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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

  • DeFoe closes out home-lake victory

    DeFoe closes out home-lake victory

    Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe got the monkey off his back by finally winning a major tournament on his home waters.

    The Knoxville, Tenn. resident clinched his first victory at Douglas Lake by catching the biggest limit of the tournament – a 24-01 bag – to finish with a three-day total weight of 62-05 at the first Northern Open of 2014. This was the fifth major tournament – four Bassmaster events and a PAA tourney — that DeFoe has fished on his home lake.

    Moving farther up the lake each day, DeFoe hit the jackpot on Saturday by catching 37 bass from his spots on the upper reaches of Douglas.

    “It was really all about changing,” he said. “I caught all of my fish deep the first day, and I caught them off of a couple of different places primarily cranking a Rapala DT16 crankbait in Caribbean shad. I also caught some on a Terminator football jig.”

    On Friday, DeFoe went to the same places, but when he couldn’t get bit there, he moved farther up the lake and eventually caught another heavy limit.

    “I changed a little bit again today and fished some different areas,” he said. “Then we got into one place, and we just hammered them.”

    Full details of his winning pattern will be published soon.

    Fellow Elite Series pro David Mullins finished in the runner-up spot again on his home waters with 52-11. The Mount Carmel, Tenn. angler also took second place in the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open held on Douglas Lake in April 2013. Mullins also went up the river for two days to get away from the crowds on the lower end of the lake.

    Here are the final totals for the Top 12:

    1. Ott DeFoe: 62-05
    2. David Mullins: 52-11
    3. Derrick Snavely: 50-09
    4. Luke Clausen: 48-13
    5. Brent Ehrler: 48-12
    6. Michael Neal: 48-00
    7. David Walker: 47-08
    8. Ricky Shepherd: 47-04
    9. Jacob Wheeler: 47-03
    10. Todd Schmitz: 42-13
    11. Dewayne Wilson: 42-11
    12. Craig Workman: 35-06

  • Haynes sacks 27-10 for fifth Rayovac win

    Haynes sacks 27-10 for fifth Rayovac win

    Randy Haynes caught a tournament-best 27-10 sack on Saturday to win the Kentucky Lake Central Rayovac with a 3-day total of 75-05. It was his fifth career Rayovac triumph, tying him with fellow FLW Tour pro Koby Kreiger for the record in that category.

    “I put a lot of practice in and yesterday it felt like my fish down south were going away,” he said. “I was coming out of Jonathan Creek this morning and three-quarters of the way out I wasn’t sure if I was going to go right or left. I went down south and fished two spots for about 30 minutes to clear my mind, then I went back up north toward the dam and I knew I had made the right decision.”

    Haynes said he burned upwards of 40 gallons of gas each day of the tournament and burned even more today to put together his winning bag.

    “I caught several fish down south, but I only kept one that was about 3 1/2 pounds because I didn’t want to have to start culling. A lot of times my windows to catch fish would only be two or three minutes long and I needed to keep up with them and not waste time culling. I didn’t even have to catch a bass to make them move. If they bit they were moving.

    “I can’t believe this is happening,” he said of his win and recent string of success in FLW events. “The competition is getting so tough, and guys really understand ledge-fishing. It is so hard to stay on top. Depthfinders are getting better and there are more guys out on the ledges than ever before. Especially Kentucky Lake – it has some of the best ledge fishermen in the country.”

    He caught most of his bass on a Profound Outdoors Z-Boss 20, a Strike King 10XD, a variety of swimbaits and a 1-ounce Profound Outdoors jig. Full details of his winning pattern will be published soon.

    Here are the final totals for the Top 10:

    1. Randy Haynes: 75-05
    2. Jason Lambert: 73-07
    3. Mark Rose: 71-03
    4. Barry Wilson: 70-02
    5. Brandon Hunter: 69-13
    6. Scott Canterbury: 68-01
    7. Michael Wooley: 67-02
    8. Todd Hollowell: 66-01
    9. Mark Pierce: 63-08
    10. Ray Barga: 63-01

  • DeFoe moves into top slot at Douglas

    DeFoe moves into top slot at Douglas

    Consistency has put Ott DeFoe in position to win his first Bassmaster event on his home waters of Douglas Lake.

    “Every big tournament we’ve had here I've done well, but I have yet to win one,” said DeFoe, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Knoxville, Tenn. “I've made the Top 12 in every one of them, so I want to close the dang deal one time.

    “This lake is very hard to be consistent on. A couple of those 4 1/2-, 5- or 5 1/2-pound bites are what makes you have a 20- to 21-pound day. So, it is hard to be consistent here with all 4-pounders.”

    After catching a 19-03 sack Thursday, DeFoe backed up that catch with a 19-01 bag Friday to take over the lead in first Northern Open of 2014 with a 38-04 total. He has an advantage of almost 2 1/2 pounds over 2nd-place Ricky Shepherd.

    He said the lake is fishing tougher than usual.

    “The deep bite is the way to win here, but that’s not the way it should be,” DeFoe said. “There should be a lot more fish out there, and there should be bigger bags caught. The lake is doing well, but it is not where it should be.”

    Here are the totals for the 12 competitors who advanced to the final day:

    1. Ott DeFoe: 38-04
    2. Ricky Shepherd: 35-14
    3. Todd Schmitz 35-03
    4. Dewayne Wilson: 34-14
    5. Brent Ehrler: 34-09
    6. Jacob Wheeler: 34-04
    7. Michael Neal: 32-04
    8. David Walker: 31-15
    9. David Mullins: 31-02
    10. Luke Clausen: 31-01
    11. Derrick Shavely: 30-12
    12. Craig Workman: 30-04

  • Lambert grabs KY Rayovac lead

    Lambert grabs KY Rayovac lead

    Jason Lambert caught his second straight 24-pound stringer Friday to take over the lead at the Kentucky Lake Central Rayovac with a 2-day total of 48-09.

    Lambert, who began the day in a tie for 6th place, holds a 7-ounce advantage over day-1 leader Brandon Hunter, who weighed 20-09 (7 pounds lighter than his day-1 haul). Offshore ace Randy Haynes, a former FLW Tour winner, is another 6 ounces back in 3rd.

    Here are the totals for the anglers who made the final-day cut:

    1. Jason Lambert: 48-09
    2. Brandon Hunter: 48-02
    3. Randy Haynes: 47-11
    4. Scott Canterbury: 47-10
    5. Michael Wooley: 46-10
    6. Todd Hollowell: 45-04
    7. Ray Barga: 44-14
    8. Mark Pierce: 44-12
    9. Barry Wilson: 44-05
    10. Mark Rose: 44-03

  • FLW gets new marketing VP

    FLW gets new marketing VP

    FLW announced today that Patterson Leeth will join the organization in the position of VP of marketing. Leeth, who previously worked for Minneapolis-based creative agency Take It To Eleven, will report directly to Trisha Blake, president of marketing. In this role he will be responsible for providing strategic direction for all of FLW’s marketing initiatives.

    “Patterson brings a unique blend of marketing knowledge and true passion for the outdoors lifestyle,” Blake said. “He has been pivotal in the growth of multiple brands in the service and consumer sales industries. Both his talents and unique perspective will add a great deal to our team.”

    Leeth replaces Bridget Grigsby, the wife of FLW Tour pro Chad Grigsby, who will be moving on to pursue other opportunities.

    “Bridget has played an important role in the growth of our company. We want to thank her for her loyalty, dedication and contributions. FLW wishes her the best in all future endeavors,” Blake said.

  • New jig all about changing of the (weed) guard

    Former tour pro and longtime lure designer Mark Pack recently launched a new company called M-Pack Lures.

    With more than two decades of experience in bait design, he's introduced a new line of jigs that feature the Structure Guard, a unique single-strand weed guard that replaces the bristles typically found on bass jigs.

    Currently, the Structure Guard jig is available in flipping (3/8 and 1/2-oz. sizes) and football (3/4 and 1 oz.) models. To see the jig and its new weed guard up close, take a look at the embedded video below.

  • Local rod-maker catches 21-12 at Douglas

    Local rod-maker catches 21-12 at Douglas

    Dewayne Wilson, a resident of nearby La Follette, Tenn. and the owner of Dixie Custom Rods, caught a 21-12 sack Thursday to take a 1-pound advantage over FLW Tour standouts Brent Ehrler and Shin Fukae in the first Bassmaster Northern Open of 2014 at Douglas Lake.

    “It worked out early for me, but after about 10 o’clock I couldn’t get bit,” Wilson said. “Luckily, we caught them early.”

    Competing in only his second Bassmaster event, the 47-year-old Wilson frequently fishes Douglas and knows several deep spots that hold fish this time of year. While practicing last week with his team-tournament partner, Wilson caught fish deep in several spots. “We had a lot of places that had fish, but it seems like they are drying up,” he said.

    He had his limit by about 7 a.m. and then culled at least three keepers while fishing three areas. “There were a lot of fish in the one spot and in the other two spots there were only a few fish, but they were bigger,” he said.

    He had the places to himself early, but other anglers moved into his area by midmorning, and the bite stopped for him. “It got so bad I just let them have it,” he said.

    With the fishing pressure he encountered today, Wilson is unsure what to expect Friday.

    “I might have 6 pounds, or I might have 20 again."

    Here's a look at the initial Top 12:

    1. Dewayne Wildon: 21-12
    2. (tie) Brent Ehrler: 20-12
    2. (tie) Shin Fukae: 20-12
    4. Todd Schmitz: 20-10
    5. Derrick Snavely: 20-06
    6. JT Kenney: 20-01
    7. Ott DeFoe: 19-03
    8. Seth Feider: 19-01
    9. Jeff Cloud: 18-03
    10. Gary Clouse: 17-15
    11. Brandon Coulter: 17-12
    12. Jacob Wheeler: 17-04

  • Tour rookie Hunter leads at KY Lake

    Tour rookie Hunter leads at KY Lake

    Brandon Hunter, an FLW Tour rookie from Benton, Ky., grabbed the initial lead Thursday at the Kentucky Lake Central Rayovac with a 27-09 stringer that left him nearly 2 pounds clear of the remainder of the 179-angler field.

    Tour pros dominated the top of the leaderboard, occupying the Top 6 positions. Tied for 6th was longtime local standout Sam Lashlee, who won the FLW Series (tour-level) derby there in 2006.

    There were 29 bags weighing at least 20 pounds on opening day. Here's how the early Top 10 stacks up:

    1. Brandon Hunter: 27-09
    2. Todd Hollowell: 25-11
    3. Randy Haynes: 25-01
    4. Tom Redington: 24-12
    5. Barry Wilson: 24-10
    6. (tie): Jason Lambert: 24-06
    6. (tie) Sam Lashlee: 24-06
    8. (tie) Brent Anderson: 24-02
    8. (tie) Michael Wooley: 24-02
    10. Phillip Bates: 24-00

  • BASSFest draws 33 Open competitors

    BASSFest draws 33 Open competitors

    Thirty-three anglers from the Bassmaster Opens ranks will join the 107 Elite Series competitors for BASSFest at Lake Chickamauga in 2 weeks. A handful of FLW Tour pros are on that list, including former Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion Luke Clausen (pictured) and 2012 Cup winner Jacob Wheeler.

    Also slated to compete are Phoenix Boats president Gary Clouse and former FLW CEO turned Tour pro Charlie Evans.

    All 140 competitors will fish Chickamauga on days 1 and 2. The Top 50 in the standings at that point will take day 3 off while the remainder of the field goes to Lake Nickajack to vie for 10 "re-entry" berths.

    Day 4, back at Chickamauga, will feature 60 anglers, and the field will be cut to the Top 12 for the final day.

    Here's an alphabetical listing of the Opens anglers who've ponied up the $5,000 to fish against the Elite competitors:

    James Biggerstaff
    Jamey Caldwell
    Brian Clark
    Luke Clausen
    Jeff Cloud
    Gary Clouse
    Jim Dillard
    Tommy Durham
    Mike Elsea
    Charlie Evans
    Al Farace
    Derek Fulps
    Skylar Hamilton
    Rich Howes
    Powell Kemp
    J.T. Kenney
    David Kilgore
    Jared Knuth
    Matt Lee
    Dave Lefebre
    Brock Mosley
    Stephen Mui
    Michael Murphy
    Kendall Newson
    Paul Pagnato
    Patrick Pierce
    Brian Potter
    Lucas Ragusa
    Steve Sennikoff
    Gerald Spohrer
    Bill Weidler
    Jacob Wheeler
    Chad Wiley

  • Jones picks up Blue Water

    Jones picks up Blue Water

    Marine lighting manufacturer Blue Water LED has added Bassmaster Elite Series veteran Alton Jones to its pro staff.

    “I’ve gotten to know the good folks at Blue Water pretty well over the last several years," he said. "Sometimes when you have a great personal relationship with someone it can turn into a good business opportunity, and this is a perfect example. I look forward to really helping grow the Blue Water brand and to showing anglers all across the country how proper lighting can be a huge benefit to their fishing.

    “I spend long hours working on tackle, and trying to get that stuff done in the dark can strain eyes and take forever," he continued. "My LED rod locker and compartment lighting makes working in the dark as easy as doing it in broad daylight. I’ve also fallen in love with the Cyber Systems Light Bars I have installed on the rear of my truck. That thing really lights up a boat ramp, making it easier to load and unload my boat.”

  • Balog: New bronzeback record coming?

    Balog: New bronzeback record coming?

    Joe Balog is an authoritative source on smallmouth bass in the Great Lakes region and it certainly hasn't escaped his attention that the standard for a trophy bronzeback in the North country has climbed higher and higher in recent years. There's still much scientific research to be done in order to pin down the reason behind this phenomenon, but the theory that particular strains of smallmouth are predisposed to greater size than others may be valid.

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

  • Minot next stop for Berkley trailer

    Minot next stop for Berkley trailer

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at Scheels All Sports in Minot, N.D. this Thursday through Saturday (May 29-31). In its 9th year, the trailer has been completely redesigned to provide anglers with a better hands-on experience.

    Four highly trained Berkley professionals will be available to provide in-depth knowledge on products, knot tying, line selection and bait choice.

    “We are extremely excited about the upgrades to the trailer and the experiences that anglers of all skill levels will have this year,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is ready to answer your questions and help anglers of all ages and skill levels learn about fishing, our passion and our company’s heritage."

    The trailer's next stop will be June 5-7 at Denny Dennis Sporting Goods in Fenton, Mo.

  • Insurance hang-ups leave HS team shore-bound

    Insurance hang-ups leave HS team shore-bound

    A Missouri high school bass team will be forced to sit out a championship event at Table Rock Lake next month because the requirements of the school's insurer turned out to be much more restrictive than anticipated. Among the requirements: volunteer boaters would need to take a 3-day Coast Guard certification course at a cost of about $400 and would have to be CPR- and first aid-certified at their own cost, and the boats could go no faster than 35 mph on the water.

    For more, click here.

  • Changes in Florida regs proposed

    Changes in Florida regs proposed

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking public input on its proposal to alter the way it manages largemouth bass. In an effort to protect larger female bass, anglers would be allowed to harvest only one fish per day measuring 16 inches or longer.

    The proposal would not affect tournaments that have received exemptions allowing the possession of fish of any size.

    To read more, click here.

  • Do fish tell with smell?

    Following his 5th-place finish in last month's Toyota Texas Bass Classic, Jason Christie related to BassFan his belief that bass caught from offshore schools and immediately released will return to the school and "tell" the other members about the danger above the waterline. A fellow Oklahoman, Tulsa World outdoor writer Kelly Bostian, has penned a piece based on scientific research that suggests fish transmit such warnings via smell.

    To read it, click here.

  • Rankings: Christie reigns again

    Rankings: Christie reigns again

    Jason Christie has moved back to the top of the BassFan World Rankings following his victory at the recent Lake Dardanelle Bassmaster Elite Series. To see the full list, click here.

  • Pace cleared for return to water

    Pace cleared for return to water

    The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger produced a story this weekend in which 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion Cliff Pace says he's been cleared by doctors to return to the water. Pace, who suffered severe leg injuries in January when he fell from a tree stand (forcing him to miss this year's Classic and Elite Series season), plans to compete in a couple of Bassmaster Opens this year.

    To read the story, click here.

  • Report: MLF at Muskogee

    According to a report in the Muskogee (Okla.) Phoenix newspaper, Major League Fishing was in Muskogee this week filming the first of two Select events that will feature 24 new anglers competing for six spots in either the MLF Summit or Challenge Cup.

    To read the entire report, click here.

  • Balog: Local knowledge to the extreme

    Balog: Local knowledge to the extreme

    Joe Balog has always been intrigued by situations in which high-level tournament anglers seem to display super-intimate knowledge of how to catch quality fish from a particular body of water. He's seen several such occurrences over the years, most recently in Jonathan Henry's victory at the Guntersville Southeast Rayovac.

    In this week's installment of Balog's Bass War, he recounts a discussion with Henry about how the big bass at Guntersville "know" when they're being fished for and have developed and will flat-out shut down when they sense people are around. To read it, click here.

  • Swindle: How to rig jig trailers

    Swindle: How to rig jig trailers

    (Editor's note: The following tip comes courtesy of industry rep Alan McGuckin.)

    Twelve hours after losing by ounces at the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Dardanelle, Gerald Swindle sat in a booth with his wife LeAnn at the Russellville, Ark. Waffle House. He talked about how cool it was to see his ride-along marshal’s hands tremble with excitement during the 40-minute flurry of keeper-catching madness they shared in the tournament’s final hour the day before. In the wake of heartbreaking defeat, Swindle still laughed, and even talked about more serious matters like the importance of having a true sense of God-fearing accountability in life.

    Swindle was heartbroken, but not bitter. There’s a big difference. He knows the number of blue Elite Series trophies he wins won’t define his life.

    He also knows a ton about jigs and the soft-plastic trailers he hangs on their hooks – more specifically, when to hang them from the hook vs. when to thread them up the entire hook shank.

    “Threading a trailer up the hook shank vs. hanging it from the bend of the hook is pretty much all about what profile you’re trying to achieve, and that relates mostly to water color and fishing pressure,” said the 2004 Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler or the Year.

    When Going Big, Tip It

    “Ninety percent of the time, if I’m pitching or flipping a 1/2-ounce jig, I want a bigger profile, so I’ll just tip it as opposed to threading it on there,” Swindle said. “By tipping it, you’re adding length to the jig, giving it a bigger profile, and in stained to muddy water, that’s important.”

    Swindle’s favorite trailer in this situation is a Zoom Big Salty Chunk in either black with blue fleck or sapphire blue.

    “For example, at Dardanelle I was pitching into gnarly cover like thick cattails and real thick water willow vegetation on the shoreline, and at times you couldn’t see 2 inches deep because the water was so dirty from the rains we had. That’s when the big profile is really important.”

    When to Thread Instead

    “Always thread your trailer up the hook shank if you’re skipping a jig around docks because if you tip it, it’s gonna turn over on the hook and mess up your skip,” said Swindle, who's known as a premier dock-skipper. His favorite trailer when skipping docks is a simple one: a plain green-pumpkin Zoom Fat Albert twin-tail.

    “I thread the trailer on the hook shank when I’m using a smaller, more finesse-style, compact jig – and typically I use a smaller jig if I’m pitching down a bank behind somebody or fishing around more sparse cover,” he explained.

    “Like at Dardanelle, from time to time I would encounter some really thinned-out emergent water willow vegetation on the shoreline, and I’d go to the compact jig with that Z-Hog Jr threaded on the hook shank."


    > For compact jigs threaded with plastic trailers: 20-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line, a 7’ 2” rod suited for making short roll casts and more lengthy pitches and a 6.3:1 Quantum Tour Mg reel.

    > For bulkier, large-profile jigs tipped with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk: 25-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line, a 7 1/2-foot Quantum EXO rod, and again a 6.3:1 Quantum Tour Mg reel. “A lot of guys want the faster 7.3:1 reels to pitch with. Not me. I’m amped-up enough as it is, and besides, you can tow a bass out of heavier cover way better with a bulldozer than you can a sports car, and that 6.3:1 reel is geared more like a dozer. Not to mention, it’s still plenty, plenty, fast enough to pick up slack line when the bite occurs."

  • King battling cancer, will skip last two events

    King battling cancer, will skip last two events

    Veteran pro Stacey King of Missouri has withdrawn from the final two FLW Tour events of the season so he can undergo cancer treatment.

    “They’re going to take out my tonsils and also take three biopsies,” King said in an FLW release. “There’s a chance the cancer could be in my tonsils, but they’ll be able to tell more after I’ve had that operation. I know one thing, I’ve had so many tubes and scopes poked down my throat and my nose that it’s made me pretty sore. But other than that I feel fine and never had felt bad from it.”

    King, who's been fishing professionally since the early 1980s, said he first noticed swollen lymph nodes in his throat about 6 months ago, and after tests were conducted, was told that nothing abnormal was discovered, although he should remain vigilant.

    “I kind of put it aside when we got into the heat of the tournament season,” King said. “The lymph nodes never changed one way or the other, so a month or so ago I went to a different doctor and he looked at it and said ‘You need a CT scan and a biopsy.’ It showed some cancer in there, but they don’t think it’s in my lymph nodes. They can’t tell where it is right now, but they’re going to find out.”

    King had posted Top-30 finishes in three of the four Tour events this season and is currently 26th in Angler of the Year (AOY) points. King had previously sat out most of the 2007 season after undergoing open-heart surgery.

    “All of our thoughts and prayers are with Stacey and his family right now,” said Kathy Fennel, FLW’s president of operations. “We know how tough he is and if there is anyone out there who can get past this, it’s Stacey. We wish him the best of luck with his procedures and hope to see him out on the water competing again very soon.”

  • Sunline Strong Performer: Lake Dardanelle

    <b><font color=green>Sunline Strong Performer: Lake Dardanelle</font color></b>

    Mike Iaconelli knew he needed a solid finish last week at the Lake Dardanelle Elite Series if he was to have any hope of staying in the mix for a berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic.

    Things didn't look so good after day 1 when he found himself in a tie for 80th place with 12-09. He'd spent most of the day up the lake in the river stretch, but upon coming back down he stopped on an area that ultimately clued him on a pattern that produced for him the rest of the way.

    He rocketed up to 16th after day 2, then squeaked inside the 12-cut with a 17-12 bag on Saturday before closing with a stout 18-08 to come away in 6th. His 74-place jump up the leaderboard put him in 65th in the Angler of the Year points.

    "Hopefully, this is a turnaround tournament for me," he said. "It was a critical event from the standpoint that I could've left here with another bad finish and what that would've done is force me to go win one.

    "Now it puts me in a position where if I have two more good events I could qualify for Angler of the Year championship and that puts me back in position to possibly qualify for the Classic. It gets me in a better mindset becaue if I'd left here with another 60th, there's no way I'd be able to make the Classic. It's still going to be a tough, uphill battle, but it's doable now."

    The constantly changing water conditions seemed to have the greatest impact on the river section of the lake where he spent most of day 1.

    "It's a more flat environment up there and that makes it more susceptible those changes," he noted. "Had I not gone up there, I think I had a real shot to win. Luckily, I left up there with enough time to make a pass through an area down lake and I had enough bites in the last 50 minutes to enable me to figure it out. I wasn't the only one who found it."

    While a lot of the field was zeroed in on the bank grass or visible cover and bridges, Iaconelli was focused on submergent grass in 2 to 4 feet of water out in front of coves and pockets.

    "I had some bites on the second day of practice that clued me in," he said. "It was mostly in hydrilla and coontail. That was key for me. Once I got those bites, I had to figure out how to trigger those bites and a vibrating jig was the key in that grass. I caught about 80 percent of my fish on a half-ounce Molix Lover.

    "I found some in the backs of some places, but only got a few bites. These fish were coming out because they were post-spawn and were leaving those areas."

    His retrieve was key to triggering bites. He said was catching between 10 and 20 keepers a day.

    "I was feathering it through the grass," he noted. "It was almost fishing a Rat-L-Trap in grass, but the snaps weren't as violent. I'd stutter it through that vegetation and the way it vibrates and ticks the grass and then pulls free – that was the trigger for those fish."

    He also caught some fish cranking riprap around openings by bridges.

    The Sunline Strong Performer, which focuses on the angler who makes the most significant single-day move in the standings at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

  • Rookie Lehew riding high

    Rookie Lehew riding high

    Shane Lehew has made an extremely smooth transition from collegiate fishing to the professional ranks.

    With two-thirds of the FLW Tour season in the books, the 25-year-old former University of North Carolina-Charlotte standout is 31st in the Angler of the Year race, having logged three Top-40 finishes in four outings. He leads the rookie points list and is inside the cutoff to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup.

    The only event he's flopped in was the one closest to home – he was 118th at Lake Hartwell.

    "I've got no complaints so far except for that tournament," he said. "I was looking forward to that one, even though I'd only been there a couple of times and that was years ago. I spent my time there trying to catch big ones when I should've just gotten whatever I could."

    It'll be a challenge to maintain his positions on the points list as the last two derbies of the season will be ledge-fishing affairs, and that's not his preferred style.

    "I'm more of a shallow-water power-fisherman – I like to throw a jig and stuff like that. I've fished both places a couple of times and it'll be all deep fishing.

    "I just spent 2 days (pre-fishing) at Pickwick. Around here, I've been working on trying to get better at using my graphs and finding schools of fish."

    The runner-up in the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship is finishing up his degree in criminal justice this spring. He's always been intrigued by the possibility of becoming a detective, but would much rather have a long career wielding a rod and reel.

    "To be honest, I really went to school for the college fishing. My mom wanted me to go, so it was a good compromise."

    He's likely the only angler ever to finish 2nd to his grandfather in a BFL – that occurred in February at Lake Norman. The victory over a 140-angler field that included Tour standouts Bryan Thrift and Matt Arey was Larry Lehew's first in 40 BFL starts.

    "If I could finish 2nd to him every time, I'd be happy," Shane said. "I've got a long time to do this, but he doesn't have as long."

  • Lane: Cause of fire still unknown

    Lane: Cause of fire still unknown

    Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Lane told BassFan today that the cause of the nighttime fire that destroyed his boat just hours before the start of last week's event at Lake Dardanelle has yet to be determined.

    "That's the million-dollar question – what started it," he said. "Experts are still looking into it and the investigation is still under way. It wouldn't do anybody any good for me to speculate about it."

    He said Boater's Insurance Agency, the underwriter of his policy, had an inspector on the scene by 7 o'clock that evening and the company is processing his claim. Legend delivered a new boat to his hotel the following night and he towed it home to Guntersville, Ala.

    "I'm in the process of getting that one rigged up and it'll be full speed, for sure, when it's time to go to Chickamauga (in 3 weeks). The support I've gotten from family, friends and sponsors has just been overwhelming. I don't want to try to name all the names because that wouldn't be fair to everybody, but people have been jumping through hoops for me.

    "J.D. Blackburn (owner of Pro Fishing Management, which represents Lane and several other Elite pros) handled a lot of the stuff while I was on the water last week. I can't thank him enough."

    He estimated that the monetary value of what he lost was somewhere between $70,000 and $80,000.

    "You figure replacing the boat is $52,000, then I had upgraded electronics, Power-Poles, jackplates, lithium batteries, 12 or 13 rods and reels ... it's a lot.

    "Life is going to throw adversity at you, and how you deal with it determines how it's going to work out. Life goes on, one way or the other."

  • Tune in for Jig Week

    It's Jig Week on The Bass University TV.

    Jigs are known as one of the best baits to catch giant bass, and fishing both football-head and swimjigs are killer techniques for this time of year. A 40-minute in-depth class session by Mike Iaconelli on football jigs is now available on Bass U TV (a preview is embedded below).

    Also new on Bass U TV this week is an on-water training video with Ike and Pete Gluszek on swimjigs. Short preview clips can be viewed by clicking here.

    Bass U TV memberships are available for $149.99 per year or $15 per month. Each new member who enrolls by May 27 will receive an autographed picture from co-founders Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek, along with a tackle gift pack featuring Rapala, VMC, Berkley, and/or Molix products.

    To sign up, click here.

  • An extra 5 bills for Christie

    An extra 5 bills for Christie

    Thanks to LEER truck caps and tonneau covers, the two most recent Bassmaster Elite Series winners have hauled home more than just the $100,000 prize.

    Both Jacob Powroznik and Jason Christie got an extra $500 simply for having a LEER truck cap on their tow vehicles, and signing-up for the LEER “Cover Cash” bonus program.

    Becoming eligible for the Cover Cash program is simple. Purchase or own a LEER truck cap or tonneau cover for your primary tow vehicle, sign-up for the free Cover Cash program at, be the highest finishing participant in any of the more than 300 approved tournaments and you’ll win the cash.

    The list of participating trails includes B.A.S.S., FLW, TBF, ABA Weekend Series and LBAA. The following team trails are also eligible: Alabama Bass Trail, Bass Champs, Nichols Marine Tournament Series, Platinum Team Trail, Priority Fishing Team Series, Skeeter XFL, Texas Team Trail and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

    It’s free to sign-up and the program offers a variety of payouts ranging from $150 to $1,000.
    Registration is accepted online at, or by calling (918) 742-6424.

  • Big Bite Lookback: Lake Dardanelle

    <b><font color=green>Big Bite Lookback: Lake Dardanelle</font color></b>

    For the most part, David Walker was pretty pleased with how he fished at Lake Dardanelle last week. There was one exception, though.

    "A few years ago, we fished an FLW Series event at Dardanelle and I lost the tournament on a big fish that I saw come up and eat my bait, and I jerked the bait away from it," he said. "(On Saturday), with about 15 minutes left to fish, I had a 4-pound class fish come up and eat my jig. I saw him eat it and I did the same thing again – I jerked it away from him. If I hadn't seen him bite, I'm sure I would've been fishing on Sunday."

    As a result, he wound up 13th with 48-05, just 5 ounces shy of making the finals.

    "Seeing it bite the jig and wanting to get a big bite so bad, it was just a knee-jerk reaction to do that. I'm disappointed, but not devastated by any means. I felt like I fished a good event and made some good choices."

    He mainly flipped a half-ounce jig around river willow along the bank or reeds and caught a few fish off wood.

    "Any chance I get to throw a jig and get my G. Loomis flipping stick out, I'm in my comfort zone," he said. "Maybe it's stubbornness on my part, but to stand there and keep repeating that motion and only get a few bites – I did catch 20 on day 1 – I had fun with it.

    "I think the fishing during the event was a lot tougher than it was during practice from the aspect of number of bites. In terms of the quality of weights during the tournament, I was amazed at how big the weights were."

    The Big Bite Lookback, which focuses on the angler who's first out of the final cut at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.

  • Martens to design shades

    Martens to design shades

    Solar Bat Sunglasses and Bassmaster Elite Series standout Aaron Martens have teamed up to design a line of sunglasses for the serious bass fisherman.

    “I am excited to team with Aaron to design and market an Aaron Martens Signature Series line of sunglasses," said Solar Bat owner and optometrist Gary Nesty. "Aaron is one of the premier bass fishermen in the USA with a list of credentials that speak for themselves. Aaron is also known by his peers as one of, if not the most, meticulous, well-organized and innovative fishermen on the B.A.S.S. Elite Trail. Solar Bat will utilize Aaron’s attention to detail to produce an outstanding line of sunglasses worthy of Aaron’s signature.”

    Said Martens: “I'm looking forward to working with a sunglass company that listens and responds to the needs of bass fisherman. Solar Bat has unique polarized tints that will improve performance on the water, and I rely heavily on my vision when I'm fishing. I'm excited to work with Dr. Nesty and his knowledge of vision and lens tints to produce a superior line of lenses."

  • Daniels wins at Cal Delta

    Daniels wins at Cal Delta

    FLW Tour pro and reigning TBF national champion Mark Daniels Jr. of Fairfield, Calif., weighed a 26-12 sack on Saturday to win the California Delta Western Rayovac with a 3-day total of 72-07.

    “I’m just speechless,” he said. “Looking out in the crowd, there are so many people here who supported me. It’s great to get home and relax and get a win in this tournament.

    “I came home to surprise my mom and I hooked up with a couple of my buddies. We went out fishing and had a really good day. We caught a really good fish that I posted on Instagram, and that gave me an idea of what I could do to win the tournament. I made up my mind and signed up for the tournament the next day.

    He said he focused on pre-spawn fish.

    “I was targeting fish that wanted to actually bite. I don’t like looking at them on beds. There are so many different ways you can catch them pre-spawn on the Delta. That was the way to go.

    “(Saturday), I didn’t have any really big ones. I had some 6-pounders, though. I started out throwing topwaters and I was just catching small fish. Around 8 o’clock in the morning I swapped over and started flipping and immediately caught a 4-pounder. After that I pretty much locked that rod in my hand the whole day.”

    Full details of his winning pattern will be published soon.

    Here are the totals for the final Top 10:

    1. Mark Daniels Jr.: 72-07
    2. Kyle Grover: 65-09
    3. Vu Au: 63-07
    4. Roy Hawk: 59-09
    5. Stephen Tosh Jr.: 58-10
    6. Jerred Jennings: 57-11
    7. Greg Leonard: 57-07
    8. Tai Au: 52-03
    9. Timothy Venkus: 51-09
    10. Benjamin Byrd: 50-12

  • Blaukat among four inducted into Joplin hall

    Pro angler Randy Blaukat was among four athletes inducted into the Joplin (Mo.) Area Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony held Friday.

    Blaukat, who turned pro at the age of 23 and has amassed nearly $1.5 million in career earnings, was part of the induction class that also included former University of Tulsa basketball star Leela Farr, former NFL defensive back Felix Wright and baseball legend Mickey Mantle.

    “One of the good things about pro fishing is that your career doesn’t end after you’ve been in it for 20 years,” Blaukat told the Joplin Globe newspaper. “The more experience you get on the water, the better you get over the years. A lot of the professional anglers out there now are in their early 70s. It’s one of those sports you can continue to compete at as you get older.”

    To read more about Blaukat's induction, click here.

  • Fog delays day 2

    A blanket of fog over Lake Dardanelle has delayed the start of day 2 of the Bassmaster Elite Series. Overnight temperatures in Russellville, Ark., dropped into the low 40s for the second straight night. Those cold temperatures combined with the warmer water have resulted in a thick fog that has limited visibility.

    Per Elite Series rules (Rule C5.iv), "Tournament officials have the right to delay, shorten or cancel the start of an official tournament day because of bad weather or other factors that would endanger the safety of the competitors. Tournament waters may also be restricted at any time because of bad weather. Weather delays on full field days resulting in half of the tournament day being lost (first flight takeoff and check-in) may result in cancellation. Full fields may be carried over to cut days."

  • Heart attack hospitalizes elder Shuffield

    Heart attack hospitalizes elder Shuffield

    FLW reported that longtime tour pro Ron Shuffield is in a Hot Springs, Ark. hospital, recovering from a heart attack he suffered earlier this week. The 57-year-old Shuffield, the father of current FLW Tour pro Spencer Shuffield, retired from tour-level competition after last season.

    To read the story, click here.

  • Gallery: Lane's boat fire

    Chris Lane got a rude awakening Thursday morning when his boat was found on fire in the parking lot of his hotel in Russellville, Ark., just hours before the start of the Lake Dardanelle Elite Series tournament.

    The cause of the blaze is still unknown. Lane competed today out of a borrowed boat that used to belong to fellow pro Fred Roumbanis.

    To read more about Lane's ordeal and view images of the damaged boat, click here.

  • Gallery: The Lake Fork fatty-fest

    Gallery: The Lake Fork fatty-fest

    Last week's Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Fork provided plenty of photo ops – there was world-class entertainment, lots of family-friendly activities and, of course, massive largemouth bass. To see some of the highlights in pictures, click here.

  • KVD chillin' at Dardanelle

    KVD chillin' at Dardanelle

    (Editor's note: Industry rep Alan McGuckin passed on this short feature from this week's Bassmaster Elite Series stop in Arkansas.)

    Kevin VanDam sat alone on the front deck of his boat in a less-than-glamorous hotel parking lot making final tackle preparations for Lake Dardanelle with a Waffle House sign as the only bright spot among a ceiling of grey clouds overhead.

    There’s nothing gloomy about VanDam’s attitude, though.

    “I like this place,” he volunteered with a warm, upbeat delivery as cold rain tried to spit on a scattering of Quantum rods and reels spread about his boat.

    “It’s real diverse, Dardanelle has something for everybody,” says VanDam. “It’s got a lot of different types of habitat, featuring tons of shallow-water situations, all the way to deep -ranking, and river current, too.”

    VanDam should have good vibes about this section of the Arkansas River. After all, he finished in 2nd place here in late March of 2009.

    “That tournament in 2009 was all about the spawn,” remembers VanDam. “Most of the fish I caught then were spawning real shallow around big stumps. This week they’re in more of an early summer pattern.”

    Weather played a major role in the 2009 event here. Fog delayed anglers several hours on day 1, and day 3 was completely cancelled because of dangerously high winds.

    This week, it’s rain, coupled with potentially record low temps for mid-May, that caused anglers to shiver miserably during practice and carry wool-like Carhartt caps into day 1 of competition as sunrise temps hover around 40 degrees.

    Still, VanDam feels good.

    “No matter what the weather is here, whether it’s cold and rainy or slick-calm and sunny, you can always find a pattern that’ll work here.”

    So far, VanDam says the rains haven’t muddied the bite. The biggest challenge he and the rest of this Elite Series field face is keeping up with drastically fluctuating water levels.

    “They dropped the bottom out of it during Tuesday’s practice and let it come way back up on Wednesday. It seems like it goes up and down as much as 2 feet from one day to the next.”

    Mark Menendez won with 55 pounds in the weather shortened 3-day event here in 2009. That’s 18 pounds per day – and VanDam thinks it will be every bit that strong this time around.

    No matter the weather, no matter the water levels, one thing’s for sure VanDam likes this place. And that’s the first step to a winning weight – with desire spotlighted best by the glow of a Waffle House sign high in the cold, cloudy air above.

  • Balog: Fork rules

    Balog: Fork rules

    Like many BassFans, Joe Balog was astounded by the weights chalked up by competitors in last week's Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Fork. In his view, much of the credit must go to the Lonestar State for making bass its top priority among freshwater gamefish.

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

  • Berkley to re-launch IronSilk mono

    Last week, Berkley posted a video (embedded below) on its Facebook page regarding its plan to restore its IronSilk monofilament line to its product lineup beginning later this spring.

    Touted as being five times more abrasion-resistant than a leading competitor's product of the same line diameter, IronSilk is expected to be available in early June.

  • Learn from Combs, other Elites at Lake Fork

    Learn from Combs, other Elites at Lake Fork

    Keith Combs, winner of the recent Toyota Texas Bass Classic, and three other Bassmaster Elite Series pros will conduct a Pro-Bass Class session July 8-10 at Lake Fork. The other instructors are Kurt Dove, Matt Reed and James Niggemeyer.

    Participants will spend 4-hour sessions on the water with each instructor over 2 full days and attend evening "think tank-style" discussions that address questions they may have about professional bass fishing.

    Topics will include, but are not limited to: fish location (seasonal patterns, map study and lake breakdown), lure specifics (when and where), mental coaching (attitude, confidence, mental toughness, angler identity), depth (unlocking the keys to offshore fishing and maximizing the "bank bite") and tackle balancing (the best rod, reel, line and hooks for the best hook-to-land ratio).

    The $1,895 fee includes lodging for three nights and all meals. For more information, go to

  • Arrangements made for Green

    Arrangements made for Green

    Funeral services for former professional bass angler Ricky Green will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Hot Springs, Ark. Visitation will be Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ruggles Wilcox Funeral Home in Arkadelphia, Ark.

    Green, a 14-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and 2005 inductee in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, died Sunday in Houston from an infection after receiving a lung transplant. He was 69.

    In lieu of flowers, the Green family requests donations in Ricky Green’s name be made to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Checks should be made payable to Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and accompanied by a note stating “Ricky Green Memorial.” Mail to: Bass Fishing Hall of Fame c/o Donald Howell, 361 Summit Blvd., Suite 210, Birmingham, AL 35243.

  • Mud's the word at Dardanelle

    Brent Chapman cut short his first practice day for the Lake Dardanelle Elite Series on Monday after a band of storms moved across central Arkansas. The rain is expected to continue through Wednesday, which means the Arkansas River could be a high and muddy fishery come tournament time.

    To check out the rest of Chapman's day-1 practice recap, click here to read BassFan's ProView Report.

  • Gallery: Scenes from Erie, Ontario

    Gallery: Scenes from Erie, Ontario

    Last week, BassFan editor Todd Ceisner took part in the annual Niagara Media Event that showcases the Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Lake Ontario fisheries to product reps and outdoors media from around the country.

    To check out a photo gallery of his day on Lake Erie with FLW Tour pro Bill McDonald, click here.

    To check out another gallery highlighting Ceisner's time with TV personality and former bass tournament angler Mark Davis and former walleye tournament pro Gregg LaMere, click here.

  • Ricky Green dies at 69

    Ricky Green dies at 69

    Former tour pro Keith Green confirmed today that his father, 14-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Ricky Green, died on Sunday at age 69. He'd battled severe lung issues for several years and received a transplant on May 1, but developed an infection that led to his death.

    He won two Bassmaster Tour events (the 1972 Rebel Invitational at Ross Barnett Reservoir in Mississippi and the 1974 Texas Invitational at Sam Rayburn Reservoir) and competed in his final Classic in 1985.

    "Getting that transplant was the only chance he had to get back to doing what he liked to do, which was being in the outdoors," said longtime friend and fellow Arkansan Larry Nixon. "It was extremely risky, but he decided to do it, and I admire him for that."

    Keith Green said services will likely take place later this week, but arrangements are still pending.

  • Two arrested, accused of cheating at Guntersville

    Two men from Marshall County, Ala., were arrested last week and charged with tampering with a sport contest after it was discovered they were allegedly using penned fish for tournaments at Lake Guntersville, according to a report posted on the website of Huntsville TV station WAAY.

    The names of the men, who face misdemeanor charges, were not published in the report.

    To read the full report, click here.

  • BassU TV: Swindle on attitude

    BassU TV: Swindle on attitude

    A 45-minute session by Gerald Swindle on developing a positive mental attitude is now available on The Bass University TV. A preview is embedded below.

    "We (instructors) all talk about the lures and the things that we can do to help you be a better fisherman," Swindle says. "There is one thing I can promise you: if you follow me through the next 45 minutes, I can make you a better fisherman. When you sustain a positive mental attitude on the water and in life, you become a better fisherman."

    BassU TV memberships are available for $149.99 per year or $15 per month. Each new member who enrolls by May 27 will receive an autographed picture from co-founders Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek, along with a tackle gift pack featuring Rapala, VMC, Berkley, and/or Molix products.

    The next TV session will feature Greg Hackney discussing jig fishing. To sign up, click here.

  • Balog: Money down the drain

    Balog: Money down the drain

    Joe Balog was scheduled to compete in the James River Northern Rayovac, which was scheduled for last week but postponed until September due to high water from a deluge of rain. In his opinion, FLW's decision to keep competitors off the water was the right one, but asking them to return in the fall to complete the division's schedule was off base.

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

  • Lew's Speed Spool promo under way

    Lew's Speed Spool promo under way

    The Lew's Speed Spool, an iconic baitcasting reel that helped launch the low-profile craze more than 40 years ago, is the focus of a special consumer rebate offer during a 3-month promotional period that began May 1.

    The $20 mail-in rebate offer is valid for all four Speed Spools models - SS1S, SS1H, SS1HL (left hand) and SS1SH - and applies to any new reel purchases made at participating retailers during the promotion's timeframe of May 1 through July 31, 2014. Proof of purchase is required for rebate redemption.

    "Already rated the best value in a $100 baitcaster by several independent tackle reviews, getting an additional $20 off means that there is no better time than now to get outfitted with Speed Spool reels," said Lew's president Gary Remensnyder. "At the $79 after-rebate price, anglers are getting a lot of the same design and technology features found in our high-end baitcast reels."

    Coinciding with the launch of the Speed Spool promotion is the debut of an all-new Lew's website, the online resource where all Lew's product and promotional information can be found. The Speed Spool rebate information and downloadable form is located at www.Lews.comunder the "Promotions" tab.

    "Our totally renovated website provides a fresh and modern look for today's Lew's that nicely complements our ongoing commitment to product innovation, while maintaining respect for the prestigious history of our legendary brand which will always be an integral part of who we are," said Lew's CEO Lynn Reeves.

  • Powroznik picks up some LEER Cover Cash

    Powroznik picks up some LEER Cover Cash

    Jacob Powroznik carried his big blue Bassmaster Elite Series trophy across the boat ramp parking lot at Toledo Bend on Sunday evening, placed it securely in his Tundra, and said, “Okay boys, let’s head to the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. I love that event.”

    Thanks to his registration in the LEER Cover Cash program, Powroznik earned an extra $500 to buy all the boat gas needed to practice and compete on famed Lake Fork once he got there.

    He says he can’t imagine life as a tournament angler without his LEER.

    “I love my LEER because I can pack for a 4- or 5-week road trip and have everything I need packed in here in a dry and safe place,” he said.

    Sure enough, when he shared a look inside, it was obvious that he doesn’t leave much at home.

    “Look, I’ve got life jackets in here, outboard props, spare depthfinders, clothes, a boat cover and dang near every lure I own.”

    Becoming eligible for the Cover Cash program is simple. Purchase or own a LEER truck cap or tonneau cover for your primary tow vehicle, sign-up for the free Cover Cash program at, be the highest finishing participant in any of the more than 300 approved tournaments and you’ll win the cash.

    Better yet, you don’t have to win the tournament to win the Cover Cash. You just need to be the highest-finishing eligible angler in the following supported trails: B.A.S.S., FLW, TBF, ABA Weekend Series and LBAA. The following team trails are also eligible: Alabama Bass Trail, Bass Champs, Nichols Marine Tournament Series, Platinum Team Trail, Priority Fishing Team Series, Skeeter XFL, Texas Team Trail and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

    It’s free to sign-up and the program offers a variety of payouts ranging from $150 to $1,000. For example, a Bassmaster Open will pay a single award of $300 on the boater side and $150 to the highest-placing non-boater. Team trail events will offer $150 to both the highest-finishing and second-highest finishing eligible angler in a regular-season event.

    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 upfront, and then get ready to win additional funds when you do well in supported tournaments.

    Registration is accepted online at, or by calling (918) 742-6424.

  • Raymarine adds eight to staff

    Raymarine adds eight to staff

    Electronics manufacturer Raymarine announced recently that it's added eight anglers to its pro staff. The expansion comes on the heels of the company’s entry into the inland and freshwater fishing markets last year.

    The list of newcomers is headed up by former Bassmaster Classic champions Chris Lane and Paul Elias and former B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Tim Horton. It also includes Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain, FLW Tour anglers Randy Haynes and Bill McDonald, former tour pro and northeastern standout Terry Baksay and Florida stalwart Arnie Lane (Chris' brother).

    “Professional anglers demand the best, so when we developed our new CHIRP sonar products we set a goal to exceed their expectations” said Raymarine VP of sales Larry Rencken. “Switching yet another group of accomplished B.A.S.S. and FLW anglers to Raymarine is a testament to just how well our technology works. The response to our newest CHIRP Sonar products has been tremendous from both the professional and weekend anglers, too.”

  • Big Bite Lookback: Toledo Bend

    <b><font color=green>Big Bite Lookback: Toledo Bend</font color></b>

    Most times Glenn Browne is presented with opportunities to catch fish with a flipping rod in his hand, he's going to take advantage of it. At Toledo Bend, however, he couldn't get on a consistent flipping pattern in practice and he opted instead to sight-fish on day 1, catching 16 pounds.

    He missed a couple fish on day 2 that would've given him a couple extra pounds, but he made his first cut of the season in 45th place. On day 3, though, he opted to get off the sight-fishing program in hopes that he could trigger some bigger post-spawn bites.

    "I had some good bites flipping in practice, but never got on it really good," he said. "I'm pretty good friends with Chad (Morgenthaler) and knew he was catching them flipping. I room with Jacob (Powroznik) and I told him I'd back off the sight-fishing because I knew that was part of his deal.

    "I went to some other areas and started fishing around on the outside and then I went inside and started flipping the grass and caught a 5-pounder."

    As it turned out, his 21-10 stringer was the heaviest on day 3 and moved him up to 13th. He missed the Top-12 cut by 3 1/2 pounds.

    "I wish I would've fished my strengths more," he said. "If I had been doing that all week, I'm quite sure I would've been in the mix. I knew Jacob had found some sight-fishing so I went and did that, but I'm kicking myself because if I'd have just gone and did what I do, I would've caught 17 a day at least."

    He caught his flipping fish around thick clumps of hay grass mixed with other vegetation.

    "There was some matted stuff, but I wasn't punching," he said. "I was flipping a big jig a friend of mine builds back home. I was more flipping the edges. I think they were spawning on the edge and they were just deep enough where I couldn't see them, but any point or clump in the grass there'd be a fish in it."

    After narrowly missing the cut in each of his first three Elite Series events he's happy to come away with a positive result.

    "I've had a couple tough tournaments so far and I was just happy to get in the 50-cut this week," he added.

    The Big Bite Lookback, which focuses on the angler who's first out of the final cut at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.

  • Sunline Strong Performer: Toledo Bend

    <b><font color=green>Sunline Strong Performer: Toledo Bend</font color></b>

    After three events of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, Jonathon VanDam found himself mired in unfamiliar territory – in 97th place in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings.

    He thinks he may have started to right the ship last week at Toledo Bend where he climbed 44 places (54th to 10th) over the course of the event to notch his sixth Top-10 finish on the Elite Series.

    "All in all, I'm pretty pleased," he said. "After the practice I had, I wasn't sure how it would go. I caught a lot of good fish in practice, but they were extremely scattered and I didn’t feel like there was a specific area where I could really catch them."

    His better fish came on a jerkbait and he caught other key weigh-in fish on a crankbait.

    "I had one area that was really good and it was more productive in the morning," he said. "There was a shad spawn going on in the grass and there were some fish schooling in the area and I think lot of that had to do with the shad spawning."

    He nearly left the area after it fizzled on day 1.

    "I went through there and didn't get any bites and almost wrote it off," he added. "I went back on day 2 and made one pass and my first two bites were 6-pounders, so I stayed there the rest of the time."

    While he moved up 26 spots in the AOY standings this week, he knows he's going to need a few more similar finishes to overcome two placements in the 90s from early on.

    "I've been disappointed with how my season has gone," he said. "The Florida tournaments were pretty rough for me and I don't really know why. I don't feel like I fished much different, but I'm just more comfortable once we get away from the spawn.

    "Then it was real tough missing the cut at Table Rock by an ounce. To be honest, I got a little mad. I really pushed hard and did a lot more research on Toledo Bend. I've fished here four times and this is the first time I've got a check there. It wasn't a good place for me in the past and I couldn't afford another bad tournament."

    The Sunline Strong Performer, which focuses on the angler who makes the most significant single-day move in the standings at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

  • James River Rayovac moved to August

    FLW announced today it has moved the already rescheduled James River Northern Rayovac Series to Aug. 21-23.

    It was originally scheduled for this past weekend, but unsafe conditions due to flooding forced officials to postpone the tournament. The original rescheduled dates were Sept. 11-13. It'll now fall the week after the Forrest Wood Cup.

    All details and locations remain the same as originally scheduled.

  • What's KVD throwing?

    Industry rep Alan McGuckin got an up-close look at what Kevin VanDam was using to catch his 17-pound stringer on day 1 at the Toledo Bend Bassmaster Elite Series. Here's a hint: There was very little in between.

    To read more, click here.

  • 6-pound Chick spot becomes state record

    Due to a decision by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association biologists to recognize two distinct subspecies of spotted bass, a 6-01 fish caught in 2011 by noted guide and tournament competitor Chris Coleman has become an official state record. Coleman's fish was a northern spot, which has a vastly different DNA makeup than the Alabama subspecies.

    To read more, click here.

  • Relief funds set up for Mayflower area

    A couple of relief funds have been set up to aid residents of the Mayflower, Ark. area who suffered losses from this week's tornadoes. Mayflower is the home of Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Kevin Short, whose home was severely damaged while he was practicing for the event at Toledo Bend.

    Here are the applicable addresses:

    First Security Bank
    Mayflower Relief Fund
    Attn: Mike Rainey
    624 Highway 365 South
    Mayflower, AR 72106
    (624) 470-3600

    Centennial Bank
    Mayflower Relief Fund
    Attn: Blake Browning
    582 Highway 365
    Mayflower, AR 72106
    (501) 328-4810

  • Alabama Bass Trail announces '15 slate

    Alabama Bass Trail announces '15 slate

    After a successful inaugural year, the Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) has released its 2015 tournament schedule. The 10-lake, team-style tournament series will get under way in mid-February, with the championship set for Oct. 9-10.

    “The Alabama Bass Trail tournament format has been wildly successful, pulling anglers from six states and creating an economic impact of over $1 million in the areas around the Trail’s lakes,” said ABT program director Kay Donaldson. “I am so proud of what our state has accomplished while promoting the sport of bass fishing. We have showcased these lakes to the world and provided a needed boost to the local economies.”

    The tournament trail contains two divisions: North and South. Each division is made up of five tournaments on five different lakes. The maximum number of boats for each tournament is 225, an increase from the 200-boat limit in the 2014 series. In 2015, no single entries will be allowed – teams must fish in all five tournaments in their respective division.

    Here's a look at the 2015 schedule:

    North Division

    > Lake Guntersville -- Feb. 28
    > Neely Henry Lake -- March 28
    > Lewis Smith Lake -- April 11
    > Logan Martin Lake -- May 9
    > Pickwick Lake -- June 6

    South Division
    > Lake Jordan -- Feb. 14
    > Lake Eufaula -- March 14
    > Alabama River -- April 25
    > Mobile-Tensaw Delta -- May 30
    > Lay Lake -- June 20

    The number of entries for the championship tournament will be increased from 125 boats to 145. That total comprises the 10 divisional-tournament winning teams, the Top 55 teams in points from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective divisions, along with the Top 25 student boats collectively from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective division. The championship is set for October 9-10 on Wheeler Lake.

    Anglers who fished all five events in their respective divisions in 2014 will be given a priority entry period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 14 to register online at Registration will be open to the public on Aug. 15.

    The entry fee per division is $1,250 per team, which includes registration for all five tournaments in the respective division.

  • FLW unveils 2015 Tour event dates

    FLW today announced the dates for its 2015 Walmart FLW Tour events. According to a brief email sent out by FLW on Thursday, the locations and additional details will be announced at ICAST in July.

    The dates for the 2015 FLW Tour will be:

    > March 5-8
    > March 26-29
    > April 23-26
    > May 14-17
    > June 4-7
    > June 25-28
    > Aug. 20-23 (Forrest Wood Cup)

  • James River Rayovac ppd. until September

    Just hours after canceling the first day of competition due to unsafe conditions, FLW announced Thursday it has postponed the James River Northern Rayovac Series until September.

    The event, originally scheduled to start today and conclude Saturday, will now be held Sept. 11-13 at the James River. Additional information about the takeoff and weigh-in locations will be released at a later date.

    “We did not feel like it was fair or safe to send our anglers out in this event,” said Rayovac FLW Series tournament director Ron Lappin. “They’re expecting the river to crest today nearly 4 feet above flood level, and with the extreme current and the tide pushing against each other it was creating unsafe conditions. From all reports, the predictions were that the river was not going to be getting any better over the next 2 days so with the safety of our anglers in mind we had to make the decision to reschedule the event.”

  • James River Rayovac: Day 1 cancelled due to flooding

    Heavy rains in recent days have led to flooding along the James River and prompted FLW this morning to cancel day 1 of the James River Northern Rayovac Series.

    “The river is actually closed 20 miles north of here because of how swift the current is,” Rayovac FLW Series tournament director Ron Lappin said in an update posted at “FLW has always erred on the side of safety, so postponing day 1 was in the best interest for the anglers. The river is expected to crest this afternoon and we will keep checking it throughout the day. Our plan as of now is to fish the entire field on both Friday and Saturday. Obviously, that could change depending on the river conditions, but that will be decided tomorrow morning.”

    BassFan columnist Joe Balog, who is due to compete in the event, said the ramp at Osborne Landing in Richmond, Va., where the field was supposed to take off from is completely washed out and the docks are submerged. The National Weather Service declares flood stage for this portion of the James to be at 12 feet with it currently sitting above 13 feet. When the river finally crests it is predicted to be close to 15 feet.

    "As of now, they're telling us it's just day 1, but most people are thinking we won't be fishing at all this week," Balog said. "The river has been rising due to all the rain west of here. It's been really, really bad. The water's very high and very muddy and there are giant logs floating everywhere. The National Weather Service is calling for the water to continue to rise through tomorrow."

    In addition to the flood conditions, a train carrying crude oil derailed near Lynchburg, Va., yesterday causing much of the oil to spill into the river. The James is the major water supply for the city of Richmond and surrounding area, so much of the concern pertained to the potential for contaminated drinking water. Booms were put in place to collect any oil heading downstream since oil floats in water.

  • Balog: The goby conundrum

    Balog: The goby conundrum

    Joe Balog addresses an issue that hits close to home in this week's edition of Balog's Bass War – the proliferation of gobies throughout the Great Lakes system. Sure, the smallmouths have grown fat and happy devouring them, but will there be a heavy price to pay down the road?

    To read the column, click here.

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