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/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-johnston-targets-beds-for-big-limit

Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-football-jig-helps-bates-net-title

Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-hipsher-hops-ledges-for-victory

Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-lauer-wins-on-ohio-river

Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-creature-bait-does-it-for-berhorst

Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-potomac-river-day-4-coverage

Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

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

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Wendlandt suffered a mechanical failure with his rig just a couple of hours into competition that prevented him from running his big motor on plane. He was stuck, more or less, and planned to fish with the trolling motor as best he could before being towed back to the ramp early. If it’d played out as planned, Wendlandt would have lost significant fishing time and probably wouldn’t have weighed in a limit. Fukae would let nothing of the sort happen when he came across Wendlandt on the water and heard what had happened. In 16th place and fishless at the time, Fukae insisted that Wendlandt trade boats, effectively ending his tournament and giving Wendlandt the chance to catch 14 1/2 pounds and maintain his lead with a three-day total of 47-02. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

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

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

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

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

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

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-all-american-midday-update-day-3

All-American Midday Update Day 3

Big changes might be coming in the standings of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American on Kentucky Lake, as some of the top 10 leaders struggled this morning to catch limits. Canadian angler Curtis Richardson, who currently is leading, had only one 3-pound keeper by midmorning. And second-place boater Billy Schroeder, who had fished just below the Paris Landing Bridge for the first two days, finally bailed out from there after catching four keepers this morning. READ MORE »