wind-weary Weyer winds up second After leading days one and two, Charlie Weyer of West Hills, Calif., slipped a notch to second place. HeAfter leading days one and two, Charlie Weyer slipped to second on day three. started off with a bang, bagging the largest catch of the tournament - a massive 32-pound, 9-ounce limit. On that day, Weyer had located an area where a large wave of big spawners had moved up to the bank, and he went to town, grabbing all he could. A day later, the combination of higher morning tides and windier conditions made it tough to spot the fish, so he had to blind-cast at the likely areas. Unable to find the big bites on day two, Weyer weighed 16-12. Today, he added 16-8 and finished with 65-13. "The wind definitely pushed all the fish back, and you just had to slow down," Weyer said. "I drop-shotted all those fish and caught a couple of bed-fish. I worked several big ones, but I just couldn't get them to bite." Weyer fished an S-20 Iovino spade-tail worm on his drop-shot. His best action occurred right before high tide began dropping, at the bottom of the low and the start of the incoming. Pirch pushes into third Gaining one spot to finish third with 65-10, Arizona pro Cliff Pirch compared the Delta to a theme park A late day rally pushed Clifford Pirch into third place.designed with his preference in mind. "This is like Disneyland for sight-fishermen. It's a fun place to fish - lots of big ones." Pirch found his better action on the incoming tide, which occurred late in the fishing day. He made the most of his window of opportunity, but said he longed for more time on the water. "I got about an hour to do what I needed to do," he said. "Fortunately, I did OK, but another couple of hours would have been fun." Pirch said that he feels fortunate to have reached the top 10, considering a mishap that could have spoiled his chances. "God blessed me with some good fishing. Things could have gone any which way because I blew up my engine yesterday afternoon right at the check-in. If that happens way out in the middle of the Delta, you don't get to weigh those 20 pounds." Pirch caught most of his fish by drop-shotting a Roboworm. When sight-fishing opportunities availed, he pitched Texas-rigged Senkos and creature baits. Pirch said that success in the sight-fishing game depended on his Typhoon Polarized Optics, which enabled him to spot beds and fish through the surface glare. Pirch's daily weights were 26-8, 20-4 and 18-14. Tosh takes home fourth Stephen "Bub" Tosh Jr. placed fourth on day one with 27-4, dropped a spot to fifth a day later with 19Frogs and punch baits gave Stephen Tosh Jr. a fourth place finish.-3 and regained the fourth-place spot today by catching 16-13 to finish with a three day total of 63-4. Sticking with products from his Paycheck Baits line, he fished the Transporter Frog over grass and through tule pockets and punched mats with a punch skirt, 1 1/2-ounce weight, punch hook and a Psycho Dad bait. "I had a great time this week," Tosh said. "I was bashing them - punching mats. I should have blown this thing out today. I lost one that was about 7 or 8 pounds. Other than that, I can't complain. I had a lot of fun." Casey finishes fifth Mark CaseyMark Casey's was the biggest comeback story of the top-10 field. The Fairfield, Calif., pro found himself in 27th place on day one after weighing a limit of 17-12. The next day, he roared back by catching 29-6 - the heaviest bag of day two. Today, he added 16-1 to finish fifth with 63-3. Casey caught his fish on wacky-rigged 7-inch watermelon-red Senkos pitched into the tules. "I was flipping behind the tules - between the tules and the rocks - and finding fish in tight pockets," Casey said. Best of the rest Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers at the EverStart Series Cal Delta event: 6th: Joe Uribe Jr. of Lake Forest, Calif., 62-11 7th: Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., 58-8 8th: Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., 58-0 9th: Benjamin Byrd of Moab, Utah, 56-2 10th: Michael C. Tuck of Granite Bay, Calif., 51-3

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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-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-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-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

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/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 »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/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 »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

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 »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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/news/2015-04-20-lanter-wins-on-rend-lake

Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »