Circuit broken

For winning the final FLW Tour qualifier of the year, Casey Martin earned $125,000.

DAYTON, Tenn. - Casey Martin led the opening day of the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour season with a 26-pound, 12-ounce Lake Okeechobee stringer. Fittingly, he closed the regular season by winning with a 30-pound final-day stringer. Between bookends was a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The ride ended Sunday at Lake Chickamauga with one of the most dominating victories in FLW Tour history. When Martin arrived in Dayton, he was solely focused on trying to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup. The odds were against him as the New Market, Ala., pro entered the tournament 54th in the standings. That meant Martin would have to make the top-10 and receive some help from others above him. After a poor start to practice, Martin pondered locking up and sampling Watts Bar on day three. He opted against it and instead located three schools of bass, one of which was loaded and completely lit up his Lowrance unit with white dots (which indicate fish). The spot was a shell-ridden ledge with 15 feet of water on top and 25 feet on the bottom. But as boat No. 76, Martin was beaten to the spot the first morning by Mark Rose. With Rose's permission, Martin fished alongside as the two whacked giant stringers. Two other anglers joined, but only Martin made the top-20 cutoff. That third day was the pivotal one. Pro winner Casey Martin holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Lake Chickamauga."I thought the mega-school was gone and I almost left," recalled Martin. "Then I idled around one more time to see if they were still on the graph and they were. So I adjusted and switched to a spinning rod and a drop-shot." Not only did Martin re-ignite the school, he was able to lay off his big-fish spot, a long point that separated two spawning bays, and have something in his back pocket for the final day. In the weeks leading up to the event, the Canadian-born pro practiced relentlessly on Lake Guntersville near his house. The two TVA lakes fish similarly and Martin was prepared for the day-three curveball. "Not only did I look for the same stuff, but I checked on how the schools reacted to different baits on consecutive days. I knew about the drop-shot coming in because my girlfriend Lindsey would throw one out of the back of the boat." Martin's patience with the big-fish spot paid dividends Sunday as he was fishless on the mega-school an hour into the day. "Both spots were within sight of each other in Harrison Bay. I'd go to the mega-school and get a solid limit, and then sneak into the big-fish area when no one was looking. I was struggling on the mega-school today and I saw a local start to go over to the big-fish spot. I was thinking about leaving anyway, but that really forced my hand." Casey MartinOn his third cast he tied into twin 5-pounders, but one came off at the boat. From there, the crush session was on. An 8-pound, 5-ounce giant, his biggest fish of the week, bit just before 9 a.m. and he had his limit around 11. The final tally of 30 pounds, 1 ounce is astonishing, even for Chickamauga, but especially for late June. Martin's four-day total weight of 103 pounds, 3 ounces, is second all time in FLW Tour history as is his 22-pound plus margin of victory. The only thing he didn't do was give the sizeable and raucous Dayton crowd a hometown winner. "It's been a crazy year. I didn't even think I would make the Cup. It went from an average year to an unbelievable year pretty quick." Martin caught most of his fish this week on a Picasso Bait Ball Extreme tipped with either Gene Larew Sweet Swimmers or Zoom Swimmin Super Fluke Juniors (albino color) on top and either 6-inch Strike King Shadalicious (blue gizzard color) or Basstrix swimbaits on bottom. While Martin had 13 swimbaits connected to his rig, only the bigger three on bottom had hooks, per Tennessee rules. Yesterday's drop-shot rig consisted of a 3/8-ounce weight, a green pumpkin- or morning-dawn colored One of Casey MartinRoboworm on 10-pound-test Seaguar Invizx line with a 15-inch leader. Martin also caught fish this week on a 3/4-ounce Omega football jig (Ozark special color) and a Strike King 10XD crankbait (sexy blueback herring color). "People can say it's just another Alabama rig win but those fish wouldn't touch it on day three. But today it caught all my fish. Twelve of the 20 bass I weighed this week came on it." Martin has been featured all year in a Youtube reality series titled "Circuit Breaker." The Grand Lake episode will be out shortly and fans won't want to miss the Chickamauga finale. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd win one in my rookie year. I know how good these guys are." Martin's $100,000 win was the fourth, and by far the biggest, of his career. "Coming into this event, I didn't even know if I'd be back next year. I wanted to, but it's expensive. So this is huge; I'll definitely be back." He'll also be one of the 35 pros from the FLW Tour at the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River. Strader finishes second Wesley Strader maximized one large rock spine 5 miles south of the Watts Bar dam all week. He had the area to himself and there were plenty of fish, but the quality in the river wasn't quite as Forget the net, this one is coming in. good as the quality in the lake. "Twenty pounds is about all you can do in river," said Strader. "You can make the cuts, make it to the last day, but you really can't compete with the lower end." Strader shortchanged himself a little as he caught a 22-pound, 4-ounce stringer on the final day. "I didn't have any in the first 40 minutes, then I caught four in a row and it was on. I tried to upgrade again in the lake but couldn't. I did see a giant shallow but she just swam off." On days two and three Strader's main presentation was a 5 1/2-inch Basstrix swimbait (hitch or scaled sardine color) on a 3/4-ounce Pure Poison jighead. Today and Thursday a Zoom Ol' Monster worm (red bug) Texas-rigged with a 3/8-ounce Reins weight worked best. He also caught a few fish on a black and blue 3/4-ounce Pure Poison football jig with a black Zoom chunk trailer. "It was a real specific deal. But once you got lined up right, it was fun. I found that spot years ago and it only produces for a few weeks each year." The Walmart pro finished with a total weight of 80 pounds, 8 ounces, earning $33,287. "My only regret is that I should have stayed on that spot longer on day one. At least I didn't lose by ounces. That would have been way more painful." Neal slips to third Michael Neal nets a jumper.Like Strader, Neal got off to a slower start on day one and then came on strong towards the weekend. On day four, he fell back a bit - catching 17 pounds, 1 ounce to finish the tournament with 79 pounds, 13 ounces. "I really thought 78 to 80 pounds would win it," said Neal, the owner of the Dayton Boat Dock. "I got myself there, but as it turned out it took a lot more." Neal switched back and forth between targeting schools of fish or specific pieces of cover like a brush pile or stump. The first day of the tournament he fished mostly cover and in hindsight thinks it was a mistake. On days two and three he whacked them early in the morning near an underwater spring. Today the fish weren't there, but he has to assume they were on day one. While it was just one of several mid-lake spots, it accounted for much of his weight on days two and three. "I would love to have day one all over again. But anytime you average 20 pounds a day you can't complain. It was an awesome week; it was all I can ask for." Neal caught most of his fish on a 3/4-ounce Warrior football jig with a Warrior craw and a homemade 1-ounce bucktail jig. He also caught a few ripping a spoon and a few casting a solo Strike King Shadalicious swimbait. For third place, Neal earned $28,520. And like Martin, Neal will be in Shreveport this August for his first Forrest Wood Cup. Morehead finishes fourth Fourth-place pro Dan Morehead holds up his two kickers from day four on Lake Chickamauga.With his Forrest Wood Cup berth in the balance, Dan Morehead decided to stay away from his favorite Tennessee River ledges in favor of less risky grass. The strategy worked as Morehead finished fourth with a total weight of 77 pounds, 2 ounces. "I wanted it to be in my own hands this week," said the Paducah, Ky., pro. "I couldn't get bit on any subtle offshore stuff and I didn't want to get caught behind a bunch of people on the community schools. I wanted to control my own destiny." Morehead instead fished approximately 6 feet of water near Chester Frost Park. His first bite this morning was a 9-pounder, the biggest bass of the tournament, and his second bite was a 5-pounder. From there, the action came back to earth as he weighed in a 23-pound, 2-ounce stringer. "I literally fished this whole tournament with two rods on the deck. I fished a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm (red bug color) with a 3/16-ounce Picasso tungsten weight and 1/8-ounce Picasso Shakedown with a Zoom Trick Worm." Morehead remarked earlier in the week that subtly placing his baits between the grass was key. His bites weren't violent; he'd simply see his line ease off to one side or the other. The Evinrude pro earned $23,753 and qualified for his 13th Forrest Wood Cup. AOY Morgan takes fifth Andy Morgan celebrates after learning he won the 2013 Angler of the Year award.After capturing the Angler of the Year title Friday, Morgan went to work on the tournament title the final two days. With less pressure, he sacked 19-5 and 19-8 stringers to finish the week with a cumulative weight of 73 pounds, 8 ounces. "I caught 95 percent of my fish this week on a Zoom Ol' Monster," said the hometown hero. "I did catch a few on a War Eagle jig and a few on a Zoom Trick Worm." While Strader and Neal fished larger schools, Morgan bounced around and hit 50 to 60 spots a day - targeting cuts in bars, stumps and brush piles. He mainly stayed away from the community holes. "I took it slow, one cast at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. I couldn't have scripted the week any better, other than winning the tournament. How sweet it is to win AOY right here in the hills and hollers of Dayton." Morgan's financial haul for the week was $118,987. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga: 6th: Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., 71-14, $16,127 7th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., 71-6, $15,173 8th: Tom Redington of Royse City, Texas, 68-14, $14,220 9th: Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., 68-9, $13,267 10th: Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., 65-15, $12,313 The final event of the season is the Forrest Wood Cup, slated for Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La. Related links: Watch Casey Martin in 'Circuit Breaker' here. 'Circuit Breaker' is new series exclusive to FLW where viewers are able to follow along as Martin's rookie season unfolds on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour. FLW Tour Lake Chickamauga podcast

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/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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/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

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

Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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/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 »