The All-American: Taking another shot at history

Brian Maloney caught most of his fish on a football head jig with a Garneau Baits paddle tail worm.

Brian Maloney made history once. Now he has the chance to do it again this week on Alabama's Wilson Lake. In 2012, the Missouri angler became the first champion of The Bass Federation (TBF) to also win the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American. A number of TBF members have claimed the All-American title through the years, but before Maloney none had won it as the TBF's boater champion. TBF co-angler qualifier Kevin Wells of Portsmouth, Ohio, won the All-American's co-angler title in 2007. This year Maloney qualified through the TBF National Championship on Grand Lake to fish the All-American once more, but this time as a co-angler. If he wins the co-angler title, he'll have racked up another unique accomplishment: being the first TBF angler to win the All-American from both ends of the boat. Of course, Maloney isn't dwelling on the possibilities. All he's looking forward to now is participating in the All-American. Ninety-eight of the nation's best weekend anglers will join him there for the three-day championship that begins Thursday. "The year I won it, on the Potomac River, Laura [his wife] and I had a blast. We're expecting to have just as much fun this week as we did then," said Maloney, a telecommunications design engineer for AT&T who resides in Osage Beach. His TBF club is the Wicked Sticks out of Eldon, Mo. In 2012, Maloney earned a berth in the All-American by placing sixth in the TBF National Championship. This year, his ticket got punched when he finished runner-up in the Central Division standings at the national championship. The divisional winner was James Biggs, who also happened to be the TBF championship's overall winner. Biggs was given the option of fishing as the boater or co-angler in the All-American, and - no surprise - he opted for the front of the boat. "As divisional runner-up, I had the option of fishing out of the back or not fishing at all," noted Maloney. "But I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to fish the All-American again. I don't care what end of the boat I'm in, I just want to be there. Fishing out of the back will be a totally new experience for me. It's challenging, but that's what I want." The Potomac fishes differently than Wilson Lake, but that's not the only change in store for Maloney. When he won the All-American in 2012, he decided where to fish and when to move. This time around, he's at the mercy of the boaters he draws. They have total control. That being said, Maloney isn't too concerned. He knows that the boaters he draws are likely to fish much the same as him. "I didn't pre-practice; I didn't see the point," said Maloney, who's a regular in the Walmart BFL Ozark Division. "For one thing, we're in a transitional period, and the things that you might find in pre-practice probably won't be that big a deal in the tournament. Also, why get crushed when you draw somebody who doesn't want to do what you did in pre-practice to catch fish? But you'd be amazed by how much pre-practice you can do in front of a computer. I have a hunch that my fishing style will be compatible with whoever I draw. Besides, I enjoy the competition way too much to get too uptight about it." Though it's a Tennessee River lake, Wilson doesn't quite set up like Pickwick downstream (site of the concurrent Walmart FLW Tour event this week). There are some ledges, but they're more gradually sloping than the steep, almost vertical ledges that characterize Pickwick and Kentucky Lake. Tapered points and humps might hold wandering schools of bass during the day, but mainly Wilson is a tailwater fishery this time of year. That being the case, the lake will fish small, and Maloney thinks that about half the field will concentrate below the Wheeler Lake dam. "On the Potomac in 2012 I kept an open mind and watched where the crowds went. Then I went somewhere else," said Maloney, whose All-American championship won him a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup that year. He went on to finish 29th in it. "This year I'm going to be introduced to a boater, feel him out that first day and do what he wants to do. My strategy will depend on what he does. "I have no doubt that somebody will figure things out," added Maloney, 52. "When you get to this level of competition, it's a pretty level playing field. Everybody in the All-American is talented and capable of catching good stringers of bass." Maloney should know. In 2012, he had to get past such longtime BFL stars as Dick Shaffer and Dicky Newberry to win. This year, he'll be competing against some of the BFL's best co-anglers, and knowing that much of his success depends on his partner's approach to unlocking Wilson Lake's bass fishery has taken some of the edge off his expectations. The thought that he might make history again as an All-American co-angler doesn't faze him. "I'm going to fish as well as I can and do my best with what is presented to me," said Maloney. "That's all I can do, and if it's meant to happen, it'll happen."

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-04-21-weekend-wrap-up-april-21-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/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/2015-04-10-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/2015-04-06-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 »

/tips/2015-03-21-guntersville-midday-update

Guntersville Midday Update

With numerous local boats on the water, a number of the top 10 pros have been unable to fully capitalize – Cameron Gautley didn’t have a limit at noon and Trevor Fitzgerald, Jay Kendrick and Rob Digh had yet to complete theirs as well. READ MORE »

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

College Open Day 2 Midday Update

The sun is shining, the weather is warmer and the bass aren’t biting, at least not for most of the first-round leaders here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open. As the second and final day of competition unfolds, the leaders are struggling to maintain their positions. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-19-day-one-midday-update-from-guntersville

Day One Midday Update From Guntersville

With cooler weather blowing in, patches of mist and rain whisking over the lake, and whitecaps in the main channel, day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Mercury on Lake Guntersville is proving to be a challenge for the field. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-murray-state-high-school-fishing-open

Murray State High School Fishing Open

The Bass Federation (TBF) and FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, will host a Student Angler Federation Murray State High School Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, March 28 with the winning team receiving $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State from Independence Bank and FLW. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The weekend of March 21 will feature four Walmart BFL tournaments. READ MORE »