UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart FLW Tour - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

A wrong turn gone right

Pro winner Brent Long holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Table Rock Lake.

BRANSON, Mo. - Brent Long had no intention of fishing near the takeoff site at the Walmart FLW Tour Major on Table Rock Lake. As a known shallow, dirty-water fisherman, Long had planned on running way up one of the lake's main rivers. But after he missed his exit on the way to the Lighthouse Lodge, his GPS brought him to Long Creek, which was red brown in color. At that moment, the North Carolina pro knew he would spend all of his time in that aptly-named area.

For a lake as massive as Table Rock, one of the most compelling storylines was the fact that all five of the top finishers were basically in the same area - south of the 86 Bridge near Table Rock State Park. Thanks to recent rains, the water there was cooler and dirty - which allowed fishermen to avoid the spawning bass, which were laying everywhere but were nearly impossible to catch.

A closer look at Brent LongWhile most in the area fished crankbaits, Long concentrated on one technique - flipping what he called "trash" for prespawn largemouths. In reality it was a mixture of sticks, stumps and lay-downs - any wood that had washed up on shore since the water came up a week ago. Long flipped the wood with either a black and blue jig made by Ernest Langley (tipped with a Charlie's Chunk) or a Charlie's Worms Flippin' Bug. Long would make several pitches at each piece, starting at the outside and working his way in.

"I grew up watching and idolizing Hank Parker and Denny Brauer; they were dirty, shallow-water fishermen," Long said. "But it's so hard to win a tournament shallow nowadays because those fish get so beat up; you almost have to find a school. But that's what I like to do; that's what I do best."

As the tournament progressed, Long worried that the water was clearing up and that there was less and less cover to probe. In fact, several of the places he caught them the first two days are now high and dry. While Spencer Shuffield mounted a furious charge, a strong morning bite was enough to put the Cornelius, N.C., pro back in the winner's circle.

"I was catching them as they moved up," added the 2010 Lake Guntersville champion. "I was fishing the steeper banks because they had been pulling water all week. I'm glad I don't have to fish tomorrow because the water's getting so low I don't have any more cover in the water and it's clearing up."

Interestingly, Long said the prespawn bass were not relating to the bushes. He could never figure out why, but the cover had to be horizontal, not vertical.

Pro Brent Long celebrates after learning he won the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake.Long's third cast of the day yielded a 6 1/2-pounder. The morning bite all but stalled at 10 a.m. until Long finally coaxed a 5-pounder around lunchtime. His final-day weight registered 19 pounds, 14 ounces, pushing his total to 78 pounds, 13 ounces. The 41-year-old Long earned $125,000.

"When I won Guntersville we decided to start building a new home. I'm a general contractor when I'm not fishing and because the economy has slowed, we had to put those plans on hold. The best part about this is that we just restarted construction so we can really use the money."

Long also said he won for his mother, who celebrated her birthday on day one of the tournament. Compared to his first victory, the fifth-year pro said it's the same unbelievable feeling all over again.

"When you win one, they can say you just got lucky, you are a one-hit wonder. When you win two, I think that solidifies you as a good angler."

Shuffield second by 7 ounces

The younger Shuffield is already making some serious noise in just his fourth tournament as a professional. The 2011 Co-angler of the Year crushed the Table Rock bass this week on a modified umbrella rig called the Swim N' Frenzy. With shorter wires, smaller Keitech Swing Impact swimbaits and tiny willow blades, the entire rig can be thrown and pitched with ease. While Missouri state law allows only three hooks, Shuffield has already won a BFL event on Lake Ouachita with the bigger five-hook version.

Early in the week, the Bismarck, Ark., pro fished the Frenzy around channel swings and standing timber in 8 to 15 feet of water. But on the final day he went shallow and threw it around bushes the Spencer Shuffield shows off the Swim Nway one would work a traditional spinnerbait. Proving its versatility, it worked to the tune of 22 pounds, 13 ounces.

"They got up there last night and started doing their thing and I just instinctively figured it out," said Shuffield. "The last three days all of my fish have been fat and healthy (prespawn) but today they were bloody and had battle scars (from spawning)."

At first, Shuffield didn't like the development of the umbrella rig. But he's learned to embrace it and recently has won several tournaments back home with it. After a disappointing Hartwell event, he worked with Rick Powell on designing a smaller, compact version.

"I know the downsizing made all the difference. I had co-anglers throw the standard version behind me and they weren't catching nearly the same amount I was."

Shuffield also weighed four bass this week by sight-fishing with Typhoon sunglasses. He purposely targeted deeper beds because those bass were more apt to bite. Shuffield mostly fished in Cow Creek.

For finishing in second place with a total weight of 78 pounds, 6 ounces, he earned $35,000.

"I was close. Looking back, there were so many opportunities lost. I thought I was going to do it and I kept telling my cameraman I needed one more 4-pounder and it just never came."

Morrow rises to third

After a disappointing day one in which he finished 97th, Troy Morrow steadily climbed the leaderboard Troy Morrow vaulted up to third place after catching 21 pounds, 13 ounces on day four.the rest of the week. After catching a 21-pound, 13-ounce stringer Sunday he rose from eighth all the way to third and finished with a total weight of 70 pounds, 13 ounces, earning $30,000.

"My goal today was to make the top five," said the Eastanollee, Ga., pro. "First thing this morning I stopped a couple hundred yards from takeoff on a smallmouth. I caught her and then I had a limit with a big fish by 8 this morning."

Morrow worked both the clear and the dirty water near the State Park. On day one, he sampled the clear water and struggled. He thrived in the dirty water on days two and three but a gut instinct told him to return to the clear water Sunday due to the boat pressure in the dirty water. It turned out to be the right decision.

"In the clear water, I was using an original Wiggle Wart painted by Xtreme Lure Creations in a green pumpkin crawfish pattern," said Morrow. "What can you say about the Wiggle Wart? We keep throwing them and the bass don't seem to figure it out because they keep eating them."

In dirty-water areas, Morrow would opt for standard squarebill crankbaits.

"Other than missing some fish on day one, I'm really happy with how it played out. I had a good practice with three things going - the Wart, a Swarm (umbrella rig) and the squarebills. I weighed one Swarm fish, four Wart fish and 14 squarebill fish."

Clint Brownlee of Tifton, Ga., finished fourth with a four-day total of 67-6.Brownlee adjusts, rises to fourth

Clint Brownlee caught a hefty 18-pound, 8-ounce stringer Sunday and climbed from ninth to finish the tournament in fourth place. His total weight was 67 pounds, 6 ounces - earning $25,000.

"I was catching most of my fish out a bit in the 5- to 10-foot range," said the Tifton, Ga., pro. "When the water started dropping, I decided to fish steeper banks."

Brownlee said he felt most comfortable in the dirty water and never had inclination to play the sight-fishing game in the clear water. His key baits were Strike King 3XD and a Lucky Craft 1.5 crankbait in browns and crawfish colors.

"It's been a fun week but my shoulder is tired. I've never done well before on Table Rock so were expecting to leave Friday."

Brownlee too fished the lower end of the lake near the State Park Marina in Brush Creek and Long Creek among others.

Hometown King falls to fifth

After a brutally tough practice, Stacey King was happy to dial into a solid prespawn pattern - targeting flat points in 8 to 10 feet of dirty water. He threw a Rapala DT in both red crawdad and brown crawdad color and his bite was particularly effective when the wind blew from the south.King launches his DT10.

"It was a good program, but I think stuck with it too long," said the veteran pro. "I knew we were coming up on the tail end, but all those staging fish evaporated today. It's tough to leave something that's been that good to you. You're constantly thinking your next cast will be that big bite that you need."

The local Reeds Spring, Mo., resident caught four bass worth 7 pounds, 14 ounces Sunday - by far his lightest sack of the week. King's four-day cumulative weight registered 63 pounds, 13 ounces, good enough for fifth place and $20,000. King's 8-pounder from day two officially goes in the books as the heaviest bass of the tournament.

"I've exceeded my expectations in this tournament. I said after the first two days that if I didn't catch another bass in the finals I'd be happy and I am."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake:

6th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 62-9, $17,000
7th: Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., 62-1, $16,000
8th: Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., 61-11, $15,000
9th: Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., 60-2, $14,000
10th: Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., 56-5, $13,000

The next FLW Tour event is slated for Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., April 26-29, the third of six Majors.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2012-03-29-table-rock-lake 

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-okeechobee-day-2-coverage

Okeechobee Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-top-5-patterns-from-the-okeechobee-tour-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Okeechobee Tour Day 1

The Walmart FLW Tour has been coming to Lake Okeechobee for the better part of 20 years. And for a vast majority of those years, the north end of the lake has been the business end – where the business of fish catching is done. Today, that tradition was derailed in the first round of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Hendry County Tourism Development Council. Though some boats did sample the Harney Pond area up north, many of the normal fish-producing haunts such as the Monkey Box, Dyess Ditch and Fisheating Bay were complete ghost towns. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-leads-day-one-of-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Leads Day One Of Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Oklahoma pro Bradley Hallman, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 25 pounds even Thursday to grab the early lead after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Right behind him in second place is renowned Okeechobee angler Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, who weighed in five bass totaling 22-8. Hallman now brings a 2½-pound lead into day two of the four-day READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-takes-the-lead-with-25

Hallman Takes the Lead with 25

The old saying is that the third time is the charm, but for Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., it’s more like the first time is the charm. Hallman is fishing his first Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. It’s the first day of the first Tour event of 2016, and Hallman sits in first place with 25 pounds even. Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman sacked up an impressive 25-pound limit of bass to take the lead on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour opener on Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-okeechobee-day-1-coverage

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-key-areas-on-okeechobee

5 Key Areas on Okeechobee

There are many well-known areas on Lake Okeechobee that are commonly talked about around the docks before and after each event, but five key spots in particular will certainly play a role in this week’s Walmart FLW Tour opener. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-to-watch-on-okeechobee

5 to Watch on Okeechobee

This year, the Big O is giving the 169-boat field a different look than they’ve seen in past years in the form of high, dirty water. The odds could favor the locals more than in years past, though the caliber of skill among the entire field is over the top. Really, it could be anyone’s tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-02-scouting-the-big-o-with-wesley-strader

Scouting the Big O with Wesley Strader

Wesley Strader is known and admired for his unique wit and constant cheer, but his consistency is what has been the true hallmark of his successful fishing career. Last week, that consistency paid off with the first big win he’s had since 2002 at the B.A.S.S. Open on the Kissimmee Chain in central Florida. Now he’s got his eye on starting the Walmart FLW Tour season on the right foot a few hours south at Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-okeechobee-practice-with-scott-martin

Okeechobee Practice with Scott Martin

Scott Martin is heading into the first Walmart FLW Tour event of the season with a full head of steam. After earning what might be the first of many Angler of the Year titles in 2015, he gets to kick off the year sleeping in his own bed and fishing Lake Okeechobee, the place where he grew up and where he has caught more than 50 bass weighing more than 10 pounds. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-targeted-rocks-for-victory

Childers Targeted Rocks for Victory

Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-savannah-river-division-opener-on-lake-keowee-presented-by-power-pole

Childers Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division Opener on Lake Keowee Presented by Power-Pole

SENECA, S.C. – Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-bfl-angler-poche-stabbed-to-death

BFL Angler Poche Stabbed to Death

Louisiana angler Dylan Poche, who was just beginning his career as a professional bass fisherman, was stabbed to death late Saturday night after participating in an FLW Bass Fishing League Cowboy Division tournament. Police say they have a suspect in custody. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-30-ucf-earns-title-on-crescent

UCF Earns Title on Crescent

The University of Central Florida team of Hunter McKamey of Geneva, Tennessee, and Kyle Oliver of Winter Garden, Florida, won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opener on Crescent Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-30-university-of-central-florida-wins-flw-college-fishing-southeastern-conference-opener-on-crescent-lake

University of Central Florida Wins FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Opener on Crescent Lake

BUNNELL, Fla. – The University of Central Florida team of Hunter McKamey of Geneva, Tennessee, and Kyle Oliver of Winter Garden, Florida, won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opener on Crescent Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-29-okeechobee-heating-up

Okeechobee Heating Up

The weather over the last few weeks in Florida has been, well, not so Florida-like. Wave after wave of cold front has riddled the Sunshine State, leaving the bass in lockdown mode. Hope is on the horizon, though, for the entire field of the Walmart FLW Tour with a forecast calling for warmer weather in the days leading up to the start of the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee Feb. 4-7. READ MORE »