Wood out front on Smith Mountain

Joseph Wood of Westport, Mass., takes the early lead with 18 pounds, 13 ounces.

HUDDLESTON, Va. - Throughout the first day of competition in the EverStart Northern Division on Smith Mountain Lake, the sun came out and the wind laid down - making for near perfect sight-fishing conditions. Although many of the anglers in the first flight struggled, the latter flights took full advantage of their longer days, including the current leader Joseph Wood of Westport, Mass., who caught 18 pounds, 13 ounces today. Wood planned to do some sight-fishing and wasn't pleased with the gusty wind that stuck around from a mild cold front that passed through last night. But he persevered. "My day started off terribly," said Wood. "The first fish I started on was so locked on the bed that it was practically turned over on its back. When I hooked her, my line broke and I couldn't get it to bite again. The next fish I went to I broke off too. It took me a while to find some other fish because of the wind, but around 11 o'clock I caught my first fish." Getting a big bite on this lake is crucial, and that is exactly what Wood did. "I found my big one (5-10) and (had to work on) her for over an hour," Wood continued. "She bumped a drop-shot after about 20 minutes of working her, but then she got spooky. I switched up baits and finally got her to eat." Wood is sight-fishing but not necessarily for fish on beds. He has been targeting some of the cruising bass as well, making repeated casts in front of the fish until they bite. The one thing Wood noticed was the amount of pressure his prime fishing locations received today. "There were guys on everything today. I really think that pressure is going to get to these fish in the clear water. I might switch it up and try to fish some of the dirtier water tomorrow; I'll see how I feel in the morning. It's just tough to leave areas where you can see good fish swimming in front of you." Johnston, Sheffey Jr. tied for second Cory Johnston bested his brother on day one with 18 pounds, 4 ounces to sit in a tie for second. Back on the heels of Wood is Peterborough, Ontario, pro Cory Johnston who sacked up 18 pounds, 4 ounces to land just ounces behind the leader. Johnston figured that this lake could get beat up pretty quickly so he decided to practice in a way that would help him avoid that. "I spent a lot of time in practice trying to find areas that were out of the way," said Johnston. "I really put my time in and it seemed to pay off today." Johnston also did some sight-fishing, but took a different approach for his key bites. "I did a bit of sight-fishing today to catch the two smallmouth I weighed," Johnston went on to say. "I have a couple spots that are loaded with prespawn bass, but they are hard to get to bite. I just kept covering water. I hit probably 80 spots and have no gas left in my boat. "I have a deck full of rods and most of them are for sight-fishing, only two of them are for prespawners," Johnston continued. "If they don't eat of those two baits then they can starve because I don't want any more rods on my deck." Most of the fish that Johnston has on bed are smallies. He says they are more of a filler fish for him as he wants to spend more time on the bigger, fatter prespawn largemouth. Donald Sheffey Jr. of Concord, Va., sits locked in a tie with Johnston after bringing 18-4 across the stage today. He is playing the sight-fishing game this week as well. Sheffey Jr. started his day by catching a 4-pounder off of a wind-blown point on a spinnerbait. After that he went to work catching his next four keepers off of beds - including two nice smallmouth. By 11 a.m. he had the weight he brought in for the day. "I had my limit pretty early and then decided to try and look for another pattern," said Sheffey Jr. "I threw a swimbait around and a shaky head by some docks but never got any bites. I only caught five spawners from my areas and I didn't have much boat traffic near me, so there should be some more fish left." Johnston's brother in fourth Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, sits in fourth after the first round of competition with 18-2. Just 2 ounces behind his brother sits Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario with a day-one weight of 18 pounds, 2 ounces. In similar fashion to his brother, Johnston also spent the majority of his time going after prespawn bass. "I went bed fishing early. A few of the ones I wanted I got beat to. I think I only kept one fish from sight-fishing," said Johnston. "I spent the rest of the day catching prespawners. I ran a ton of water, maybe 70 places, and I knew that most of them had a good fish or two around the area. I even think that a few of the fish I caught today were post-spawn because of how skinny and beat up they looked." Like many of the anglers chasing cruising fish, Johnston says that they are hard to catch and that he can only get them to bite in certain places on the lake. "Tomorrow I may try to pick one or two off beds, but I want to spend the majority of my time going after those prespawners." Hudson fifth Derik Hudson of Hurt, Va., rounds out the top five with 17-9. Rounding out the fifth spot after day one is Derik Hudson of Hurt, Va., who weighed in 17 pounds, 9 ounces. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros after day one of the EverStart Series event on Smith Mountain Lake: 6th: Philip Jarabeck of Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 17-5 7th: John Vanore of Mullica Hill, N.J., 17-1 8th: Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., five bass, 16-15 9th: Trevis Towe of Daleville, Va., five bass, 16-13 10th: Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., five bass, 16-5 Burdette in co-angler top spot Dennis Burdette of Lindside, W.V., poses with his pro on day one Brandon Coulter who helped put him on his 13-pound, 15-ounce limit. Dennis Burdette of Lindside, W.V., claimed the leader spot after day one on Smith Mountain Lake with a 13-pound, 15-ounce limit. "I was fortunate enough to get paired with Brandon Coulter who was on some fish," said Burdette. "He was fishing the way I like to by covering water looking for prespawn fish." Burdette did catch some smallmouth today, but culled them out of his bag before the end of the day. Having experience on Smith Mountain and being able to fish here often, Burdette noticed that he could catch them the same way he has for the past week. So what might that be? "I'll tell you how I `m catching them maybe tomorrow or Saturday," laughed Burdette. "Tomorrow should be a lot like today weather wise so I'm excited to get back out there." Chapman second Brent Chapman of Union Hall, Va., found the second-place position with 11 pounds, 4 ounces worth of Smith Mountain Lake bass. After catching 11 pounds, 4 ounces on day one, Brent Chapman of Union Hall, Va., rides in second place. He spent most of his day blind casting to the bank because his pro was trying to sight-fish. He does think that some of the fish he weighed may have been on bed because when he got a bite, the fish simply was swimming off with the bait in its mouth. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers after day one: 3rd: Scott Howard of Evington, Va., five bass, 11-1 4th: Jerry Gray of Glen Allen, Va., five bass, 10-4 5th: Manuel Cruz of Clifton, N.J., four bass, 10-0 6th: Wil Dieffenbauch of Hundred, W.V., five bass, 9-9 7th: Thomas Hassler of Strasburg, Va., five bass, 9-4 8th: Justin Hicks of Roanoke, Va., three bass, 9-0 9th: Chris Schomaker of Pineville, W.V., five bass, 8-12 10th: Andy Dick of Wilmington, Del., three bass, 8-9 Day two of the EverStart Northern Division on Smith Mountain Lake will begin Friday at 7 a.m. from Parkway Marina, located at 16817 Smith Mountain Lake Parkway in Huddleston, Va.

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

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 »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

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 »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-lanter-wins-on-rend-lake

Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

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 »