Fishing connection

Fishing fans packed the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh for the FLW Family Fun Zone.

PITTSBURGH - With the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup recently completed, Greg Hackney and Brad Roberts may have won their respective pro and co-angler titles, but there was another group of winners - the throngs of fishing fans who visited the FLW Family Fun Zone at the David Lawrence Convention Center. The free event, held daily throughout the four-day tournament, featured games and activities, product displays, lots of giveaways, and opportunities to meet and talk with the top anglers of FLW Outdoors. A veritable sensory feast of family-friendly entertainment, the Fun Zone provided a strategic link between Pittsburgh's hardcore fishing fans, who wouldn't miss a moment of weigh-in action, and those of casual interest. Venue logistics necessitated holding the Fun Zone at the convention center while the weigh-ins took Meeting professional anglers and picking their brains for fishing knowledge is one of the main attractions of a Family Fun Zone.place about a mile away at the Mellon Arena. City tour buses shuttled visitors between the two - perhaps subtly reinforcing the Fun Zone theme of connection. BP pro Ray Scheide, who won the 2009 FLW Tour event on Arkansas' Beaver Lake, noted that unlike most other professional sports, FLW pros are readily accessible to fans: "That's how we're different from, say, NASCAR. You can come out and talk to (FLW pros), whereas you can't just walk up to Jeff Gordon every day. "That's what makes bass fishing and the Fun Zone special - you can interact with us one on one. We're really approachable." FLW Director of Operations Mark Dorn said: "We try to keep everything really open because that's what drives the sport and gets kids interested. We've always been a no-barriers type company, where we keep open access as much as we can." Fishing, fun and freebies Along with the Forrest Wood Cup, FLW hosts Family Fun Zones in conjunction with its Walmart FLW Tour and Walmart FLW Series events. Local vendors vary by location, but visitors can count on a fantastic lineup of FLW Although some logowear like FLW hats are available for purchase, Fun Zone visitors can fill a free tote bag with complimentary items.sponsor exhibits with plenty of interactive and educational elements. Sponsor teams are on hand to autograph their trading cards, T-shirts and hats while passing out lots of sponsor-logo items such as Frisbees, pens, key chains, tote bags and fishing bobbers. The Evinrude folks brought clappers and Light Up Bam Bams - inflatable tubes for showing the fishing spirit at FLW weigh-ins. Snack samples are plentiful at the Fun Zone - from bite-size candy bars to Land O'Lakes cheese. At the Pittsburgh event, Cabela's fried up samples of Atlantic cod, seasoned in Cajun and lemon pepper fish fry, from the company's line of outdoor cooking products. The National Guard had a strong presence at the Pittsburgh Fun Zone with a pedal-car course, paintball simulator, a rock wall, an elevated-ropes course, bean-bag toss, and live music by local acts and the National Guard band. The most popular National Guard activity was the wave simulator - essentially the surfing equivalent of a mechanical bull ride. The National Guard NASCAR vehicle and a Humvee Kids zip down the snickers slide.enhanced the attraction. The Snickers moonwalk/slide was a big hit with the kids and the coloring tables, bounce houses and arcade-style basketball hoops at the FLW Coloring Corner kept the younger ones busy. At the Goodwill booth, young anglers used rods with magnets on their lines to "catch" objects in a small pool and win a handful of candy. Kids even had the chance to tug on live fish at the Land O'Lakes Trout Pond and the Cabela's Pond stocked with bluegills. The Bass Federation also offered its Reel Kids Casting Skills activity - this one, a dry field. Adults and youths competed on a more advanced level at the FLW Casting Pool - a timed course with targets set up to simulate actual fishing scenarios. In the Cabela's booth, video games for Xbox, Playstation and Wii gave visitors a taste of virtual-fishing fun. Entertain and educate Ever wonder what the inside of a bass boat and its engine look like? Fun Zone visitors got a good look with a cross section of a Yamaha outboard and a Ranger boat. Nearby, the Lowrance booth provided Berkleyworking models of the latest in navigational electronics for examination. Complementing this perspective, the Walmart and Kellogg's bass-boat simulator rides gave visitors an idea of how it feels when FLW anglers drive to work. Berkley offered another multifaceted booth with interesting product displays, informal rigging seminars and a walk-through trailer with displays explaining how Berkley baits are designed to appeal to a fish's senses of smell, sight, taste and sound. Berkley pros fielded questions at their autograph table and conducted fishing instruction at the hog trough loaded with smallmouth bass. Elsewhere, anglers from the BP, Castrol, Land O'Lakes, Yamaha, Chevy, Pringles, Febreze and Iams teams patiently fielded fishing questions from visitors eager to tap into their well of insight and experience. Scheide said: "The people who come to the Fun Zone are thirsting for knowledge. This is a great venue for us to share what we know and get people interested in bass fishing. This is all about promoting the sport - that's what we're here for." For Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Fun Zone visitors are typically most interested in learning more about their The Land Oown waters. "People want to talk about the local fishery - they want to know how you were catching fish (during the tournament), where you were fishing and what baits you were using." And while Fun Zone visitors are always welcome to enjoy the event at no charge, FLW clothing and logowear from various sponsors is available for purchase at special show pricing. Many take advantage of this opportunity to buy hats and shirts for angler autographs. Visitors also have the opportunity to speak with National Guard recruiters and learn about membership opportunities with FLW Outdoors and The Bass Federation. There's also a sign-up station for the exciting FLW Fantasy Fishing - the very program through which Terry Moberly of Berea, Ky., received a $1 million prize for finishing the 2009 season with the most points during. His check was awarded on day three of the Forrest Wood Cup weigh-ins. Why it works In the proverbial nutshell, the FLW Family Fun Zone provides a diverse array of entertainment aimed at connecting all age groups with fishing. Newcomers and lifetime anglers alike will find many points of interest, but you'll always see a strong emphasis on children. Modern society offers endless distractions that pull kids away from the water or inhibit their initial introduction to fishing. By presenting the sport in a high-energy package of free entertainment, FLW provides a convenient venue for families to connect with the nation's top recreational activity. Sponsored pros like Ish Monroe enjoy the opportunity of connecting with kids and encouraging their participation in the sport.Yamaha pro Ish Monroe said the Fun Zone makes him appreciate his own early introduction into fishing. "The Fun Zone is great because there's so much for the kids," he said. "When you get the kids involved, they want to go fishing, and when they want to go fishing, the parents have to take them, so it grows the sport. I think it's important that parents get their kids involved in fishing early so they want to do that and nothing else. That's what I wanted to do as a child. I was 2 years old, and there I was with my fishing rod. I couldn't even talk yet, but I just wanted to go fishing." Charlie Bridge of Cecil, Pa., brought his son Charlie and their neighbor Shane Checca to the Fun Zone. Both young boys enjoyed watching the different fishing activities, but, as with past fishing events, meeting all the angling celebrities was the highlight of their day. "Now whenever we watch (fishing shows) on TV, they ask, `Did I meet that guy?'" Bridge said. Six-year-old Pittsburgh resident Joshua Bass fishes often with his stepfather, Tim Kist. Joshua's At left, Tim Kist helps his stepson Joshua Bass fish for a prize at the Goodwill booth.favorite part of the Fun Zone was the Berkley Hog Trough. "I like the tank with the fish because you can see the bass, and that's my last name." California pro Brett Hite, who won back-to-back FLW events at Florida's Lake Toho (FLW Tour) and the California Delta (FLW Series) in 2008, represented Dunkin' Donuts Coffee at the Fun Zone. Hite notes that FLW's sponsors make a lot of good things happen for a lot of anglers. "People who come to the Fun Zone can see our sponsor brands and know who supports fishing," Hite said. Of course, those supporting entities get a lot out of Fun Zone participation, as well. Yamaha District Marketing Manager Jerreth Bain said these events provide a twofold benefit. "An event like this helps us touch base with our customers in local markets, see how our products are working in the field and how much loyalty there is to our brand. "It's exciting to know that there is a continuation of fishing in the families. You can give a kid a fishing bobber with the Yamaha logo on it, they'll remember it for a lifetime, and someday you may get the opportunity to sell them an engine."

Tags: post-tournament  david-a-brown 

/news/2015-05-04-top-10-patterns-from-lake-texoma

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Texoma

With his win on Lake Texoma, Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman made Rayovac FLW Series history by sweeping the Texas Division. Hanselman did most of his damage with a Strike King Sexy Frog, although he made a few flips and pitches here and there with plastics. Recent rains had pushed Texoma to about 2 feet above normal pool, and Hanselman used this to his advantage by targeting overlooked areas that had been muddy during practice. Working flooded brush in the backs of secondary coves, he found bedding fish, as well as postspawners ready to chew in the clearing water. Most of the other top 10 finishers also targeted a mix of spawning and postspawn fish. The changing water level, plus a mild cold front that pushed through the first day of the event, made for tough fishing under mostly high, bright skies. Anglers reported super-tough conditions, and many struggled to get daily limits. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-03-top-10-baits-from-lake-texoma

Top 10 Baits from Lake Texoma

1. Tournament winner Ray Hanselman owes his success to a Strike King Sexy Frog with a yellow belly. 2. The topwater look of a hollow frog proved effective for second-place pro Bradley Hallman. 3. Third-place pro Nick Lebrun caught his fish on a V&M Cliff’s Wild Craw in the Bama bug color. He rigged the bait on a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook and a 1/2-ounce Elite Tungsten weight. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-02-hanselman-trifecta-tops-texoma

Hanselman Trifecta Tops Texoma

Del Rio, Texas pro Ray Hanselman made history on Lake Texoma with a victory that completed his sweep of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division. With victories in the previous two divisional events on Lake Amistad and Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Hanselman caught a 5-bass limit that weighed 18 pounds, 9 ounces today and finished with a tournament total of 58-13 and a 12-pound winning margin. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-02-big-day-one-catch-sets-up-lejeune-s-texoma-win

Big Day One Catch Sets Up Lejeune’s Texoma Win

No doubt, co-angler Ryan Lejeune, of Eunice, La., would have preferred two more days like his first, but a big opening effort set up his wire-to-wire win in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Texoma. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-02-hanselmania-closing-in-on-texoma-title

Hanselmania Closing in on Texoma Title

It aint’ over ’til it’s over. The fat lady has yet to sing. All the cliches still apply, so in fairness to nine other talented pros, we’ll make no predictions or insinuations about day-two leader Ray Hanselman and possible outcome of the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Texoma. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-01-big-bag-pushes-hanselman-ahead

Big Bag Pushes Hanselman Ahead

It’s the question of the day, the question of the week; indeed, it’s the question of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division season: Will we see the trifecta from Ray Hanselman? With the Del Rio, Texas pro leading the final division event on Lake Texoma with 40 pounds, 4 ounces, it appears that the stage is set for a third installment of Hanselmania. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-01-texoma-midday-report

Texoma Midday Report

Lake Texoma is showing its stingy side as Rayovac FLW Series anglers ply this Ouachita River reservoir for day two of the final Texas Division event. The weather is nice, with sunny skies and moderate wind, but the first half of the day was painfully slow for the handful of boats we followed. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-our-10-favorite-photos-from-beaver-lake

Our 10 Favorite Photos from Beaver Lake

The Walmart FLW Tour’s annual stop at Beaver Lake always provides some great moments. Though Quaker State pro Matt Arey won for the second year in a row, that doesn’t mean the event was without drama, and our media team was there for all the action. The photos here are the best of the week. Some of them freeze critical moments, others simply capture the fishing experience. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-setina-takes-day-1-lead

Setina Takes Day 1 Lead

Joe Don Setina, of Pittsburg, Texas leads day one of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division action on Lake Texoma with a limit catch weighing 20 pounds, 9 ounces. Setina caught his fish by flipping flooded brush. Ryan Lejeune, of Eunice, La. leads the co-anglers with 12-4. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-top-5-patterns-from-lake-texoma-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Texoma Day 1

Pittsburg, Texas pro Joe Don Setina took the day-one lead in Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division action on Lake Texoma with 20 pounds, 9 ounces. Setina was targeting spawning fish in flooded brush. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-lake-texoma-midday-report-day-1

Lake Texoma Midday Report Day 1

Early goings on Lake Texoma seem to be pretty tough for the Rayovac FLW Series field. From the water, FLW Website Content Manager Jesse Schultz reported seeing several anglers bed-fishing in the GrandPappy Point Resort & Marina area. Most were putting in a lot of time on each fish, which means the bass weren’t exactly snapping. Today’s calm, sunny, post-cold front conditions are, no doubt, helping anglers see their targets clearly, but the visibility works both ways. Someone’s going to find the right bank with just enough water tint to relax the fish and deliver a nice sack, but it’s likely that many will struggle through a tough day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-texoma-tough-but-stabilizing

Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-28-top-10-patterns-from-beaver-lake

Top 10 Patterns from Beaver Lake

No matter what the conditions are at Beaver Lake, Matt Arey has an uncanny ability to dial up the right baits to match the appetite of the lake’s fickle bass. This year the Quaker State pro relied primarily on two baits for his win. The first was a 5-inch hand-poured swimbait teamed with a 7/0 Gamakatsu EWG Monster Worm Hook tied to 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon. The second was a wacky-rigged Lunkerhunt Lunker Stick impaled on a Gamakatsu 1/0 split-shot/drop-shot hook. The power/finesse combination provided Arey with a search-and-destroy program. He would use the swimbait as a “search bait” to find fish and then follow up with the finesse of the wacky rig for bedders that would not commit to the swimbait. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-27-top-10-baits-from-beaver-lake

Top 10 Baits From Beaver Lake

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/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/2015-04-24-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/2015-04-23-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-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-spawn-looming-at-beaver-lake

Spawn Looming at Beaver Lake

As the pros who fish the Walmart FLW Tour begin practice on Beaver Lake, this jewel of northwestern Arkansas could be setting up for another spring spawn showdown. READ MORE »

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

Top 10 Baits From Grand Lake

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