UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Lake Erie

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Wilson Crowned TBF Champ

Wilson Crowned TBF Champ
Austin Wilson

Undaunted by rollercoaster weather conditions, falling water levels and intense competition, California’s Austin Wilson turned three days of rock-solid springtime bass fishing into a $120,000 payday at The Bass Federation’s 2018 National Championship. In addition to the prize money, Wilson qualified for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American and the Living the Dream package that includes entry into the 2019 FLW Tour, with an expense stipend and use of a wrapped Ranger bass boat.

Held April 12-14 on Bull Shoals out of Flippin, Ark., the championship event featured an elite field of 54 boaters and 54 co-anglers from across the continent who qualified at 22 district competitions in the TBF’s National Semi-Finals system.

Thanks to the success of that recently adopted qualifying format, the field competed for an all-time record payout of nearly $300,000 in cash and prizes.

“Anglers practiced in their own boats Monday and Tuesday, then transferred their gear to brand-new Evinrude-powered Ranger boats for the final day of practice,” explains TBF President and CEO Robert Cartlidge. “Everyone fished out of these state-of-the-art Rangers on Thursday and Friday, after which the field was cut to the top boater and co-angler from each of the TBF’s seven divisions for Saturday’s final round.”

Wilson’s drive to the championship began with serious research from his home in Citrus Heights, Calif., just outside Sacramento.

“As soon as I found we were fishing Bull Shoals, I spent as much time as possible on Google Earth, dissecting the lake and getting an idea where I thought the bass would position to move in and spawn,” he says.

Wilson’s home waters include the California Delta, plus Folsom and Clear lakes, and although his favorite tactics are frogging and flipping, he’s a firm believer in versatility.

“I don’t like to put myself in any one category,” he says. “My weakness is cranking, but I still caught a lot of my fish this week on crankbaits.”

In practice, he fished the lake stem to stern and fished new water each day.

Wilson started the championship with a five-fish day-one limit weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch included a pair of largemouths that hit a compact Picasso umbrella rig near a bridge located 25 minutes from takeoff at the Bull Shoals Boat Dock, and a trio of smallies taken barely a long cast from the ramp.

“I got the smallmouths on a Norman Deep Little N in reverse green craw,” he says. “I was fishing chunk rock on a secondary point in 5 to 10 feet of water.”

The weight put him atop the Southwest Division and within striking distance of overall leader Cody Huddleston of West Virginia, who brought 15 pounds, 9 ounces to the scale.

As he idled onto Bull Shoals the second morning, Wilson was in a dead heat with Kentucky’s B.J. Nelson, who was representing the Southern Division. Wilson followed a similar game plan. Although the bridge failed to produce, a mix of umbrella rigs and crankbaits yielded all the keepers.

As fate would have it, both anglers turned in identical limits again on day two. Each weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces to lead his division and the entire field with 27 pounds, 11 ounces.

Wilson stuck to the same game plan on day three. Again, the bridge was a bust. But his two-pronged crankbait and umbrella rig program yielded a respectable limit in 10 feet of water on secondary points near the weigh-in area.

“I didn’t think I had enough to win it,” he admits.

The 12-pound, 9-ounce limit was enough for a 40-pound, 4-ounce total that put him more than 3 pounds ahead of his closest rival.

“I’m ecstatic,” Wilson said after claiming the crown. “I’ve been fishing as long as I can remember, and ever since I was about 16 I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I’m thankful TBF offers an opportunity like this.”

In fact, Wilson became interested in TBF after seeing fellow Californian Mark Daniels Jr. win the TBF championship and parlay the Living the Dream package into a professional bass fishing career. He hopes to do likewise with his shot at the FLW Tour.

As icing on the cake, Wilson was awarded a brand-new Ranger Z518 for being the event’s top Ranger Cup-qualified boater.

 

Blash tops co-angler division

On the co-angler side of the event, Missouri’s Ray Blash won the Central Division and the overall co-angler title with 10 bass for a 27-pound, 12-ounce total. Blash sacked 6 pounds, 11 ounces on day one, boated the field’s heaviest catch on day two with a 16-pound, 3-ounce limit, and finished with 4 pounds, 14 ounces on day three.

Blash received a $30,000 “Living the Dream” prize package with fully paid entry fees into the Costa FLW Series division of his choice. Vermont’s Scott McKay earned a $5,000 cash award for being the highest-placing Ranger Cup-qualified co-angler.

 

All-American qualifiers

The top boater and co-angler in each TBF division at the championship qualified to fish the 2018 BFL All-American. The list of qualifiers follows:

Boater finalists

1. Austin Wilson, California, 40-04 (15)
2. Pat Upthagrove, Michigan, 37-02 (15)
3. Brian Trieschman, Washington, D.C., 37-02 (14)
4. B.J. Nelson, Kentucky, 35-00 (13)
5. Nick Deering, Maine, 32-02 (12)
6. Mike Webster, Arkansas, 27-08 (10)
7. Loren Torok, Idaho, 19-03 (7)

Co-angler finalists

1. Ray Blash, Missouri, 27-12 (10)
2. Jesse Parks, Arizona, 21-13 (7)
3. Hernandez Ruffin, Washington, 19-10 (8)
4. Adam Wall, Delaware, 16-06 (6)
5. Dave Berg, Minnesota, 11-05 (4)
6. Chris Franco, Tennessee, 7-14 (3)
7. Scott McKay, Vermont, 5-05 (2)

 

Tournament details

Overall, boaters and co-anglers brought in 31 bass weighing 85 pounds, 8 ounces on the final day. Just three of the 14 finalists landed limits.

Coverage of the TBF National Championship was streamed live daily on bassfederation.com and will be broadcast nationally in high definition on “Federation Angler,” which airs on the Pursuit Channel.

The Bass Federation is a proud partner in fishing with FLW, which helps support this annual event along with other industry-leading TBF sponsors, including Bass Pro Shops, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Faculty of Fishing, Cabela’s, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Berkley, Lowrance and Power-Pole.

 

Tags: dan-johnson  article 

Curveballs at the Cup

Curveballs at the Cup

When the field of 52 anglers arrived in Hot Springs, Ark., for the official practice period for the 2019 FLW Cup, they were greeted with sunshine, humidity and brutal daytime temperatures in the upper 90s. Early in the week, there was little mention of anything other than the same – a typical Arkansas summer forecast of sunny and hot. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash and Bonus Bucks at Cup

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash and Bonus Bucks at Cup

Jeremy Lawyer’s fourth-place finish at the FLW Cup on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton was enough to earn him an extra $1,000 from LEER Cover Cash and $3,500 from Toyota Bonus Bucks. The third year FLW Tour pro used a two-prong approach of fishing shallow with a topwater and probing deep brush piles with a drop-shot to notch his best finish to date in the Cup. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Set to Air Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Set to Air Wednesday

The second episode of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire will air today at 2 p.m. CT. In Episode 2, Noah Ezickson and his teammate Connor Walsh journey to the fabled Alabama fishery of Lake Guntersville. Utilizing his diverse fishing experience from his travels around the world, can the Wake Forest University team qualify for the 2020 YETI FLW College Fishing Championship? READ MORE »

FLW Marshal Don White Wins New Ranger Boat

FLW Marshal Don White Wins New Ranger Boat

Angler Don White of Columbus, Mississippi, was announced as the first winner of a brand new Ranger Z521 courtesy of the FLW Marshal Program. READ MORE »

Henderson Holds Steady to Take FLW-KBF Cup Crown

Henderson Holds Steady to Take FLW-KBF Cup Crown

Even with day-one leader Eric Jackson taking a massive lead into the final day of competition and 70 more of the best kayak anglers on the planet behind him, Clint Henderson did what he said he was going to do. He won the Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup presented by YakAttack and the $15,000 top prize. READ MORE »

Jackson Crushes on Day One of FLW-KBF Cup

Jackson Crushes on Day One of FLW-KBF Cup

Eric Jackson is simply a hammer fishing from a kayak. The FLW Tour pro and owner of Jackson Kayak is fresh off an individual and team gold-medal-winning performance in the 2019 Pan Am Bass Kayak Championship (not to mention a third-place finish in the final 2019 FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain), and his five-fish limit of 98.25 inches on day one of the Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup presented by YakAttack puts him in stellar position to earn another victory on Saturday. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Tour Schedule

2020 FLW Tour Schedule

FLW announced today its regular-season schedule for the 25th season of the FLW Tour, which kicks off in January 2020. The schedule was revealed to anglers and media at the annual pre-FLW Cup banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. READ MORE »

Alan Reed Dishes on FLW-KBF Cup Practice

Alan Reed Dishes on FLW-KBF Cup Practice

We caught up with Reed after his practice on Wednesday to get the scoop on how Ouachita is fishing and what the outlook is for the two-day event that begins Friday and runs concurrently with the FLW Cup on neighboring Lake Hamilton. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for the Cup

FLW Live Schedule for the Cup

FLW Live will air all three days of the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, beginning with on-the-water coverage Friday, Aug. 9. READ MORE »

McCaghren Lives Out Childhood Baseball Dream

McCaghren Lives Out Childhood Baseball Dream

FLW Tour pro Billy McCaghren, who’ll be competing in the FLW Cup this week at Lake Hamilton, says his childhood dream was not to be a pro bass angler. He wanted to play professional baseball. Well, this week, the Mayflower, Ark., angler gets to dabble in both professions. The 2019 FLW Cup qualifier will compete on Lake Hamilton in front of what is practically a hometown crowd, and last night he was honored for his fishing accomplishments by the Arkansas Travelers baseball team, which invited McCaghren to throw out the first pitch in a game against the Springfield Cardinals. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: 2019 FLW Cup

By the Numbers: 2019 FLW Cup

The FLW Cup is a week away, and 52 of the best bass anglers on the planet are all gearing up for a chance at the $300,000 top prize and a slice of bass fishing immortality. READ MORE »

Meet FLW Pros at Pro Day This Weekend

Meet FLW Pros at Pro Day This Weekend

FLW has teamed up with Bass Pro Shops and Greeson’s Polaris to host four Pro Day events on Saturday, Aug. 3. Fans can take photos and get autographs from the pros, or just talk fishing and get some in-store tackle-buying advice.  READ MORE »

From the All-American to the Cup

From the All-American to the Cup

Brennon McCord is a self-described quiet, easygoing guy, but the 22-year-old T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American champion hopes to make some Lake Hamilton noise in his first FLW Cup appearance. For the moment, understandably so, he’s still basking in the afterglow of a victory that earned what he calls the biggest honor of his career. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Predictions

FLW Cup Predictions

With the FLW Cup just a little over a week away on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark., anticipation is starting to grow. We wrangled several FLW staff members and FLW Tour pros who aren’t fishing this year’s Cup and asked them to give their take on who will win and how it’ll be done, along with any other prediction they have. READ MORE »

How Brad Knight Plans to Win the Cup

How Brad Knight Plans to Win the Cup

Brad Knight’s life changed forever in Hot Springs. In 2015, the Tennessee pro won the FLW Cup on Lake Ouachita, earning $500,000 and thrusting himself into the pro bass fishing spotlight. Now that he knows just what a Cup win can do for a tournament angler’s career, Knight is even more motivated to win the title again, which he’ll have a chance to do Aug. 9-11 on Lake Hamilton, right back in Hot Springs, Ark.  READ MORE »

Thrift Eyeing Final Feather in His Cap

Thrift Eyeing Final Feather in His Cap

Another year, another FLW Cup. Which means, once more, one of the top storylines going into the championship is, “Will this be the year Bryan Thrift finally wins it?” When you have the pedigree of Thrift – arguably the top angler in the sport – it’s bound to come up. After all, he’s won Rookie of the Year, two Angler of the Year titles (and finished in the top 10 another 11 times) and 11 tournaments (six tour, five Costa FLW Series). READ MORE »

Previewing Dee Zee FLW-KBF Cup

Previewing Dee Zee FLW-KBF Cup

For the first time ever, FLW and Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) have joined forces for the championship of kayak bass fishing. Running in conjunction with the 2019 FLW Cup (on nearby Lake Hamilton), the FLW-KBF Cup will feature a stacked field of qualifying anglers all vying to take home a top prize of between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on final field size. READ MORE »

Training Future Pros at Summer Camp 

Training Future Pros at Summer Camp 

There were more than a dozen FLW pros in attendance for the first round of lakeside seminars at the Costa FLW High School Fishing Campthis morning. But within the crowd, chances are high that there are at least a couple dozen more future pros among the 230 high schoolers who traveled to Kentucky Lake to attend the camp.  It’s clear from the level of knowledge and experience the campers have exhibited during the seminars that these are some of the more accomplished high school anglers in the country. Their dedication is obvious, too. Campers came from as far away as Nevada, California, Vermont and even Montreal.  READ MORE »

300 Campers Headed for Murray State

300 Campers Headed for Murray State

On Wednesday, 230 high school students and 70 adults (coaches, parents and club advisors) from as far west as California and as far north as Vermont will gather at Murray State University in western Kentucky for the second annual Costa FLW High School Fishing Camp. That’s nearly double the number of participants from last year’s inaugural camp. READ MORE »