UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

April’s seventh

Pro Tommy Skarlis celebrates after winning the 2012 FLW Walleye Tour event on the Mississippi River.

RED WING, Minn. - Tommy Skarlis was competitive like always during the 2011 tournament season. But in many respects, it was a disappointing year in that he failed to close after leading several major events. In fact, he was one day away from becoming the first pro to win two National Guard FLW Walleye Tour Championships until he stumbled and watched Dan Stier steal the show. The one that stung the most, however, was blowing a huge lead at the AIM event held on the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. With that experience still fresh is his mind, Skarlis returned to the Mississippi, albeit upstream in Pool 4, with a sense of purpose. All week long he spoke about returning to his roots and re-dedicating himself towards mastering the finer points of river fishing. While many pros covered water in search of keeper bites, Skarlis focused on big fish - targeting rock piles, lateral rip rap and wing dams for the giant females. He used both three-way rigs with crankbaits (Rapala No. 11 and No. 9 Floating Minnows) and homemade Do-it jigs with custom paint jobs. He tied 20-pound Spiderwire Stealth line on the three-way rigs with 12-pound Trilene XT leaders. On his jigs, he used straight 8-pound Trilene XL. Overall, Skarlis credited his success to addressing an angling Iowa pro Tommy Skarlis holds up his check for winning the 2012 season opener.weakness and embracing a style learned from river anglers Jeff Lahr and Marty Berns. On day one, he caught the heaviest limit of the entire tournament, an incredible 36-pound, 12-ounce sack. From there, the Waukon, Iowa, native never looked back - putting together consistent sacks of 20-13 and 14-15 to slam the door shut. "A win on this river has always eluded me," said Skarlis. "I have wanted this for a long time and considering what happened last year, this one is pretty special. I believe everything happens for a reason." Skarlis didn't camp on any one spot and instead sampled many, giving his key areas time to reload. A good portion of his time was spent at the lower end of the Vermillion River to the dam area. The win was Skarlis' seventh major of his 16-year career and his fifth during the month of April, hence the nickname Mr. April. For a three-day total weight of 72 pounds, 8 ounces, Skarlis earned $63,000. His margin of victory was nearly 9 pounds. "This tournament means so much to me on so many different levels. Bringing home this trophy reminds me why I have committed my professional life to competitive angling." Bjorkman rallies to second With the low water level, everyone assumed the well-known spot in Pool 4 known as Katrina wouldn't be a player. But having fished Katrina before and knowing its potential, Brian Bjorkman wasn't willing to Pro Brian Bjorkman and co-angler Keith Keivens hold up part of their 28-pound, 11-ounce final-day stringer.assume. On the final day of practice he snuck in there and discovered that there was just enough current flowing through for it to be effective. After he drew boat No. 7 the first day he knew that's where he would end up fishing. After sacking 25 pounds, 8 ounces on day one, Bjorkman found a boat already in his spot on day two. On day three, he once again had Katrina to himself and the results were impressive. His five-walleye limit weighed 28 pounds, 11 ounces and launched him from fourth to second. He earned $17,000 for a three-day total weight of 63 pounds, 10 ounces. "We started just lighting them up right away this morning," said the Fargo, N.D., pro who took fifth on the Mississippi River in 2009. "Then the bite slowed and I came close to leaving twice. Each time I told myself 10 more minutes and each time we got a big fish. The last one came at 12:30 p.m. and we were done. We got 12 bites total on the day." Bjorkman said there's a ledge in Katrina that goes from 6 feet to 11 feet of water. He placed his rig on the current seam at the deepest point where the walleyes wait to ambush baitfish. He used a 1-ounce slip-sinker and a 16-inch leader. His bait of choice was willow cats, but he also used creek chubs and rainbow chubs. "I held two rods in my hands and worked them up and down. When they hit, with that current, you almost can't move them because they're so big and strong. It's awesome; it's something every walleye fisherman should experience." King up to third Brett King was one of the pretournament favorites and after a slow start, he more than lived up to the Third-place pro Brett King holds up two nice Mississippi River walleyes.hype. On the final day, the Claremont, Minn., pro caught a 20-pound, 7-ounce limit and rallied from eighth all the way to third. King fishes the river often and came in with a plan to do some serious spot-hopping. He fished at the mouth of the lake, near Young's Cabin, at the Bay City flats, Pig Point and at the mouth of Goose Lake. As the river continued to rise and the fish repositioned accordingly, King never caught them in the same spot twice. "I used a buffet of tactics, but my main presentation was pulling three-way rigs with half a night crawler," he said. "I also caught fish casting cranks and pitching hair jigs tipped with minnow. On my fourth cast of the day this morning I caught a 5-pounder pitching a jig with just a Luck-E-Strike ringworm." King finished the tournament with a three-day weight of 52 pounds, 12 ounces, earning $11,000. "I really had a tough practice so I'm happy with how it went. I spent so much time checking places to see if they'd finally show up. The whole tournament changed when the river came up like it did." Mealey up to fourth Starting the day in sixth place, Westerville, Ohio, pro Rich Mealey moved up to fourth after hauling in a 16-pound, 6-ounce limit. He finished the tournament with 49 pounds, 13 ounces and earned $10,000. Mealey's final-day limit was anchored by a 28-incher that had quite the tale attached to it. "My tournament got off to a great start when I caught that 10-pounder on the first day," Mealey said. "Today we were trolling and right as we came up to the same spot I told my partner the story and at the same time the rod doubled back and it was a 28-incher." Mealey said he caught his fish this week by trolling Rapala crankbaits on leadcore line. Bruegger falls to fifth Fifth-place pro Robert Bruegger holds up his largest walleye from day three on the Mississippi River.Falling to fifth place was local Wabasha, Minn., pro Robert Bruegger. Bruegger started the tournament with a bang - catching a mammoth 27-pound, 15-ounce limit. Each of the next two days was a struggle, as he managed only three keepers and two keepers respectively. One of his two walleyes Saturday was a kicker and anchored his 9-pound, 10-ounce catch. His total weight for the tournament was 49 pounds, 12 ounces. Bruegger strictly ran a live-bait program. He would rig with one rod in hand and dead stick the other, as did his co-angler partners. He presented this live bait in current breaks, eddies and seams. He steadfastly believed this was the key to catching the bigger females, as opposed to trolling. Bruegger earned $8,000. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists at the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on the Mississippi River: 6th: Tom Brunz of Madison Lake, Minn., 48-2 (three-day total) $7,000 + $2,500 in contingencies 7th: Joe Whitten of Toledo, Ohio, 46-15, $6,000 + $2,500 in contingencies 8th: Chad Schilling of Akaska, S.D., 42-8, $5,000 9th: Brent Henriksen of Tea, S.D., 38-5, $4,500 + $1,000 Ranger bonus 10th: Nick Schertz of Tomahawk, Wis., 34-15, $4,000 + $1,000 Ranger bonus Keivens claims Co-angler Division Co-angler Keith Keivens and pro Tommy Skarlis hold up their trophies for winning their respective divisions. Keith Keivens of Toledo, Ohio, claimed victory and $8,500 in the Co-angler Division with a three-day weight of 68 pounds, 3 ounces. Keivens fished with pro Jacob Lapine on day one and the two brought in 11 pounds, 1 ounce. On day two he caught 28 pounds, 7 ounces fishing with Dean Kaminski and today he sacked 28-11 with Bjorkman. "I'm so happy about this I don't even have the words to describe it," said Keivens, who's fishing his eighth season on the Walleye Tour. "I've never been to Red Wing until now and I've enjoyed every minute of it." Tim Lessila of Milwaukee, Wis., placed second for the co-anglers, followed by Jesse Proffitt, Keith Hahn, and John Mickish. Jim Milewsky took sixth, Jimmy Cox seventh, David Klamfoth eighth, Brett Lilienthal ninth and C.J. Johnson 10th. The next National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event is scheduled to take place May 10-12 on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio.

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/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

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 »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

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 »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

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 »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

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 »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

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