Rayburn redemption for Wells

Jason Wells of Center, Texas, wins the Everstart Series event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir with a three-day total of 57-14.

JASPER, Texas - Jason Wells of Center, Texas, remembers vividly fishing the FLW Tour Open on his home lake of Sam Rayburn last October. While competing against the top names in FLW Tour competition, Wells found himself in third place going into the last day. For a moment he had a chance at winning $100,000 against the best. "And then I choked," Wells said candidly. "I got caught up in the hype and hoopla and I just choked. Simple as that. I caught 8 pounds the last day and fell to 7th. And that was a huge eye-opening experience for me. People don't realize the extreme mental pressure there is in this game - not to mention the physical strain. People who don't think you have to be an athlete to do this, they're wrong, because this is a very grueling sport. I experienced it firsthand last year and it got to me. Since then I have worked hard to get myself in the right frame of mind it takes to compete out year, so this win helps makes up for that. I feel like it's progress in the right direction."Jason Wells holds up the winning bass. All week Wells' composure was tested. After sacking 18 pounds, 15 ounces the first day, he went fishless for much of the day the second day and reached his breaking point. But he was able to right the ship and get back on his game, sacking 20 pounds, 12 ounces the second day to take the lead. And today Wells was tested again. But this time he didn't choke. He maintained the mental focus he had been striving for all year and brought in 18 pounds, 3 ounces to seal his first EverStart win with a three-day total of 57 pounds, 14 ounces for victory worth $24,881 and winning with over a 7-pound margin. "At noon I lost a 5-pounder and I thought I was toast again," he recounted. "But I put it behind me and at 2:35 I caught one over six that made up for it." "I have to thank the co-anglers I had this week," he added. "Everyone of them kept telling me not to get sidetracked and to keep doing my thing. Some of these co-anglers have been in the boat with a lot of pros and they have seen where the wheels come off. All of my co-anglers helped point that out and kept me committed to what I came here to do." All week Wells fished north of the 147 bridge. His primary pattern was cranking creek channel bends and brush tops in 8 to 13 feet with crankbaits - a Strike King 6XD and a Norman DD-22 HD, both in shad colors. He cranked the baits on 12-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line spooled on Lew's reels. Wells described his fish as "angle fish," meaning cranking the bait down at the right angle relative to the cover was critical. Rayburn winner Jason Wells shows off his winning combo: a Norman DD-22 on 12-pound fluorocarbon with a Lew "Most of what I'm trying to hit down there is stumps or brushtops," Wells explained. "The first morning I got lined up on the right cast and it was boom, boom, boom. The last two days, though, I had to keep rotating around the cover, making repetitive casts, cranking it down and hitting the stuff from different angles until I got them to bite. By no means was it fast and furious like day one. But I would crank all the way around the stuff. Today I actually didn't get bit until I was 180 degrees different from my first cast." Wells was first to credit his family and friends for their support in his win. "I've spent a lot of time down here the last couple of months preparing for this event and they have been super patient and supportive in allowing me to fish and I can't thank them enough," he added. Wilson second Kris Wilson of Montgomery, Texas, finished second with a three-day total of 50 pounds, 4 ounces. Kris Wilson of Montgomery, Texas, finished second with a three-day total of 50 pounds, 4 ounces worth $9,330. Each day of the event, Wilson improved his standing, starting in 6th, moving to 4th and finishing in second. Wilson's primary pattern all week centered on classic Texas "drains," or the small ditches that run out of a flat. He mostly cranked the drains with a Norman Deep Little N on 12-pound line. "I caught a few flipping grass, too, but today I really got dialed in on the drains," Wilson said. "I had about eight different ones I was fishing and I'd go all the way to the back of them until they bottomed out in about 8 feet of water - the back ends seemed to have a lot of bait in them. Then I'd just crank any little turn or corner in the back of those drains and catch a fish or two out of each one." Hanselman third Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, finished third with a three-day total of 50 pounds even. Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, finished third with a three-day total of 50 pounds even worth $6,220. Hanselman tapped a school of big bass out deep on day one for the lead with 26 pounds, 4 ounces, but failed to connect with the school of brutes again. "I fished out deep for about two-thirds of the day, caught three and then went to the grass to see if I could finish a limit, but ended up with four bass on the day," Hanselman said. When fishing deep, Hanselman relied on a 10-inch worm. When he went to the grass, he punched a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver teamed with ¾-ounce tungsten weight. Crelia fourth Philip Crelia of Center, Texas, finished fourth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 1 ounce. Philip Crelia of Center, Texas, finished fourth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 1 ounce for $5,598. During the week, Celia bounced back and forth between matted grass and outside place in 5 to 15 feet of water. Crelia targeted the grass with a buzzbait, a Spro frog and punching the matted stuff with a 1-ounce jig. When he moved out he cranked brush with Strike King 6XD. Castledine fifth Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas, rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces. Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas, rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces worth $4,976. Castledine fished a "little bit of everything," with a Kicker Fish Tail-Slapper, a frog, a topwater, a crankbait and a jig. "I was scrambling around fishing a little bit of everything, making the best of what I had," Castledine said. "We had that rain earlier in the week and I don't care if the water comes up two inches two feet, it does something weird to these fish. It's like they go shallow and bite really well for a day and then they disappear." Rest of the Best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir: 6th: Tommy Dickerson of Orange, Texas, three-day total of 41-9, $4,354 7th: Chris McCall of Brookeland, Texas, three-day total of 41-9, $3,732 8th: Neal Gilmore of Magnolia, Texas, three-day total of 41-1, $3,110 9th: James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, three-day total of 40-11, $2,488 10th: Wade Hudgens of Longview, Texas, three-day total of 38-1, $1,886 Strike King Angler of the Year Congratulations to Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, who won the Strike King Angler of the Year award in the EverStart Series Texas Division with 774 points. His finishes this year included a third place at Amistad, a third place at Toledo Bend, a ninth place at Texoma and a 15th place at Rayburn. Johnston has now earned a 2014 Forrest Wood Cup berth on Lake Murray next August.

Tags: headline-story  rob-newell 


Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »


Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


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 »


Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


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 »


Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


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 »


Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree



Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win



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 »


Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville