UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Walser wins!

Walser wins!
Robert Walser, the 2006 All-American champion.

HARTFORD, Conn. - Robert Walser has fished three Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American championships in three years, finishing 26th in 2004 and 28th in 2005. This year, when he flew to Connecticut from his native North Carolina, he vowed not to return with anything less than a victory. After beating out 48 of the toughest sticks in the BFL, Walser will fly home tomorrow a happy man - and $140,000 richer - as the newest All-American champion.

Robert Walser shows the crowd one of his tournament-winning bass. His three-day weight totaled 34 pounds, 10 ounces."It was my turn," he said simply. "I've been close too many times, and I was determined not to come up here and finish 20th again."

That determination led to an intense preparation strategy for the 2006 All-American that began when he signed up to fish the North Carolina Division in 2005. Previously, Walser had earned his All-American tickets via the South Carolina Division, the trail he has returned to for the current season. But in 2005, it was his home-state division that he chose to fish, and that venture resulted in a No. 3 ranking that sent him on to the Clarks Hill regional, where he finished fifth to advance to the All-American.

With his qualification in place, Walser began to scout out local Connecticut River know-hows to aid him in his quest. He lined up Johnathan Dingle, who competes in the Stren Series Northeast Division, and Billy Heeber, and they prefished with Walser for four days.

"We caught a lot of fish," Walser said. "The weather was miserable, but I saw what I liked, the kind of fishing I'm best at - fishing shallow water 3 feet or less."

Walser left Connecticut hoping and praying conditions would stay the same, meaning he wanted to see the river flooding the parking lots when he returned to fish the tournament.

"I was comfortable if the river stayed high, and fortunately it did," Walser said.

However, the river didn't stay high for long. The water fell at a rapid pace each day of competition, forcing Walser to change tactics. But since the conditions still fell well within his comfort zone, his adjustments didn't hurt too much.

"The falling water forced me to adjust," he said. "I learned new places every day, and it was easier to adjust since I was doing what I like to do."

Walser's primary method was hunting down spots where he could target fish hovering around wood, and he was not alone in that method, as competitors generally targeted wood or grass all week. He was fishing a Weapon jighead with a homemade skirt and a Zoom Super Chunk Junior in green pumpkin.

All-American winner Robert Walser celebrates with his wife, Kathy."Mostly I fished pockets off the river, fishing an 8-foot stick on 20-pound line," he said. "When I got a bite, I had the equipment to pull them out."

Looking at the standings sheet, Walser's consistency stands out from his competition, whose weights tended to fluctuate over the course of the three-day tournament. Walser caught 11-4 on day one, 11-11 on day two and duplicated that weight exactly today with another 11-11 limit for a three-day total of 34 pounds, 10 ounces.

Walser's consistency coupled with his confidence made him a tough guy to beat this week on the Connecticut River. He says when he landed here on Tuesday and saw the water still in the parking lot, he knew it was his time to shine.

"I knew it was mine to lose," he said. "Dalton (Bobo) gave me a scare the first day, because I didn't see me catching a 14-pound limit. When he said he caught them on a buzzbait, I breathed a sigh of relief, because I knew we'd have bluebird skies on Thursday."

When the dust settled, Walser was left holding a check for $140,000 and a 2-pound, 3-ounce margin of victory. As the All-American champion, he took home $100,000 for the win plus a $20,000 contingency bonus from Ranger Boats and another $20,000 from Evinrude Outboards.

"You hope you get yourself in that mental state to fish a tournament," Walser said of his winning confidence. "I was there all week. I made the right calls - I was just in that happy place. I was extremely comfortable. I knew they had to beat me."

Dorland brings in heaviest day-three limit, takes second

Chad Dorland brought in the dayMoving up from fourth to second was Dunnellon, Fla., boater Chad Dorland, with a three-day total weight of 32 pounds, 7 ounces. He brought in the day's heaviest limit, clocking in at 12 pounds, 7 ounces, to earn $25,000 as the runner-up.

Dorland and No. 3 Kip Carter were sharing an area but were fishing different ways, so the area served both of them well.

"He was fishing wood; I was fishing grass," Dorland said. "We weren't in each other's way at all."

Dorland said he found the spot - a creek that ran through the downtown area of nearby Middletown - in pretournament practice. He knew he was onto something when he caught a 3-pound largemouth.

"I went back and saw it had all that cover," he said. "The first day I started somewhere else but I ended up there, and on days two and three, I stayed there all day."

Dorland's primary bait was a Gitem Toad. He advanced to the All-American by finishing the 2005 Gator Division season ranked second and taking sixth place at the Lake Toho regional.

Carter falls to third

Day-two leader Kip Carter ended up in third place with a three-day total weight of 30 pounds, 7 ounces.Yesterday's leader Kip Carter of Oxford, Ga., brought in his lowest tournament limit today but still finished third with a three-day catch of 30 pounds, 7 ounces. He earned $14,000 for his finish plus $9,000 in Ranger contingency money plus another $9,000 from Yamaha.

Like Dorland, Carter stumbled upon the Middletown creek they shared in pretournament practice, but unlike Dorland, he never found the 3-pound bass to tip him off that the area was good.

"I actually never caught a fish in there," Carter said. "I just knew I liked it. I knew if the water went down, it could be really good. Sometimes you just go on instinct."

Carter's bait of choice all week was a spinnerbait, particularly on the first day. With the falling water, he was forced to mix things up the last two days, but he said the spinnerbait remained his big-bite bait.

Though Carter admits that some mistakes on his end may have cost him the win, he still has a bright future ahead of him, with big plans to get out of the construction business and make a living in pro fishing.

"I'll fish for a living one day," he said. "I'm young; my time's coming."

Mauldin, McDonald settle into fourth, fifth positions

In fourth place with 27 pounds, 9 ounces over three days was Mark Mauldin of Cleveland, Tenn.Mark Mauldin of Cleveland, Tenn., brought in 27 pounds, 9 ounces of bass over three days to take fourth place and $13,000. He earned an additional $16,000 in boat and motor contingencies.

"I fished pretty clean all week," Mauldin said. "I had a great tournament."

In the fifth spot is Mike McDonald of Randleman, N.C., with a three-day total of 27 pounds, 6 ounces. He earned $12,000 for his fifth-place finish plus another $14,000 in boat and motor contingencies.

"The Connecticut River is a tremendous fishery," McDonald said. "We were here in really tough conditions. I had the bites today to win this thing, but that's how fishing is - some days you can't catch them all."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 boaters at the All-American:

New Jersey angler Robert Soley landed in the sixth spot with a combined weight of 27 pounds, 4 ounces.6th: Robert Soley, North Brunswick, N.J., 27-4, $11,000
7th: Terry Steele, Sparta, Tenn., 26-11, $10,000 plus $5,000 motor contingency
8th: Dennis Berhorst, Holts Summit, Mo., 26-4, $9,000 plus $9,000 in boat and motor contingencies
9th: Richard Pankey, Blytheville, Ark., 25-9, $8,000 plus $4,000 motor contingency
10th: Dalton Bobo, Northport, Ala., 19-4, $7,000 plus $3,500 boat contingency

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2006-07-06-bfl-all-american 

Falcons Win by 2 Ounces on Erie

Falcons Win by 2 Ounces on Erie

The Bowling Green State University team of Jamesen Simion of Saline, Mich., and Cameron Wilt of Alvada, Ohio, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Lake Erie event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce. The victory earned the Bowling Green bass club $2,000 and qualified them to compete in the 2021 College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Bishop Hartley wins Erie Open

Bishop Hartley wins Erie Open

Ohio’s Bishop Hartley High School duo of Braden McNamara and Mike Abbott brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 15 ounces to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Lake Erie Open. READ MORE »

Mallory Drops 25-5 at St. Clair

Mallory Drops 25-5 at St. Clair

Boater Buck Mallory of Lawton, Michigan, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township, Michigan. For his victory, Mallory earned a total of $4,652. READ MORE »

Monsoor Clinches Win on the Mississippi

Monsoor Clinches Win on the Mississippi

Weighing 12 pounds, 10 ounces on the final day, Tom Monsoor totaled 54-10 to win the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River. Leading the final three days, the win is Monsoor’s second at the top level and earned him $125,000.   READ MORE »

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Anglers who have fished the Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine in the southeast any length of time know the name Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga. For years, Carter has pocketed plenty of checks from both leagues with a career total of 50 top 10s. This year, Carter decided to jump back into regional competition with the Southeastern Division of the Toyota Series, and in just his second event back, he found his way to the winner’s circle at Wheeler Lake.  READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

The fish were biting pretty well for the top 10 on the final morning of Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Overcast skies and a steady south wind put a perfect buzzbait ripple on the water back in the shallow flats in creeks – and the anglers were taking advantage of it.  READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 4 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi

Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi

After day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River the weights are stacked as tightly as they were on the first two days. With the lead, Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., weighed 13 pounds, 5 ounces to stay in the lead with an even 42 pounds. Behind him, Zack Birge, David Walker and Scott Wiley have all crossed the 40-pound mark and are hot on his heels. READ MORE »

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga., may not have the nicest, shiniest boat in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event this week, but it sure gets him where he needs to go. His beater aluminum tunnel hull craft has plenty of nicks and dings in it and for good reason: Getting into the places he has fished on Wheeler Lake the last two days has required enduring some scratches and dents. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 3 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi

Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi

After two days of fishing in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River the weights are as tight as can be. Moving into the lead on day two is Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., who weighed a second 14-pound bag for a 28-11 total. In second, Scott Wiley is one of seven anglers with 27 pounds and some ounces in the top 10, making the tournament anyone’s game in the final two days. READ MORE »

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Wheeler Lake doled out some lumps today in the second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season. Only 14 pros managed to crack the 10-pound mark and six pros took a zero on the day. Leading the way is Jesse Millsaps of Jasper, Ga., with five fish weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces. His biggest bass weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which was certainly the difference maker in nudging him to nearly 15 pounds in a challenging summertime grinder. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake has turned out to be beyond stingy to the anglers fishing the second event in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division today. After visiting with some 20 pros this morning, the most fish reported caught by a pro was just two keepers. The rest either had just one bass or an empty livewell. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 2 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Wiley Leads on the Mississippi

Wiley Leads on the Mississippi

As expected on the river, the weights are bunched together after the first day of fishing in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries. More than a quarter of the field are in the 11-12-pound range, and 10 pounds marked the exact halfway point of the field. That means leader Scott Wiley only has a 5-pound, 3-ounce lead over half the field after weighing in 15-3. READ MORE »

Live Leaderboard - Mississippi River

Live Leaderboard - Mississippi River

FLW marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the fifth stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Mississippi River. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage

Mississippi River Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at the Mississippi River July 29-August 1, 2020. READ MORE »

Cayuga Double-Header Shows Out

Cayuga Double-Header Shows Out

It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Union Springs with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Lake Cayuga events. READ MORE »

Estes, Pike Tie for Potomac Title

Estes, Pike Tie for Potomac Title

Boaters Cody Pike of Powhatan, Va., and Keith Estes of Spring Grove, Va., both brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 14 ounces to tie for the win at the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on the Potomac River in Marbury, Md. Estes earned a total of $4,262 after contingency awards, while Pike took home $10,262, including the lucrative $7,000 FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency award. READ MORE »

Buntin By 3 Ounces on Alabama River

Buntin By 3 Ounces on Alabama River

Boater Sean Buntin of Satsuma, Ala., brought a five-bass limit bass to the scale Saturday totaling 12 pounds, 1 ounce to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Alabama River in Prattville, Ala. Buntin topped his nearest competitor, Ben Weldon of Petumpka, Alabama, by just 3 ounces and earned $4,296 for his victory. READ MORE »