Monsoor makes his move

Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wisc., used a three-day catch of 54 pounds, 9 ounces to leapfrog from eighth place to first place overall at the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell.

ANDERSON, S.C. - Throughout the entire tournament, Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wisc., was happy to keep flying under the radar. After today, however, that is no longer possible. Using a whopping day-three catch of 21 pounds, 10 ounces - by far the largest sack recorded in the tournament to date - Monsoor now finds himself with the overall lead and a bull's-eye squarely on his back with only one day of competition remaining. Monsoor, who entered Saturday's competition in eighth place overall and exactly 4 pounds out of the lead, shot up the leaderboard in dramatic fashion after posting his three-day catch of 54 pounds, 9 ounces. But while Monsoor was happy with his performance in today's competition, he said he was far from confident heading into Sunday's finals. "I had an unbelievable day," said Monsoor. "But honestly, I'm just fishing. It's really a crapshoot for me out there. My strategy is just to go out there and look for one fish at a time. Today I just got lucky. I really don't have any pattern. I'm just looking, looking, looking ... hoping to get bit. And that's a sad way to fish. It really is." After Monsoor dumped his mammoth sack onto the scales, there were plenty of other competitors who were probably saddened as well. Not to mention the fish ... "I was just fishing banks, looking for stones," said Monsoor. "So far, the fish are really liking my jig." One of the best anglers in the upper Midwest, Monsoor is famous for his refined technique of "swimming a jig." And, not surprisingly, that's what he used today as his entire catch came on his namesake prototype - the Tom Monsoor Swimming Jig. "That's what I pretty much used all day," he said. "Like I said, I got lucky. I caught three 4-pounders and a nice kicker on that bait. I still can't believe it. But I don't have a pattern like (second-place finalist) Brent Ehrler. He has been pretty consistent all week and he'll be tough to beat. Tomorrow I'm just going to go out there, do the same thing and hopefully get lucky again. But I'm having a good time so far." Ehrler maintains runner-up status Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., finds himself 1 ounce off the lead in second place heading in the FLW Tour finals on Lake Hartwell.For the second day in a row, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., finds himself in second place overall. And that's just the way he likes it. While Ehrler has often stated that he hates being in first place until the final day of competition, he's now in a perfect position to prove whether his rope-a-dope strategy will pay dividends. Leaving plenty of his best spots either untouched or lightly fished heading into the finals, Ehrler is hopeful that he can blow the doors off the event on the last day of competition. Although Ehrler was only 9 ounces off the overall lead after day two, he now finds himself a mere 1 ounce off the lead with a total catch of 54 pounds, 8 ounces. In short, Ehrler should be plenty dangerous come tomorrow. "I have a couple of spots that are really good right now and I laid off of them pretty early today," said Ehrler. "And I have one really good spot I haven't even hit yet. So, the potential is definitely there for a big bag tomorrow. But at this point, it's really up to the fish. I know where they are and if I put the hurt on them, I should be okay." Ehrler said that he's been targeting bass holding to deep points and flats with standing timber. He's been throwing a fairly versatile bait selection as well, including a Picasso rig, soft plastics and a variety of other reaction baits. Stone makes his comeback After taking a two-year hiatus from the professional fishing tour, it's readily apparent that veteran fishing legend Marty Stone is back in full swing. But while the current resident of Fayetteville, N.C., has made it look easy so far - recording a third-place qualifying finish heading into Sunday's finals with a total catch of 50 pounds, 13 ounces - he will assure you it's been anything but. "It's really been a struggle for me," said Stone. "Not just today, or this tournament, but just getting back into tournament fishing in general. People think it's easy but it's really not. The mental side of this sport is really tough. During my first tournament (on the comeback trail) at Lake Okeechobee I finished in 117th place. And I realized how far I really had to go and how much work I really had to do to get back in it. "During the first day of competition on Lake Hartwell, I didn't have one fish in the boat at 11 a.m.," Stone continued. "And that was pretty tough mentally. It's really hard on your confidence. But I've worked really hard to get back in fishing shape. So it's nice to get into the top 10 here. This has exceeded my expectations by far." Stone said that he's been targeting stained water, honing in on shallow laydowns, docks and stumps. "But like I said it's been a struggle," he said. "I only have these little windows - like 45 minutes - where I'm catching them. And with the shorter day tomorrow, I'll have one less window to fish. But really the pressure is off me right now. I'm just going to go out there tomorrow and have fun." Morehead falls to fourth After battling a significant illness in practice, Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., seemingly defied the odds en route to claiming the top spot on the leaderboard on days one and two. But today, Morehead couldn't quite muster the catch to keep his lead. After recording a 13-pound, 10-ounce sack in today's competition, Morehead dropped to fourth place overall with a total catch of 50 pounds, 9 ounces. "I really can't complain," said Morehead. "I didn't lose any fish today. My problem was that my big fish never showed up." Morehead, who has been throwing a combination of Alabama Rigs and soft plastics, has been targeting bass attempting to ambush blueback herring in narrow cuts. But today's performance has him rethinking his strategy. "I think I'm going to change things up tomorrow," he said. "I'm still going to throw the same baits but I'm probably going to fish a little different water." Auten scores top-five qualifying finish Bolstered by a total catch of 50 pounds, 9 ounces, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., found himself in fifth place overall heading into tomorrow's finals.Bolstered by a total catch of 50 pounds, 9 ounces, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., found himself in fifth place overall heading into tomorrow's finals. "I'll tell you what, it was an exciting day today," he said. "I caught some good fish early and I thought I was really going to have a great day but things toughened up later on. I only caught five fish today, but at least I got the right bites early." Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists: 6th: Micah Frazier of Newnan, Ga., 49-13 7th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 48-10 8th: Brett Hite of Phoenix, Ariz., 48-0 9th: Jay Yelas of Corvallis, Ore., 46-14 10th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., 45-10 For a complete list of the day's results, click here. Bass-fishing fans take note FLW Tour action continues during Sunday's final takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. at Portman Shoals Marina, located at 1629 Marina Road in Anderson, S.C. Daily on-the-water coverage will also be available online at FLWOutdoors.com beginning at takeoff. To see up-to-the-minute tournament updates, click here. A packed crowd was on hand to witness day-three weigh-in at the FLW Tour Lake Hartwell event.In addition to takeoff and weigh-in action, fans in the Greenville, S.C., area will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the TD Convention Center on Sunday from noon - 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday the first 300 children 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of The Greenville News. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a Can-Am ATV courtesy of WESC 92.5. The ATV giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday's final weigh-in to win. Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of Saturday's weigh in. Coverage of the Lake Hartwell tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs April 15 from 1 - 2 p.m. ET. "FLW" is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide. Related links: To see the latest photos from final takeoff, click here.

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Morgan Maintains His Lead

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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 »

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Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

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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 »

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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 »

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Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

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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 »

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Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

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Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

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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 »

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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 »