UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Kerr Lake

Benton bests blustery weather

Benton hauls a nice bass through the thick cover.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - The uglier side of Lake Okeechobee reared its head on day three of the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour opener. It wasn't a true Florida cold front, but persistent 20 mph winds made sight- and topwater fishing difficult, if not impossible. But a handful of big fish were caught as the leaderboard underwent some major shuffling. Rookie pro Drew Benton emerged as the new leader after adjusting to the changing conditions. Each of the last two days, Benton has been working a two-tier program. He chucks and winds a buzzing bait on the south end of the lake and he sight-fishes spawning bass on the shoal. But today's north winds trashed his water in South Bay - forcing him to scramble. Pro leader Drew Benton holds up part of his 15-pound, 3-ounce limit from day three on Lake Okeechobee."We drove all the way down there (to South Bay), but I knew almost right away it washed out," said the 24-year-old rookie. "So we called an audible and ran 25 or 30 miles up north." At 9:30 a.m., Benton coaxed a 5-pounder off a bed. From there, he caught plenty of keepers (roughly 25), but no real big fish - ending the day with 15 pounds, 3 ounces. "The wind never really laid down so I spent most of the day covering water with that bladed jig and Bass Assassin Die Dapper as a trailer. I did weigh two on a Vapor Shad that I would throw around in the open areas." Benton knew the blustery conditions would make for tougher fishing, but he had no clue he would be leading his first tour-level event heading into the final day. "I felt like I had enough weight to keep me close, but I never expected to be in the lead." While Benton's prespawn water in South Bay was unfishable today, that's exactly where he'll start tomorrow. After that, he still plans to allocate plenty of time for sight-fishing. "The water is already stained down in South Bay, so it doesn't have to be clear for me to catch them. I really like tomorrow's wind forecast. And I just love this time of year, when fish are prespawn and starting to move up and make beds." Cotton slips to second Day-two leader Rick Cotten felt the rollercoaster ride that is Lake Okeechobee today. After catching a 30-pound stringer Friday, Cotten caught only three keepers Saturday weighing 7 pounds even. Despite being disappointed with his performance, Cotten sits only a pound out of first with a Rick Cotten celebrates after boating his first keeper on day three.cumulative weight of 61-3. "I caught a 4-pounder almost first thing this morning and then everything basically shut down," said the Guntersville, Ala., pro. "In that wind, it was almost impossible to present the bait stealthily. I think I just stayed there too long." With two hours left in the day, Cotten retreated to a different area and managed two small keepers. He started the day with the big jig and his last two fish were caught on a spinnerbait and a Fluke. "I haven't been fishing these tournaments for all that long, but that was my first time not weighing in a limit." Cotten plans to go back to the big jig tomorrow. "I missed four keepers today. Hopefully I can get them tomorrow." Ehrler rallies to third Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler holds up an 8-pound, 14-ounce Lake Okeechobee largemouth. Despite being one of the best anglers on the planet, Brent Ehrler has always had an Achilles heel of Florida. In six years of Florida tournament fishing, Ehrler has never cashed a single check. That changed big time this week. After bringing in a 20-pound, 2-ounce limit, Ehrler moved from tenth to third with a total weight 56 pounds, 3 ounces. And with two relatively inexperienced tour pros ahead of him, yet another win is within reach. After day two Ehrler was pleased his performance, but didn't think he was around tournament-winning fish. Now he thinks he potentially is. "I lost a giant yesterday that pulled the hook straight and today I caught a giant, so you never know," said the Keystone Light pro. "The big bites are still few and far between. What's scary is that there are no 2- to 4-pound fish; it's either a giant or it's a peanut." Ehrler said he doesn't think the fish are transitioning to or from his area; they are simply resident fish. He bounces between four little key spots in one big area. His pattern consists of winding a vibrating jig around mixes of grass and flipping isolated reed clumps. "Every day is different. Today I caught a bunch on a spinnerbait and I hadn't caught them that way all week." While Okeechobee not being dominated by mat punching helps, Ehrler said he really hasn't learned anything new this week about Florida fishing. "I just think if you come down here enough, you're bound to finally catch them. It's about time I caught them." Hendricks up to fourth Wade Hendricks works the grass as he battles the waves blowing to him. Using his Power Poles in the stiff wind, Wade Hendricks stuck to both his game plan and his area Saturday. It wasn't easy, but thanks to a 7-pound kicker he was able to bring 16 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale. Hendricks sits fourth with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 11 ounces. Hendricks has been catching fish via topwaters and from pitching a big jig. "I actually tried to force feed them some topwater this morning and they did come up on it, but they wouldn't commit," said the Thompsons Station, Tenn., pro. "I ended up catching most of my fish on a 1-ounce jig with a Paca Chunk trailer. I did catch one on a Swimming Fluke." Hendricks has stayed in the same prespawn area pretty much all week. He has it down to a zone about 100 yards by 50 yards. "It was such a mental challenge to stay put and grind it out. But I know the fish are still there. So I'm going back tomorrow. I have to. I know there are 10-pounders there and those are game changers." Neal rises to fifth Fifth-place pro Michael Neal weighed a 16-pound, 8-ounce limit Saturday. Dayton, Tenn., pro Michael Neal cracked the top five Saturday after catching a limit worth 16 pounds, 8 ounces. After three days on the Big O, his total weight stands at 54 pounds, 11 ounces. Neal has a unique program where he targets areas that are adjacent to deep water. On Okeechobee, deep water is considered 5 feet or more. While he was working the outside earlier in the week, today he moved inside from time to time. "I'm strictly throwing moving baits - a swim jig and swimbaits. I'm fishing a 1-mile stretch of water on the north end of the lake by the Kissimmee River." Neal described it as a go-between area as the fish are either prespawn or postspawn. He said the swim jig has accounted for most of his big fish. He learned to work moving baits through the grass from Brett Hite, who he drew as a co-angler at the 2008 FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho. "That was a crash course in grass fishing. I've taken that lesson and I'm applying it here this week." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cutoff after day three: 6th: Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., 53-9 7th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 51-6 8th: Chad Grigsby of Maple Grove, Minn., 49-0 9th: Adrian Avena of Vineland, N.J., 48-10 10th: Philip Jarabeck of Lynchburg, Va., 45-13 Day four of the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee will begin Sunday at 7:30 a.m. from the Clewiston Boat Basin.

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

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

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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 »

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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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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

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Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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

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Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »