UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Salewske Wins First-Ever TITLE

Salewske Wins First-Ever TITLE
Rusty Salewske

After five days of mostly wide-open smallmouth-catching activity, a new competition format and anglers sparring with each other on the live scoreboard, the final day of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota came down to the most basic difference-maker in bass fishing: an angler making a move based on his gut.

Complete results

For Southern California pro Rusty Salewske, that move was worth $200,000 and the first-ever TITLE championship belt.

Shortly after peeling away from the shoal he had been fishing most of the day on the lee side of Snake Island outside of Riley’s Bay – the bay just north of Little Sturgeon Bay – Salewske caught two smallmouths in the final 42 minutes of the event. That included a 4-pound, 14-ouncer with 12 minutes remaining that catapulted Salewske past Bradford Beavers and into first place.

That’s where he stayed: Salewske finished the day with 13 fish for 48-11 to Beavers’ 48-3.

John Cox finished third with 36-14, Kurt Mitchell was fourth with 22-8 and Kyle Hall rounded out the top five with 22-0. Spencer Shuffield (21-7), Grae Buck (20-11), Joey Cifuentes (18-9), Casey Scanlon and Evan Barnes (0-0) finished out the Championship Round field.

Salewske, a San Diego-area pro who finished fifth in the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup and then took nearly 10 years off from tour-level tournament fishing before the 2020 Pro Circuit season, stacked 28-15 on SCORETRACKER® in the first period and hovered in the top three until early in the second period. But Salewske couldn’t relocate a consistent bite for the next 4 hours, slowly falling behind Beavers through the second and third periods before chipping away at the lead with a 4-pounder and a 2-15 before connecting with the winning fish.

Salewske caught the majority of his fish on baits he borrowed from fellow Pro Circuit pro Wade Strelic: Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worms in various colors, and Yamamoto Shad Shape Worms.

“It was a tough, tough day out there,” Salewske admits. “I just kept fishing – what else was I going to do, right? Just about every bait on that mess on my deck is from Wade Strelic – I ran out of baits, weights, everything, and Wade helped me out.”

Salewske's final spot had been good for just one keeper bite a day in practice and previous competition days. But after being pummeled by the wind and nursing his trolling-motor batteries, Salewske decided to spend his last hour there in hopes of coaxing one more scorable smallmouth. He did much better than that, catching two non-scorable fish before adding what turned out to be the two winning fish.

"I'd go there every day of the tournament to check that spot," Selewske says. "It's right next to a big current hole. To me it was going to be a good spot, but it didn't really materialize during the tournament. I just couldn't hang on that point anymore (in the wind), it was just killing me. Luckily three casts in I caught the 2-15 and then the 4-15."

 

Bradford Beavers

Bradford Beavers – Summerville, S.C. – 16 fish for 48-3

The South Carolina pro doggedly fished his way through the waves and wind outside of Egg Harbor – 15 miles north of Sturgeon Bay– grinding out 16 smallmouths worth 48-3 as the winds barreled over the length of Green Bay.

Beavers connected with nine fish for 29-6 in the first 2 ½ hours of the day, taking advantage of the best bite window of the day before the wind sent the field into scramble mode. He picked up four more fish for 11-6 in Period 2 to enter the last 2 ½ hours of the TITLE with a 2 ½-pound lead over Salewske and Cox, but then caught only one scorable fish (a 2-2) in the final 90 minutes.  

“We had to work for it today, it was rough,” Beavers says. “We had the lead for a good while, but it was just rough. I moved in shallow to try to catch a largemouth there at the end, just trying to do something productive, hoping and praying. If you can catch them in this weather like Rusty did, you deserve to win. That was the most challenging day I’ve fished in my life, but I’m glad to be where I (finished).”

 

John Cox

John Cox – DeBary, Fla. –11 fish for 36-14

Cox was one of the few anglers who showed up at the ramp in the morning looking forward to the changes the wind might bring to his primary area. The Florida pro rode the day out in inner Sturgeon Bay, fishing further out into the bay than he had during his Qualifying and Knockout rounds, where he fished inside the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal.

“This wind might push the current through some places harder than it has this week – if I can find one of those corners where the current has them grouped up, whooo, this could get silly,” Cox says before launching this morning.

It did get silly for Cox in the second period (just not quite silly enough). After a slow first 2 ½ hours that put him nearly 20 pounds off the lead, Cox put more than 24 pounds on the board in the second period while the rest of the field combined for only 34 pounds. That pushed the Berkley pro to within 6 pounds of the lead. That was as close as Cox would get, though, as he registered only one more scorable fish in the third period.

“We wondered how John Cox would do in this format – he pretty much checked that box,” FLW Live analyst Marty Stone says.

 

Evan Barnes

Weather policy comes into play

Befitting a championship event that pushed the entire field with a new competition format before rewarding a $200,000 check to the winner, the final day had the kind of standout, memorable moments that have come to define the first-ever TITLE.

Pre-launch consultation with MLF Weather Ops confirmed 20- to 25-mph winds in the forecast, prompting an extension of the day’s two period breaks to 30 minutes instead of 15. In addition, the field was allowed to relocate during the period breaks, to provide a measure of safety and flexibility in dealing with the wind.

The first rounds of the TITLE provided some inclement weather in the form of heavy rain and some intermittent winds, but as the Top 10 arrived at the Sawyer Park ramp to collect their officials, they were greeted with a forecast of 20-mph sustained winds building to 25 by the afternoon (with gusts over 30).

Multiple anglers utilized the event’s trailering policy, which allowed them to put their boats on the trailer and drive to different locations when the wind blew their spots out.

 

Grae Buck

Championship Round notables

The Berkley Big Bass of the day was Grae Buck’s 5-10, caught near the end of the first period. It was only the second 5-pounder caught by the Pennsylvania pro in his three full days of fishing. Buck lived on quality fish, though: of his 45 scorable fish, 20 were 4-plus-pounders.

 

If you missed it: How, where to watch the TITLE

FLW fans who missed any of the action at the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota can watch all three periods of all six days of competition at www.majorleaguefishing.com. Click on the MLF NEWS link on the home page.

Hosted by Chad McKee, JT Kenney and Marty Stone – with remote reporting by Chris Jones, Travis Moran, Todd Hollowell and Tackle Warehouse pro Jared Lintner – FLW Live coverage of the first-ever TITLE included immersive, 10-camera coverage of four days of Qualifying Rounds, one Knockout Round, and Saturday’s Championship Round.

 

Top 10 Finishers

1. Rusty Salewske – 48-11

2. Bradford Beavers – 48-3

3. John Cox – 36-14

4. Kurt Mitchell – 22-8

5. Kyle Hall – 22-0

6. Spencer Shuffield – 21-7

7. Grae Buck – 20-11

8. Joey Cifuentes – 18-9

9. Casey Scanlon – 0-0

10. Evan Barnes – 0-0

Complete results

Tags: joel-shangle  headline-story  2020-08-24-title-presented-by-toyota 

Eslinger Earns Shelbyville Win

Eslinger Earns Shelbyville Win

Boater Archie Eslinger of Paris, Illinois, brought a two-day total of eight bass to the scale weighing 27 pounds, 8 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Illini Division Super-Tournament at Lake Shelbyville. For his victory, Eslinger earned $6,197. READ MORE »

Lake County Wins at Home

Lake County Wins at Home

The Lake County High School duo of Payton Lyndall and Tyler Brant brought five bass to the scale Sunday weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open in Clearlake, California. READ MORE »

Mifflinburg Wins on the Chesapeake Bay

Mifflinburg Wins on the Chesapeake Bay

Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School duo of Ty Stroup and Daniel Walter ground out three fish Saturday weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces to win the very tough High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open event in Edgewood, Maryland. READ MORE »

Williams Tops on Rayburn

Williams Tops on Rayburn

Boater Shane Williams of Keithville, Louisiana, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 30 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Cowboy Division Super-Tournament at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Navionics. READ MORE »

Simpson Cruises at Clear Lake

Simpson Cruises at Clear Lake

The Simpson University team of Luke Blanchard of Vancouver, Washington, and Nathan Phillips of Kelseyville, California, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Clear Lake event Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces. The victory advanced the Simpson bass club to the 2021 College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Adrian Wins Again

Adrian Wins Again

The Adrian College team of Grant Gallagher of Fremont, Ohio, and Ben Statly of Fenton, Michigan, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at the Chesapeake Bay event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

Manson Wins on Indian Lake

Manson Wins on Indian Lake

Boater Scott Manson of Covington, Ohio, brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Buckeye Division Tournament at Indian Lake. For his victory, Manson earned $3,804. READ MORE »

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Steadily climbing the leaderboard all week, Tai Au dropped 26 pounds, 4 ounces today – the biggest bag of the week – to jump from fourth and claim his second title of the 2020 Toyota Series Western Division season. With 63-3 overall, Au wraps a phenomenal season where he won on Havasu back in March, placed 10th on the California Delta in August and closed the season with yet another win this week on Clear Lake. In winning, Au also wrapped the Strike King Angler of the Year title for the Western Division for the first time in his career. READ MORE »

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 »

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 »