UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Todd by a tiebreaker

Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla., wins the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - When your very first fish of a three-day tournament is 9-pounder, it could be fortune. When your very last fish of that three-day tournament is another 9-pounder, it could be fate. But when you win that same three-day tournament by a tiebreaker, someone from above is looking out for you. That's exactly how the week went for EverStart rookie pro Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla. His first fish of the tournament on Thursday was 9-pounder. Then late this afternoon, with a small limit in his box and just minutes left in the fishing day, Todd hooked and landed another 9-pounder and won the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker. Todd's total weight - 59 pounds, 3 ounces - was the exact total weight of runner-up Trevor Fitzgerald who mounted a gallant charge for the title with an impressive 25-pound-10 ounce catch today. But since Todd was ahead of Fitzgerald going into the final day, Todd got the winning hardware and the $40,000 check to go with it. "You see that right there," Todd said, seconds after his weight stopped at 16-3, the exact weight he needed to win. "That was not me. The Lord did that...not me." Indeed it was a magical week for the 32-year old Todd who works on his family's farm in Pierson. It started with a 31-7 limit on day one. Then waned to an 11-9 limit on day two. And then surged again with the magic digits 16-3 today, thanks to the tournament winning 9-pounder. Todd found his winning area late on Tuesday afternoon.Here "I made one quick pass down through there, had 10 bites and shook them all off," he said. "But I saw two of them as I was shaking them off and they were big. I did not return to the area until Thursday morning. My first fish of the day was 9-pounder and that kind of set the tone for the day as I kept catching big ones." Todd's key stretch included a line of reeds "in the middle" around the J&S area, which was protected from the predominant east wind that occurred throughout the event. "I was not fishing the very outside reeds," Todd detailed. "And I was not fishing all the way inside near the bank, either. This area had a line of reeds going down through the middle. The whole area was maybe three acres in size. And it's not like the fish were bunched up in a tiny spot. I caught them all the way down this line of reeds that ran north and south." Todd's key lures were a Gambler Fat Ace and a Tightlines UV UVenko. The Fat Ace was in a river bug color and the UVenko was in black and blue. He rigged the lures Texas-style with a 5/0 Gamakatsu flipping hook and topped them with 3/8-tungsten weights on 50-pound test PowerPro braid. Ben Todd"The fish were spawning around the reeds," he explained. "I couldn't see the beds and I couldn't see the fish, but I could just tell by how they were set up, they had made beds around those reeds. I'd pitch the bait in-between and around the reeds and just let it fall into where I thought a bed would be. I'd start the day with the Gambler Fat Ace and then when things got slow or I was re-fishing some of my stretches, I'd switch to the UVenko to give them a different look. I think that UV technology really gives the lure a different appearance in the water - something they've never seen before." "Today it was all the UVenko," he added. "I caught small fish early, but late in the day all the boats disappeared and things got calm and quiet and I got that indescribable feeling that maybe another big female or two was moving up. I kept looking at my watch...30 minutes left...20 minutes left...10 minutes left and then that big one bit. When I got her in the boat I knew I had a shot at winning." Fitzgerald charges hard, finishes second Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., treated the EverStart crowd to a special show at the final weigh-in, wowing them with an eye-popping 25-pound, 10 ounce limit of Big O bass. Fitzgerald's massive bag of bass allowed him to challenge Todd for the win, rocketing him from 7th to within a breath of victory. But in the end he had to accept the runner-up spot after Todd won by a tie-breaker, pocketing $15,000. Trevor Fitzgerald wowed the crowd with a massive 25-pound, 10-ounce catch. "It's tough to swallow," Fitzgerald said graciously. "And even tougher, considering I had 4-ounce dead fish penalty yesterday that cost me the win. I hook a fish in the tongue and usually when that happens, they expire. It was still a good week and hats off to Ben. He's a good guy and he earned it." Fitzgerald spent most of his week running the south end of the lake pitching main lake reed clumps with a big jig in search of a wave of females that had just moved in to spawn. "I had a spot I'd stop on first everyday just to get a limit," Fitzgerald said. "It was a rattle trap spot where I could catch 15 or 20 keepers pretty quick, get a limit in the box and then go hunting. I felt like if I stayed on the move and kept sampling different reed clumps, I'd eventually run into a little wad of Trevor Fitzgeraldbig ones and that's exactly what happened today. I stopped on a place where there had just been two-pounders all week and I caught four big females there that, in my opinion, had literally just moved in with the new moon last night." Fitzgerald's heavy artillery was a 1-ounce Gambler Jigzilla trailed with a Gambler MegaDaddy and tied to 80-pound Sunline FX braid. His flipping stick was his namesake 7-foot, 10-inch Fitzgerald Rods custom Big Jig/Mat Flipping stick. "One key, I think, was speed," Fitzgerald detailed. "I wasn't fishing slowly. I was making as many pitches and drops with the jig as possible, covering water. I'd drop it in once, shake it and then it was onto the next target. I was really in search mode. Once I got a big bite, then I would slow down." McMillan third Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000. `Big Mac' (a nickname coined by McMillan's sponsor, Lionel Botha, owner of Halo rods) is usually considered a committed mat puncher but this week he sampled the big jig bite as well.Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000. "The risk in committing to mat punching is that there is a lot of wasted time moving from one mat to another," McMillan explained. "A lot of times I kick the trolling motor on high and have to troll 30 or 40 yards to the next mat without fishing and that's a lot of down time. If the mat bite is really strong, I don't mind that kind of down time. But if the mat bite is so-so, it adds up to a lot of lost fishing time." "So I purposely stayed in water that offered a mix of both punching mats and pitching a jig to reeds," he continued. "That way, as I moved from one mat to another, I could pitch reed clumps in between with the jig. And I ended up catching a few bonus fish from the reeds, so it worked out well." McMillan's lures of choice included a Gambler B.B. Cricket and a Zoom Z-Hog on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten for punching and a ¾-ounce 4X4 jig for pitching to reeds. Malone fourth Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300. Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300. Malone spent most of his week in the Monkey Box alternating between pitching reeds with a jig and punching mats. "I did catch some key fish out of the mats, but each day most of my fish came from the reeds," Malone said. "I feel like the fish were staging under the mats and spawning around the reeds and I'd kind of bounce back and forth depending on the time of day." His jig fishing was done with the 1-ounce Medlock's Double-Guard jig trailed with a big chunk and his punching was done with a beaver on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten with a Trokar hook. Both were tied to 70-pound Daiwa Samurai braid. Brill fifth Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000. Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000. Brill spent the first two days of his week in Pelican Bay. On day one he casted a Gambler EZ Swimmer in McMillan's Magic and a 3/8-ounce 4X4 swimjig (black/blue) also trailed with the same EZ Swimmer. "I'd cover water casting the EZ Swimmer until I got a bite or two, then I would slow down and fish a little more thoroughly with the swimjig," Brill explained. "On day two, a lot of fishing pressure came into the area, so I switched up to pitching a 1-ounce 4X4 jig into water lettuce mats." "Today I stayed up near J&S and went back to casting the EZ Swimmer and the swimjig," he added. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee: 6th: Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., three-day total of 46-4, $7,000 7th: Kyle Monti of Okeechobee, Fla., three-day total of 46-2, $6,000 8th: Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., three-day total of 45-9, $5,000 9th: Preston Clark of Eagle Lake, Fla., three-day total of 44-15, $4,000 10th: Keith Fels of Ocala, Fla., three-day total of 36-2, $3,000

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-08-31-top-10-patterns-from-lake-erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Most of the other top top-10 finishers found their fish over rocky bottom structure around the Pelee area. Drop-shots and crankbaits dominated the catches. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-webster-runs-and-guns-for-win

Webster Runs and Guns for Win

Michael Webster of Gastonia, North Carolina, brought a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 9 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division Super Tournament on Lake Wylie with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Webster earned $4,476. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-experience-pays-for-boggs

Experience Pays for Boggs

Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tennessee, brought five bass totaling 13 pounds, 12 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division Super Tournament on Old Hickory Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 2 ounces. For his victory, Boggs earned $4,257. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-jig-crankbait-carry-gray-to-victory

Jig, Crankbait Carry Gray to Victory

Brandon Gray of Bullock, North Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division Super Tournament on Kerr Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 14 ounces. For his victory, Gray earned $5,886. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-hemken-searched-deep-for-bigger-bites

Hemken Searched Deep for Bigger Bites

Shawn Hemken of Walshville, Illinois, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division Super Tournament on Lake Shelbyville with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce. For his victory, Hemken earned $6,882. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-topwater-lifts-ragan-to-top

Topwater Lifts Ragan to Top

Thadeus Ragan of West Park, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 26 pounds, 8 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division Super Tournament on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 47 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Ragan earned $6,922. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-martinkovic-runs-away-with-title

Martinkovic Runs Away with Title

Chris Martinkovic of Hamilton, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 9 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Hoosier Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Martinkovic earned $6,244. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »