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Dock Talk

Welcome to BassFan's Dock Talk section, where you will see brief, newsworthy items that for one reason or another can't be made into full-blown news articles. Despite the name, and in keeping with BassFan's editorial policy, every effort will be made to avoid publishing outright rumors.

More dock talk articles

  • PAA opener postponed

    PAA President Matt Reed has announced that the PAA Tournament Series event on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tenn., scheduled for this week, has been postponed.

    The change was made to allow those anglers at the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship to still be able to compete in the 2014 PAA Tournament Series season opener. The PAA is working with the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Dandridge to reschedule the event for a later date.

    The PAA Tournament Series season opener will now be at Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky., Oct. 9-11. The other event will be at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Hemphill, Texas on Nov. 20-22.

  • Before Hackney’s first cast

    Before Hackney’s first cast

    Industry rep Alan McGuckin has been in Escanaba, Mich., since last week at the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship. The competition will come to a conclusion today and the question on everyone's mind is whether Greg Hackney can close out the AOY title. McGuckin spent some time with Hackney prior to blast off this morning and the following reflects some of Hackney's thoughts before he headed out to Lake Michigan.

    For three days, strong wind, unsafe waves and subsequent canceled competition days have placed Greg Hackney’s dreams on hold here on the northern shores of Lake Michigan.

    Finally, Hackney and his fellow Bassmaster Elites are back on Lake Michigan for the last day of the 2014 season to decide whether he’ll indeed get to capture pro bass angling’s most coveted and respected title – the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY).

    As Hackney stood on the front deck of his boat waiting in the darkness of pre-dawn inside the harbor at Escanaba’s Ludington Park, a bevvy of thoughts ran through his mind on a gorgeous, but finger-nipping 37-degree morning as the sun began to rise on the biggest day of his professional career.

    > Think Like a Smallmouth: “There was ice on my boat cover this morning,” Hackney says. “If it were largemouth, you’d probably want to fish extremely slow on a real cold post-front day like this, but smallmouth tend to get more aggressive as the water temperatures cool. It should fire ‘em up today.”

    > No time for Finesse: It’s common to see spinning tackle dominate smallmouth tournaments, but Hackney had six Quantum EXO baitcasters on the front deck, versus only two Quantum spinning reels. “You hook a big smallmouth on spinning tackle and you’re in for a long fight, and that’s just more of a chance for them to get off your hook,” he said.

    > First Lure: When asked what lure he’d make his first cast with, Hackney said it would be a Strike King spinnerbait.

    > With a Little Help from My Friends: Speaking of Strike King, moments before blast-off, fellow Strike King pro staffers James Niggemeyer and Keith Combs each parked their boats alongside Hackney’s to offer some lead tube weights that Hackney feared he was in short supply of.

    > Feels like He Needs a Big Limit: “I really feel like I have to go out and catch a big sack, like 20 pounds or more, to assure myself a chance of wrapping this thing up,” Hackney said.

    > Enough Warm Clothes: Hackney is a strong family man, and he’s been fortunate to have wife Julie and two of their four children here this week. They met him on the dock in the dark cold air this morning. “Do y’all have enough warm clothes on?” he asked with a loving grin.

    > Only one way to Know: “The three-day delay in this tournament has given these fish a chance to rest, but also to reposition," Hackney said. "So the only way to know for sure what they’ve done the past three days is to go fishing for them today.”

    > An Unexpected Phone Call: “I’ve got so many clothes on that I never heard my phone ring, but I saw later that I had missed a call from KVD at like 5:30 this morning,” said Hackney. “So I called him back and asked, ‘What do I owe this honor to?’ and he told me he just wanted to wish me good luck. He’s definitely a class act.”

  • DeFoe won't compete on final day

    Ott DeFoe left Escanaba, Mich., on Sunday and will not compete Monday in the final round of the Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship due to a previously-scheduled sponsor commitment.

    After B.A.S.S. announced early Sunday morning that competition was being cancelled at Lake Michigan for a third straight day due to high winds, DeFoe posted on his Facebook page that he couldn't stick around for the tournament's conclusion.


    DeFoe, who is currently 24th in AOY points, is already qualified for next year's Bassmaster Classic by virtue of his Northern Open win at Douglas Lake. He caught 20-06 on Thursday and was in 11th place in the AOY event after one day.

  • Wind grounds AOY anglers for third straight day

    Another round of windy weather, this time out of the north, has forced B.A.S.S. to cancel competition at the Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship for a third straight day.

    The National Weather Service Marine Forecast for the Bay de Noc area as of 4:55 a.m. (EST) Sunday called for winds to increase to 15 to 20 knots with gusts to 28 knots and waves in the 3- to 5-foot range. In addition, a small craft advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. Sunday morning through Sunday evening.

    B.A.S.S. announced Saturday that the AOY event was being shortened from three days to two and now it won't finish up until Monday when the 50 pros will return to the waters of northern Lake Michigan as the race for AOY and Classic berths will come down to a one-day smallmouth shootout. Weather permitting, of course.

    Blast off is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. EST and weigh-ins will begin at 4 p.m. Monday's forecast looks quite favorable for fishing with west winds of less than 10 knots and waves of 2 feet or less.

  • Johnson closes out win at La Crosse

    Johnson closes out win at La Crosse

    Jimmy Johnson caught a 13-13 bag on Saturday to win the win the Mississippi River Central Rayovac with a 3-day total of 45-07. Johnson led the tournament on each of competition and earned $35,815 for his victory.

    “This feels pretty awesome,” said Johnson, who had 14 previous Top-10 finishes on the river in FLW competition. “I’ve finished 2nd so many times, and to be able to pull out a win on my home waters against the caliber of this field is just awesome.”

    After finishing 2nd in the BFL Super Tournament held on the river last weekend, Johnson said he closely monitored the changing conditions and credited his local knowledge as being crucial to his success.

    “I noticed the condition changes throughout the week,” he said. “I knew that the water levels were dropping and that it was going to have a big effect on the fish. The weather was my biggest concern throughout the tournament. I was fishing wing dams in Pool 8 where I knew that big fish were, but I knew from experience that a strong south wind will shut those fish down.”

    Johnson said that he was fishing for only big bites, and averaging just 5 to 10 bites a day.

    “I would Power-Pole down on a spot and make the same repetitive cast, sometimes for up to an hour and a half at a time,” Johnson said. “I fished probably 30 different spots throughout the week. I was looking for wing dams where there was some sort of transition – a turn, or where the sand meets the rock.”

    Johnson said he had two key baits that were a “1-2 punch” for him throughout the week – a 3/8-ounce iridescent Lethal Weapon IV swimjig with a shad-colored Yamamoto Swim Senko and a Carolina-rigged green pumpkin-colored Yamamoto Lizard with a 1/2-ounce weight. Full details of his winning pattern will be published soon.

    Here are the final totals for the Top 10:

    1. Jimmy Johnson: 45-07
    2. Jeff Ritter: 42-15
    3. Mark Tucker: 41-06
    4. Mike Brueggen: 40-14
    5. Gary Yamamoto: 40-09
    6. Kent Priel: 39-13
    7. Jeff Benson: 38-10
    8. Jerry Robackouski: 37-03
    9. Joe Pollak: 37-03
    10. Terry Fitzpatrick: 32-10

  • Snapcast: The Great (Lakes) debate

    Late last fall, I took my daughter down to the shoreline of Lake Erie in Hamburg, N.Y. The weather man here in Buffalo said the winds were going to kick up to 40 mph with gusts to 50 from the west that day and the waves on the big pond were expected to be 12 to 14 feet.

    "Cool, let's go," she said.

    As we pulled into the parking lot along Route 5, it was whitecaps for as far as the eye could see. Waves that would engulf a pickup truck in one swoop battered the rocks one after the other. We felt small.

    We saw a man in a wetsuit belly down on a surfboard trying to fight his way through the swells out to deeper water, hoping to capitalize on the conditions to find that perfect wave. He must've tried a dozen or 15 times, but never got more than 50 feet off shore. He finally gave up and let the waves wash him ashore, after which he angrily ripped off his ankle strap and fired it across the beach out of frustration. Sorry, bud. It wasn't meant to be, I guess.

    I'm reminded of that scene this week as B.A.S.S. attempts to stage its Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Championship on the upper end of Lake Michigan. Living where I do, I'm always thrilled when one of the big tournament circuits decides to come north, usually in the latter part of summer or in this case very early fall. The fishing rarely disappoints, the communities get behind the events and the weather is usually pleasant. It's typically a win-win for all involved.

    I applaud B.A.S.S. for trying to showcase new areas with largely untapped or under appreciated bass fisheries – the Delaware River and Cayuga Lake come to mind – but it was a gamble at best to think Mother Nature would lay low for 3 out of 4 days in mid-September on upper Lake Michigan. Folks up there are already gassing up their augers and snowmobiles.

    Was this event doomed from get-go? It's hard to say, but the risks were well known in advance, as they are any time a bass tournament comes to the Great Lakes where wind can ruin the best-laid plans. Some of the competitors relish the big water and big-fish opportunities the Great Lakes present. Others proceed with extreme caution when easing away from the dock. It's a region that shouldn't be excluded from tournament circuit's rotations because it makes some uneasy, though.

    Now, after canceling day 2 of the season-ending event for a second straight day due to windy conditions and safety concerns, B.A.S.S. has a nightmare scenario on its hands. It brought the top 50 anglers in the AOY points to Escanaba, Mich., for the inaugural AOY championship tournament (Toyota got behind the idea in a big way) and it's essentially been grounded by big swells.

    If conditions don't improve for Sunday (winds are supposed to calm later today but pick back up overnight out of the north), competitors could be parked for a third straight day, setting up a possible manic Monday shootout to decide the AOY and a good number of berths to the Bassmaster Classic.

    Extending the event to Monday is a last resort as it jumbles up logistics and adds expense, but B.A.S.S. went there with the intention of getting three days of fishing in and crowning its AOY. Shortening the event to two days isn't the most desirable outcome, but it would salvage a portion of what's supposed to be a showcase event.

    There's some chatter already that next year's AOY event will be on a different part of Lake Michigan in early October, which means anglers could find themselves back in the same situation a year from now – stuck on shore.

    – Todd Ceisner, BassFan Editor

  • Day 2 axed again; event cut to 2 days

    With a small craft advisory still in effect for the Bay de Noc area of Lake Michigan, B.A.S.S. officials have cancelled day 2 of the Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship for a second straight day and decided to shorten the event to 2 days.

    The hope is to resume and finish the event Sunday, but the marine forecast is calling for offshore winds of more than 30 knots (roughly 35 mph) from the north, raising the possibility of a third straight blow day. If the anglers are grounded again tomorrow, the competition will resume and conclude on Monday.

    The winds that forced the cancellation of Friday's competition haven't subsided and waves on upper Lake Michigan are still in the 5 to 7 foot range. The winds are supposed to calm down this afternoon, but are expected to pick back up overnight into Sunday morning as a band of thunderstorms moves into the region.

    “It’s at least as bad today, if not worse,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director, in a release announcing the cancellation of Saturday's action. A weather buoy offshore from Escanaba measured waves as high as 8 feet this morning, he added.

  • Johnson's lead cut to 2 1/2

    Johnson's lead cut to 2 1/2

    Jimmy Johnson retained his lead on Friday at the Mississippi River Central Rayovac, but the margin was reduced from 4 pounds to 2 1/2 as he weighed an 11-06 bag (9 pounds lighter than his day-1 haul) to increase his total to 31-10.

    Iowa's Terry Fitzpatrick climbed from 6th place to 2nd with a 13-05 stringer for a 29-02 aggregate. Mark Tucker dropped one place to 3rd with a 12-08 sack that gave him a 28-10 total.

    Here are the critical numbers for the anglers who advanced to the final day:

    1. Jimmy Johnson: 31-10
    2. Terry Fitzpatrick: 29-02
    3. Mark Tucker: 28-10
    4. Kent Priel: 28-02
    5. Gary Yamamoto: 28-00
    6. Mike Brueggen: 27-11
    7. Jeff Ritter: 27-10
    8. Jeff Benson: 25-11
    9. Jerry Robackouski: 25-05
    10. Joe Pollak: 24-12

  • PAA winner will get boat

    PAA winner will get boat

    Professional Anglers Association (PAA) president Matt Reed announced today that the winner of next week's PAA Tournament Series event at Douglas Lake in Tennessee will receive a boat package. Final negotiations were completed today to award the winner a Stratos 294 XLE powered by a 200-hp Mercury OptiMax XS motor.

    The other venues on this year's slate are Kentucky Lake (Oct. 9-11) and Toledo Bend Reservoir (Nov. 20-22).

    "It was a real challenge this year to get it all put together, but we're glad to have it done and we look forward to a good series," Reed said. "The events should be a lot of fun on the fishing side and the purses have been secured. It's been a long road and I wish we could've gotten everything done earlier, but it's here now and it's all okay."

    The Top 3 finishers from the circuit's points list will gain berths in next year's Toyota Texas Bass Classic.

    Reed also announced that Fish Fishburne, the highly popular former B.A.S.S. emcee, will be on the microphone for the Douglas event.

    Sign-ups for the Douglas tournament will be taken until the registration meeting next Wednesday. Anglers planning to enter should contact the PAA office by calling (270) 527-2030.

  • Ashley's smallie spinout

    Ashley's smallie spinout

    Industry rep Alan McGuckin passed along this piece today about Elite Series pro Casey Ashley's love-hate relationship with smallmouth bass.

    Pro anglers are expected to have all the answers, know all there is to know about bass, but Casey Ashley confesses that when it comes to smallmouth, they’ve got his number.

    “I’ve never sniffed a 20-pound limit in a smallmouth tournament, and best I can remember, I’ve never even cashed a check in a smallmouth dominated event,” said Ashley not long after weighing in a respectable 15-pound limit on day 1 at the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship at Lake Michigan.

    Rest assured the likable South Carolina pro isn’t complaining that today's round was canceled due to high winds, and he probably won’t even spend much time tweaking tackle during this unplanned day off.

    A glance at his Triton’s front deck revealed nine rods and reels after the opening day of competition; four of them baitcasters decorated with jerkbaits, the other five were all size 30 Quantum Smoke and Energy spinning reels sporting standard smallmouth fare such as tubes and drop shots – leaving no doubt Ashley knows what to throw. It’s more of a struggle of where to throw.

    “My big struggle with smallmouth is they’re so random,” he explained in a frustrated tone. “With largemouth, I can pretty much tell you what cast is gonna get a bite based on the fact that largemouth live in predictable places, but with smallmouth, I swear sometimes I could do just as well casting over my shoulder, as when I try to pinpoint them.”

    Ashley may struggle with smallmouth, but his 10th-place standing in the Toyota AOY race entering this tournament proves his 2014 season has been anything but a struggle. He was in the select group of anglers that only needed to register a single fish catch this week in order to cement his berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic, which is slated for his home waters at Lake Hartwell.

    “I’m not even sure I had to catch a bass here to stay qualified for the 2015 Classic, but I’ll admit I screamed like (Mike) Iaconelli when I caught that first keeper today, just knowing for certain at that moment that I had locked myself in for Hartwell,” said Ashley.

    Fishing alongside father Danny, Hartwell’s waters baptized the young Ashley’s penchant for competitive angling 15 years ago, and his recent wire-to-wire $100,000 FLW Tour win at Hartwell just seven months ago left no doubt how dominant he can be there at the very same time of year he’ll compete for a life-changing Classic win in 2015.

    It could happen, but with no thanks to smallmouth.

  • Day 2 of AOY event cancelled

    After initially shortening day 2 of the Angler of the Year Championship at Lake Michigan due to a threatening weather forecast, B.A.S.S. just announced that competition for today has been canceled.

    B.A.S.S. had originally informed competitors this morning that weigh-ins for day 2 of the AOY Championship at Escanaba, Mich., would begin at 1:45 p.m. EST, rather than the scheduled 4 p.m. start time.

    The forecast for today was the main factor for the move as winds are expected to increase throughout the day with the heaviest sustained blows coming this afternoon.

    The National Weather Service issued a small craft advisory overnight that will be in effect through Saturday afternoon for the Bay de Noc area. According to the latest marine forecast for upper Lake Michigan, south winds are expected to be 10 to 15 knots this morning with waves ranging from 2 to 3 feet. By mid afternoon, gusts up to 33 knots are expected with waves swelling to 4 to 7 feet.

    “In the interest of safety, today’s fishing has been canceled,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director in a release announcing the cancellation. “We will err on the side of caution and the safety of our anglers and their marshals."

    Weldon said he and other officials plan for competition to continue on Saturday, weather permitting.

    “We will make that call in the morning,” he added. Current weather forecasts show some improvement by Saturday.

  • Johnson leads at La Crosse

    Johnson leads at La Crosse

    Jimmy Johnson caught a massive bag of smallmouths that averaged 4 pounds apiece en route to grabbing the day-1 lead at the Mississippi River Central Rayovac, which is being staged out of his hometown of La Crosse, Wis.

    Johnson's stringer left him more than 4 pounds clear of the 126-angler field. His closest pursuers were a couple of grizzled veterans – Mark Tucker with 16-02 and Gary Yamamoto with 16-00.

    Here's a look at the initial Top 10:

    1. Jimmy Johnson: 20-04
    2. Mark Tucker: 16-02
    3. Gary Yamamoto: 16-00
    4. Mike Brueggen: 15-15
    5. Terry Fitzpatrick: 15-13
    6. (tie) Peter Cherkas: 14-10
    6. (tie) Casey Gallagher: 14-10
    8. Doug Stanton: 13-15
    9. Corey Smith: 13-14
    10. David Ryan: 13-11

  • Talk fishing with Shimano pros

    Fan attending the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship this week will have the opportunity to enhance their bass fishing skills at the Shimano seminars taking place Saturday in Escanaba, Mich.

    The seminars are part of the Bassmaster Fan & Military Appreciation Day Expo at Ludington Park. Elite Series pro Jonathon VanDam will be doing a ‘It’s Smallmouth Country’ presentation at noon, followed by Jared Lintner with a 'Tackle It On Top’ seminar at 12:30 p.m. Dave Mercer and Mark Zona will follow with a joint presentation – ‘Northern Smallmouth Tactics.'

    VanDam will give his seminar again at 1:30 p.m. and Lintner will do an encore on topwater techniques at 2 p.m. Additionally, the Shimano Experience Team will have a target course set-up for fans to test their skills.

  • Balog: What keeps you from cheating?

    Balog: What keeps you from cheating?

    The conviction and sentencing of two bass-tournament cheaters in Alabama this week has prompted Joe Balog to pen his latest column on the topic that everyone who loves this sport detests. As he points out, there will always be dishonest people out there willing to go to great lengths to get half a million dollars – or even a fraction of that amount.

    To read newest installment of Balog's Bass War, click here.

  • Christie Needs a Fan

    Christie Needs a Fan

    Top-ranked bass angler Jason Christie recently installed a ceiling-mounted LEER Locker and filled it full of many expected items such spools of Sunline, spare Lew’s reels and bags of YUM lures.

    But one item Christie made sure to pack has nothing to do with fishing – a small, portable electric fan.

    “I carry it everywhere I go. I can’t sleep without a fan running, so I made sure to pack it in my LEER Locker,” says Christie, who spends well over a hundred nights a year away from home as a two-tour pro. “Even when it’s not real hot, I still want a fan running. Just the noise helps me sleep better, and apparently it’s hereditary because my daughters need to have one running, too.”

    The LEER Locker is a ceiling-mounted storage system that utilizes the wasted space of your truck cap to organize and secure your valuable property. Think of it as an overhead sliding drawer that’s ready to use anytime you need it – and out of sight when you don’t.

    Not just for anglers, it’s also ideally suited for hunters to safely and securely store guns, boxes of ammunition, and a multitude of hunting accessories in a dry and locked-up tight carpeted overhead vault.

    Christie is also a "fan" of LEER because of the company's fast-growing “Cover Cash” program that pays cash bonuses to tournament anglers who purchase a LEER, sign-up for the free program and win money when they do well in events. And certainly, as the world’s top-ranked angler, Christie has already cashed in often.

    LEER has also made it easy for anglers to save money on their initial purchase of a new truck cap or tonneau cover by making exclusive angler coupons available. Simply carry the coupon into your local LEER dealer, save money up front and then get ready to win additional funds when you do well in supported tournaments.

    You can register online at LeerCoverCash.com or by calling (918) 742-6424.

  • Duke headed to FTR

    Duke headed to FTR

    BassFan has learned that Ken Duke, a senior editor of B.A.S.S. publications, will leave the organization at the end of this month to become managing editor at Fishing Tackle Retailer.

    "It's something I'm really excited about," he said. "I think FTR is already a solid publication and a player in this industry and it'll be a lot of fun to have a hand on the wheel to see where we can take it."

    The 52-year-old Florida resident signed on with B.A.S.S. in 2004 after working for Game & Fish Publications. Due to his vast knowledge of the sport's history, he became the organization's unofficial historian after the death of longtime Bassmaster writer Tim Tucker in 2007.

    "I've enjoyed my relationship with B.A.S.S. over the years – I've worked for them for 10 years and I've been a member for 38. I certainly hope to find opportunities to do some things with them in the future, as well as other publications and other parts of the industry."

  • Jail time for Guntersville cheaters

    Two Alabama men charged with cheating in a bass tournament at Lake Guntersville earlier this year were found guilty and sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail, according to a report on the website of TV station WAFF-48.

    After a four-hour trial, Gary Lee Minor Jr. of Albertville and Robert Scott Gillaspie of Boaz were ordered to the Marshall County Jail after they were found guilty of theft by deception and tampering with a sporting event.

    The charges stemmed from their involvement in a scheme to win the Tuesday and Thursday Night Owls Fishing Tournament on April 22. FLW Tour pro Richard Peek testified Monday he witnessed the two men stop off at a boat dock and emerge with a large bass in a net that had come from inside the boat dock.

    They were ordered to a year suspended jail sentence, provided they serve 30 days, serve 400 hours of community service at Lake Guntersville State Park, two years probation, and each pay $1,000 and court costs.

    To read more, click here.

  • Texas veteran Gregg dies

    Texas veteran Gregg dies

    David Gregg, a two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier who competed on both major circuits, died over the weekend at age 67 after reportedly falling ill at the Arkansas River Bassmaster Central Open in Oklahoma and returning home to Palestine, Texas.

    Gregg, who was the pastor at Trinity Church in Palestine, fished in the Classic in 1983 and 1999. Funeral services will take place on Thursday in Haltom City, Texas.

    To read his obituary on the website of the funeral home handling the services, click here.

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