Malone masters Big Muddy

Pro champion Paul Malone holds shares the winner's trophy with a good friend.

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Three weeks ago, Paul Malone took some time off from his job as an applications engineer and drove from Pleasant Valley, Iowa, to La Crosse to practice for the EverStart Series Central Division event on the Mississippi River. He found what he termed the "perfect spot" but he had to nervously wait to see if these tournament-winning bass would stick around. Two days before the tournament began, Malone revisited the 80-yard stretch of water, located in the mid-lake section of Onalaska (Pool 7). Much to his delight, it was still loaded and looking perfect - holding the ideal combination of lily pads, duck weed, current and baitfish. While Malone loved the setup, he worried cloudy conditions could ruin the frog bite. On day one, he caught a solid 11-pound, 3-ounce limit and was on pace. Day two brought those dreaded cloudy, cooler conditions. Rather than fight it, he punted and fished Pool 8, bringing a very average 7-pound, 11-ounce stringer to the scale. Malone made the top-10 cutoff, but he'd have to rally from Pro champion Paul Malone holds up a fiesty Mississippi River largemouth.eighth to claim victory. "I knew I was going to struggle on day two with that weather," he said. "I really thought yesterday killed me. But today the hot sun came back and that positions them perfectly under the mats. I was praying for the hot and the sun and when it came, they bit." On day three he caught an 11-pound, 7-ounce limit, the second-heaviest stringer of the entire tournament. All of his fish came on topwater frogs, his two best being a heavier River2Sea frog and a lighter Spro Popping frog. Malone would vary the weight based on the density of the cover. The River2Sea frog could move more water, but the Spro "really got their attention in the thin duck weed." In addition to frogging, Malone tried punching mats, but it wasn't nearly as successful. This was his very first EverStart event and he credited his victory to confidence. "After that practice, I came up here to win and I was only fishing for those big ones. Several times I thought about leaving but I knew they were still there. When it was good I was only getting a fish an Paul Malone used both a River2Sea frog and a Spro Popping frog to win the EverStart Series event on the Mississippi River.hour. Sometimes I would go two or three hours without a bite. Most guys would have left in that situation. If I didn't have the confidence I would've left too. Usually fish that like don't stick around, but when I checked them again Tuesday they were still there; I couldn't believe it." Malone finished with a three-day total of nine largemouths weighing 30 pounds, 5 ounces. His margin of victory was 6 ounces and he earned $31,194. King surges to second After making the long idle to the Copeland Park landing Saturday afternoon, Zach King was thinking he may have just won the tournament. All week long he was catching 60 to 70 keepers per day and he Second-place finisher Zach King holds up his biggest bass from the final day.saved his biggest bag for the final day. "Everything went perfect; it was just flawless," said the Clarksville, Ark., pro. "I caught so many today I forgot. I really thought I had a chance, but I have no regrets." While King weighed a few fish on a Booyah Pad Crasher and a Spook, his main pattern was flipping a Yum F2 tube (black and red color). While he occasionally flipped trees, he mainly focused on a ditch going back into a creek. This ditch, which coughed up well over 100 keeper bass, was located less than a mile from takeoff in Pool 8. "They would sit on the outside edge of the ditch in like 3 to 4 feet of water, just following the channel. Fishing up here is just unbelievable. It sets up just like my home lake, Lake Dardanelle, except you get way more bites." King leaves La Crosse as the Strike King Angler of the Year leader in the Central Division. "That's a goal of mine this year and I also want to qualify for the FLW Tour." McGarry slips to third Local angler Dan McGarry finished the EverStart Series event in third place. Dan McGarry caught a solid 8-pound, 14-ounce limit Saturday but still slipped from second to third, earning $8,913. He finished the three-day tournament with nine bass weighing 28 pounds, 14 ounces. "I had kind of a rough day," said the Tomah, Wis., fisherman. "All week long I've been using a white Lethal Weapon Swim jig with a 5-inch Action Plastics grub. But first thing this morning I got on a real solid Spook bite. I had the right bites, but just didn't get them. It was rough." McGarry's main pattern was swimming that Lethal Weapon jig through grass flats. The flat itself was in 4 feet of water, but what made it productive was the presence of shad. While it proved to be consistent, McGarry lamented the fact that he never got a truly big bite. In 2008, McGarry won a pair of BFLs on his home water, but this was his first EverStart event. Thill, Johnson round out top five Local anglers Dan Thill of La Crosse and Kevin Johnson of Sparta rounded out the top five. Thill rallied Fourth-place pro Dan Thill shows off an impressive pair of smallmouths.from 10th to fourth after catching three bass Saturday that weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces. Two of Thill's keepers were quality smallmouths, the other an average largemouth. Thill finished the event with a total weight of 28 pounds, 1 ounce, earning $8,021. Johnson managed 8-6 on three bass, pushing his cumulative total to 27 pounds, 14 ounces. Earlier in the week he had been catching his fish on a frog, but the river dropped several inches during the tournament and he wasn't able to access some of his better water. He earned $7,130. "I've been struggling the past year and a half," said Johnson. "So this was a pleasant surprise." Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pros at the EverStart Series Mississippi River event: 6th: Dennis Rhead of Elmwood, Wis., 27-11 7th: Richie Eaves of Nauvoo, Ill., 26-15 8th: Shane Long of Springfield, Mo., 26-5 9th: Doug Stanton of Winona, Minn., 26-0 10th: Dave Parsons of Yantis, Texas, 25-7 The next EverStart Series event is slated for Aug. 16 on 1000 Islands in New York. The next Central Division event takes place Sept. 13 on Lake of the Ozarks.

Tags: headline-story  brett-carlson 

/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

He left the dock this morning in 7th place, eight and a half pounds off the lead. And when he returned this afternoon, Dave Lefebre shocked the weigh-in crowd with a come-from-behind Walmart FLW Tour win that left his competitors shell-shocked. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-29-lewis-smith-lake-day-4-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

Day 4 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »