UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Lake Norman Day 1 Coverage

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2:15 p.m.: Rounding up and shutting down

The last few minutes have produced a flurry of catches, from Shane LeHew making a cull and Thrift adding on some to John Cox getting number five. With that fifth fish, Cox has moved up into that 13-pound range, so he’s got a shot at a share of the lead come weigh-in. Elsewhere, Andrew Nordbye, Michael Neal, Joseph Webster and Jim Tutt are all scratching around the 10-pound mark, and will be in the mix with a whole pile of anglers.

For now, we’re closing things down before weigh-in. If you’re around Norman, feel free to come on down to Blythe Landing at 3 p.m. ET. If you aren’t in the area, make sure to watch live at flwfishing.com!


1:35 p.m.: Thrift and LeHew

Bryan Thrift is catching them about every cast at the moment. He says he has about 9 pounds, so he almost certainly has more than that. He’s fishing offshore, and likely taking full advantage of the moderate weather to position himself perfectly.

One of the other local giants is Shane LeHew, and though he started off the day pretty well with a few keepers and a 5-pounder, he ran into trouble mid-morning. Unfortunately for LeHew, motor issues cost him a couple hours as he was towed in. Now, he’s back out in a borrowed boat and hopefully on track for another kicker bite. In a tournament as likely to be close as this is, every hour and every ounce counts. 


Eric Jackson

1:10 p.m.: Speculating on the afternoon bite

As the afternoon rolls on, the fishing seems to have toughened up a little bit. Considering that schooling activity tends to be more an afternoon deal, that’s not too surprising. Of course, most of the field has at least a few things going, so between docks, the remnants of schoolers and just plain old bank running, there’s plenty to do. One bait that’s popping up a little more now is a topwater of some sort, often a Whopper Plopper. As the wind is calming down, many pros seem to be searching for a kicker up shallow and on top.

With about 2 hours to go until the first flight rolls in at 3 p.m., now is the time when may a key kicker is caught. One or two big ones will go a long way for someone looking to break into the top 10 or separate from the pack. 


George Hirapetian

12:45 p.m.: Midday weight estimates

This is unofficially how the top 16 are sitting on Norman.

Luke Dunkin – 12.5 (5)

Wesley Strader – 12.1 (5)

Wayne Hauser – 12  (5)

Jason Meninger – 12 (5)         

George Hirapetian – 12 (5)

Shane LeHew – 11.5 (5)

David Dudley – 11.2 (5)

Hermilo Salgado – 11.2 (5)

Tracy Adams – 11.1 (5)

Scott Beattie – 11 (5)

Chris Gosselaar – 11 (5)

Ron Farrow - 11 (5)

Todd Hollowell – 10.5 (5)

John Cox – 10.25 (4)

Bryan Thrift – “10” (5)

Scott Canterbury – 10 (5)

Billy Shelton – 10 (5)

Matt Arey – 9.9 (5)


12:15 p.m.: Weather watching

Down by the dam on Norman, it's turning into a lovely day. The wing has calmed down to a reasonable ruffle and there’s a nice mix of sun and clouds. In other words, the weather is essentially perfect for fishing. We haven’t had any big catches in a while, but a betting man might start thinking that there will be some big ones coming right up. 


Luke Dunkin

11:40 a.m.: Rounding things up

Looking around at the top of the leaderboard, Luke Dunkin is still the man to beat, and our estimate puts him around 13 pounds. The weights are still stacked pretty tight behind him, and though Strader, LeHew and Cox have caught big ones, Norman isn’t giving them up easy.

As for how Dunkin is catching them, we won’t quite get into locations, but he’s got a spinning rod in hand and is targeting schoolers.

Elsewhere, local favorite Bryan Thrift says he has 8 pounds. Take that for whatever you want, but it’s decent evidence that Norman isn’t cooperating for everyone. 


11:15 a.m.: How Meninger is doing it

With a little under 12 pounds, Jason Meninger is just a smidge behind Luke Dunkin (who culled recently) for the lead at the moment. While a fifth fish from John Cox could change that, he’s on track for a very solid day regardless. Fishing down on the lower end of the lake, Meninger has caught all spotted bass so far, and is fishing a lot around docks, but otherwise is looking to keep his pattern on the down low. 


10:50 a.m.: Weight rundown

So far, this is unofficially how the top 10 are sitting on Norman.

Jason Meninger – 11.8 (5)

Luke Dunkin – 11.5 (5)

Ron Farrow – 11 (5)

Wesley Strader – 11 (4)

David Dudley – 10.5 (5)

John Cox – 10.2 (2)

Shane LeHew – 10 (4)

Matt Arey – 9.9 (5)

Tracy Adams - 9.3 (5)


Michael Neal

10:15 a.m.: Watching the weather/water

Lake Norman has plenty of protected water, but the wind is getting up pretty good in places now, especially on the lower section of the lake. A good wind could stimulate a moving bite, but it also makes dock skipping a little trickier than it already is. All things considered, with a strong sun beating down, it likely won’t make to big of an impact on the fishing, but it's worth keeping an eye on anyhow.

Up the river, the current coming out of Lookout Shoals Dam has dramatically increased. That’s the general area where John Cox and a few others are fishing, so that’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Michael Neal is fishing up there as well, and he says that the fishing in that area is dramatically better with more current. 


John Cox

10:05 a.m.: Cox is rolling again

You may have heard of John Cox before. He likes going up rivers and stuff and catching big bass. Also, he likes winning the Forrest Wood Cup. Today, Cox is way up the river and on Norman and pushing toward the lead. He’s got a pair of big kickers and a total of about 10 pounds for just four bass. With a start like that, he could be looking at a really good week. 


Wesley Strader

9:50 a.m.: Dunkin is crushing it and Strader and LeHew have busted big ones

At 9:30 a.m., Luke “Slam” Dunkin wasn’t even in the top 10. Now, he’s probably in second, after blitzing to a limit worth more than 10 pounds. Moving up the board fast, Wesley Strader has three for more than 7 pounds, including one kicker. On the local side, Shane LeHew just landed a 5-pounder, so he’s now got more than 8 pounds with just three bass. 


Matt Arey

9:30 a.m.: Weight rundown

So far, this is unofficially how the top 11 are sitting on Norman.

Jason Meninger – 10.8 (5)

David Dudley – 10 (5)

Matt Arey – 9.9 (5)

Ron Farrow – 9.5 (4)

Tracy Adams – 8.9 (5)

Todd Hollowell – 7.5 (4)

Michael Stephens – 7 (3)

Troy O’Rourke – 6.5 (3)

Brian Travis – 6 (3)

Billy Shelton – 5.75 (3)

John Cox – 5.75 (2)


9:15 a.m.: Dudley, Meninger and Arey crack 10 pounds

Almost as soon as Matt Arey checked in with 10 pounds, Jason Meninger did the same, filling out his limit with a quality spotted bass. Moments ago, David Dudley caught a 3-pounder to limit and get up past 10 pounds as well. It’s early, and the climb to 15 pounds is going to be harder than the climb to 10, but right now it sure looks like Norman is fishing very well. 


Tracy Adams

8:55 a.m.: Looking at the leaders

Looking around, it’s tight at the top. Currently, Matt Arey, Ron Farrow, Tracy Adams and David Dudley are pacing the field. Matt Arey has been on fire of late, filling his limit moments ago to get to almost 10 pounds. He’s got a lot of solid fish in the ‘well now, so he’ll really need big bites from here on out to upgrade. In second, Ron Farrow has four for more than 9 pounds. He’s got a mix of spotted bass and largemouths, and is fishing pretty differently than the rest of the pack. 

Behind the leaders, Dudley and Adams are running docks pretty heavily, and Adams has culled once to get around 8 pounds and Dudley has four that go about 6.5 pounds. 


8:38 a.m.: Top 5 Weights

Tracy Adams – 8 pounds

Ron Farrow – 7 pounds, 8 ounces

Jason Meninger – 6 pounds, 8 ounces

David Dudley – 6 pounds, 8 ounces

Billy Shelton III – 5 pounds, 12 ounces


David Dudley

8:00 a.m.: More morning updates

At this point, it’s almost safer to assume an angler has a fish in the boat than not. In reality, 18 different pros have at least a keeper at this point, ad there are surely more to come. The weight leaders so far are pretty clearly David Dudley, who has four for about 6 pounds, and Ron Farrow, who has two for about 6-pounds. Interestingly, while nearly everyone is catching spotted bass, Farrow has started with a pair of big largemouths.

Early on, docks, docks and more docks seem to be the main deal, but it’ not the only thing. Shane LeHew began his day fishing in 96-degree water near a power plant for schoolers and there’s a good contingent mixing in some rip rap as well. 


Billy Shelton

7:30 a.m.: We’re off to a hot start

Everyone knew the pros would be catching a lot of fish on Norman, and it’s living up to the hype this morning. So far, David Dudley, Billy Shelton, Wes Lewis, Shane LeHew, Tracy Adams and Jimmy Bass are all on the board with keepers, and Todd Auten has a pair of small ones in the boat. At this point, the only pro with a legit solid bass is Billy Shelton, who’s sole keeper goes about 2.5 pounds.

As far as techniques, we’re seeing a full gamut, from topwaters for schooling bass to Texas rigs in brush piles. 


Shin Fukae

7:00 a.m.: It’s a great day to go fishing!

Rolling out from Blythe Landing Park onto Lake Norman, it’s game day for 77 pros in the Walmart FLW Tour Invitational presented by Lowrance. Fishing for three days with no co-anglers, almost like the Forrest Wood Cup or the weekend of a Tour event, the field is stacked with local talent and some of the best pros on Tour. With over $60,000 and a Forrest Wood Cup berth on the line, there’s a lot to look forward to over the next three days.

Today, it looks like North Carolina will off the pros some perfect fall weather, with a high in the low 80s and a cool, but not cold start to the day. No matter what the weather is, we’re likely to see plenty of fish caught. Norman is bursting with bass right now (mostly of the spotted variety), and reports from practice say that the techniques in play are as wide-ranging as the sprawling lake. From topwaters for schooling fish to jigs in brush and everything in between, we’re likely to see a bit of everything to start things out.

So get ready, things are likely to be close every day, and it’s anyone’s game on Norman.


Tournament details

Format: All pros will compete for the first two days. The top 20 pros based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Blythe Landing Park, 15901 NC Highway 73, Huntersville, N.C. 28078

Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Blythe Landing Park

Complete details


Practice Coverage

Practice with Bryan Thrift

Practice with Michael Neal 


Conditions - Five-Day Forecast

Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees

Forecast high: 86 degrees

Sky: hazy at takeoff; clear throughout the day

Precipitation: 20 percent chance of showers

Wind: Northeast around 7 mph

Tags: lake-norman  headline-story  2016-09-15-lake-norman 


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