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Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

GROVE, Okla. – Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship.

Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event.

Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice.

The final weigh-in will precede the Walmart FLW Tour Beaver Lake weigh-in in the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Ark., beginning at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.

Resuming the same tactics that put him in second place in his division on day one, Heckman fished just a couple of miles from the takeoff site at Wolf Creek Park. He threw a green pumpkin Z-Man ChatterBait with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper in the dirty Sanchez color.

“I’m fishing a foot and a half of water, and those fish are there – they’re moving up,” Heckman says. “Today [Friday] the water temperature was 66 degrees, but when we started pre-fishing, the temperature was 61. It’s warming up, and I think these fish are wanting to eat again.”

While some in the field devoted at least part of their time to negotiating with bed fish, Heckman decided he’d forego that game and pour his effort into looking for more cooperative bass that are interested in feeding.

“The water isn’t as dirty as it was when I was there in practice, but it’s still dirty and the fish I’m targeting are fish that want to eat,” he adds. “They’re fish I can catch. I tried that sight-fishing, and that’s done and over with [for me]. I’m focused on a reaction bite. That’s what I’ll be doing all day tomorrow [Saturday]. I’ll probably have two rods on the deck, a couple of ChatterBaits, and I’m going to go with that.”

Heckman says he mostly fished main-lake points Friday. He worked back into some coves, but he didn’t care for the vexation he found therein.

“We tried to get in between those docks, but I got tangled up on one, and I looked down and saw a water moccasin sunning,” he recalls. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to watch out for back in there.”

A member of the Fountain Valley Bass Club and the TBF youth fishing director for Colorado, Heckman was pleasantly surprised to lead his division. Adding 18 pounds, 4 ounces to his opening-round weight of 15-15, he edged out day-one overall leader Jon Griffith, also from the Southwest Division, by 8 ounces to earn a berth into the final round.

“I was looking at Jon’s bag and thinking, ‘There’s no way I can make it,’” Heckman adds. “In my head, I was thinking my five were all 3-pounders.”

 

Central Division – Shawn Gordon – 31 pounds, 8 ounces

Topping local pro Dean Matts by just 4 ounces, Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces today to win the Central Division title. After lucking into a big bed fish on day one, Gordon added more weight by sight-fishing in the second round.

“I found two decent bed fish that I didn’t know were there,” he says.

Splitting his day between Grand’s clear lower end and the moderately stained mid-lake area, Gordon caught a total of three bed fish on craw baits and added two others on a square-bill crankbait. Overall, he says his day was a grinder.

“It was slow; I didn’t catch my fifth fish until about 2:40,” he says. “In fact, Dean Matts watched me catch my fifth one on a crankbait.”

 

Southern Division – Mark Lundgren – 27 pounds, 11 ounces

His day was a bit of a roller coaster, but Mark Lundgren, of Cocoa, Fla., remained focused and posted a day-two weight of 16 pounds, 14 ounces to win his division.

“I caught three fish pretty early when it was cloudy, but then I went probably four or five hours without catching another keeper,” he notes. “I caught one around midday, and my last keeper came about five minutes before we had to leave.”

A jig and a shallow-running crankbait produced Lundgren’s early bites. Targeting shallow cover, he fished rocks with the crankbait and used the jig to pick apart any wood he found.

Lundgren says his areas probably held a mix of prespawn and postspawn fish.

“It’s hard to tell what stage they’re in. Some of them had big bellies,” he says. “I think some of them are still moving in, and some of them are moving out.”

 

Mid-Atlantic Division – Brian LaClair – 27 pounds, 5 ounces

Call him Mr. Consistency. Brian LaClair of Denton, Md., weighed 13 pounds, 10 ounces on day one and backed that up with 13-11 today for the Mid-Atlantic Division win. The key for him was making the most of a window of partly sunny conditions.

“I had found some pretty good spots that were holding a bunch of fish,” he says. “When that sun came out today, I made sure I was on them. We had about two hours of sunshine today, and I moved to a spot and caught most of the better fish I had.”

His best spot was a bluff wall that was loaded with postspawners. He flipped a 1/4-ounce custom brown jig with a twin-tail grub trailer and a shaky-head worm. Feathering the bait down was the key to attracting bites and avoiding snags.

 

Northern Division – Nicholas Smyers – 24 pounds, 8 ounces

Returning to what he had bailed on yesterday proved to be a good decision for Nicholas Smyers of Franksville, Wis., who earned the Northern Division title after sacking up 14 pounds, 1 ounce Thursday.

“Yesterday, I left my dirty water around midday because none of the fish I caught had any size,” he explains. “Today, I went back to the dirty water because when I went to the clear water, I didn’t really see anything I liked. I didn’t see any size.”

With his faith in the dirty water rekindled, Smyers caught a 3 1/2-pounder first thing on a square-bill crankbait.

“That made all the difference to me,” he says. “I just felt that I’d get five bites if I stuck with this. I just need to put them in the boat.”

Covering water was important, but Smyers found that fishing ultra-shallow was the game-changer.

“You had to land your bait on the bank and crawl it and really dig in the rocks,” he says. “Most of my bites were in a foot or two at the most.”

 

Northwest Division – Mark Maderos – 23 pounds, 1 ounce

Coming up two fish short on his day-two limit had Mark Maderos sweating the final outcome, but the boater from Maple Valley, Wash., apparently found the right three. His day-two weight of 11 pounds, 5 ounces gave him what he needed to clinch the Northwest Division title.

“During pre-fishing, we were focused on bed-fishing,” Maderos says. “We found an area that was absolutely loaded and caught 19 fish over 4 pounds. With the weather changing, all those fish pulled off, so I completely changed up.”

Moving off the bedding areas, Maderos targeted what he believed would be the staging areas in 7 to 12 feet. He caught his two biggest fish on a 1/2-ounce Revenge jig with a Strike King Rodent trailer and a drop-shot with a short 6-inch leader, 1/4-ounce weight and a 4-inch Wave Tiki Monkey. His third fish, a small keeper, ate a 5-inch swimbait.

 

Eastern Division – Curtis Richardson – 21 pounds, 7 ounces

Adjusting with his fish was essential for Curtis Richardson of Belleville, Ontario. He entered the tournament expecting to catch spawning fish, but when he determined that it didn’t offer him a way to win, he shifted gears and targeted areas outside the spawning pockets that offered good staging grounds for those bass that had already done their thing.

“I fished the exact same as I did yesterday, I just had to follow the fish as they moved,” Richardson observes. “Where I fished Thursday, I didn’t get any bites there today [Friday]. Those fish that have spawned in the pockets – I keep following them out to the main lake.

“I haven’t been [sight-fishing] except for one fish today,” he continues. “I was short one fish on my limit, so I burned about 40 minutes looking at one. I never did catch it, but that’s the only one I even attempted to catch by sight-fishing all week.”

Fishing rocky banks, Richardson focused on areas near heavy concentrations of beds. He caught his fish in 3 to 8 feet on a 3/16-ounce jig teamed with 8-pound-test line and a 1/2-ounce football jig on 20-pound-test line. Both jigs had Zoom Speed Craw trailers.

 

Logan Leaps Ahead in Co-Angler Competition

Thursday, Wes Logan topped the co-angler division with 19 pounds – the heaviest sack of the entire day-one field. Today, the Springville, Ala., stick added 15-9 to win the Southern Division with a two-day total of 34-9 that again topped the entire field of boaters and non-boaters. Notably, Logan’s total is 8 pounds, 2 ounces heavier than that of the second-place co-angler, Eastern Division winner and past TBF champion Gilbert Gagner.

Logan caught all of his fish on a 5/8-ounce jig and an unidentified trailer.

“We went a good way up the lake and fished the dirty water,” Logan says. “That, I believe, helped me because it’s more like what I fish in Alabama.”

 

Other co-angler divisional winners include:

Eastern Division – Gilbert Gagner – Highgate Springs, Vt. – 26-07

Northern Division – Phillip Duracz – Chesterton, Ind. – 25-12

Mid-Atlantic Division – Steve Wiseman – Bryans Rd., Md. – 21-06

Northwest Division – Brian Merlini – Maple Valley, Wash. – 19-14

Central Division – Johnny Babb – Holdenville, Okla. – 19-07

Southwest Division – Will Treadwell – Buford, Ga. – 19-03

 

For complete results, click here.

Tags: tbf  grand-lake  david-a-brown  headline-story  2015-04-23-grand-lake 

White Rolling at Clear Lake

White Rolling at Clear Lake

Fishing was still good on day two of the Toyota Series Western Division finale at Clear Lake, though there were notably less 20-pound bags brought to the scale. Still, day-one leader Tom White managed 19 pounds, 5 ounces today to back up his 24-12 weight from Thursday and will carry a 5-10 lead heading into Saturday’s final round. This would be White’s first FLW win if he can fend off the nine other hungry pros behind him. READ MORE »

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

Tom White of Costa Mesa, Calif., fished the first two events of the Toyota Series Western Division season as a co-angler where he found decent success. Now, in the final event of the season White stepped up to the boater side and took the lead on Clear Lake after day one with a 24-pound, 12-ounce limit. The former Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI angler will hold close to a 5-pound lead over Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pro Jared Lintner heading into day two. While 4 pounds would be a decent lead on a lot of fisheries, this is Clear Lake, and anything can happen tomorrow. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

The Toyota Series Western Division wraps its season this week on famed Clear Lake in California. The lake is frequently noted as one of the best bass fisheries in the country and Clear Lake is shaping up to kick out plenty of bass this week. READ MORE »

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Boater Christopher Whitehead of Tupelo, Miss., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division Super-Tournament at Pickwick Lake. For his victory, Whitehead earned $5,942. READ MORE »

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Boater Josh Tramel of Smithville, Tenn., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 34 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Music City Division Super-Tournament at Old Hickory Lake. Tramel earned a total of $5,540 for his victory.  READ MORE »

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Boater Nick Trim of Galesville, Wis., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 34 pounds, 9 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division Super-Tournament at the Mississippi River. For his victory, Trim earned $6,690. READ MORE »

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Boater Todd Langford of Great Falls, Va., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division Super-Tournament at Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Langford earned $5,065. READ MORE »

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Boater Joshua Rockefeller of Harlem, Ga., brought a two-day total of nine bass to the scale weighing 21 pounds even to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division Super-Tournament at Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Rockefeller earned $4,668. READ MORE »

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Boater Jeramiah Sifers of Sellersburg, Ind., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 22 pounds, 14 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division Super-Tournament at the Rough River. Sifers earned a total of $6,917 for his victory. READ MORE »

Grand Lake to Host 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship

Grand Lake to Host 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship

GROVE, Okla. – FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a... READ MORE »

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong is no stranger to Toyota Series titles on Lake Dardanelle. He claimed his first back in August of 2015 and five years later thanks to a final-day bag worth 15 pounds, 15 ounces (the biggest of the event) Lieblong added his second Series trophy to the mantle. The Conway, Ark., pro finished the event with 40-9 overall, moving up the leaderboard every day of the tournament. For winning the Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel, Lieblong took home over $70,000 thanks largely to the FLW PHOENIX BONUS, which earned him and extra $35,000. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Backing up his day-one weight of 13 pounds, 6 ounces, Joe Bennett brought 13-14 to the scale to take the lead at Lake Dardanelle in the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel. Bennett will carry 1-1 lead into Saturday’s final round over Kevin Riney as he looks to grab his first victory with FLW. READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

As tough as Kentucky Lake was fishing this week in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo leading after day one and finishing the job on Thursday resulted in one of the more impressive wins you’ll see. After weighing in a day-one best 12-13, the duo backed it up with another 12-7 on day two for the victory, displaying the kind of consistency it takes to grind it out in tough fishing conditions. For their efforts, Morris and Pfundt were awarded a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-hp Mercury outboard. READ MORE »

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

Zach King of Clarksville, Ark., used a Heddon Zara Spook to catch 14 pounds, 11 ounces claim the day one lead in the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel. King will take a 6-ounce lead over Matt Wood of Jessieville, Ark., into day two.  READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Thursday’s opening round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle followed the script many anglers predicted. Despite many favorable conditions at the beginning of a peak fishing season, muddy water and bright sunshine made fishing difficult across the 34,000-acre Arkansas River impoundment. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Right off the bat, the anglers in the field at the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River were thrown a curveball by the weather. This morning, with increasing wind forecasts, tournament officials made Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair off-limits, thereby penning up the 87 pros and co-anglers on the American side of the Detroit River. READ MORE »

Montevallo Leads College Open 

Montevallo Leads College Open 

As expected, weights were down across the board on day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open on Kentucky Lake. With high water during what’s typically a tough transitional time of year, it took just 12 pounds, 13 ounces for Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo to grab the lead. READ MORE »