UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Top 12 Tour Highlights

Stetson Blaylock broke down Beaver Lake for Tour Insider with FLW's Daniel Fennel.

A Walmart FLW Tour season is a long and eventful thing. For 24 days, more than 300 pros and co-anglers – the best anglers in the world – duel it out in bass-fishing competition across the country. Stories develop every day. News is made. Techniques are perfected. There are daily highlights. We could never list them all, so we didn’t. But we did come up with a list of 12 highlights that we think best tell the story of the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season. Click on the links to read more about each.

 

Pro leader Brett Hite holds up part of his 34-pound, 15-ounce stringer.

1. Hite smashes 34-15 on day oneThe 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season started off on the highest of high notes. As if the Florida sun wasn't enough to energize everyone, Brett Hite caught the second-heaviest five-bass limit in Tour history on the first day of the 2014 season. Hite smashed 34 pounds, 15 ounces worth of Okeechobee bass with his trademarked ChatterBait to start what turned out to be the best season of his career on a fabulous note.

Pro leader Casey Ashley caught a 15-pound, 7-ounce limit Saturday and increased his lead to over 9 pounds with one day of competition remaining.

2. Ashley runs away with hometown tourneyCasey Ashley's win on Lake Hartwell was another high note. Though not a rookie, the first-year Tour pro broke onto the scene in grand fashion. Ashley breezed to a win in a frigid, rainy tournament that pushed the rest of the field's endurance to the breaking point. The third and fourth days of the event featured robust hometown crowds whose enthusiasm wasn't dampened in the slightest by the fact that part of Ashley's win depended on judiciously tapping local sources of information.

Cody Meyer is all business moving into the final regular season event and only eight points behind Andy Morgan in the AOY race.

3. Meyer’s streak ends at 50Hartwell produced a number of story lines, and the best was also the most heartbreaking. Repel pro Cody Meyer continued his hot season but fell short of a five-bass limit on the final day of competition (he never failed to bring in five the rest of the season). The four bass he weighed in were enough for fourth place, but not enough to keep his record-setting limit streak going. Meyer ended his streak at 50 consecutive limits, most ever in Tour competition and more than standouts like Jay Yelas, Jason Christie and Randall Tharp have ever achieved.

iON captures Richard Peek landing a giant bass on Kentucky Lake.

4. iONs arrive on TourSam Rayburn was the first event that FLW used iON cameras to capture the action in competitors' boats. The iONs provided amazing footage in their very first event, capturing Steve Kennedy landing an 8-pounder by handing his spinning rod around a cypress tree. As it turned out, that fish catch was only a preview of the great iON footage to come. See Mark Rose catch a 5- and 9-pounder at Rayburn. Watch Arey win at Beaver. See Hackney at Pickwick. See Haynes tossing Magnum Spoons at Kentucky Lake.

Being a hometown hero from Rogers, Ark., Travis Fox was a crowd favorite, and almost pulled off the victory.

5. Beaver Lake pumps out giantsBeaver Lake was a highlight in itself. The Tour's annual visit to the Ozark gem was expected to be a barometer for the effectiveness of umbrella rigs now that they’re outlawed from Tour competition – would the lake revert back to her old self, or would the best in the world catch them regardless? That question was never really answered, but the lake performed amazingly. In 2012, 115 pounds, 2 ounces of bass came to the scale on day four. Jason Christie's romp in 2013 saw 121-8 cross the stage on the final day. But on the day Matt Arey earned his first Tour win, an incredible 141 pounds was weighed in by the top 10.

Small, natural-hued swimbaits and grubs work best. Shown here are (top to bottom) a Keitech swimbait, Missile Baits Shockwave swim bait and Strike King Rage Tail Rage Grub.

6. “Scrubbing” for bass is revealedScrubbing, the process of sloooooowly swimming and dragging swimbaits over the bottom, also came to light at Beaver. Grubs and swimbaits have always been a player in the clear water at the north end of Beaver Lake, but this year was special. We saw stupendous numbers of big smallmouths caught and got a better idea than ever before of how some pros were employing light line and small swimbaits to fool big Ozark bass.

Greg Hackney shows his two best bass!

7. Hack hammers 97-7 at PickwickPickwick produced the final mega-bag of the season. Greg “Hack Attack” Hackney slammed 31-6, the 10th-heaviest five-bass limit in Tour history, on the second day of the event to seize the lead from Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson, and he never looked back. In truth, Pickwick was the big-fish highlight of the year. It took an incredible 97-7 to win, and only two of the top 10 averaged less than 20 pounds per day.

8. Prototype Strike King crankbait wins at PickwickThe Pickwick win and Hackney's post-game interviews also brought to light one of the first truly new baits of the season, a giant square-bill crankbait from Strike King that is expected to debut at ICAST. Hackney used it to great effect on the shallow ledge where he camped. What didn't come to light was the bait some of the top finishers threw on the deeper, more traditional ledges. More on that soon.

The Ben Parker Signature Series Magnum Spoon would nearly be a keeper bass in some states.

9. Magnum Spoons blow up Kentucky LakeThe Magnum Spoon was the story of the Kentucky Lake event. We got incredible photos and amazing iON footage of a select group of pros throwing this 8-inch piece of metal, and the rumor mill was working at full speed as pros and fans alike scrambled for baits and information. Not since the breakout of the 10XD or the umbrella rig has there been such excitement about a technique. It was refreshing to see anglers get fired up about something because it was cool, not because it was controversial.

Andy Morgan and Cody Meyer are the top contenders in the 2014 AOY race.

 

10. Meyer, Morgan battle for AOYKentucky Lake was also the climax of maybe the greatest Kellogg's Angler of the Year race the Tour has ever seen. Repel pro Cody Meyer and Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan took it down to the wire to finish out an incredible season. Even cooler than seeing Morgan win his second-consecutive AOY (predicted by David Dudley on the FLW Podcast), was seeing how much he and Meyer enjoyed the race and the huge amount of respect they have for each other as competitors. Check out this exclusive video with Andy Morgan.

 

After being disqualified from the season opener on Okeechobee, Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi rallied to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup held on Lake Murray - his home lake - this August.

 

11. Gagliardi battles back for shot at CupWhat began with tragedy ended with elation. Anthony Gagliardi was disqualified from the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee due to an inadvertent rule violation. It was instant heartbreak for fans of Gags, who assumed he’d miss his shot at fishing the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on his home fishery, Lake Murray. With a major point deficit to overcome, Gagliardi proved that he truly is one of this sport’s greatest anglers – and one of its greatest people. He never complained in the media, never faltered in his quest and fought his way back through the standings. At the final event on Kentucky Lake, when the scores were tallied, Gags found out he was in … by just one AOY point.

 

It was a big finish for a big man this week on Pickwick Lake. Jason Johnson finished in fourth place on the co-angler side.

 

12. Johnson DQ’d, rises above adversityThe final story line of the 2014 Tour season was about a co-angler. Jason Johnson won the Co-angler of the Year award and then lost it to Braxton Setzer after iON footage revealed a rule violation that forced FLW to disqualify Johnson’s day-three weight. The highlight wasn't the DQ, nor was Setzer's win. It was how Johnson took it. He handled the DQ with the class and level-headedness of a 10-year veteran and showed the world the type of character he has. He did yeoman’s work in the comments section on FLW's Facebook page, came across as completely genuine, and no doubt caught the eye of fans and potential sponsors for when he fishes the Tour as a pro in 2015. 

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-08-28-planned-power-outage-in-ky-office

Planned Power Outage in KY Office

A planned power outage is in effect around the Benton, Ky., area causing phone lines and internet to be temporarily unavailable. It should last until roughly 5 p.m. CT. Do not call the help line or try to register online during this time. Instead, if you'd like to sign up for an event call the tournament director for the particluar tournament you'd like to fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. 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 event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. 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/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »