UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Anglers to Watch in the All-American

Anglers to Watch in the All-American
The boats are lined up and ready for the 2015 BFL All-American.

Clearly, there’s no such thing as home-lake advantage in the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American. Consider the five most recent winners: Troy Morrow of Georgia in 2010 on DeGrey Lake in Arkansas, Jacob Wheeler of Indiana in 2011 on Cross Lake in Louisiana, Brian Maloney of Missouri on the Potomac River in 2012, Kerry Milner of Arkansas on Lake Nickajack in Tennessee in 2013 and Marcus Sykora of Missouri on Wilson Lake in Alabama in 2014.

Dig into the facts behind how those All-American champions captured their respective titles, however, and it’s evident that the fisheries supported patterns that made the winners feel right at home. Sprawling Kentucky Lake is expected to be just as neighborly to a lot of out-of-town guests when the 2015 All-American gets underway Thursday, July 18 at Paris Landing. Granted, June is synonymous with ledge fishing on the big Tennessee River impoundment, but other options and a range of depths and cover are available in many of the big coves and tributaries from the dam near Gilbertsville, Ky., all the way south to beyond New Johnsonville, Tenn. Some daring anglers might even make the run to Lake Barkley, which is accessed by a canal that connects it with Kentucky Lake near their dams.

Time and the weather will tell. In the meantime, here’s a short list of some of the contenders who figure to be favorites in this year’s test.

Bobby Padgett, LaGrange, Ga., Bulldog Division

Bobby Padgett, a ledge specialist on Lake Eufaula, felt right at home on Pickwick.

If Padgett’s name seems familiar, it might be because he placed eighth in last year’s All-American on Wilson Lake, or you’ve seen it associated with the Preacher Jig – or both. Padgett is one of the true ledgemeisters in this year’s event, having cut his angling teeth on Lake Eufaula’s drop-offs. He did more to popularize the Preacher Jig, a bass-busting hair jig composed of a heavy lead-head and long white bucktail, than any other angler. Although the Georgia veteran’s fishing history on Kentucky Lake is limited, his favorite patterns overlay well with the big impoundment’s superb offshore fishery.   

 

Dustin Vaal, Gilbertsville, Ky., Hoosier Division

Toward the end of day two, IU's Dustin Vaal figured out a pattern that paid big dividends in the final round.

Is this the year a graduate of FLW College Fishing wins the All-American? Vaal would like to see it happen, and he hopes he’s the one to do it. Vaal is a former University of Indiana team angler and a member of the 2010 FLW College Fishing All-America squad. Having moved to the shores of Kentucky Lake from Indiana in 2014, Vaal has had plenty of time to reconnoiter and formulate a general game plan for the All-American.

 

Lloyd Pickett Jr., Bartlett, Tenn., Music City Division

Carolina rigging was the go-to tactic for Lloyd Pickett Jr.

Pickett has won more than $400,000 in one FLW circuit or another, though the Mississippi Division of the Walmart Bass Fishing League might be considered his main stomping grounds. Pickett knows his way around the All-American, having finished seventh in the 2014 tournament, 22nd in 2013 and fourth in 2011. As his impressive multi-circuit track record on various fisheries suggests, Pickett is a well-versed journeyman in a variety of techniques and presentations – from Carolina rigging to cranking.

 

David Williams, Maiden, N.C., North Carolina Division

2014 BFL Lake Cherokee Oct 09 -  11 - DAVID WILLIAMS

Like Pickett, Williams is due to hoist the All-American’s $100,000 winner’s check above his own head. In the four All-Americans he’s fished since 2004, Williams has never finished lower than 19th. That record includes a third-place finish in 2012 and a fifth-place finish in 2013. By the way, Williams also fishes on the B.A.S.S. Elite Series.

 

John Hopkins, Hendersonville, Tenn., Music City Division

John Hopkins of Hendersonville, Tenn., won the Sept. 28-29 Music City Division Super Tournament on Percy Priest with a two-day total of 30 pounds, 3 ounces. Hopkins earned more than $2,600 for his efforts.

Hopkins qualified via the Music City Division, but he also fishes the LBL Division and has been successful on Kentucky Lake’s ledges in the past. In his most recent tournament there, May 2 out of Kenlake State Park, he claimed sixth place.

 

J.R. Henard, Rogersville, Tenn., Volunteer Division

J.R. Henard of Rogersville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 13 ounces to win the Volunteer Division tournament on Cherokee Lake. For his victory, Henard earned $5,514.

Henard has been a power in the BFL’s Volunteer Division since his rookie campaign in 2007. He had what was, for him, an “off” year in 2014, when he placed 51st overall, but previously he’s never finished below 26th (in 2007). He’s currently ranked ninth in the standings. In his last outing, on Cherokee Lake May 30, Henard won first place.

 

Bill Schroeder, Paducah, Ky., LBL Division

Schroeder has been fishing the LBL (Land Between the Lakes) Division since 1995, and few anglers have more knowledge of Kentucky Lake and the fishing patterns that dominate there, regardless of the season. Schroeder finished second to Henard in a Wild Card tournament in October 2014 to earn a trip to the All-American. Incidentally, Bobby Padgett was third in that event. 

 

Leland Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., Arkie Division

Now a guide near his Arkansas home, Leland Nixon sold his cattle farm to fund a career in the fishing industry.

Unlike his famous older brother, Larry, Leland Nixon didn’t get bit by the tournament bug until recently. Still, in only two seasons in the Walmart BFL circuit, he’s represented the family well. Leland was fifth in the Arkie Division standings last year, and currently resides in 29th place.

 

Shawn Gordon, Russellville, Ark., The Bass Federation 2015 National Champion

This one will help Shawn Gordon.

Gordon is a threat anywhere he fishes. He earned his berth in the 2015 All-American by winning The Bass Federation’s National Championship on Grand Lake in April, but he’s no newcomer. In 2013, he finished fourth in the All-American as a representative of the BFL’s Arkie Division, where he was first in the standings that year. He’s currently third in the Arkie Division’s point standings.

 

Anybody from the Ozark Division

Given that Ozark Division anglers (Brian Maloney in 2012 and Marcus Sykora in 2014) have won the All-American in two of the last three years, you’ve got to take the Missouri contingent at face value and make them favorites. This year’s Ozark Division qualifiers are Jeremy Lawyer and Lance Williams. By the way, Lawyer has fished 74 FLW events in one circuit or another, and placed in the top 10 in 25 of them.

Tags: all-american  colin-moore  pre-tournament  2015-06-18-bfl-all-american 

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop goes down this week at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala. Here's how you can watch the action live. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

The annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open returns to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-March for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat, 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship and 20 spots in the all-new Major League Fishing College Faceoff presented by Wiley X in Raleigh, N.C., later this spring. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Spawning bass and spring break will be the story lines at the Toyota Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu in mid-March. Well, OK … the spawning bass will certainly be the main focus of the anglers. But dealing with traffic from pleasure boaters will definitely contribute to the pros’ decision-making, particularly on the weekend.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »

National Championship Starts This Week

National Championship Starts This Week

With the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event over, the best college fishing teams from across the country are starting practice on the Harris Chain for the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College National Championship presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks up with stop No. 2 this week in Leesburg, Fla., at the Harris Chain of Lakes. This tournament is presented by Bad Boy Mowers. With it comes another weekend of FLW Live broadcasts with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Spring can be one of the best times to launch a boat in the clear waters of Lake Hartwell. That’s why the Georgia-South Carolina border reservoir might be the perfect venue to start the Eastern Division of the Toyota Series on March 3.  READ MORE »

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant. The fishing has also been pretty good through a day and a half of practice. READ MORE »

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

If it’s big bass you want, late winter and early spring are ideal times to catch them at Lake Chickamauga, which is why the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division opener is perfectly timed to be a big-bass slugfest. The tournament, which runs Feb. 27-29, could produce some of the biggest five-bass limits FLW will see all year. Just how good the fishing will be depends on the weather, and whether the region ever sees an end to the rain that’s been falling recently.  READ MORE »

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Stop No. 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division is Lewis Smith Lake. Smith is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the east, and late winter should provide some really good fishing. READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big largemouths and lots of spots are the main attractions at Alabama’s Lake Martin, where the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division kicks off its 2020 season Feb. 8. Local hammer David Gaston, who’s won the last two Bama events at Martin, expects a typical wintertime tournament this season with solid weights across the board. READ MORE »

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits.  READ MORE »

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Surrounded by his family, Forrest Wood passed away in a Mountain Home, Ark., hospital just after 9 a.m. Saturday, four days after suffering a heart attack in his home. Wood, who was 87 at the time of his death, was the founder of Ranger Boats of Flippin, Ark. A pioneer of bass tournament fishing, he helped launch the careers of hundreds of aspiring tournament anglers through sponsorships. During his 20-year span at the helm of the company he founded with his wife, Nina, Forrest is credited with laying the groundwork for the modern bass boat through his innovative designs and engineering advancements. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit kicks off this week in Brookeland, Texas, at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which means it’s also time for another season of FLW Live with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. Here's how and when to watch. READ MORE »

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

Weather is a storyline in almost every tournament throughout the course of the year, but from winter through spring it can often be the biggest influencing factor in a tournament. Warming trends and cold snaps can send fish flooding to the bank or retreating to the safety of deeper water in no time. READ MORE »