UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Meet the Beavers

Oregon State University's Ryan Sparks and Zach MacDonald moved up to spot to finish second.

(Editor's note: Leading up to the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship - slated for April 19-21 on Beaver Lake in Rodgers, Ark. - CollegeFishing.com will publish weekly, in-depth features stories of each of the 25 national championship team qualifiers. At stake in the tournament is a first-place prize package that includes $30,000 in cash, a brand new, Ranger Z-117 bass boat and an automatic berth in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup.)

Name: Ryan Sparks (pictured on left)
Class: Junior
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife
Hometown: Haines, Alaska
Other interests: My interests include four-wheeling, hunting, baseball and, basketball, golf and anything outdoors.

Name: Zach MacDonald (pictured on right)
Class: Freshman
Major: Fisheries & Wildlife
Hometown: Willits, Calif.
Other interests: Anything outdoors is always great. But bass fishing is definitely my favorite hobby and passion.

Club Web site and/or contact information:
Oregon State University Fishing on Facebook


CollegeFishing.com: How were you introduced to fishing?

Ryan Sparks: Being from Alaska I grew up fishing my entire life. However, I had never even seen a bass until I moved to Oregon. Salmon fishing is one of my favorite things in the world and it is probably what I am best at. My dad is a commercial fisherman along with the rest of my family (my grandpa, dad, uncle and cousin all have their own boats). I moved to Oregon during elementary school and went to Alaska every summer my entire life - and still do. We moved to Seaside, Ore., and my grandpa had a little bass pond where my dad took my sister and me fishing for largemouth and bluegill. Then, my neighbor started taking me to some of the bigger lakes and I was hooked on bass fishing! My true passion is being able to wade into streams and fish for steelhead. You just can't beat being on their turf and fighting a fish on 10-pound test line that might weigh 20 pounds running up and down a small river while jumping 3 feet in the air.

Zach MacDonald: I first started fishing when I was 3 years old with my dad and older brother. I started getting into competitive fishing when I was 14, fished a lot of pro-am circuits while I was in high school and participated in some team circuits in Clear Lake, Calif. And I've been hooked ever since.

CollegeFishing.com: What style/method of fishing are you most comfortable with?

Ryan Sparks: Other than steelhead fishing, my best technique would probably be drop-shot fishing - which I am pretty good at it. But that technique is not my favorite. Jig fishing is a close second and I'm very comfortable using this technique. It's also one of my favorite ways to fish.

Zach MacDonald: I'm comfortable with a lot of fishing methods but my favorite by far would be frog fishing.

CollegeFishing.com: What did it feel like to qualify for the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship? How do you plan to prepare for the big event?

Ryan Sparks: I can't even describe the feeling. It's like a surreal moment because I have always looked at myself as a purely salmon/steelhead fisherman and I've always just gone bass fishing for fun. When I saw people fishing on TV, I always told myself that's what I want to do for a living because I probably fish close to 250 days a year. I mean, what better than to make your career fishing? Now it feels like I am one step closer and it just may happen - and I am so thankful for that. But I'm also aware than none of this would be possible if it weren't for FLW and all of the great sponsors that put on the events for us.

To prepare for nationals, I want to get as much information as possible. I really want to pre-fish Beaver Lake but it's on the opposite end of the country from us. It would cost a lot of money to fish there for even a few days so we are just going to save up for the tournament. One of my great friends and fishing buddies is Jay Yelas and he has fished there a lot and has already given me a great game plan for the tournament - and hopefully the winning one. Plus it's Beaver Lake so the (Oregon State) beavers are supposed to win, right? I think that would make a good article title - Beavers win Beaver. But no matter what happens, this is going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. I'm truly honored to be on such a big stage while getting a chance to fish with some of the greatest fisherman in the nation.

Zach MacDonald: I couldn't even find words to describe how it felt to qualify, especially as a freshman. But after we knew we were fishing in the conference finals, we simply concentrated on how we could win the event.

Our plans for preparation starts the same as any other tournament - a lot of research, map study, watching the weather and finally getting on the lake to pre-fish.

CollegeFishing.com: Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn't know.

Ryan Sparks: I am 1/8th Alaskan native and a part of the Tlingit Tribe. I am involved with the Native American community in Haines, Alaska. Another interesting thing is I almost didn't go to my very first tournament. It was a "Civil War" tournament against Oregon and I called my friend in Alaska and he convinced me to enter it. Ultimately, I ended up winning the event which helped to build up my confidence level and encourage me to start fishing FLW tournaments.

Zach MacDonald: Not only do I have a passion for the great outdoors, but I also love to cook - especially BBQ.

Tags: gary-mortenson  road-to-the-championship 


1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update



1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST



2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »


Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »


5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin



Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »


Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »


2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »


FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer



Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »


Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »


Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »


How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »


Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »


Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »


Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »