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/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ledges-lift-wilson-to-top

Ledges Lift Wilson to Top

Tim Wilson of Gas City, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Guntersville. For his victory, Wilson earned $5,584. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-two-in-a-row-for-fox

Two in a Row for Fox

Dwight Fox of Gainesboro, Tennessee, weighed four bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Fox earned $4,463. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-bluff-walls-carry-meredith

Bluff Walls Carry Meredith

GROVE, Okla. – Mitch Meredith of Hulbert, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Meredith earned $7,165. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-tidwell-slows-down-for-title

Tidwell Slows Down for Title

MCCORMICK, S.C. – Brian Tidwell of Seneca, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Tidwell earned $3,021. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ginter-gets-the-win

Ginter Gets the Win

CELINA, Ohio – Gary Ginter of Maplewood, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Ginter earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-jig-does-the-trick-for-roselle

Jig Does the Trick for Roselle

MARBURY, Md. – Mike Roselle of La Plata, Maryland, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Potomac River. For his victory, Roselle earned $6,235. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-day-4-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-morrow-thrift-neck-and-neck

Morrow, Thrift Neck and Neck

Georgia pro Troy Morrow brought in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula to increase his tournament total to 54-13. Morrow maintains his lead for the second consecutive day, but he won’t sleep comfortably tonight with North Carolina hammer Bryan Thrift just 4 ounces off the lead with 54-09. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 3

Troy Morrow is leading the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. However, with one day left to fish, he has a big problem going into the last day: Bryan Thrift. The Shelby, N.C., pro is just 4 ounces behind Morrow. Here’s how Thrift and the rest of the top five caught their fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-lake-eufaula-day-3-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »