Tuesday Tour Update: Amerson biding time until summer

Keith Amerson holds up a 6-pound, 13-ounce Lake Hartwell largemouth, the biggest bass caught on day one.

Keith Amerson didn't know what to expect in his rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour, but the opening salvo has been remarkable. All the 44-year-old mail carrier knew was that fishing professionally has always been his dream. Thus far, it's been a dream that he doesn't want to wake up from. After making the top-20 cut at Okeechobee, Amerson finished 52nd at Hartwell, earning yet another five-figure paycheck. With one third of the season complete, it's likely his best is still yet to come. Growing up, Amerson's passion for bass fishing was instilled by his grandfather. Living approximately 30 miles from the Tennessee River he began fishing small club tournaments and then team tournaments. Amerson got his first major break in 2001 when he claimed the Fishers of Men Team National Championship with partner Jason Martindale. Numerous FOM accolades followed - including winning Team of the Year honors and claiming the 2007 Legacy Series National Championship with his daughter Kelcey. Fifth-place pro Keith Amerson holds up an Okeechobee giant. "After that I started fishing the BFLs and the Rayovac FLW Series," Amerson explained. "I've just been working my way up. Strike King was my first sponsor in 2002 and I have a friend who wanted to help me with entry fees this year. That's how I got to where I am today." Amerson opened eyes when he caught a 10-pound, 6-ounce behemoth at Okeechobee, the largest bass of the season's first tournament. Sharing an area with pro Leon Williams, Amerson eventually ran out of fish on day three and finished 19th. "I only caught one 6-pounder in practice at Okeechobee. I didn't fish that area hard in practice, but I was on a lot more than I realized. I've never caught a 10-pounder in my entire life." Amerson caught another giant on Hartwell exactly a month later, this one weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Again, it was the heaviest bass of the entire event. Two tournaments - two big bass awards from one rookie pro. Even veterans of the sport started asking the obvious question, "Who is this guy?" "At Hartwell I knew I was on big fish," Amerson clarified. "I knew I wasn't going to get many bites, but they were big - mostly 3- and 4-pounders. When the 2014 schedule came out, I figured this would be a great year to try it because I had fished every lake except for Hartwell. Then my first fish of the tournament was that 6-13 and I thought thank you God. It's a big relief to have Hartwell over with. After my prepractice, I've never left a lake more confused." Strike King pro Keith Amerson pitches to the Kissimmee grass. Back home in the town of Bethel Springs, Tenn., Amerson is known as "The Big Deal." It started as a joke among friends - playing off the popular line from Will Ferrell's character Ron Burgundy in the movie Anchorman, but somehow it stuck. The nickname will stick with fishing fans across the country if Amerson continues his penchant for coaxing kickers. "I don't know how to explain it, but I'm proud of those two fish. The recognition that I've gotten is neat and it's helping me get my name out there, but it's more about the adrenaline rush of playing those big ones." Amerson currently sits 19th in the points race. His No. 1 goal for the season is to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray Aug. 14-17 in Columbia, S.C. Goal No. 2 is to cash as many big checks as possible. "I've fished my whole life, but honestly, I didn't know how I'd do out here. I didn't know if I was good enough to compete with these guys. I realize I'm a nobody in the fishing world, but the pros, the guys I've seen on TV for years, they've accepted me with open arms. That's one thing I never expected and that's really humbled me." Salivating for summer Perhaps most impressively, the early part of the season was supposed to be about survival. As a summertime specialist, Amerson is especially looking forward to the final two qualifiers of the year on Pickwick Lake and Kentucky Lake. Keith Amerson finished fourth on day one with 20 pounds."I prefer to set up over a shell bed and cast a 10XD or drag a Strike King football jig. I expect to do well at those two. I'm looking for top-20s and anything less I will be upset with myself because I didn't do what I needed to do. Kentucky Lake is the one I'm looking forward to the most. I like Pickwick, but it scares me too because it fishes so small. In the summer there are only 40 or 50 schools of fish. If you get a bad (boat) number, you can be in trouble and not get to fish where you want." While he dreams of offshore ledge fishing in the warm June sun, Amerson realizes there is immediate work ahead - namely the Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Beaver Lake. For now, he's grateful for the opportunity in front of him - thanks largely to sponsors. "I need to thank Ranger Boats, Mercury, Power-Pole, Strike King, Lew's, Lowrance, Daiichi, MotorGuide, Lofton Chevrolet, Rayjus and the entire Amerson Fishing Nation. I don't know if I'll be able to come back next year or not, but right now I'm living my dream."

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Queen and Black Crowned High School Fishing Champs

Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black of the North Carolina Student Angler Federation won the 2015 SAF High School Fishing National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Queen and Black bested a field of the 10 best High School Fishing teams in the two-day competition. They caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday to make it to today’s final round of five teams in second place. Then today, the Tar Heel State’s best backed it up with 17-15 to surpass Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom, the day-one-leaders, by 4 pounds, 6 ounces with a two-day total of 35-01. Queen and Black earned a $10,000 scholarship for their win. READ MORE »

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Keenom, Yates Grab High School Lead

Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom sacked a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to top the leaderboard on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black are hot on their heels in second with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

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A High School Fishing Grand Finale

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Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

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Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

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/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 »

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The Bucket List

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/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/2015-04-06-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

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Strader Leads the AOY Pack

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Kids Get to Wet a Line During Lewis Smith Event

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/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 »

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Guntersville Midday Update

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/tips/2015-03-21-college-open-day-2-midday-update

College Open Day 2 Midday Update

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