UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Kerr Lake

Cool hand Luke steals the show

Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., shows off his first-place stringer shortly before capturing the tournament title at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - From 2004 to 2006, Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., was living a dream. During that magical period, Clausen accomplished something that very few anglers in the history of professional bass fishing had ever achieved - he won both the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic. At the time it seemed that the sky was the limit for the young gun from Washington. But then things changed. Suddenly, Clausen found that duplicating his earlier success was nearly impossible. For the next five years, Clausen struggled to live up to his own expectations - failing to win any tournament of major significance. But as Clausen headed to the Potomac River, unbeknownst to him, his luck was about to change. Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., raises his hands in victory after capturing the tournament title at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.While fishing icons like Larry Nixon, Bobby Lane and Michael Iaconelli dominated the headlines over the first three days of FLW Tour Potomac River competition, Clausen was quietly putting together a fishing clinic of his own. However, before departing National Harbor marina on the final morning takeoff, even Clausen had expressed some doubts about his chances. "Honestly, I'm still figuring things out," he said. "I could wind up with five big bites today or I could end up with zero. I really don't know what's going to happen out there today." But what happened out there today was that Clausen, with everything on the line and five years of frustration resting on his shoulders, turned in one of the greatest performances of his career. Walking up to the weigh-in stage, Clausen produced a staggering limit weighing in at 19 pounds, 4 ounces - a full 2 pounds more than any pro to weigh-in that day. "Coming back to weigh-in I was just hoping for second place," said Clausen. "But when I saw the scales say 19 pounds, I almost fell over backwards. I never would have guessed I had that much weight. As it turned out, my two big fish were a lot bigger than I thought they were." Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., proudly displays his first-place trophy aftrer capturing the tournament title at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.As a result of his four-day, 69-pound, 14-ounce catch, Clausen was finally able to knock the monkey off his back, winning the tournament title as well as a whopping first-place check totaling $125,000. "In 2006, I was on a high of all highs," said Clausen. "But it's been frustration ever since. So for me it's a huge relief to have won this tournament more than anything. If people really knew how hard we work, how we put in 12 and 14 hour days, they'd know what this means to me. Finally all of this work paid off." Clausen said the key to his success was his discovery of a 500- by 300-yard area housing a variety of barely submerged specialty grass. "I wound up fishing a lot of emerging coon tail grass," he said. "I don't think anybody in the tournament was trying to fish it because it was really hard to see. I found that area in practice and it was so good I just decided to stay there all tournament. That area had a lot of big fish - a lot of 5-pounders. So I knew it had the type of fish to win." Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., holds up his first-place check after capturing the tournament title at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.Clausen said he continued to fish both inside and outside the grass edges all four days - moving deeper and shallower depending on the state of the tides - with a combination of swim jigs and Z-Man finesse worms. "Fishing that area was a real grind," he said. "You either caught 4- or 5-pounders or 2 1/2-pounders - there wasn't a whole lot in between. But I knew if everything went exactly right on the final day, I could catch a big limit." And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what happened. `Ike' nets second place Although day-three leader Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J., seemed almost destined to win the Potomac River event after climbing the standings each and every day, "Ike" came up just short in the end. Although Iaconelli was gunning hard for the victory in his "second hometown," his 16-pound, 8-ounce stringer ultimately couldn't compete with Clausen's monster sack. While certainly disappointed with the final outcome after being so close to winning a tournament title, Iaconelli was philosophical in defeat. Day-three leader Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J., finished the FLW Tour Potamac River event in second place."It was a good week," said Iaconelli, who boated a four-day total of 68 pounds, 1 ounce to win a second-place prize of $35,000. "I really feel good about my performance. In the end, my main grass spot didn't produce like I needed it to." According to Iaconelli, another major factor in today's outcome was the surprising appearance of a "flood tide." "A flood tide is a natural occurrence and it's basically a higher-than-normal tide," he said. "Usually it's caused by a full moon, which we didn't have, or by wind, which we didn't have. But sometimes there are weather conditions far offshore than can cause it as well." The end result was that it significantly affected Iaconelli's prime grass areas. Consequently, the New Jersey native was forced to scramble around a little more than he'd hoped. "It was a tough tournament," he said. `I ran around a lot today. I hit a lot of different hard targets (wood, docks, laydowns). And I tried to stay fresh and think on the water as the day went along. But I couldn't get the bigger bites I needed. I don't want to say the flood tide messed me up, but I really needed one more big bite. That's just how it goes sometimes." Iaconelli said he fished hard cover with a combination of black Berkley gripper jigs and black Shakey Head worms with Hopper Bottom trailers. For his grass areas, his primary bait was a vibrating Molix Lover jig in black and blue equipped with a Berkley Havoc trailer. Lane snares third place Pro Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., shows off his third-place catch at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., headed into the finals in third place and that's where he ultimately finished, parlaying a four-day total catch of 65 pounds, 5 ounces into $30,000 in winnings. Although he'd hoped for victory and was fishing for nothing less, he was gracious with his final standing. "I really love this place. I love fishing the Potomac River," he said. "All of these anglers in the top 10 are just amazing anglers." For the majority of the week, Lane said that he attacked the Potomac River by flipping a variety of self-designed Berkley Havoc soft plastics baits including the Craw Fatty and Pit Boss. Lane also said he used 65-pound Spiderwire with weights ranging from 1 to 1 1/2 ounces. "Figuring out that exact tide on the right day was very important," he said. "I was basically flipping matted grass all week. Today, I had a good bite in the morning but then things slowed down for a little bit. But when the tide came back up this afternoon, my bite really picked up. "I love to flip and that's been the key to my success," Lane continued. "But when you get in that grass, you never know what's going to happen." Local favorite grabs fourth place Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., finished the Potomac River event in fourth place. But had the contest been decided over fan support, Schmitt would have won hands down as the local crowd was clearly pulling for the Maryland native at every turn. Local favorite Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., finished the Potomac River event in fourth place"I feel very honored to have fished with these guys today," said Schmitt, who produced the second-largest stringer of the day at 17 pounds, 3 ounces, hearing roaring approval from the highly partisan crowd as each and every fish was placed upon the scales. "I really appreciate my friends and family coming out. I just wanted to make everyone proud." Without question, he did. Competing against some of the biggest names in professional bass fishing, Schmitt more than acquitted himself. With a fourth-place finish and $25,000 in prize money to his credit, Schmitt now boasts 12 top-10 FLW Outdoors finishes on the Potomac River - a staggering level of success by any measure. And if things had gone a little differently, he just might have walked away with a tournament title. "The wind during those first two days killed me," said Schmitt, who ultimately recorded a total four-day catch of 64 pounds, 12 ounces. "But I'm blessed to be here. I had a fantastic week." Williamson scores top-five finish Bolstered by a total catch of 61 pounds, 12 ounces, Michael Williamson of Fort Smith, Ark., finished the FLW Tour Potomac River event in fifth place.Bolstered by a total catch of 61 pounds, 12 ounces, Michael Williamson of Fort Smith, Ark., finished the Potomac River event in fifth place. "Today started out real slow for me. I had no fish in the boat until 8:30 a.m.," he said. "I wound up catching my first big fish at about 11:30 and then I caught a couple more good fish in a row after that. The tide really didn't affect me too much. I fished one spot about 150 yards square and kept going back there all week." Williamson said he caught all of his fish on a Spot Remover and Shakey Head Senko in a watermelon color with a ¼-ounce weight. For his efforts, Williamson took home a nice check totaling $20,000. Best of the rest Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., holds up part of his sixth-catch at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.Rounding out the top-10 finalists: 6th: Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., 60-0 7th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 58-0 8th: Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, 56-14 9th: Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill., 55-7 10th: Cory Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, 54-3 FLW Tour action resumes June 16-19 on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky.

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Matual Masters Erie

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

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