Ellis wins Santee squeaker

Targeting stumps for post-spawners was the key for top pro Ken Ellis.

SUMMERTON, S.C. - Textbooks, chalkboards, fog delay - what do they have in common? Schooling, and that's just what Ranger pro Ken Ellis delivered in his EverStart Series Southeast Division victory on Santee Cooper Lakes. Take nothing away from the talented field of finalist against which Ellis competed. But on a day that saw a dense blanket of fog and no wind to usher its departure postponing the takeoff from a scheduled 6:30 start until 11:29, the local legend offered a lesson on how it's done. Entering day three in fifth place after weighing 18-0 and 18-5 on days one and two, Ellis bagged 20 pounds in the final round and won the event with 56-5 and a 7-ounce margin of victory. Fog delays always create a somewhat tempestuous scenario, as tournament organizers balance the overriding concern for safety with the impatience of anglers chomping at the bit. At times, the point of acceptable visibility may be complicated by local impediments, such as the smattering of day-wrecking stumps that present minefields of navigational nightmares throughout Lakes Marion and Moultrie. Notably, it was those same stumps that Ellis targeted for his winning catch. With some 30 years of Ken Ellis used wacky-rigged Zoom Trick Worms to tempt his winning fish.experience on these impoundment lakes, Ellis knew that it was the right time for the stumps in about five feet of water to hold big fish. Postspawners, he said, will either go to deeper grass or deep trees. The latter offers more definitive targets that allowed him to make better use of his time on a short day. "I've been targeting these postspawn females that get out on the deep trees," he said. "I haven't caught a 5-pound fish all week until today, when I caught one. I had enough fish that I was able to get a limit fairly quickly. "I fish really light line and there's a lot of vegetation so the fish were getting around a lot of stuff. But I didn't lose any fish today and a lot of times, that's the key. If you lose one or two fish in this crowd, you're backing up." Ellis caught all of his fish on a wacky-rigged Zoom Trick Worm (watermelon). He fished his baits on light spinning gear. Precision casts and diligent presentations were important to his success. Time management was critical for Ken  Ellis to overcome a fog delay for the win."It takes a lot of patience, you have to work the wind," Ellis said. "We were fishing in a area that had a pretty good bit of current this afternoon, so you have to know how the current's affecting the bait to get it to fall where you want it. "Also, you have to be patient when you hook a good one and not try to (horse the fish). You have to let them do what they want to do for a while." After fishing the previous two days in the lower lake (Moultrie), Ellis stayed in Marion for day three. That turned out to be a good call, as the afternoon saw a vicious storm pound the lake with high winds, lightning and hail. "I had some fish that weren't too far away and at 2:15 when (at TV crew) came to do some stuff with me, I said 'I'm ready to go weigh-in now." I had the weight I was going to have. I was fortunate that I saw the storm coming and I got across the lake and actually had a nice ride." Ware improves to second Kent Ware, of Wadmalaw Island, S.C. made a good run at the lead when he brought in a day-threeSecond-place pro Ken Ware shows off his biggest fish on day three. limit of 15-14. In the end, Ware would come up just a little short and settle into second place with a tournament total of 55-14. Throughout the week, Ware caught fish on a jig, a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper and a frog. His key bait was a Texas-rigged Senko. He fished the stickbait unweighted on spinning tackle with 17-pound line and targeted mostly trees and docks. Ware said he had to adjust his plan based on the fog delay and the resulting shorter day. "My preference was the lower lake, but with the short day, I decided to fish the upper lake," Ware said. "I had found some fish there in practice so it was a little bit of a gamble." Hutson slips to third A Texas-rigged Berkley Power Worm was the go-to rig for third-place Mark Hutson.The fog delay was a major impediment for Mark Hutson, of Moncks Corner, S.C. After a seventh-place finish on day one, Hutson led day two but he slipped back to a third-place finish on day three when he bagged just two fish for 9 pounds and tallied 51-9. "The fog delay may have cost me the tournament," Hutson said. "All my big bites came first thing in the morning (on the first two days). It was crucial to have that early morning bite and when you don't blast off until (nearly) noon it makes it kind of tough. I had what I had and I was lucky to get one of the big ones to bite." Hutson caught his biggest fish on the same Texas-rigged Berkley Power Worm (plumb) he had been using all week. He used a Bass Pro Shops soft stickbait (green pumpkin) to catch his smaller one. Costas climbs up to fourth Lex Costas, of Daniel Island, S.C. reached the final round after making a big day-two move from 33rdFourth-place pro Lex Costas caught only three bass but they weighed a whopping 14-8. place to seventh. He continued his upward movement in the final round by catching a trio of fish for 14-8 and gaining three more spots to finish fourth with 50-1. Costas spent his day in the upper lake and caught one of his fish on a Texas-rigged Senko and two on a Skinny Dipper. Riley settles at fifth Brent Riley, of Ridgeville, S.C. lost even more time after the late start when he experienced motor problems. He managed only two keepers on day three, but their weight of 10-4 kept him in good shape with a fifth-place total of 49-1. Motor problems hindered fifth-place pro Brent Riley on day three.Fishing the far side of the lower lake Sticking with a Zoom Brush Hog in the green pumpkin magic color, Riley lauded the condition of the Santee Cooper Lakes. "We have a lot of vegetation that we haven't had in a few years and (the lakes) have really made a comeback," he said. "The last two months have been about as awesome as you could imagine. Everybody's had a blast." Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Santee Cooper event:Straight Talk pro JT Kenney gained two spots on day three to finish in seventh place. 6th: Currey Holey, of Ridgeville, S.C., 43-15 7th: JT Kenney, of Palm Bay, FL, 42-13 8th: Keith Pace, of Monticello, Ark., 37-8 9th: Jason Smith, of Albany, Ga., 36-4 10th: Troy Gibson, of Eufaula, Ala., 32-6

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/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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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 »

/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 »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

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 »

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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

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/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 »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

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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