UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Insiders Watch List

Insiders Watch List
Matt Becker

The Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota is a unique opportunity for the top 50 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers and also a big challenge. Fishing under the Major League Fishing (MLF) format on an unfamiliar body of water with just two practice days won’t be easy. Plus, they’ll have to contend with the other anglers in the tournament, none of whom are to be taken lightly.

We gathered together a few pundits to take some guesses at who might come out on top.

Follow the TITLE

 

Ron Nelson

Ron Nelson

- Kyle Wood, FLW Senior Editor

Newly crowned Angler of the Year Ron Nelson had an incredible season, no doubt. So, how could it get any better? Well, a win on Sturgeon Bay in the TITLE this week certainly would be the icing on the cake. Though Nelson is fishing at another level now, the scary part is that he really comes into his element when you add smallmouths in the equation. Being that he calls Michigan home, Nelson is actually one of the few pros in the field with Lake Michigan experience and that certainly can’t hurt the cause this week. Nelson’s mind is one of the brightest in the game when it comes to the why’s and how’s of finding and catching bass and that will also be a big factor this week as conditions on the fishery can change daily – or even hourly. Don’t expect the Nelson train to stop any time soon.

 

Jeremy Lawyer

Jeremy Lawyer

- Jody White, FLW Digital Editor 

Though he’s not a smallmouth expert, Jeremy Lawyer has a lot of the traits necessary to do well in this event. He’s got the right sonar on his trolling motor for one, and he’s in the swing of things based on his success in the Super Tournament on Erie. Moreover, he’s on a roll – having finished 31st or better in the last two events, Lawyer clawed himself back to 21st in the Angler of the Year standings after an uncharacteristically bad start.

Additionally, Lawyer is a big-game angler. He’s showed up in the top five in two of the three FLW Cups he’s fished, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American (and finished second), and won at the Pro Circuit and Toyota Series level. None of those wins are going to be applicable from a pattern standpoint, but he doesn’t get rattled and he’s a fierce competitor. There’s not an angler in the field that wants to be fishing against Lawyer in the Championship Round.

 

Spencer Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield

- Todd Hollowell, FLW Live Co-Host

Spencer Shuffield has to be one of the odds-on favorites to win this event. He has overcome some real-life adversity over the past few years and has burst back onto the national scene with a vengeance, finishing second in AOY. Shuffield is on the cutting edge with his electronics and has a sensational spinning rod skill set that fits perfectly with Sturgeon Bay smallmouths. Did you see him flawlessly handle the Lake St. Clair smallmouth in the last Pro Circuit event with no net? On top of all of that, I just get the feeling that it may be Shuffield's time. 

 

Miles Burghoff

Miles Burghoff

- Travis Moran, FLW Live Co-Host

Miles Burghoff has not done great in the past on smallmouth waters, but over the last two years of watching him compete on the Pro Circuit he has impressed me with the ability to turn his weaknesses into strengths. Originally, he moved from California to Florida to attend college and learn how to better fish the Sunshine State, which has paid off with great finishes in college and throughout his career. Next, he moved to Tennessee to learn the Tennessee River. This year, he finished sixth on Chickamauga, compared to 117th back in 2019. I believe these Northern fisheries are the last puzzle piece for Burghoff and with his extensive knowledge of electronics, it would be no surprise to see him prove why he is one of the most versatile young anglers in the game this week.

 

Matt Becker

Matt Becker

- Todd Hollowell

Matt Becker has emerged as one of the most consistent anglers on the Pro Circuit the last two years and I expect him to be in the mix on the final day at Sturgeon Bay. He is a smallmouth guru that grew up fishing Lake Erie and big water who should have no problem adjusting to the challenges of landing fish in the MLF format. Happy-go-lucky and usually fishing barefooted, Becker should handle the SCORETRACKER® pressure perfectly well.

 

Scott Dobson

Scott Dobson

- Kyle Wood

When it comes to catching Great Lakes (and St. Clair) smallmouths there’s none better than Dobson. The man is a wizard at snatching big smallmouths, and like Nelson, is on another planet when it comes to making them eat. The one knock on Dobson may be that he’s better suited for a five-fish-limit tournament versus catch all you can, but I think he should have no issue making the necessary adjustments. Dobson is also really good at finding smallmouths both shallow and deep. Though shallow fish may not play that much this week, depending on weather, having a few areas to catch a handful of good ones from could be the difference in moving on or going home.

 

Dylan Hays

Dylan Hays

- Chris Jones, FLW Weighmaster  

Dylan Hays will go over $300,000 in career earnings next weekend regardless of where he finishes in the TITLE (last place is guaranteed $10,000) and is riding the momentum of an eighth-place finish in the Angler of the Year standings. He has 15 FLW top 10s and a Toyota Series win on his resume. He’s been in position to win several times on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, but has yet to seal the deal. One reason he’s my top pick may be a gut feeling, but I interviewed him for an episode of my video podcast “Catching up with Chris Jones” and learned a lot about this guy. If you follow him on social media then you know he fishes nearly every day, whether it’s fun fishing, guiding, or tournament-related fishing. He is extremely versatile, understands electronics (which will be a big key this week), understands changing conditions and how to adapt, but still has some old-school stubbornness in him. There’s just something about his fire, his passion, that gives him an incredible amount of focus on the water. In old-school terms, he’s got the eye of the tiger! Rocky Balboa! Look at what he did in 2018 at Lake St. Clair. That event was a Pro Circuit event where he finished second and crushed over 95 pounds in four days on the famed fishery. If you’ve watched him on FLW Live then you have seen an angler that is straight-up … in … his … element. I’ll never forget watching him on that final day. He actually may have had the fish on to win it. I think maybe he gets revenge on some smallmouth this week.

 

Matt Stefan

Matthew Stefan

- Todd Hollowell

Matthew Stefan may have the local advantage and have the most history of any angler in the field. He's won quite a bit of money on Sturgeon Bay over the years, albeit usually in the spring. He understands the nuances of wind direction, current and water clarity in Sturgeon Bay that others may miss as this event progresses through the week. In the prime of his career at the age of 40 and making his sixth championship appearance in seven seasons, Stefan has the poise and experience to make a run at the TITLE this week. 

 

Bradford Beavers

Bradford Beavers

- Chris Jones

Bradford Beavers is another young gun on the Pro Circuit and I believe he is one of the best anglers in the game today. His shy, reserved and conservative personality gets him overlooked sometimes because he’s not doing interviews and creating social media every day, but this guy is absolutely dialed-in and figures it out everywhere we go on the Pro Circuit. Plus, if you watched him on FLW Live at the Mississippi River event a month ago, then you know he can handle the pressure of the camera and the moment. He’s won the Toyota Series Championship in his career, has logged a top-10 finish at the FLW Cup and has a total of five FLW wins at various levels. I’m thinking if you don’t know Beavers very well, you might by the end of this week.

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF.   READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

It is the final day here at the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake and another beautiful day with the top 10 pros and co-anglers trying their best to take home the title. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

The second day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake began with slightly cooler weather, but it has turned into a beautiful day here in the Golden State. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

The first day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake started with calm conditions and pleasant weather. Some of the anglers surveyed today were struggling to get bites and others seem to have the fishing dialed in. It appears to be feast or famine so far, but there will be some solid bags crossing the stage starting at 3 p.m. PT this afternoon. READ MORE »

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

FLW and Explore La Crosse announced Thursday that the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE, the Pro Circuit Championship, will be held Aug. 17-22, 2021, on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Although FLW’s top championship has been held on the Mississippi River once before – in Moline, Illinois in 1998 – this event marks the first time that FLW has hosted its premier event in La Crosse. READ MORE »

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

FLW and the Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Wednesday that Counce, Tennessee, will host the prestigious 2021 Toyota Series Championship, Oct. 28-30, 2021, on Pickwick Lake. READ MORE »

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is excited to announce its first Digital Hall of Fame Week, which will be anchored by a massive online auction offering up an incredible selection of fishing-related items not available elsewhere. READ MORE »

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. READ MORE »

2021 National Championship set for Grand

2021 National Championship set for Grand

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 $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete for a top prize of up to $235,000. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Championship Saturday of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel followed its pattern of the week with anglers failing to capitalize on sparse opportunities. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers said Thursday that current didn’t matter during the first round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel at Lake Dardanelle, but apparently it matters more than they thought. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

FLW learned today that former FLW Walleye pro Tommy Skarlis of Denver, Iowa, passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was 55. READ MORE »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Clouds have lingered throughout the morning, which most of the top 10 were thankful for as the bite has been better than it was during practice when conditions were calm and sunny. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Clouds once again greeted the field for day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River and the fish were biting this morning. With low tide this morning around 8:40 a.m. ET – about an hour and a half later than yesterday – more anglers had time to capitalize on the strong bite revolving around that window today. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

It was a gloomy start to the first day of competition for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, and though it seems like a fishy day, so far the fish don’t seem to think so. READ MORE »

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

The 26th season of FLW’s top professional circuit will feature six regular-season tournaments showcasing the best 150 anglers in the world competing for as much as $135,000 in a five-biggest-fish format on top bass fisheries at peak times. The 2020 season culminates in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Toyota, where the top 50 pros will compete for as much as $235,000 in a catch, weigh, immediate-release format. READ MORE »