UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Two titles on the line at red-hot Chickamauga

Veteran pro Andy Morgan is seeking to win his first Angler of the Year award on his home lake.

DAYTON, Tenn. - The sixth and final qualifier of the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour season commenced Thursday morning on Lake Chickamauga, a rising Tennessee River impoundment that has produced record stringers all year long. By Sunday afternoon, one of the most coveted titles in bass fishing will be determined as the Angler of the Year champion is crowned.

Leading the points race with one tournament left is hometown hero Andy Morgan of Dayton. One of the most decorated anglers in the sport, Morgan has been in position to clinch AOY several times, but has never quite sealed the deal. This year, instead of closing the season on a northern smallmouth fishery such as Champlain or Erie, he'll target largemouths from familiar deep river channels and grass.

"I've said it a thousand times, I ain't got a thing for smallmouths," Morgan reiterated. "But the best part about this week has been sleeping in my own bed every night. This is my home water, but the fish are biting; everyone is going to catch `em today. I'm just going to fish to make the cut and after that, let the chips fall where they may. Points are something you look at after the fact. I'm just trying to make the cut and I figure 17 pounds or more today would be a pretty good start."

FLW Tour anglers blast off after their boat numbers are called Thursday morning.Nine points behind Morgan is a sizzling Bryan Thrift, who has finished second at each of the last two qualifiers. Thrift won AOY in 2010 at nearby Lake Guntersville and has joined the offshore movement in recent years. Behind the Chevy pro are Jacob Powroznik and Brent Ehrler, two outstanding fishermen also hunting their first AOY titles.

While AOY promises to be another number-crunching nail biter, there's much more at stake this week at Chickamauga - namely Forrest Wood Cup qualification. Officially, the top 35 pros from the FLW Tour punch their ticket to Shreveport, La., for the most lucrative tournament in bass fishing. But four pros near the top of the standings have prequalified for the Cup, meaning the make-or-break line unofficially sits at 39.

To win AOY and earn the necessary points to reach the Red River, most pros expect they'll have to catch them good this week. And to catch them good, the consensus is that you'll have to fish deep.

"It's possible to bust a big bag or maybe two shallow, but to win shallow is almost impossible," said Walmart pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn. "You're definitely going to have to mix it up. The problem with the shallow bite is that the high water and the current have really knocked the grass back. There's grass, but it's real shallow. The problem with the deep bite is that the pressure is just unreal. There are probably 15 or 20 good offshore places, but each one will have six or seven boats on it. Other than that, you're basically fishing isolated brush piles."

Strader expects standard offshore lures such as deep-diving crankbaits, football jigs, swimbaits, spoons and big worms to shine this week.

Wesley Strader plans to fish Chickamauga Thursday, despite nearby Watts Bar being his home lake. "I'm going to start with a 3/4-ounce Pure Poison football jig with a Zoom Fat Albert twin tail on the back," added Strader.

Offshore stick JT Kenney said the key to winning this week is locating a few smaller offshore spots away from the crowds. That's easier said than done, but the Straight Talk pro said he may have found a few. He won't know their true potential until he sets the hook on everything that bites today.

"There's a couple giant schools with great big ones, but they're such obvious places everyone will find them," said Kenney, who is directly on the Forrest Wood Cup bubble in 38th. "I'm more interested in these real small patches of shell bottom I've found.

"Twenty pounds is the goal today," added Kenney. "For me, these two next days are big; I've got $30,000 riding on it. I figure if I get a $10,000 check, I'll make the Cup, which guarantees at least another $10,000 and I've got another $10,000 in sponsor incentives if I make the Cup, so that's $30,000."

While the tournament launches each morning in Dayton on Chickamauga, the field is allowed to venture north and fish all waters of Watts Bar, Strader's home lake.

"I told myself I was going to practice on Chickamauga for three days and if I didn't find anything I was just going to go fishing on Watts Bar as a backup," Strader said. "I didn't have a great practice, but I'm not going to Watts Bar. And if I had to guess, I would say only 10 boats will go there today."

Strader elaborated on the bite, describing it as OK and saying the lack of freedom will restrict anglers more than anything.

"Even if you get on something good you can't leave or someone else will take it; it's just too crowded.

"We're on the backside of a full moon. Typically when it's going away they don't bite as good as when it's coming. But I still think you'll see 10 or 12 bags over 20 pounds today. My guess is that it will take 16 1/2 pounds to make the top-20 cut and 78 to 81 pounds to win."

Logistics

Anglers will take off from the Dayton Boat Dock located at 175 Lakeshore Drive in Dayton at 6:30 a.m. Muggy air and partly cloudy skies greeted FLW Tour anglers Thursday morning. each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will be held at the Dayton Boat Dock beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 3034 Rhea County Highway in Dayton beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will also be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Also on Sunday, country music artist Dylan Scott will perform a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at 3 p.m.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Lake Chickamauga event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from either the FLW or FLW Tour home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:26 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 76 degrees
Expected high temperature: 88 degrees
Water temperature: 74-78 degrees
Wind: WSW at 10 mph
Maximum humidity: 72 percent
Day's outlook: isolated thunderstorms

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2013-06-27-lake-chickamauga 

/news/2016-02-10-dudley-links-up-with-livingston-lures

Dudley Links Up with Livingston Lures

Livingston Lures has added three-time Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year David Dudley to its pro-staff. The Virginia pro joins two-time FLW AOY Andy Morgan and former FLW Rookie of the Year Stetson Blaylock on the Team Livingston roster. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-power-pole-extends-partnership-with-flw

Power-Pole Extends Partnership with FLW

FLW announced yesterday that JL Marine Systems, manufacturer of Power-Pole shallow-water anchor systems, has signed a sponsorship extension for the 2016 season. This will be the sixth consecutive season that the two organizations have partnered. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-flw-college-fishing-western-conference-opens-season-on-shasta-lake

FLW College Fishing Western Conference Opens Season on Shasta Lake

REDDING, Calif. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 20 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Western Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-lake-shasta-set-to-host-costa-flw-series-opener-presented-by-minn-kota

Lake Shasta Set to Host Costa FLW Series Opener Presented by Minn Kota

REDDING, Calif. – The Costa FLW Series is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 18-20 for a tournament presented by Minn Kota when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the first stop of 2016 in the Western Division. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-montgomery-targets-prespawn-bass-for-win

Montgomery Targets Prespawn Bass for Win

Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, Ala., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-top-10-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee

Oklahoma’s Bradley Hallman sewed up his first Walmart FLW Tour victory at the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats by pitching and punching reed heads in the South Bay area with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. Hallman stuck with his program despite up-and-down air temperatures, high winds and all the curveballs Mother Nature could throw at him. Here's how the rest of the top 10 got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-08-top-10-baits-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Lake Okeechobee

The Walmart FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee went from a tight race to a runaway in a hurry when Bradley Hallman just wouldn’t stop catching the big ones. As for the lures he used, and those put to work by the rest of the top 10, some Okeechobee staples were applied as well as a few oddball baits. If you’re thinking of heading down to the Big O or anywhere else in Florida soon, you might want to acquire a few of the lures they fished. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-hallman-wins-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Wins Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought just two bass to the scale Sunday totaling 6 pounds, 8 ounces, but it was still enough to earn the win at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s four-day cumulative total of 16 bass weighing 71 pounds, 2 ounces earned him the win by an impressive 14-pound, 14-ounce margin over second-place pro Alex Davis of Albertville, Alabama, and $100,000 in the tournament that featured 169 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing in the first FLW Tour event of the regular season. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-big-hall-man-on-okeechobee

Big (Hall)Man on Okeechobee

It was the Bradley Hallman show all week long at Lake Okeechobee at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. Though, the Norman, Okla., pro struggled on day four and brought in only two fish for 6 pounds, 8 ounces, he pulled off the wire-to-wire victory in his first event on Tour. The 13-pound, 9-ounce lead that Hallman built up through the first three days of competition was enough that he didn't actually have to weigh his fish today. Hallman's tournament total of 71 pounds, 2 ounces far exceeded the 56-04 caught by runner-up Alex Davis. For the win, Hallman earned $100,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-lake-okeechobee-day-4-coverage

Lake Okeechobee Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 3

Across the board, weights fell off on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. No one in the top 20 crossed the 20-pound mark. Cloud cover, which prevented the water temperature from rising much above 65 degrees, and low water clarity might both have slowed the replenishment of bass moving into spawn. Tournament leader Bradley Hallman experienced a bit of a stall in the action as well, bringing just four fish to the scales, but he still managed to increase his lead to 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-hallman-extends-lead-on-day-three-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Extends Lead On Day Three At Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Anchored by an 8-pound, 10-ounce kicker, pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought four bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces to extend his lead to more than 13½ pounds heading in to the final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s... READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-can-anyone-catch-hallman-

Can Anyone Catch Hallman?

Despite catching only four keepers on day three, Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman extended his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. With a day-three weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces and a tournament total of 64-10, his margin over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-montgomery-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-bulldog-division-opener-on-lake-eufaula

Montgomery Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division Opener on Lake Eufaula

EUFAULA, Ala. – Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-okeechobee-day-2-coverage

Okeechobee Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »