McMillan by an ounce!

Brandon McMillan slices the air with a fist pump as he is named the winner of the EverStart Series event on Lake Seminole.

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. - Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., needed 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the EverStart Series Southeast event on Lake Seminole. Lake Seminole legend Rodger Beaver of Dawson, Ga., had mounted an impressive final day charge of 19 pounds, 8 ounces to take the lead, leaving McMillan's deficit at 17 pounds, 3 ounces. As McMillan slid his last fish into the tank, he took a breath and held it. For a second the EverStart weigh-in world in the Walmart parking lot froze. The only sound was the whispering wind lapping the American flag against a brilliant blue sky. "Seventeen pounds, four ounces!" exclaimed Tournament Director Ron Lappin into the mic as McMillan's fist cut the air in celebration and relief. And there's little doubt that far above that blue sky, the late Jimmy McMillan smiled down on his son. "This is pretty sweet," McMillan said. "I didn't think I had enough, so this is really sweet. After all that's happened this year, this is particularly special to me, it means a lot."Brandon McMillan holds up the winning fish. McMillan, who hails from Clewiston, Fla., has become a perennial top contender in Okeechobee tournaments, but this win at Seminole makes a statement that he is not just an Okeechobee local. The pure fishing instincts he exhibited this week in regards to tapping into the shad-spawn bite are quite impressive, especially given the fact he had never fished a shad-spawn pattern before. "Coming here I didn't even know what a shad spawn was," McMillan said. "My friend Chad Prough, who fishes here a lot, kind of told me what to look for, but other than that I have no prior experience with bass feeding on spawning shad." In the end, most of McMillan's fish came from one area in the Chattahoochee River where shad were spawning in the morning. He found the area late in the morning on Monday and then returned to it very early on Wednesday and witnessed big bass "going off" on balls of shad wadded up around clumps of "gator grass" or "peanut grass." A look at Brandon McMillan "My primary spot had clumps of that peanut grass out in about four feet of water and that was the deal," McMillan explained. "There was a lot of that type of grass on the bank in that area, but the isolated clumps out deeper were the ones the shad were using the most." McMillan's best lure was a white 4X4 swim jig teamed with a white craw trailer, tied to 65-pound test braided line. He also used a Spro popping frog, also tied to 65-pound test braid. On day one the small area produced 21 pounds, 15 ounces to give McMillan the early lead. A late boat number and early sunshine killed his best spot on day two, giving up just one quality bass. He resorted to a Zoom speedworm (junebug) to catch two more big fish. The trio of bass held him in third place on day two and kept him in striking distance for today." "I got there early and it was really overcast, which helped prolong the bite by about 45 minutes," McMillan said. "I did most of my damage from about 8 to 9 this morning and then it was over. I caught most of my fish today on the jig. If they blew up on the jig and didn't get it, I'd cast the popping frog over there for a second chance, which worked a couple of times." Of particular note was the size of McMillan's bass. Remember, he was two fish short of filling outBrandon McMillan with the winning hardware. a perfect 15-bass scorecard, meaning he had 13 bass that produced his winning total of 51 pounds, 11 ounces, giving him a 4-pound average. Also McMillan credited his Power-Poles for his success. "The wind was blowing in on the grass where the shad were spawning," he described. "Without the Power-Poles, I would have blown all up on top of the frenzy and completely disturbed the area. But with the Power-Poles I was able to pole down and hold a perfect position to keep making the exact cast I needed to make." Beaver second Despite a final-day rally of 19 pounds, 8 ounces, Rodger Beaver of Dawson, Ga., finished second with three-day total of 51 pounds, 10 ounces. Despite a final-day rally of 19 pounds, 8 ounces, Rodger Beaver of Dawson, Ga., finished second with three-day total of 51 pounds, 10 ounces. Unfortunately, it was an 8-ounce dead-fish penalty on the final day that cost Beaver a win. "Don't get me wrong, it hurts, $23,000 is a lot of money due to a dead fish," Beaver said. "But also, it's about perspective. I became friends with Brandon last season. And when he lost his father in January, I told him I personally knew what he was going through because I lost my son in 2005 - a sudden loss like that is something you never really get over, it's something you learn to live with. And I say that because if there is one person in the field that I would not mind losing to by such a penalty, it's Brandon. Things happen for a reason and this is one of those things; it was his time." Beaver's final-day charge came from a shad-spawn as well. "I had one area where the shad were spawning, but because of a late boat number the first day, I never went to them - I knew it would be over before I could get there, so I sight-fished instead," Beaver recounted. "Yesterday, I was able to catch the tail end of the shad spawn - maybe 10 minutes of it - and I caught two 5 pounders. Today, everything was perfect, I got there early, the clouds and overcast set in for a while and I was really able to work on them." Beaver's key lure on the shad-spawn spot up the Chattahoochee was a Spro Poppin Frog, white belly with a gray back. Kenney third Straight Talk pro JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., fell to third on the final day with a 13-pound, 4-ounce catch giving him a three-day total of 49 pounds, 10 ounces. Straight Talk pro JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., fell to third on the final day with a 13-pound, 4-ounce catch giving him a three-day total of 49 pounds, 10 ounces. "I probably caught 60 to 70 percent of my fish on a 1/2-ounce Lil Hustler spinnerbait, white with double willows," Kenney said. "The rest came on a RC 1.5 and a Fluke." Kenney fished the Spring Creek portion of the lake, focusing on ditches adjacent to spawning flats. "I wouldn't say my fish were really on a true shad spawn," he added. "I never saw shad balled up spawning on anything. There were definitely shad in the area; I'd see individual shad flicker from time to time, but not spawning. I think it was just more about fish coming off the spawning flats and retreating into those ditches around the flats." Baker fourth Shaye Baker of Tallassee, Ala., finished fourth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 8 ounces. Baker, who contributes to FLW Bass Fishing magazine and flwoutdoors.com as freelance writer, proved he knows his subject matter well with his finish this week. Shaye Baker of Tallassee, Ala., finished fourth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 8 ounces. Unlike others who were having to make the long trek some 40 miles to the Chattahoochee River to get to their shad spawn fish, thereby losing precious early-morning time, Baker intentionally looked close. "The shad spawn pattern is usually such an early morning bite that I wanted to find it as close to the launch site as possible to maximize that premium window of fishing time," Baker said. "So I spent a lot of time looking in the Flint for a shad spawn and found one spot where it was going on strong." Baker scored on his shad spawn spot on days one and three using a homemade 3/8-ounce spinnerbait, but had to improvise on day two. "The first day I never went farther than 5 miles from the ramp," Baker said. "I caught everything on the spinnerbait. On day two, I only caught four bass for about 6 pounds off the shad spawn spot and had to run down into the lake to throw a topwater. I was launching a Jackall Bowstick on a Duckett 7-foot rod and that's what saved me with two 3-pounders and a 4-pounder. Today I went back to the shad spawn area with the spinnerbait and a white NetBait swim jig with a white Paca Craw and caught everything I weighed-in in 30 minutes." Medlock fifth Lake Okeechobee EverStart Series winner Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 2 ounces.Lake Okeechobee EverStart Series winner Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 2 ounces. Medlock targeted deeper spawning bass in 3 to 6 feet on stumpy flats with a Texas-rigged 10-inch Gambler Worm (junebug) and Texas-rigged Charlie's lizard (black). "I couldn't see beds, but I feel like some of the fish were spawning around the stumps and some were just post-spawn fish milling around there deeper," Medlock said. "The first day really cost me when I lost three big ones and I could never quite catch up after that." Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Seminole: 6th: Darrell Davis of Dover, Fla., three-day total of 49-1, $7,000 7th: George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., three-day total of 44-1, $6,000 8th: Keith Pace of Monticello, Ark., three-day total of 43-13, 5,000 9th: Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., three-day total of 43-9, $4,000 10th: Ty Solis of Albany, Ga., three-day total of 38-1, $3,000

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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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 »