Brauer tops Toledo Bend

Strike King pro Denny Brauer refused to let a practice mishap force him out of the tournament and ended up winning all the marbles.

HEMPHILL, Texas - Suck it up. Tough it out. Play through the pain. Sounds like the mental pep talks common to the football field, hockey rink or basketball court, but that thought kept legendary bass pro Denny Brauer in the game and on his way to an EverStart Series Texas Division victory on Toledo Bend. Brauer explains: "This is one of those tournaments that almost didn't happen for me. I took a terrible fall in the boat on Monday when I bumped into a stump. I was so sore that I almost went home on Wednesday. I've never quit a tournament in my life so I thought 'I'm gonna limp through it and stay close (to the takeoff site),' and that's what I did." Brauer did indeed remain in the lake's south end and he's no doubt glad he did, considering the tales of wet-and-wild adventures from those who braved the brutal waves of a wind-whipped lake and ran to Toledo Bend's upper reaches. Many competitors lamented the bone-jarring rides they endured, but Brauer's veteran wisdom served him well in sizing up this deal. Similar to most of his competitors, Brauer targeted prespawn fish around hydrilla, but that's whereTargeting docks with his signature Strike King Premier Pro Model jig was the plan for pro winner Denny Brauer. the similarity ended. Common throughout the field were moving baits - a lot of squarebill and lipless crankbaits - fished over grass-lined drains. Brauer took a different approach and worked docks in prespawn areas. Brauer used his signature Strike King Premier Pro-Model jig (black/blue) with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer. He fished this stalwart bait on his new 7-foot-6 Ardent Denny Brauer Series flipping rod with an Ardent reel loaded with 25-pound Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon. Brauer found most of his fish in 4 to 10 feet. "All I did was cover a lot of boat docks and made a lot of pitches," he said. "I wasn't getting a lot of bites. I was just fortunate that I was able to capitalize on most of the bites I got." Top pro Denny Brauer reacts to the news of his win.The tournament started off with a 3-hour fog delay, so the opening round saw many scrambling to get something going in a severely shortened day. Day one was further hampered by windy conditions and cooler temperatures. Brauer kept it conservative and placed third with 16 pounds, 14 ounces. On a calm and sunny day two, he sacked up 22-10 and took over the lead with 39-8. "Yesterday was easy; today was a total struggle," Brauer said. "You think you're going to be able to go out there and find new water and find new fish and the first bite I got came off. I hadn't lost a fish the whole tournament and I thought 'Boy, I hope I don't have a day like that.' Then, five minutes later I catch a really big fish. That turned the day around and I got a little momentum going, but I worked for everything I got. "The bites were so light, you didn't know if you had grass or a fish. Today, I probably had half a dozen fish that would just mush-mouth it and not take it." Brauer said he wasn't taking any chances on missing possible bites, so he attempted to set the hook on anything that remotely felt like a bite. Doing so enabled him to connect with 17 pounds of bass that gave him a three-day total of 56-8 and a winning margin of 2-12. Grice settles in second Day-one leader Dustin Grice came out of the gate strong with 20 pounds, 2 ounces - the only day-Day-one leader Dustin Grice stuck with an Alabama rig and finished second.one bag over 20. He followed with stringers of 16-11 and 16-15 to finish second with 53-12. Grice also spent his three days in the lake's south end and he fished grassy drains. He said his biggest challenge was adjusting to the wind and he had to move around quite a bit to stay on the vegetation's clean side. "It was a fun week," Grice said. "I caught all my fish on an Alabama rig with white Zoom Swimming Fluke. Interesting story: I was catching them in practice and I called (fellow pro) Jim Tutt and told him how I was catching them and he asked me if I had tried the Alabama rig and I told him no. "I got (the rig) out and within 15 minutes, I was calling him again because I had caught six and I caught another one while I was on the phone with him. I owe a lot to him for helping me out like that." Grice targeted outside grass lines and drains in about 8 feet of water. Johnston rises to third Local favorite Stephen Johnston overcame a slow start and ended up in third place.Local pro Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, was the tournament's comeback kid. With tons of Toledo Bend experience, Johnston admitted to getting in a rush after the day-one fog delay and fishing too fast. The result was a disappointing performance of one 3-pound, 9-ounce fish that landed him in 62nd place. Clearly, that didn't set well with Johnston, as he roared back on day two with the tournament's heaviest bag (24-7) and secured a final-round spot in ninth place. Today, he added 18-6 (the heaviest bag of the final round) and finished third with 46-6. "After that fog delay, what I should have done was turn off the clock on my Humminbird (electronics)," he said. "I kept looking down and I'd fish, fish, fish; pick up the trolling motor; run and fish, fish, fish. Before I knew it, it was 12:30 and I didn't have a bass. I said 'This is going to be so embarrassing coming in here with my home crowd with no fish. Then I caught one and I really felt bad about coming in." Johnston said he anticipated most of the field fishing shallow, prespawn areas, so he decided to avoid that pattern. He targeted secondary points and fished a V&M lizard on a Carolina rig and a Texas rig. Francis finishes fourth After two days in the sixth-place spot, Jeromy Francis of Magnolia, Texas, gained two spots to finishFourth-place pro Jeromy Francis fished a Revenge football head jig in 8-12 feet of water. just 2 ounces behind Johnston in fourth with 46-4. His daily weights were 14-8, 15-5 and 16-7. His day-three catch included a kicker of approximately 7 1/2 pounds. "That (big fish) was on my 10th cast of the day," Francis said. "I lost probably four or five fish on a jig today and that's probably what cost me. But I had seven or eight keepers." Francis caught his fish on a peanut butter and jelly Revenge football jig in 8 to 12 feet of water. He mostly fished the south end, although he made a run north on day two and caught a couple of keepers. Castledine takes fifth The weekTodd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas, continued his path of improvement on day three. He placed 14th on day one with 12-10 and gained seven spots a day later with his biggest bag of the tournament (17-2). In the final round, he added 15-8 and wrapped up with a total of 45-4. Castledine's big story of the week unfortunately meant nothing to the tournament, but still netted him significant accolades, along with bragging rights to an incredibly improbable accomplishment. In the proverbial nutshell, Johnston caught a 10-pound, 6-ounce bass in January 2012 and entered it into the Texas Share Lunker program, which recognizes anglers who boat bass over 10 pounds, while encouraging catch-and-release. Well, during practice, Castledine nets a behemoth weighing 12-6 and its archival tag identified it as the very same fish that Johnston had caught a year prior. Of the good-natured rivalry he shares with Johnston, Castledine joked: "It doesn't matter what happens in this tournament, I can say I beat Stephen Johnston by 2 pounds." Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pros at the EverStart Series Toledo Bend event: 6th: Jim Tutt, of Longview, Texas, 45-3 7th: Keith Combs, of Huntington, Texas, 45-2 8th: Andrew Upshaw, of Hemphill, Texas, 39-8 9th: Kelly Owens, of Crowley, La., 34-8 10th: Bill Glascock, of Kingston, Okla., 33-3

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-college-open-day-1-midday-update

College Open Day 1 Midday Update

“You should have been here yesterday” might have been the motto for the first day of fishing in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. Though many of the 194 teams entered in the two-day event out of Moor’s Resort & Marina reported good to excellent practices, many of the same anglers were complaining about a lack of fish on opening morning of the competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-gautney-cranks-up-the-lead

Gautney Cranks Up The Lead

Gautney says he keyed on staging fish in several very specific locations and one specific depth. He and co-angler Antoni Bicy caught 59 pounds, 8 ounces off of his spots, and he seems confident about his ability to keep catching them the rest of the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Guntersville was a welcome departure from the grumblings of practice. Though fans weren’t treated to multiple 30-pound limits on the pro side, like at the Walmart Bass Fishing League event at Guntersville a couple of weekends ago, it still took more than 25 pounds to get into the top five on day one of this Mercury-presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-morrison-wins-on-dale-hollow

Morrison Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Charles Morrison of Georgetown, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Morrison earned $3,926. READ MORE »