Combs climbs atop Rayburn

Local pro Keith Combs gave the shallow bite another look today but ended up securing his weight offshore.

LUFKIN, Texas - Keith Combs wasn't completely convinced that his shallow bite was off, but today it took him less time to decide than yesterday. The decision proved crucial, as he put together another solid limit that lifted him to the lead position at the FLW Tour Open on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. "Yesterday, I had a deep deal going and a shallow deal going," Combs said. "The shallow deal didn't pan out yesterday and I spent about half my day doing it. Today, I spent maybe 30 minutes doing it." Combs said he's been frustrated because the shallow action that was red-hot just a few days ago in practice has so far proven unproductive during the tournament. Monday and Tuesday found him shaking off big fish with amazing regularity, but with that action presently absent, he's had to make his weight over offshore wood and brush in 12-25 feet.Keith Combs said the key to finding fish was hitting a lot of spots and not camping on any of them. "I had a tremendous day the last day of practice," Combs said. "I could have had a 25-pound day shallow. That just keeps me going back and checking a few key things. And I'll check a few things tomorrow because if it turns on, I think that's my best chance to really whack 'em. To win doing what I'm doing now (offshore), I'm just going to have to get fortunate." Combs based that opinion on the slow, arduous fishing he's experienced the past two days. "It was a grind for a long time," he said. "I was catching like one fish per spot. I caught my first one about 9:30 and had a limit by 11. I caught a good one around noon and knew I was going to make (the top-20 cut for day 3). I was a little bit more comfortable so I tried some different spots and ran a lot of new water." Keith Combs said the key to finding fish was hitting a lot of spots and not camping on any of them.Working in Combs' favor is mathematical consistency. His day-one weight of 16-12 landed him in fourth-place, but with others above him having a tougher day two, his second-round limit of 16-11 was sufficient to move him up three spots with the top weight of 33-7 and a leading margin of 2-1. The Strike King 6XD that produced for him on day one yielded a single keeper today. Combs caught his other four on a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Recon Worm. Color was important, so Combs kept that under wraps. He did say that his success hinged on staying mobile and resisting the temptation to camp out on any one spot. "I'm just trying to hit as many spots as I can," he said. "I don't stay around and catch them. I'm a two to five casts kinda guy and I run to something else. Sometimes, if it's really slow, I may miss them, but by the end of the day, I've got something." Big comeback for second-place Castledine A slow day one yielded a small limit that weighed 11-10 for Todd Castledine, but the Texas pro roared back on day two with the biggest catch of the event - 19-12 - and gained 22 spots with a second-place total of 31-6. Calling Rayburn his home lake, Castledine said he thought he had formulated a solid game plan during practice, but when day-one showed him otherwise, he knew he couldn't depend on the creek mouth pattern he had intended to fish. The recent rains that raised the water level a foot or so were likely to blame. "I was on them before the tournament," Castledine said. "When it rained, I thought that might mess it After sacking up the heaviest limit of the first two days, Todd Castledine gained 22 spots to take second place.up and I went and checked it out in practice. I thought everything was going to be alright but I knew it wasn't going to be good yesterday about halfway through the day. "Today, I tried to go make it happen again. I thought that with the low weights yesterday they just didn't bite. When I catch one (where I was fishing) it's a good one but I can't catch a limit up there. I only had four at 2:30 today and two of them would have been embarrassing to weight in." Realizing he had to do something quick before his time expired, Castledine moved to an offshore spot he had identified toward the end of day one and quickly caught a 3-pounder. With another promising spot 50 yards away, he made a final move and caught two of his best fish - including a 7-pound 2-ounce beauty that nearly gave him the slip. With a legitimate day-changer on the line, Castledine was a step away from taking drastic action when fate smiled and cut him a break. "I set the hook and she had me wrapped up and we went tug-of-war for at least two minutes," he said. "Then she stopped moving. I pulled on her and pulled on her and nothing. I knew how big she was so I said 'Man, I'm going to pull this whole brush pile up.' "I put the rod down on the deck, got a rope and I was going to get an anchor and pull the whole pile up. It took about three or four minutes to do all that with the rod still on the deck. I went back to the front of the boat, picked up the rod. She pulled, I pulled back on her and she swam out." Castledine finished out his day on a third offshore spot where he bagged his second biggest bass just before he had to head back. On his shallow spot, he used a new Kicker Fish prototype swimbait on a swim jig. Offshore, he used Texas-rigged Kicker Fish High Tail Worm (redbug). Marks holds at third When his deep bite fizzled  Phil Marks went shallow and held on to his third-place position.Contrary to some of his competitors, Strike King pro Phil Marks fared better by fishing shallow today. That stood in stark contrast to his full commitment to offshore spots a day earlier, but when his deep spots shut off, Marks moved shoreward and caught a limit of 14-2 that increased his total to 31-3 and kept him in the third-place spot he acquired on day one. "It's a pattern I'm running out deep and I went to my first four or five spots and never saw a ball of shad, I didn't see any fish," Marks said. "I caught one little 14-incher but he just kind of fell in from the sky. About 10:30 I pulled up the trolling motor and went to Plan B. I had some shallow fish and I went there and caught a limit pretty quick. I was going to run back out deep, but then I decided I was going to sit there and practice and figure out where they're all at. I culled a few times, but I just a bunch of 2 ¾-pounders today and just tried to stay as high as I could." Marks caught four of his fish on a Strike King KVD 1.0 squarebill crankbait in summer sexy shad and the fifth bit a chartreuse/white Strike King spinnerbait. "I was targeting clumps of grass with sand around them," he said. "I think it would have been better if we had more wind. There wasn't a lot of wind, so I have a lot of short bites on the spinnerbait. I probably caught 25 keepers in that last two hours and I feel like I have them pretty well pegged if I need to go back there again." Kenney scrambles, slips to fourth Day-one leader J.T. Kenney returned to the offshore spots that produced his 19-pound, 6-ounce bag,Day-one leader  JT Kenney struggled on the second day and slipped to fourth place. but found them practically barren. He switched gears and went to a shallow pattern that produced 11-7. With a two-day total of 30-13, he slipped three spots to fourth. "I fished deep until like 10:30 and never had a bite but I almost knew I wasn't going to because I got out there on those spots and there was no bait on those spots anymore," Kenney said. "I went to the bank and caught three flipping. I fished another two hours and never had another bite so I went back deep and the fish were there, the bait was there and I caught quite a few in the afternoon so it must be a timing deal." Kenney caught his shallow fish on a Texas-rigged plastics anchored by a 1 1/2-ounce Reins tungsten weight. Offshore, he used a mix of moving baits and plastics. Herren improves to fifth  Catching a few early fish gave fifth-place Matt Herren the confidence to expand outward during his day.Matt Herren, of Trussville, Ala., placed sixth on day one with 14-13 and gained one spot to fifth with a second-day limit of 15-11, which boosted his total to 30-8. Herren caught most of his fish shallow and getting things rolling quickly enabled him to expand outward. "I'm dialing in a little better every day," he said. "I'm able to catch a few fish early and that's freeing me up to run the pattern and look for more stuff. I added a little more to my arsenal today. I'm having a good time and fishing like I like to fish." Herren caught his fish in 8-12 feet of water. He said he used a mix of moving baits and plastics, but bait choice was not the key factor. "It's not what I'm throwing, it's where I'm throwing it," he said. "It's kind of a combination of three or four things. It's the right depth, the right cover, the right area. It all adds up and when you find it, they're This 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth gave Lamonte Lloyd the day-two Big Bass honors.there." Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir: 6th: Mike Surman, of Boca Raton, Fla., 29-15 7th: Jacob Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., 29-12 8th: Jason Wells, of Center, Texas, 29-2 9th: John Cox, of Debary, Fla., 28-4 10th: Darrel Davis, of Dover, Fla., 27-14 Lamonte Lloyd earned Big Bass honors for his 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth Farris drops key fish but retains co-angler lead Despite a big decline in productivity, Clint Farris managed to hold on to the co-angler lead.Clint Farris had "one of those days" yesterday and today, but he'd probably rather forget the day-two version. After posting a day-one limit of 16-2, which included an 8-11 that stands as the event's largest fish so far, the Joshua, Texas co-angler found just four keepers for 6-1. Fortunately, his strong opening effort put him far enough ahead that he maintained his lead with a total weight of 22-3. "It was really slow and I didn't catch my first keeper until around 10 o'clock," Farris said. "I struggled, broke off two fish, jumped one off and didn't execute. If you don't execute, that's why everybody catches up to you. At least I'm blessed enough to get another day to try and execute tomorrow." Farris caught his day-two bass on a Texas-rigged worm fished amid lily pads and moss. Tangling with the vegetation is what robbed him of several key fish. Darrel Denton, of Georgetown, Texas took second with 20-8, while Jeff Gengler, of Fort Collins, Co. went to third with 19-11. Ben Todd, of Pierson, Fla. placed fourth with 19-11 and Alfred Williams, of Jackson, Miss., was fifth with 19-5. Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir: 6th: Wilson Burton, of Groves, Texas, 19-2 7th: Tommy Mendoza, of Lake Charles, La., 18-15 8th: Scott Darragh, of Midlothian, Texas, 16-14 9th: Gregg Swindle, of Katy, Texas, 16-14 10th: Corbett Ross, of Port Neches, Texas, 16-1 Day three of the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir continues at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. (Central) at Cassels-Boykin County Park located at FM Road 3123 (Off State Hwy 147) in Zavalla, Texas.

Tags: headline-story 

/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. 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 »