Kreiger claims EverStart Series Championship

Koby “Mr. EverStart” Kreiger wins his fifth EverStart event and second Championship with a four-day total of 38-5.

MONROE, La. - It's official: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., is now Koby "Mr. EverStart" Kreiger. Today Kreiger won the fifth EverStart tournament of his career and his second EverStart Championship. He now holds the record for most EverStart wins in FLW Outdoors history. Kreiger's first EverStart Championship win came in 2002 on Lake Martin in Alabama. And how fitting is it for "Mr. EverStart" to win the final EverStart Championship, as it will not be held in 2013. "This means a lot to me," said an emotional Kreiger after accepting the trophy. "There is a lot of work that goes into fishing these events. When I won my first Championship in 2002, I had an undeniable feeling during practice that I was going to win that tournament. I have not had that feeling again in a long time. And on the third day of practice here, I had that feeling again. And it felt just like it did in 2002. It just comes over you...its kind of unexplainable, really."Koby Kreiger seals his fifth EverStart win with a final-day catch of 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Kreiger relishes his Mr. EverStart title even more as he has always been a big participant and strong supporter of the EverStart Series. Even with a full FLW Tour schedule, Kreiger always finds time for the EverStart events and thoroughly enjoys them. "The EverStarts are important to me," Kreiger said. "It's where I cut my teeth in professional fishing and found early success. It's a great place for people to discover tournament fishing - a true gateway to the sport. So to be kind of a leader in this Series is special to me. I like to see the new guys come into the sport. I enjoy helping them and seeing them succeed. There's no doubt that the EverStart Series is critical to the growth of this sport, so to win this means more than most can imagine." Another reason Kreiger enjoys EverStart competition is because it starts in the spring and ends in the fall, complimenting his fishing strengths. "There are two things I like to do - fish in the spring when the fish are first moving up and fish in the fall when they get around bait," the RMC Boatworks pro explained. "Admittedly, I'm not that great in the summer events. But when the bait starts balling up in the fall and the bass follow those bait schools - I love it. It's how I won my first Championship and it's how I won this one." Koby Kreiger accepts the winner's trophy from long-time EverStart tournament director Ron Lappin. Indeed, Kreiger was on the bait-pod pattern from day one of the tournament. In the evenings during practice he noticed the hoards of bait that would come to the surface in the fertile Ouachita system. Once he saw that behavior of the shad in the lower end of the river near the Columbia lock, he immediately found his comfort zone. Each day of the event he targeted the banks of the river early with a CP1 - a homemade flatside crankbait made by Craig Powers. Once the sun would get up higher, the shad would gather up in huge schools around any object that stuck out over deep water, most notably big lay-downs or the ends of pole timber leaning out over the channel. He did most of his damage from noon until 2 o'clock in the afternoon when the bait began to rise from it's suspended locations to the surface. "In the mornings, the bait was deep, like 15 to 17 feet, I could see them all over the graph," he detailed. "Starting about 11 they would begin to come up and get around any object on the surface. From noon to 2, it was game on. The bass would suspend under the bait; I'd catch in them in 2 feet of water fishing over 40 or 50 feet of water." A look at Kreiger's winning lures. Front: CP1. Middle: Mini Frenzy. Back: War Eagle spinnerbait. Once the bait came to the surface, Kreiger went to work with a Mini-Frenzy umbrella rig (three- and four-wire, tipped with Zoom Swimming Fluke Jr.'s) and a War Eagle spinnerbait. "I think the daylight savings time change may have really helped me today," Kreiger said. "The best part of the day was later in the afternoons. And that time change gave me an extra hour of fishing today in the afternoon, which was crucial." Kreiger's daily weights were 12-5, 9-2, 7-5 and 9-5 for a three-day winning total of 38 pounds, 5 ounces, nearly 4 pounds heavier than the runner-up. For his win, Kreiger collected $50,000 cash and a Ranger Cup Bonus of a fully-rigged Ranger boat - not a bad payday for Mr. EverStart. Ware rises to second Kent Ware of Wadmalaw Island, S.C., the EverStart Series Southeast Division Angler of the Year, finished second with a four-day total of 34 pounds, 6 ounces worth $16,500. Kent Ware of Wadmalaw Island, S.C., the EverStart Series Southeast Division Angler of the Year, finished second with a four-day total of 34 pounds, 6 ounces. Over the last three days, Ware steadily climbed the leaderboard from 20th to 4th to second. Like Kreiger, Ware realized the baitfish were rising up towards the surface everyday from mid-morning on through the afternoon. But instead of targeting laydowns, Ware found the shad moving to the dark protection of docks in the main river and Moon Lake area. "The shad would get around the docks pretty thick in the afternoons," Ware explained. "And the bass would set up on the corner pilings to ambush those suspended shad." Ware noted that reaction baits were certainly a key to catching the shad-related fish. "I'm normally a jig and worm man," he said. "And I never caught a fish all week on a jig or a worm. Each day I threw a different reaction bait around those pilings to get the fish to bite." On day one he used a ChatterBait, on day two he went to a Rat-L-Trap, on day three he opted for a Redeye Shad with no rattles and today he went to a War Eagle spinnerbait. Stricklin jumps to third James Stricklin, Jr., of Texarkana, Texas, finished third with a four-day total of 32 pounds, 8 ounces worth $8,500. James Stricklin, Jr., of Texarkana, Texas, finished third with a four-day total of 32 pounds, 8 ounces. Stricklin started the event with a bang, leading the Championship on day one and holding onto second on day two. On day three he took a tumble to the 8th spot with just two keepers but rumbled back to third today with four fish weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Stricklin's bread and butter all week was the infamous D'Arbonne spillway, noted as a productive area for other tournament wins on the Ouachita River. Stricklin located an underwater rockpile near the spillway that topped out to 6 feet on the top and fell to 20 feet on one side and 9 feet on the other side. He grinded the rockpile all week with a Strike King Series 5 crankbait in sexy shad color. Today he switched to a Strike King 2.5 square-bill in a chartreuse color with a black back. Kremer fourth Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla. finished fourth with a four-day total of 32 pounds even. Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla. finished fourth with a four-day total of 32 pounds even worth $7,500. Upon arriving to the Ouachita River, Kremer noticed something that made him feel at least a little more comfortable with being in Louisiana. "This river lays out a lot like the tidal St. Johns River in Florida where I grew up fishing," Kremer said. "Obviously the St. Johns has a lot more vegetation in it, but there are sections of that river that are like this, just straight river with sand banks and laydowns. And the thing I've learned to look for from the St. Johns is anywhere the bank has `fallen off' into the river, usually on the deeper bends. Wherever the bank falls off from erosion, there is usually an underwater ridge or hump formed by that chunk of land that fell into the river. And the fish here seemed to set up on those underwater ridges just like on the St. Johns." When targeting the "fall offs" Kremer relied on an old Florida standard - a Bomber 7A - to crank the tops of the humps. His best color was sexy shad type hue that resembled the shad that were moving up on the humps in the afternoon. Martin fifth Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., rounded out the top five with a four-day total of 31 pounds, 13 ounces worth $6,600. Martin was less than confident when the Championship began. He started the event on the "biggest community hole" on the river - where the D'Arbonne dumps out into the main river and received a pleasant surprise. Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., rounded out the top five with a four-day total 31 pounds, 13 ounces. "I wacked them on an umbrella rig - a Picasso Bait Ball with four blades and five swimmers," Martin said. "There were a lot of boats fishing there but I caught fish after fish on the Bait Ball." With the good start, Martin proceeded to build on his momentum, "junk fishing" the river to the north in the following days with a Boing Lures topwater walker, a drop-shot and a jerkbait. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series Championship on the Ouachita River: 6th: Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.V., four-day total of 31-11, $5,700 7th: Larry Jones of Acworth, Ga., four-day total of 31-4, $4,900 8th: Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., four-day total of 30-14, $4,100 9th: Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., four-day total of 30-14, $3,300 10th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., four-day total of 30-9, $2,500

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Morgan Maintains His Lead

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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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Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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TBF Championship Tips Off

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Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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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 »

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »