Tuesday Tour Update: Dudley unplugged

Castrol pro David Dudley shows off his 2012 FLW Tour Angler of the Year bounty.

(Editor's note: FLWOutdoors.com managed to speak to David Dudley by phone while he was out on the water during a routine crappie fishing outing before the Beaver Lake FLW Tour event.) With over $3.2 million in career FLW earnings, an astounding 37 top-10 finishes, four FLW Tour wins, a 2003 Forrest Wood Cup title and three FLW Tour Angler of the Year awards already in his back pocket - including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 - it's pretty much a given David Dudley will go down in history as one of the greatest anglers of all time. In fact, for the better part of a decade, it seemed as though Dudley could do no wrong - turning in one stellar performance after another en route to earning a sea of accolades, accomplishments and tournament-fishing hardware virtually unmatched in the industry. However, this season, things have not gone quite according to plan for the current resident of Lynchburg, Va. Surprisingly, the reigning AOY champion currently finds himself in 80th place overall in the year-end standings after uncharacteristic 65th-place and 104th-place finishes during the opening two events of 2013. So, what's wrong - if anything? While it's demonstrably unfair to overanalyze an angler's struggles over a small sample size spanning just two events, this isn't just any angler we're talking about. No, we're talking about David Dudley - viewed fairly or not as an impregnable fortress of confidence, principled outspokenness and unlimited fishing skill and savvy. Anyone who knows Dudley knows that he does not take losing lightly - whether it's competing at the Forrest Wood Cup, participating in a friendly poker tournament or firing up an informal racquetball match with some of his fellow anglers during one of his rare moments of "relaxation" before the start of the next Tour event. And, not surprisingly, Dudley continues to make it quite clear that he is far, far from satisfied with his results to date. "I can pretty much say that this year (stinks) so far," said Dudley. "I hate the way my season has gone; what else can I say? When you go from winning the FLW Tour Angler of the Year two years in a row to finishing the way I did during the last two tournaments, it's hard." Although Dudley wasn't happy with his performance on Lake Okeechobee during the first event of the season, he said he was downright distraught by the time the second FLW Tour stop had concluded on Lewis Smith Lake. "When I left (Lewis) Smith Lake my heart hurt so bad; it felt like I'd just broken up with my high school sweetheart or just lost my favorite hunting dog," said Dudley. "I know where I am talent-wise and when you're not (living up to that), it hurts. I'm aching badly right now.' So how doesn't the "Manteo Machine" account for his recent struggles? Castrol pro David Dudley watches on-the-water video of himself onstage during weigh-in. Dudley finished the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup in fifth place."For me, the hardest thing to fight off is when you get to the top, how do you continue to motivate yourself to do better? I always say, `never be satisfied,' but I think I've kind of fallen into that trap. I get motivated when people talk smack to me. Put a challenge in front of me and I'll (respond). Put me in second place and see what happens. So my main challenge is to get motivated again. I've got to step up and do better." To be sure, Dudley's early season struggles began right out of the gate on Lake Okeechobee. However, because the "Big O" is a rather unique fishing environment (a place where one cast and one double-digit fish can propel you atop the leaderboard at any one given moment) Dudley said he wasn't overly concerned with his 65th-place finish there. Mind you, he wasn't happy about it either. "The way I look at Okeechobee is that it's an up and down lake. You can take some of the greatest anglers in the world and you'll see that of their worst finishes, a lot of them happen on Lake Okeechobee," said Dudley. "For me, I've had some good finishes there and some horrible finishes there. I basically call Lake Okeechobee a `luck factor' lake. Look at the top-10 finishers on that lake during any one given season. You'll see some people you'll know but a lot of names you'll go, `Who?' There is so much luck involved on that lake that it drives me insane. You'll get John Doe who catches maybe five or six 2-pounders and then, all of sudden at the end of the day, catches a 10-pounder. Now he comes back to weigh-in with 19 pounds and he beats David Dudley. But did he really fish better than me? I don't think so. This year on Okeechobee I caught a lot of fish but I never got that big bite. So that pretty much sums it up for me." While Dudley was able to shake off his Florida finish to a certain extent, his performance that following month on Lewis Smith Lake clearly has been a lot harder to digest. And, as a result, it spurred on quite a bit of good, old fashioned soul searching. "I think I know where I went wrong. I was out of shape. I hadn't been fishing enough. It was my own fault," admitted Dudley. "I knew what I had to do there and I just didn't do it. If you're a marathon runner, you can't expect to be able to compete if you don't practice. And I think that was my problem. So what am I doing now? I've been out on the water fishing every day since that Smith Lake tournament - well, almost every day. And that's what I have to keep on doing. I need to get back in shape." Although the Castrol pro is known for setting his personal assessment bar higher than most, Dudley is also a realist - acknowledging that he's fairly pessimistic about his prospects of climbing back into the AOY race given the remaining FLW Tour schedule. "I don't really like the rest of the season (schedule)," said Dudley, arguably one of the most candid and outspoken members of the FLW Tour. "With the exception of Beaver Lake, the (remaining) tournaments are going to be graphing tournaments. So I don't like where we're going and I don't like the time of year we're going (to those venues)." While Dudley understands that his own chances of a three-peat are remote at best given his difficult start, that doesn't mean he doesn't have a strong opinion on the shape of the race as it stands now. "If things stay relatively the same as they are now and Andy (Morgan) and (Brent) Ehrler are battling at the top for the angler of the year race on Lake Chickamauga (in June), you can mark this down: The race will be won on the boat draw," said Dudley in no unequivocal terms. "If Andy gets a better boat draw, he'll win; and the same with Ehrler. The reason is that there are only about 30 good fishing holes on the entire lake and everybody is going to be competing for one of those spots. So whoever gets the best boat draw is going to be in (the driver's seat) to win AOY." Although he is still seen by many as a veritable fishing machine, and rightfully so, Dudley has demonstrated this season that he is also very human. "It's not like I have a secret formula or anything," said Dudley, arguing that he's going to have to continue to put forth his best effort and do whatever it takes to turn the season around. "Honestly, I've just got to keep my head down and keep fishing. It's that simple." While the FLW Tour field is undoubtedly relieved not to see Dudley sitting atop the standings for a third straight year, the news is not all good for his fellow competitors. Because you see, Dudley finally has found what he's been searching for all season - a brand new challenge. And we all know what that means ...

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-serafin-gilmore-aim-for-strong-showing

Serafin, Gilmore Aim For Strong Showing

Chase Serafin and Anthony Gilmore know they’ll soon face the country’s top student anglers on the unforgiving battleground of Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, but they’re not intimidated. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-fired-up-for-championship

Fired Up For Championship

North Carolina’s two-man contingent couldn’t be more excited about their chance to compete in the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-pappan-going-solo

Pappan Going Solo

Of the10 elite teams gearing up to compete here in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship April 25-26 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, only one is comprised of a solo angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-the-bucket-list

The Bucket List

Gleaned from my various fishing travels over the years, here are 10 places ­– in no particular order – that I’ve fished that I believe should definitely be on your bass fishing “bucket list.” Some are fantastic winter getaways, but other will require you to wait until warmer weather arrives. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-college-fishing-takes-on-table-rock

College Fishing Takes on Table Rock

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Table Rock Lake April 11 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Central Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Central Conference Championship tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, April 11. The Arkie Division will take on Lake Dardanelle, the Bama Division stops on Lake Martin, the LBL Division heads to Kentucky Lake, the Ozark Division competes on Lake of the Ozarks, the Piedmont Division opens their season on Kerr Lake and the Savannah River Division continues on Lake Hartwell. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-myers-and-swede-prepared-for-championship

Myers and Swede Prepared for Championship

As the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship draws near, Arkansas anglers Chase Myers and Cole Swede seem barely able to contain their excitement at getting a chance to compete for the coveted crown. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-yates-keenom-aim-to-put-oklahoma-on-top

Yates, Keenom Aim To Put Oklahoma On Top

Sooner bass fishing standouts Trevor Yates and Jake Keenom are hoping to make their home state proud when they compete here on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship, April 25-26. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-new-jersey-s-harnack-christopulos

New Jersey’s Harnack, Christopulos

Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is worlds apart from the East Coast bass fisheries where Kyle Harnack and Matt Christopulos cut their fishing teeth, but the reigning New Jersey state champions are anxious to test their mettle on the sprawling Sooner reservoir. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-czosnyka-cundiff-set-to-represent-centennial-state

Czosnyka, Cundiff Set To Represent Centennial State

Bradley Czosnyka and Josh Cundiff of Fountain, Colo., are counting down the hours to the takeoff of the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship. They won’t have long to wait, as the tournament is set for April 24-25 in conjunction with TBF’s National Championship on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in eastern Oklahoma. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-06-hibdons-suspend-tournament-careers

Hibdons Suspend Tournament Careers

Veteran Missouri pro Guido Hibdon and his grandson, Payden, have decided to leave the ranks of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, but hope to resume their tournament careers in the future. Like several other pros, the Hibdons, of Sunrise Beach, Mo., were victims of cutbacks in sponsor dollars that began last fall and left many anglers scrambling for financial support just before the 2015 tournament season opened. Dion Hibdon, Guido’s son and Payden’s father, lost a major sponsorship when Chevy pulled out as an FLW backer and dissolved the Chevy fishing team to which Dion belonged. However, the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion will continue to fish the Tour. He’ll travel to tournaments with his younger son, Lawson, 18, who will fish as a co-angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-06-tour-talk

Tour Talk

We’re fresh off stop No. 2 of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season on Smith Lake, and there’s plenty to talk about in this installment of FLW’s Tour Talk, where our pundits weigh in on what’s happening along the Tour trail. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-03-strader-leads-the-aoy-pack

Strader Leads the AOY Pack

Things are starting to take shape in the Angler of the Year race too, and while another pair of veterans is atop the standings, there are some new faces emerging as well. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-01-kids-get-to-wet-a-line-during-lewis-smith-event

Kids Get to Wet a Line During Lewis Smith Event

The children and their families had plenty of room to spread out around the Smith Lake Dam cove, which proved to be a good place to fish as it was also the site where the FLW release boat unloaded fish caught by the pros during Friday’s round. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-30-high-school-anglers-fish-for-their-future

High School Anglers Fish for Their Future

High school anglers from across the Midwest braved chilly weather at Kentucky Lake Saturday in hopes of finding hot spots that would help advance them to the High School Fishing Southeastern Conference Championship on Lake Lanier this fall as well as help fund their college education. The 150 high school anglers and their coaches awoke to an unusually cold spring morning to compete in the 2015 Murray State High School Fishing Open. Frost-covered decks, gear and tackle, frozen livewells and outboards reluctant to start were among the first challenges those aboard the 75 boats had to deal with at Kentucky Dam Marina. The event honored the memory of Murray State University’s Dr. Jim Carter, one of the earliest proponents of fishing as a state-sanctioned high school sport. Teams competed for a grand prize of $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State. The scholarships were provided by Independence Bank of Murray and FLW in partnership with the Murray State Bass Anglers. READ MORE »