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

Kerr crowned champion on Havasu

Kerr crowned champion on Havasu
Pro Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., proudly displays his first-place check and trophy at the Stren Series event on Lake Havasu.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - Although he had nearly a 2-pound lead heading into today's finals on Lake Havasu, Justin Kerr knew it wasn't going to be easy to walk away with a tournament title. And he was right. Although the native of Simi Valley, Calif., turned in an impressive 12-pound, 1-ounce catch today to record a whopping four-day total weight of 53 pounds, 14 ounces, it turned out that he needed virtually every ounce to ultimately secure his very first Stren Series title.

In the end, Kerr netted first place by less than a half a pound over fellow competitor Terrence Rath of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. And the victory couldn't have been sweeter. For the last four years, Kerr had qualified for five finals (a 3rd-place finish at Lake Havasu in 2004, a 4th-place finish on Havasu in 2005, a 7th-place finish at Lake Mead in 2005 and two second-place finishes on the California Delta in 2006 and 2007). However, he could never pull out the victory ... that was, until today.

Pro Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., holds up his first-place check after winning the Stren Series event on Lake Havasu."I don't even know what to say," said Kerr, who walked away with a check for $25,000. "It's just been an amazing week. I've been so close before. And to finally be able to break the ice and win one of these things, I can't even describe the feeling. It's crazy. You have no idea how good this feels."

But like most championship journeys, it takes a combination of skill and a little luck to finally pull out a victory. And today's contest was no exception.

"I actually got really lucky today," said Kerr. "At one point, I pulled up into a little cut and was fishing a piece of wood. At first, I didn't see any fish. But then I looked again and saw one just sitting there. I was really surprised he didn't' see me and swim away."

Pro Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., shows off part of his winning stringer during the Stren Series event on Lake Havasu.Kerr threw his bait at the fish and landed it. As it turned out, it was nearly a 3-pounder.

"Then I realized why it didn't swim away," said Kerr. "It was blind in one eye."

But as the old adage goes, you make your own luck. And that's what happened the rest of the day for Kerr.

"With about 15 minutes left to go, I caught a 2 1/2-pound smallmouth and that's what won me this tournament."

That, and a helpful tip from an old friend.

"A good friend of mine taught me how to back-reel a few weeks ago and as it turned out, I was back-reeling all week," said Kerr. "That really helped as well."

Kerr said that throughout the week he targeted bass on a combination of Pepper jigs, spinnerbaits and drop-shot/Robo worm techniques. He said that he mostly focused on shallow wood, fishing in about 2 to 3 feet of water.

In the end, the 26-year-old California native didn't care if he won by 6 ounces or 20 pounds - as long as he finally got that elusive win.

"This is my first major tournament win," said Kerr. "And it was a long time coming. It feels great."

Rath comes up short of victory

Despite a heroic effort on the final day of competition, Terrence Rath's 13-pound, 9-ounce stringer wasn't enough to overcome Kerr during final weigh-in. However, Rath said that he had few regrets.

"I had an awesome week and, for the most part, everything went my way," said Rath, who recorded a four-day total of 53 pounds, 8 ounces. "At 11 a.m. I didn't have any fish in the boat. But I ran to a spot I found last week and they really bit. It just wasn't enough in the end."

Rath said he threw a spinnerbait for the first three days of the tournament and the first four hours of today's competition. However, unlike the previous days, the spinnerbait came up empty in the finals.

"So I decided to switch to my backup bait," said Rath. "I started dragging a 3/8-ounce football jig with a Yamamoto double-tail trailer and that worked out well for me."

Although Rath didn't walk away with the grand prize, he did manage to net a nice check for $8,300 for his second-place finish.

Mechanical problems on day three hinder Lee's title quest

Although Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., turned in a valiant effort in the finals, he wasn't able to overcome a mechanical breakdown in yesterday's competition.

"As long as there was wind and clouds, I couldn't keep the smallmouth bass off of my line," said Lee, who recorded a total weight of 48 pounds, 5 ounces. "Yesterday, the conditions were perfect for me. But I had a break down and was only able to junk fish the rest of the day while I headed back to the marina. It was kind of disheartening. But overall, I had a great week. So I really can't complain."

Lee, who targeted bass throwing a combination of crankbaits and jigs, ultimately walked away with nearly $7,500 in winnings for his third-place effort.

Folkestad charges up the leaderboard

There are few anglers more dangerous in the western United States than Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif. And today he showed just why. Entering the final day of competition, Folkestad was in 10th place overall. However, by the time weigh-in had concluded, Folkestad had leapfrogged all the way up to fourth place on the strength of a total catch of 46 pounds, 14 ounces - leaving bass-fishing fans to wonder what might have been had he not turned in a measly 6 pounds, 3 ounces during the first day of competition.

"I just love Lake Havasu," said Folkestad, who was languishing in a 68th-place tie after the first day of competition. "It's an awesome fishery. I'm seriously thinking of moving here."

Folkestad said that he fished a combination of Robo worms, Folkestad Special worms and open water jigs with Yamamoto trailers to land the majority of his catch.

Ultimately, Folkestad walked away with over $6,600 in winnings.

"Overall, I had a really great week," he said. "I'm happy."

Meanwhile, Tim Wilsterman of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., took fifth place overall with a total catch of 46 pounds, 13 ounces. Wilsterman netted $5,800 in prize money.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists on Lake Havasu:

6th: Mike Phua of Chino, Calif., 46-3
7th: Gary Key of Phoenix, Ariz., 45-11
8th: Rick Francis of Cibola, Ariz., 45-6
9th: Mike Goodwin of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 44-8
10th: Michael Rooke of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 44-2

Wal-Mart Stren Series Western Division action resumes April 16-19 at Clear Lake in Kelseyville, Calif.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2008-02-20-lake-havasu 

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 »