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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

  • More awards: college

    <b><font color = maroon>More awards: college</b></font>

    The Berkley Conservation Institute is awarding even more prizes and money for conservation ideas. This time, college anglers can reap the benefits. To find out how, head on over to the Catch More Fish page.

  • Rock rescheduled to Pickwick

    <font color = red>Rock rescheduled to Pickwick</font>

    FLW Outdoors announced that the cancelled Table Rock FLW Tour Major, originally slated for next week, has indeed been rescheduled. The FLW Tour season will now end with a sixth event at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. July 21-24.

    Weigh-ins for days 1 and 2 will be held lakeside at McFarland Park. The final two weigh-ins will occur outdoors at the Florence Walmart Supercenter (3100 Hough Rd.).

    Exactly half of the FLW Tour Major season will thus be contested on the Tennessee River (Chickamauga, Kentucky Lake and Pickwick).

    FLW Outdoors operations-division president Kathy Fennel noted: "We're pleased to be heading to northern Alabama for the final Major of the season. Pickwick Lake is a fabulous fishery, and the Florence community fully embraces tournament bass fishing. Most importantly, we felt it was imperative to have six events determine Angler of the Year, especially with the $100,000 purse attached. We're disappointed we won't be visiting Table Rock and the city of Branson this season, but we plan to return in 2012."

    The official practice period for Pickwick Lake will be extended by 1 day to include Wednesday, July 20, and the pretournament meeting will begin that day at 6:30 p.m. These changes were made to accommodate pros traveling from the Detroit River Central EverStart.

    Additionally, the official beginning of the off-limits period for the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita will be moved from July 25 to July 28 to provide qualifiers with a chance to prepractice.

  • Morgan spared tornado wrath

    Morgan spared tornado wrath

    The South continues to reel from the effects of a devastating set of storms and tornados, the scale of which has not been seen in nearly 40 years.

    As many as 250 people have lost their lives, property lies in ruin, heartache and tragedy lie at every turn.

    Reporting on storm damage is forthcoming, but one well-known pro, Andy Morgan from Dayton, Tenn., was spared some of the wrath. A tornado swept through his area yesterday and caused several fatalities, but Morgan affirmed that he's okay.

    "It missed our cabin by about 100 yards," Morgan said. "There's a lot of bad stuff here – a lot of people hurt and some people dead. Most of the damage was on Dayton Mountain."

    BassFans are encouraged to share news of the storms and updates by submitting info to BassFan here. Photos of affected areas, and in particular popular fishing venues and facilities, can be sent via email to Editorial@BassFan.com.

  • Review: 'White Lightning'

    Review: 'White Lightning'

    Have you checked out the new Abu Garcia Veritas rods? They come packed with high-end features but cost just $100. For the full scoop on the rods, check out the latest BassFan Product Review.

  • FLW Table Rock cancelled

    FLW Table Rock cancelled

    The Table Rock FLW Tour Major scheduled for next week has been cancelled due to flood conditions at Table Rock. The lake today measured 935.4 feet – 20 feet above pull power pool and 4 feet above top flood pool.

    The Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open, scheduled for this weekend, was cancelled yesterday.

    Although the area has not generally experienced the tragic, devastating winds and tornadoes that have swept much of the Southeast this week, the rain has been unrelenting.

    According to the announcement, rescheduling remains an option.

    FLW Outdoors last year was forced to cancel its season-opener at the Red River due to flooding. Thus, like last year, the Angler of the Year title will be based on five events, not six (unless the event is rescheduled).

    For the pros, the cancellation means one less opportunity to cash a $10,000-plus check, and for those in a points hole, one less opportunity to make up ground.

    FLW Outdoors operations-division president Kathy Fennel stated: "Our foremost concern is the safety of the anglers. The high water levels and floating debris make boat operation hazardous. The decision to cancel was reached after multiple discussions with state and local officials, and we felt it was imperative to notify anglers before they began traveling to Branson."

    Capt. Gary Haupt with the water-patrol division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol noted: "Given the current flood situation, we recommended FLW Outdoors call off the event. The water level is currently more than 2 feet higher than our highest recorded level, and all lake access areas are closed. In conditions like this, the possibility of both personal and property damage is greatly increased. We've already revoked tournament permits through Sunday and are in the process of revoking permits through May 8. We applaud FLW Outdoors’ proactive decision."

  • FLW T-Rock: threatened?

    This weekend's Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open has been postponed. What about next week's Table Rock FLW Tour, with an official practice that begins Sunday?

    An FLW Outdoors official told BassFan: "We're monitoring the current situation and are in constant communication with state and local officials."

    More news as it develops.

  • T-Rock Open postponed

    Ultimately, the rain was just too much.

    Initially, this week's Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open seemed threatened by record rains that rose the lake 10 feet in a single night. Then B.A.S.S. declared the tournament would be a go. But unrelenting storms forced B.A.S.S. to re-evaluate and now, according to tournament manager Chris Bowes, any re-evaluation is pointless: The Corps revoked all tournament licenses this week and the event is officially postponed, probably until the fall.

    Table Rock is fast approaching its historic high-water mark of 933 feet.

    Participating Open anglers will be contacted by B.A.S.S. in the upcoming weeks with full details regarding the rescheduling.

    With more rain and another round of devastating, widespread tornadoes in the forecast today come prayers for the safety of folks everywhere.

  • Nolan joins Sportsman

    Nolan joins Sportsman

    Sportsman Channel announced this week the hire of Ryan Nolan as publicist within its communications department. Ryan will be responsible for day-to-day consumer and trade public-relations activities. He's a 12-year veteran of sports broadcasting in Upper Midwest markets.

    Sportsman Channel senior VP Todd Hansen noted: "We're excited to add Ryan to Sportsman Channel's Communications department. Given Ryan's background in communications and broadcast journalism, we saw this as an ideal match for Sportsman Channel moving forward."

  • Who's Dakota Brown?

    An interesting piece over the weekend in the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail highlights a high-school junior who set a goal to become a bass pro. He fished his first B.A.S.S. tournament last month, the Norman Southern Open, as a non-boater and came within a few ounces of cashing a check.

    Read the full article here.

  • Sonar: A refreshed outlook

    Sonar: A refreshed outlook

    Miles Burghoff didn't perform up to his own expectations at the recent FLW College Fishing National Championship, but he left the event with a renewed sense of optimism about his future in the sport. To read the latest Sonar Sound-Off column, click here.

  • McKinnis Q&A: JM buy

    McKinnis Q&A: JM buy

    B.A.S.S. ownership partner Jerry McKinnis recently closed a deal whereby he and B.A.S.S. repurchased the JM Associates (JM) production company he founded. Remember that McKinnis earlier sold the company to production giant Career Sports & Entertainment (CSE). Although CSE is based in Atlanta, Ga., JM continues to be based in Little Rock, Ark. where it was founded.

    McKinnis and by extension JM is a founding property in fishing. From the original Fishin' Hole, through the filming of FLW Outdoors and then B.A.S.S. competition and programming, plus saltwater staples like Spanish Fly and MadFin Shark along with digital creative, JM remains front and center in the world of broadcast fishing.

    But now the company is owned by B.A.S.S.

    Here's a brief Q&A with McKinnis about the repurchase.

    BassFan: Is it now correct to say that B.A.S.S. programming will be produced in-house?
    McKinnis: Yes, that's right. B.A.S.S. is bringing everything in-house. Through all those years, it was being done by JM either for B.A.S.S. or ESPN, and now it'll be done by B.A.S.S. itself. I guess the two companies will be called the same name for a while, but I think we're going to gradually just get away from the JM name. I think we all came to the conclusion that JM has an awfully good name in both the production and fishing world, so there's no sense in trying to cut that off right away. It'll be thought of as JM doing the production work, but we'll gradually, when we think the time's right, get rid of the JM (name).

    Does this mean that B.A.S.S. now owns all its television content that JM produced, such as the Bassmaster Classic footage, B-roll stuff and outtakes from the past decade?
    Yes, B.A.S.S. does own everything that was shot in the past. We own all the Bassmaster Classic shows. Everything there ever was – B.A.S.S. owns it all now. When the dust settles, our idea is to eventually start finding the right direction for all that. We hope to be able to utilize a lot of that and bring it back, if not for TV, at least for the Internet.

    One of the things I personally find very compelling is the old Classic shows. And although they weren't produced like we'd produce them today, they're really fun to watch. They're kind of like the old black-and-white movies – the production's lousy, but they're so darn interesting that it does make it compelling. We really want to utilize all the old stuff. I think we've got reels of the first Classic. We might be missing a few but we've got the very first one.

    Does the repurchase of JM also include all the production equipment?
    It does include equipment, and our facility there in Little Rock.

    Does the repurchase impact any employees in terms of relocating to Little Rock or Atlanta?
    There'll probably be no moves whatsoever. The only person I can think of who was in Little Rock working for Atlanta was Angie Thompson, and she'd already moved over to B.A.S.S. before this all happened. So for the most part nobody will be making any wholesale moves.

    You talked about some of the old footage. Do you see more alternative B.A.S.S-branded programming in the near future, in addition to the Elite Series shows?
    We certainly intend to do some other things. I can't tell you what they are. I'm not trying to be secretive. I just don't know what they are yet. Our little gang has been really strong at coming up with great, innovative TV properties in the past, and one of the assets we're buying is that creativity JM had. So I'm sure we're going to be doing a lot of outside things, and we'll do some things that aren't bass-related either.

    We've always done the Jose Wejebe show (Spanish Fly), and we're down shooting a pilot for him right now that's for National Geographic. It's about the fish, and the fish-catching. Now we do Zona's show, and we'll continue to do the timbersports and things like that. We'll keep going right on down that road.

    Do you foresee braodcasting some lower-level events, like the Opens or Federation Nation?
    I hope so. I really hope so. As I've said all my life, I've got ESPN blood in my veins, and I hope to forever have that with our main programming. But certainly we have the opportunity (to broadcast more events). We're re-running the Elite Series shows right now on Outdoor Channel, and we've got a great relationship there. We'll probably explore all that and of course the main guy over there (at Outdoor Channel) is Roger Werner from ESPN. So we've got a good relationship and connection there.

  • Berkley rigs to Arizona, Minnesota

    Berkley rigs to Arizona, Minnesota

    The Berkley Bass Tank will be at the Sportsman’s Warehouse store in Phoenix, Ariz. April 30 through May 1, featuring product demonstrations and technique seminars.

    Berkley sends the 4,000-gallon bass tank all over the country to help out the everyday angler. Kids and adults alike will enjoy learning about new Berkley products and tips on how to use the innovative baits, along with rods, reels and line.

    The store is located at 19205 N. 27th Ave. The tank's ensuing stop will be May 14-15 at the Bassmaster Elite Series event at South Carolina's Lake Murray.

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at the Cabela's store in Rogers, Minn. from April 29 through May 1. The trailer offers videos and interactive demonstrations, along with seminars scheduled throughout the day to cover the four main components of fishing: line selection, rigging techniques for bait, reel maintenance and rod selection.

    Each stop always has special retail promotions only available while the trailer is at the location. These include not only line and bait, but rods, reels and combos.

    “We are excited about having the Experience Trailer on the road in 2011 and stopping at many new locations across the country,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is ready to help anglers of all ages and levels learn about fishing, our products and how best to use them to catch more fish.”

    Other elements include a knot-tying contest and demonstration. The Berkley Experience staff will be on hand to answer product questions.

    The trailer will be at the Scheels store in Fargo, N.D. from May 5-7 and the Scheels in Bismarck, N.D. May 12-14.

  • Smith back in fishing

    Smith back in fishing

    Al Smith, former B.A.S.S. Federation director and chief of the BassFan Army membership program, landed a new fishing gig with prior employer Jay Kumar. Kumar is currently owner of Sasquatch Media.

    Smith, who also held positions with US Angler's Choice, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and the National Wild Turkey Federation, was not named to a specific position, but Kumar stated in the announcement: "Al is, bar none, the best membership person in the fishing business. He's highly regarded by the industry and fishermen, and I'm very glad to be working with him again."

    Smith noted, "It's truly great to be working with Jay again. Jay and I share the same passion for grassroots bass fishermen, and we both are constantly looking for ways to make the sport more fun for weekend warriors. I'm very excited about the fact that we're going to be rolling out things that no one's ever seen before because no one's ever done them before. They'll be totally new and won't compete with anything that's already out there. It's a great feeling to be setting the bar again."

  • Submit your project

    <b><font color = maroon>Submit your project</b></font>

    Are you a member of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation? Did you, your club or your state conduct a conservation or youth-angling project in 2010? If so, you or your club or state could win a $2,000 award or $1,500 in free fishing gear. For all the details, head on over to the Catch More Fish page.

  • VanDam narrows the gap

    The BassFan World Rankings have been updated and Bryan Thrift is still No. 1, but Kevin VanDam's knocking on the door. To view the updated World Rankings, click here.

  • Another way to spearfish

    Another way to spearfish

    Here's a funny happening. Power-Poles are a huge deal from the tour level on down. They're a mechanical anchoring system that drops a spike down to bottom to hold the boat. But be careful where you sink it, because you never know what it might spear. Case in point: Alton Jones at the Pickwick Elite Series.

    "I picked my Power-Pole up and my marshal goes, 'Oh, look at that.' I looked back and I had skewered the rotting carcass of a 15-pound carp," Jones said. "The thing was stinking and I had to carry it around for a while – it was speared right through the gillplate. We were probably chumming after that – it left a slime trail behind my boat for 45 minutes."

    Jones joked that he not only leads the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race, but the Power-Pole Carp points as well.

  • Don't miss the boat

    Don't miss the boat

    The following is some advice from fishing personality and BassFan friend Mark Zona:

    You see this jumbo check I'm holding? I borrowed it from my buddy Davy Hite when I saw him at Toledo Bend. He picked up a $500 cash bonus from the BoatUS Angler Weigh-to-Win program because he spent a whopping $38 and took 5 minutes to sign up for the program. He won the bonus money because of his Elite Series win at Pickwick 3 weeks ago.

    Here's the deal, bud. If you fish tournaments and you haven't taken time to get yourself eligible for this program... uhm... no pun intended... but you're probably missing the boat. It's available not only for pros like Davy, but also for weekend hammers like you who fish in B.A.S.S., FLW, PAA and the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. And... and... you don't have to actually win your tournament to win the Weigh-to-Win money – you simply have to be the highest-finishing registered member of the program.

    I could spend $38 on Chicago dogs and chili-cheese fries at a Bears game, which wouldn't be a bad thing, but the point is, 38 bucks is a pretty smokin' good deal, considering that as a member of BoatUS Angler you get peace-of-mind that somebody will be dispatched to help you if you have a mechanical issue on the road, plus you get the chance to win extra bonus cash at your derby through the Weigh-to-Win program.

    It's a two-part process. Go to BoatUSFishing.com. First purchase your membership to BoatUS Angler – that'll cost you $24. Then tack on the Unlimited On-the-Road Towing for $14 and you'll be eligible to register for the Weigh-to-Win program. And if all that's too much, just dial these digits, (918) 742-6424, ask to speak to Kendell, and she'll do all the legwork for you.

  • Pirch picks Pirch

    Pirch picks Pirch

    It's not surprising that a brother would pick a brother to lead his fantasy team. But it is surprising that brothers won both a major event and the connected major fantasy prize last weekend.

    Christopher Pirch of Fredericksburg, Va. correctly picked his brother Cliff Pirch of Payson, Ariz. to win last week's Chickamauga FLW Tour Major and as the highest finisher, Christopher pocketed $15,000 from FLW Outdoors Fantasy Fishing.

    Not much of an angler himself, Christopher preferred his sleep over early mornings on the lake with his brother and dad who, according to him, were always on the water. On the occasions that he was enticed to leave the comfort of his bed, Christopher said that when the fish weren't biting, he got bored easily and usually had a handheld gaming system with him to keep him entertained.

    "I started playing Fantasy Fishing because of Clifford," Christopher noted. "It gives me a way to share in his passion without actually having to be out on a boat. I've followed the sport ever since Cliff started fishing professionally and try to go to as many events that are close to where I live as I can. Last year we were fortunate enough to be able to go watch him at the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier."

  • PAA hits Hubbard today

    PAA hits Hubbard today

    The inaugural PAA All Star Series event begins today and runs through Thursday at Texas' Lake Ray Hubbard. The lake, which will be a new venue for most of the field, impounds the East Fork Trinity River near Dallas and covers 22,745 surface acres.

    The 50-angler field has practiced for 3 days under extremely windy conditions, where are forecast to continue through the event.

    "Practice wasn't very good for me and I don't feel like I really accomplished anything," said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe. "The wind has played havoc with everything and it's been hard to fish and hard to get around.

    "There might be a few fish still spawning, but it looks like they're pretty much done. You talk to some guys who say they aren't catching anything and other guys are talking about 20-pound bags. I think (the weights) are going to be pretty spread out."

    Weigh-ins will get under way at 3 p.m. each day at the Bass Pro Shops in Garland. For a list of anglers who qualified for the event, click here.

  • Big Bite Lookback: T-Bend

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

    Virginia veteran Rick Morris was the 13th-place finisher at the recent Toledo Bend Bassmaster Elite Series. It was an up-and-down event for him as he went from 10th place after day 1 to 23rd after day 2 before gaining back 10 positions on day 3.

    His lone regret is that he failed to boat one of the two 7-pound bites he got on the first day on a Bomber Fat Free Shad.

    "I caught the one 7-pounder, and then two casts later I hooked that one, and it came to the surface and spit the lure out," he said. "Maybe I horsed it a little too much, but it seemed like it just shook it out."

    He struggled the next day, but was pleased with his day-3 performance.

    "When I look back, I don't look at what I didn't do that would've gotten me into the Top 12. I look at it like I made the right moves to get me back to 13th. I went to new water and did something different and I moved up a bunch of spots."

    The Big Bite Lookback is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.

  • Luck-E-Strike joins FLW

    Luck-E-Strike joins FLW

    Luck-E-Strike U.S.A. announced that it's signed a sponsorship agreement with FLW Outdoors. The Missouri-based company has 40 years of manufacturing experience in the fishing-tackle industry and features a wide selection of baits used by tournament and recreational anglers.

    “We are proud to have formed a partnership with Luck-E-Strike," said FLW Outdoors marketing division president Trisha Blake. "It is powerful brands like these that are key to the success and growth of our sport."

    The Luck-E-Strike pro staff includes all three generations of the Hibdon family – FLW Tour pros Guido, Dion and Payden.

    "We are excited to be linked with one of the most prestigious tournament circuits in FLW Outdoors, including its numerous events in both bass and walleye fishing," said Luck-E-Strike owner John Hendricks. “We are thrilled to be associated with some of the most competitive anglers around and the highest payouts in professional fishing.”

  • B.A.S.S./JM deal finalized

    B.A.S.S./JM deal finalized

    B.A.S.S. announced today that it's completed its deal with Career Sports Entertainment (CSE) to acquire JM Associates, the media production company founded by Jerry McKinnis (one of three private investors who purchased B.A.S.S. last fall).

    A pioneer in outdoor television, JM Associates has produced The Bassmasters television show for ESPN for 10 years, receiving an Emmy nomination for the show in 2008. Its roots date back to 1963, when McKinnis launched his first television fishing show on a local station in Little Rock, Ark. It produced McKinnis’ program, The Fishin’ Hole, which debuted on ESPN in 1981, as well as most other Outdoor Block programming on the network for the past three decades.

    “Having JM Associates as part of the family will make the B.A.S.S. media operations completely seamless," McKinnis said. "It will enable us to expand our media in every direction, and even beyond freshwater fishing. We’re especially excited about opportunities to create compelling programming from a treasure of video archives.”

    Said CSE founder and CEO Lonnie Cooper: “JM and B.A.S.S. will be a good fit; one that I believe will benefit the sportfishing industry in many ways. CSE and JM Associates will remain strategic partners as our companies continue to work together on existing and future projects.”

    In addition to producing B.A.S.S.’s flagship television show for ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel, JM provides coverage of the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Bassmaster Classic and other professional events on Bassmaster.com. It also produces numerous other outdoor shows, including Spanish Fly, Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show, Madfin Shark Series, Stihl Timbersports Series, College Bass and The Saltwater Series.

  • VanDam No. 19

    VanDam No. 19

    ESPN.com published a package of stories on athletes' earnings today, and among those was a list of the top individual money-makers in each of 30 sports. Competitive fishing was included, and Kevin VanDam's $915,500 in prize money during 2010 was the standard.

    That total placed KVD at No. 19 among the 30 athletes listed – not even in the same ballpark with the $32 million that Alex Rodriguez pulled down for playing third base for the New York Yankees, but miles ahead of the $40,300 earned by female bowler Shannon Pluhowsky.

    To see the complete list, click here.

  • Sunline Strong Performer: Chickamauga

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

    Last week's Chickamauga FLW Tour major presented an extraordinary number of climbs and falls within the field. That's because the rapidly changing conditions shut down some bites, but also opened some new doors.

    One climber who stood out in particular was Scott Martin, because his monster 20-pound sack on day 2 moved him up from 48th into the Top 10 at 8th. He improved that standing to 5th the following day, then eventually finished 7th.

    He said the key to his day-2 climb was he returned to his best area, which he left early on day 1, and focused solely on it.

    "I found a few areas up the river in practice that had a lot of spawning activity going on," Martin said. "But when the water fell throughout the rest of practice, and even the first day of the tournament, it left all those beds high and dry. My gameplan the first day was to go into that area and fish for a little bit. I did and caught two fish there, then left and never came back. That was a mistake on my part.

    "The second day I stayed focused in there and treated the area like it was its own little lake. I got real familiar with it and how the fish were setting up and milked it for everything it was worth. The fish weren't spawning on the banks – it was too shallow. But those big females were staging on the big laydowns, and when I say big, I mean like pole timber or logs, not bushy trees, that were coming off the bank at a 45-degree angle. I was taking a crankbait and ChatterBait and making real precise casts right down the length of the log. If you threw to the log at an angle, or skipped underneath, you wouldn't get bit. It had to come straight down the main beam of the log."

    The Sunline Strong Performer is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

  • Big Bite Lookback: Chickamauga

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

    Shad Schenck worked a flipping bite at the recent Chickamauaga FLW Tour major, and followed the water level up and down. On day 3, he moved shallower when the water rose and found that the fish were using the points of reed beds. It was a good pattern that he developed later in the day, but he never could land his fifth keeper and thus finished 11th – first out of the Top-10 cut.

    It was the second time this year Schenck was first out – he finished 11th at Beaver – and overall he's been fishing remarkably well. He's four-for-four on checks, claims three Top-20 finishes and is currently 10th in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race.

    When asked too look back and identify what he might have done differently at Chickamauga to make the cut, he knew the answer right away.

    "It always comes down to the little things you'd do different, and I would have fished one bank going into the wind instead of with it," Schenck said. "When you flip, it's a law: You always go into the wind. I went with the wind on that bank and it cost me making the cut because I fished too fast and my co-angler caught them behind me. It's all about the presentation of the bait and if I took the time to pick it apart I probably would have gotten the bites and made the cut."

    The Big Bite Lookback is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.

  • Sunline Strong Performer: T-Bend

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

    David Walker had two finishes of 66th or lower in his first three Bassmaster Elite Series events upon his return to B.A.S.S. this year after 5 years as strictly an FLW pro. The Tennessee veteran was 53rd after the first day of last week's derby at Toledo Bend, seemingly on his way to another disappointing placement that would put him even further from his goal of competing in the Classic for the first time since 2006.

    Things changed dramatically on day 2, though, as he boxed a tournament-best 24-pound sack and rocketed all the way up to 4th place.

    "The first day I spent too much time with searchbaits," he said. "I knew I was in a good area – there were a dozen or more other guys in there and everybody was catching lots of fish, but there weren't many big stringers. I think Davy Hite had the biggest one (18-08) and everybody else was about where I was (13-06).

    "The next day I went in with a lot more rods out and I'd planned to experiment a little more and I started out just flipping a jig. I caught a decent fish – close to 3 pounds – right away, and then 30 minutes later I caught a 5-pounder. The next thing I knew, I had a 24-pound bag.

    "I finally figured out that the real big fish just didn't want to have to chase anything."

    He followed that up with two more strong bags under post-frontal conditions (16-00 and 16-12). He ended up 3rd – less than a pound away from the initial tour-level win that continues to elude him. But he also collected a pile of AOY points that moved him up to 35th in the Angler of the Year race and laid a solid foundation for the second half of the season.

    "I knew I'd been doing something wrong," he said, referring back to day 1. "There were too many fish in there to not be any big ones."

    The Sunline Strong Performer is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

  • Sunday TV: 'Attack of the Bass'

    Sunday TV: 'Attack of the Bass'

    BassFans will want to park it on the couch or set their DVRs this Sunday (Easter), because Sportsman Channel's running a bass mini-marathon.

    The Attack of the Bass block of programming, presented by Berkley Havoc, promises hard-hitting, nonstop action.

    The mini-marathon includes 4 hours of tips and insights to entertain and help viewers catch more bass. Plus, viewers can win a 3-day, 2-night fishing trip to a destination chosen by Sportsman viewers, as well as a slew of bass-fishing prizes. Destinations included in the voting are Lakes Okeechobee, Champlain, Fork (Texas), Clear Lake and West Point. (Visit FaceBook.com/SportsmanChannel to vote on your favorite fishing destination and enter the contest.)

    Here are the listings for this Sunday, April 24:

    9 am -- Fish PAA TV
    9:30 am -- In-Fisherman
    10 am -- Strike King Classics
    10:30 am -- Brauer's Bass Battles
    11 am -- One More Cast With Shaw Grigsby
    11:30 am -- One More Cast With Shaw Grigsby
    Noon -- G3 Sportsman
    12:30 pm -- Breaking the Surface

    For more info, visit TheSportsmanChannel.com/.


  • Arthur with Fishing Hot Spots

    Arthur with Fishing Hot Spots

    FLW Tour pro Stuart Arthur has inked a sponsorship agreement with Fishing Hot Spots, the producer of waterproof, floating lake maps and digital mapping chips.

    Arthur, a Wisconsin native, has used Fishing Hot Spots maps for many years and was eager to represent a product he knew well. National sales manager Chris Thielman noted that Arthur’s signing will help the company achieve an increased profile for its new nationwide mapping chip.

  • Ike signs with Rapala

    Ike signs with Rapala

    When it comes to sponsors, a contract with Rapala is about as good as it gets. The company maintains a small but dedicated pro staff. Additions are rare, as are drops, and it all helps create what many pros feel is perhaps the premier hardbait sponsorship in the sport.

    That's why the following is such huge news.

    Rapala has signed Mike Iaconelli to its pro staff. Ike will also represent and fish VMC hooks.

    Until now, Ike's never had a truly defining hardbait sponsor. He was with Mann's and more recently Laser Lure, but the Rapala deal is clearly of a different cut.

    "I'm excited to join the Rapala/VMC team," Ike said in the official announcement. "This is really a dream come true for me. I've been a big fan of the products for many, many years. I look forward to a long partnership with Rapala/VMC."

    Rapala field-promotion and media-relations manager David James noted: "We couldn't be more excited to be adding Mike to our pro staff. Mike's a first-class angler and a great promoter. We know he'll have a strong impact on our brands."

    Further details forthcoming.

  • Typhoon announces contingencies

    Typhoon announces contingencies

    BassFans heard the name Typhoon Polarized Optics several times over the weekend. Chickamauga FLW Tour winner Cliff Pirch credited his sunglasses for sight-fishing success over the first 2 days, and 4th-place Scott Canterbury used them to pick apart sunken cover. JT Kenney, who finished 10th, used them as well. But now Typhoon's offering a load of contingency money for BassFans who fish any of the FLW Outdoors circuits.

    The potential giveaway totals $150,000 and the program, called Wear It To Win It, begins this Wednesday. It involves the FLW Tour Majors and Opens, EverStarts, BFLs, TBF and Walleye Tour.

    The Top 3 finishers (pros and co-anglers) of a tournament will be eligible to win. Prizes range from $1,000 to $50.

    Full details will soon be available at TyphoonOptics.com.

  • Boyd wins TBF Nat Champ

    Boyd wins TBF Nat Champ

    Emotions ran high today in a dramatic close to the 2011 TBF National Championship, which was held concurrently with the Chickamauga FLW Tour Major. It literally came down to ounces and Allen Boyd emerged victorious.

    As the champion boater, Boyd pocketed the $100,000 Living the Dream prize package that includes cash, fully paid entry fees to the FLW Tour as a pro, use of a custom Living the Dream-wrapped Chevy truck and wrapped Ranger boat for the Tour year, a travel stipend for each event, plus a berth in the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup.

    The seven divisional champions each received a pro berth in next month's BFL All-American at Shreveport, La.

    Boyd, from Salem, Ind., was 13th overall after day 1 and just 3rd in his division. On day 2 a good bag and a 6-06 kicker helped him climb to 3rd overall and 1ast in his division. Today, Boyd clinched the win.

    "It's textbook fishing," he said. "I used two crankbaits the whole tournament. That's it – crankin'. That's what I like. This lake is just full of fish. We caught fish everywhere, but those were the most consistent spots. They were key because big fish were consistently there. It was just getting them to eat.

    "One hundred percent, no questions asked, I'm going to fish the Tour," Boyd added. "When I was a little kid my grandpa got me a boat when I was 13. I'd fish all day - every day until dark every summer. I just don't seem to get tired of it for some reason. This is a great thing. You guys need to join your clubs and start doing this."

    Kenny Beale from Virginia, who represented the Mid-Atlantic division, was leading the first 2 days of the tournament. He was the highest-finishing Ranger Cup qualifier and won a brand new Ranger 198VX.

    The following divisional champs qualified for the BFL All-American. Note that official standings do not specify the division each angler represented.

    Allen Boyd -- Salem, Ind.
    James Biggs -- Bedford, Texas
    Kenny Beale, Jr. -- Danville, Va.
    Larry Hardy -- Tonto Basin, Ariz.
    Don Boeger -- Caldwell, Idaho
    Ryan Latinville -- Plattsburgh, N.Y.
    Gregory Hoskinson -- Louisville, Ky.

  • The ultimate spinning-reel line

    Early this summer, Berkley will introduce a new line that will be the ultimate for finesse-type presentations. NanoFil feels like a thin, smooth monofilament, but has many of the attributes of a superline. The result is extra-long casts with extreme sensitivity.

    To learn more, click over to the Catch More Fish page.

  • PAA adds Optima, Pro Patterns

    PAA adds Optima, Pro Patterns

    PAA members have two more ways to add money to their pockets through the PAA PayDay Program with the addition of the Optima Batteries True Blue Rewards Program and ProPatterns.com Payday cash bonus programs.

    The Optima program will award $50 to anglers who meet the eligibility requirements: current membership in Optima's Power Pack Nation online community, use of all OPTIMA batteries in the tournament boat, have a provided decal on the boat, and submit a contingency form within 10 days of the tournament as part of the PAA PayDay claim information. Full details can be found by clicking here.

    ProPatterns.com will award $100 to PAA members who also are members of the ProPatterns Elite Membership at the time of their win, display a decal on the towing vehicle or boat in a visible location and submit a claim form, along with a database entry about the tournament win. PAA Members who haven't joined ProPatterns yet will earn a complimentary ProPatterns Elite membership for their Payday win, providing they contact ProPatterns.com and log the details of the win. Those details will be posted on ProPatterns.com as part of a database for other anglers to use and learn from.

    PAA membership (which starts at $50) is required to participate in the programs. For membership info, click here.

  • JM back to Jerry?

    JM back to Jerry?

    There's a rampant rumor in the industry that Jerry McKinnis is in talks to purchase JM Associates back from Career Sports & Entertainment.

    McKinnis founded JM Associates, which still produces a large bulk of televised-fishing content, including B.A.S.S. programming. He sold the company to Career Sports in September 2007.

    McKinnis and partners Don Logan and Jim Copleland recently purchased B.A.S.S.

    BassFan asked McKinnis today if a buyback of JM was currently under discussion. McKinnis said he could not comment at this time.

  • Big Bite Lookback: Pickwick

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

    Jeff Kriet finished 13th at the Pickwick Bassmaster Elite Series – he missed the Top-12 cut by a mere 3 ounces. He opened with 15 pounds, whacked 20 pounds on day 2, but his 16 1/2-pound limit on day 3 just wasn't enough.

    When asked to look back and identify what he might have done differently to make the cut, he said: "I would have done a little bit more running and spent a little less time fishing that last day."

    In essence, Kriet's shallow bite changed quite a bit, just like it did for the rest of the pros fishing shallow. He obviously nailed the change on day 2 and it produced 20 pounds, but he figured things out too late on day 3.

    "I was flipping a Big Bite Yomama all tournament," Kriet noted. "I didn't catch them in the tournament the way I caught them in practice. I just switched it up and dialed in a pretty decent day the first day. I ran with it the second day, but then the water dropped maybe a foot or so the third day so I had to switch it up again. I figured them out pretty early and caught a 5-pounder that dialed me in, and I tried to duplicate that deal, but the problem was I didn't know where to duplicate it.

    "So I compromised a little bit and started fishing stuff that wasn't really right in my gut, but was almost right. I burned about 3 hours not really hitting the right stuff, then we started heading back in. I watched to see if anything looked right. I saw something, pulled in and culled one. Then I started running again and saw it again. I pulled in and caught two or three decent ones and then a 4-pounder. It was so obvious at that point that I could have run down the lake and called my bush, but it was too late.

    "I think if I'd been more picky and kept looking for what was truly right earlier in the day I could have caught another 18 to 20 pounds."

    The Big Bite Lookback is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.

  • Sunline Strong Performer: Pickwick

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

    The recent Pickwick Bassmaster Elite Series was a tournament largely defined by moves. Perhaps that was because the fish were in transition between the pre-spawn and spawn and rapidly dropping water levels made everything difficult to figure out.

    But there was also a strong current-related bite. Davy Hite won the event on that bite, but it was both cruel and kind to so many others. There's no better example than Tim Horton.

    Horton (pictured to right in photo) targeted current-related fish and his climb was memorable for several reasons. One, it showed how an angler can rebound with smallmouths at Pickwick, even when the largemouth bite is smokin'. Two, it was a personal triumph for Horton, who's a local and counts Pickwick tourism among his sponsor partners. And three, it kept him within earshot of the Bassmaster Classic cutoff in the Elite Series points.

    After Horton ended day 1 in 93rd (just six spots out of last), he crushed 21 1/2 pounds on day 2 and moved up 54 spots to 39th, where he was well inside that day's Top-50 cut. He slid back five spots the following day and finished 44th, but his day-2 climb was nonetheless astounding.

    About what made the difference on day 2, Horton said: "The first day was just one of those unexplainable days – everything came unbuttoned. I had a similar weight (20-plus-pounds) hooked that day, but I just didn't get them in the boat, and I lost a 6-pounder right before weigh-in.

    "I just landed them the next day. It happens in this sport for one reason or another. It seems like in one tournament every year, you just have a bad day like that. I didn't change my tackle or anything – I was swimming a Yum Money Minnow with a 1/2-ounce jighead in the current. I just lost them the first day and landed them the next."

    He added: "I was so down after that first day and it was just so much fun to come back with that – especially with smallmouths."

    The Sunline Strong Performer is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

  • Scouting Chickamauga

    Scouting Chickamauga

    Apologies to BassFans: The performance of civic duty by BassFan Staff precludes publication of a full scouting report for this week's Chickamauga FLW Tour Major. Traditional coverage resumes tomorrow with day-1 action.

    The FLW Tour visits Chickamauga this week – a Tennessee River impoundment near Chattanooga, Tenn. It's the second Tennessee River event in as many weeks – the Bassmaster Elite Series concluded its Pickwick competition Sunday.

    BassFans who followed the Pickwick event know that the fish there were in pre-spawn and spawn, but water level was a key factor. Pickwick was above summer pool throughout practice, but as competition matured, the TVA dropped the water at least 3 feet, which forced dramatic changes in the shallow patterns. Eventually, Davy Hite prevailed in the tailrace, but the 2nd-, 3rd- and 5th-place finishers fished shallow.

    FLW Tour pro Andy Morgan, who calls Chickamauga home, told BassFan that water level is likewise a big story at Chickamauga. Morgan's ranked 5th in the world and is one of the recognized favorites this week.

    "To be honest, everything's teetering right now on the water level," Morgan said. "The first day of practice it was a little over 683 and our summer pool s 682.50. So it was roughly half a foot over full pool when practice started. Now we're right at 680, so it basically fell 3 feet in 3 days.

    "That closes some doors and opens others," Morgan added. "But I'd say, in a nutshell, practice hasn't done a lot of good for a lot of people. If you were on the bank up around the cattails, it's a mudflat now. And the falling water's taken away 90% of the backwaters on the upper end of the lake."

    According to Morgan, though, the falling water shouldn't hurt the weights too much, and he thinks it'll still take at least 20 pounds a day to win. And because the fish are in all three phases – pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn – there's not any one dominant technique right now.

    "Some very good bags will be caught, and you can catch them about any way you want to, but I don't think these conditions will set up to where we'll maul them. Fishing pressure's going to be a huge deal and how an angler manages fishing pressure will probably be what sets him apart."

    As a sidenote, Morgan's hosting quite a few fellow pros at his nearby Dayton homestead, including Luke Clausen, Dan Morehead, Jim Dillard and Scott Suggs. A sample of this week's menu so far? Ribeye, spaghetti, fried wild turkey and ribs.

  • TBF Championship starts Thursday

    TBF Championship starts Thursday

    Nickajack Lake in Kimball, Tenn. will host the 2011 Federation National Championship beginning Thursday. The 94-angler field (boaters and co-anglers combined) consists of two anglers from each of 46 states, as well as the Association of Collegiate Anglers national champions.

    “The town of Kimball is very excited to be the host of the 2011 TBF Federation National Championship,” said mayor David Jackson. “This event will mean a lot to our community and our local businesses."

    The tournament will be held in conjunction with the FLW Tour Major at Lake Chickamauga. The entire field will compete Thursday and Friday, with weigh-ins at Kimball Park. Only the top boater and co-angler from each of the seven TBF divisions will compete on the final day, and the national champions will be crowned on the FLW Tour main stage in the Chattanooga Convention Center.

    “Although these anglers will vie for their share of over $200,000 in cash and prizes during this championship event, these 94 anglers are the very best this year out of literally tens of thousands of TBF members," said TBF president Robert Cartlidge. "If they don’t catch another fish, pride in that fact is something that can never be taken away."

    Anglers will also be competing for the TBF $100,000 Living the Dream prize package, two berths in the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup and 14 berths in the 2011 BFL All-American.

  • Hite the biggest mover

    Last week's Bassmaster Elite Series event at Pickwick caused a big shakeup in the Toyota Tundra Angler-of-the Year (AOY) standings as more than half the field (50 of 99 anglers) moved at least 10 places in one direction or the other. Winner Davy Hite made the biggest climb and 98th-place finisher Grant Goldbeck endured the most precipitous drop.

    Here's a look at the Top 5 improvements:

  • Davy Hite – up 40 places (60th to 20th)
  • Matt Reed – up 34 places (76th to 42nd)
  • Denny Brauer – up 33 places (92nd to 59th)
  • Bobby Lane – up 29 places (54th to 25th)
  • Keith Poché – up 28 places (39th to 11th)

    Here are the Top 5 decliners:

  • Grant Goldbeck – down 35 places (33rd to 68th)
  • Lee Sisson – down 30 places (41st to 71st)
  • Keith Combs – down 28 places (25th to 53rd)
  • Jonathon VanDam – down 27 places (29th to 56th)
  • Dean Alexander – down 27 places (48th to 75th)

    To see the full standings, click here.

  • Rough day at TB

    BassFan Big Stick Brent Chapman and the 98 other Bassmaster Elite Series pros endured a windy day as they got their first look Toledo Bend Reservoir in preparation for this week's event. To read his preliminary account, click here.

  • Berkley trailer: St. Cloud

    Berkley trailer: St. Cloud

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at the Scheels store in St. Cloud, Minn. this Friday through Sunday (April 15-17). The trailer offers videos and interactive demonstrations, along with seminars scheduled throughout the day to cover the four main components of fishing: line selection, rigging techniques for bait, reel maintenance and rod selection.

    Each stop always has special retail promotions only available while the trailer is at the location. These include not only line and bait, but rods, reels and combos.

    “We are excited about having the Experience Trailer on the road in 2011 and stopping at many new locations across the country,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is ready to help anglers of all ages and levels learn about fishing, our products and how best to use them to catch more fish.”

    Other elements include a knot-tying contest and demonstration. The Berkley Experience staff will be on hand to answer product questions.

    The trailer's next stop will be April 22-24 at D&R Sports in Kalamazoo, Mich.

  • Roberts takes his shot

    Roberts takes his shot

    Kentucky's Brad Roberts fished the FLW Tour as a co-angler the past 3 seasons, never finishing lower than 18th on the points list, and he won the back-seater division at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh. This year he's competing as a pro for the first time, and things have gone well so far.

    He's 19th in the Angler of the Year race after finishes of 12th at Beaver and 45th at Hartwell. He needs to continue cashing checks if he wants to compete beyond this year.

    "I'm basically fishing out of my own pocket, so it could be 1 year and out for me," he said. "I might have to go back to the real world."

    For him, the real world consists of a full-time job as an occupational therapist, assisting children and adults who have developmental disabilities. He and wife Lisa have two sons – Landon, age 2, and Dylan, who'll turn 1 later this month.

    He's using up all his vacation time and the vast majority of his proceeds from previous tournaments in order to give the Tour a try. To this point, his winnings are well ahead of his expenses.

    He may be operating the oldest boat and motor on either major tour – both are 2004 models.

    "I just thought it was time to try it on the other side. I've been able to pick up things the last 3 years from the back of the boat and I've tried to transfer that knowledge to the front.

    "I'd done about all I could from the back."

  • Dove gets reprieve

    Dove gets reprieve

    Former Bassmaster Elite Series angler Kurt Dove, now a full-time guide at Lake Amistad in Texas (www.SWTexasBassGuide.com), breathed a sigh of relief Friday night when President Obama and Congressional leaders reached an agreement that avoided a government shutdown.

    Amistad, which is operated by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), would have been gated up (at least on the U.S. side) if the government ceased operations. That would've created hardships for guides such as Dove, not to mention clubs that had tournaments scheduled on Amistad and other NPS lakes (Nevada's Mead and Washington's Roosevelt among them) as well as recreational anglers, vacationers and other park-users.

    "I'm booked from now through April 18, so every day it was shut down would've cost me $400," he said. "I'd just been watching my iPhone (for news), trying to find out whether I was going to be able to take anybody fishing tomorrow. It was kind of crazy.

    "A few weeks ago I wouldn't have thought something like this could trickle all the way down to affect a guy like me."

    He said he and other guides had been considering crossing the border and launching onto Amistad from the Mexican side if the U.S. facilities closed down. That would've brought on other logistical concerns, though, such as the risk due to the violence that has plagued that side of the border in recent months and the need for all clients to be in possession of a passport.

  • Strader: Expect big weights

    Strader: Expect big weights

    Tennessee FLW Tour pro Wesley Strader is predicting that it could take as much as 20 pounds a day to win next week's Major at Lake Chickamauga in his home state, and as much as 15 a day just to make a paycheck (50th place).

    "The water's falling right now, but it'll still fish good," said Strader, who lives about 15 minutes from the lake and finished 2nd to Mark Rose at the Chickamauga Eastern FLW Series last September. "You're getting ready to see what the place is all about. Over the last 10 years the (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) has put a million Florida-strain fingerlings in three creeks and for the last 4 or 5 years, it's been on fire.

    "Guys are going to be able to catch them any way they want to at this tournament."

    He's hoping to continue his sizzling start to the 2011 season at venue where he has vast experience over the past 20 years. He's 5th in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race after placements of 8th at Beaver and 16th at Hartwell.

    The highest he's ever finished in the final points standings was 15th, so he's not focusing on making a run at the crown.

    "No, no, no, no. You get on streaks in this game where you can't do anything wrong, and you can also have them where you can't do anything right. I'm on one of the good kind right now, so I just want to ride it out as long as I can."

  • Evers giving away winning combo

    Evers giving away winning combo

    Edwin Evers is giving away the rod and reel that he used to win the St. Johns River Bassmaster Elite Series in Florida last month. No purchase is necessary – fans must simply sign up in the "Contest" section at www.EdwinEvers.com.

    The Bass Pro Shops combo still has the line, weight, hook and Yum Money Craw attached, just as Evers stowed it in his rod locker when he left Florida.

    The contest will run throughout April and Evers will randomly select the winner on May 1.

  • CLU adds plastics

    Hardbait manufacturer Custom Lures Unlimited (CLU) of Raleigh, N.C. is expanding into plastics, announcing that it's purchased the company and exclusive rights to Danny Joe Humphrey's Original Floating Worm and Buzz N' Grub designs.

    “The acquisition of The Original Floating Worm is an exciting addition for CLU,” said president Kelly Barefoot. “Not only have we greatly expanded our product line, we’ve also acquired my personal-favorite soft plastic company.

    "I would like to give much respect and thanks to Danny Joe for his part in making this idea a reality. The purchase is a bold step toward the growth of CLU."

  • Thump Worm a mover, shaker

    The new Berkley PowerBait Heavy Weight Thump Worm delivers a phenomenal amount of versatility. The key to catching fish on it is movement, whether the rate is fast or slow, or whether it's riding high or low in the water column. It can be fished weightless, Texas-rigged, Carolina-rigged, or on a shakey-head, and you can even turn it into a quasi-buzzbait.

    To find out how Berkley pro Byron Velvick likes to use it, click on over to the Catch More Fish page.

  • Nice start for Larson

    Nice start for Larson

    Nick Larson's pro career has gotten off to a strong start, especially when you consider that the Georgian originally planned to fish as a co-angler on the FLW Tour this year. But at the urging of good friend and Ohio pro Vic Vatalaro, he decided to take his chances from the front of the boat, and he's the early leader in the Tour Rookie of the Year (ROY) race.

    "Vic said he didn't know if I'd like (fishing as a co-angler) and he told me I should just go for the whole thing, so I started kicking it around," said the 44-year-old VP of a construction supply firm. "I work full-time, but I talked to my boss and I could fit it into my schedule, so I went ahead and jumped in."

    His finishes of 13th at Beaver and 34th at Hartwell have him sitting at No. 16 in the AOY standings. He also notched an 8th at last week in the PAA Tournament Series event on his home water – Lake Lanier.

    He began his pro odyssey with a 113th at the FLW Tour Open at Okeechobee in January – a tournament that doesn't count in the AOY race. That was a good learning experience.

    "That one was kind of overwhelming, looking around at all the top pros. I set my sights on (catching) 15 pounds a day, and they ended up killing them this time.

    "In the other two tournaments, I think the biggest thing in my success has been the second day. Those have been real strong and I attribute that to just going out and fishing and covering a lot of water. The finish at Beaver gave me the confidence that I can compete."

    He has no prior experience at any of the venues on the Tour schedule.

    "That was a little intimidating when I first looked at it. But with the start I've had, now I'm excited about all of them."

  • King not thinking AOY – yet

    King not thinking AOY – yet

    Stacey King would dearly love to win his first tour-level Angler of the Year (AOY) award at age 62, and he's tied with reigning title-holder Bryan Thrift for the lead in that race with one-third of the FLW Tour Majors campaign in the books. The Missouri veteran said he's not thinking about the points standings at this juncture, but that could change in the near future.

    "It's not figuring into my thinking as far as fishing goes because we've still got a long way to go," he said. "But if I'm still in contention after a couple more tournaments, I might have to start taking it more seriously.

    "To win one at this stage of my career would be a thrill. I've been doing this a long time and that would really be exciting."

    His two finishes thus far are a 2nd at Beaver and a 4th at Hartwell – one spot behind Thrift in the former and one ahead of him in the latter.

    "I think just being mentally comfortable has been the key – I'm not getting too worked up and I'm not letting the pressure get to me. I've also been very fortunate to get some quality bites in both tournaments."

    When he looks ahead to the remainder of the schedule, there's nothing that scares him much. It includes a stop at Table Rock, where he guided for many years.

    He just hopes he isn't forced to sight-fish during next week's event at Tennessee's Lake Chickamauga.

    "My eyes aren't as good as they used to be and those fish are hard for me to see. I don't mind fishing for spawning fish, but I prefer to blind-cast to them.

    "Those guys with the good eyes who can pick out five good ones have a real advantage. I'm hoping there will be other ways to go about it."

  • Rapala's Fisher honored

    Rapala's Fisher honored

    Mark Fisher, a well-known angling enthusiast, Rapala pro and devoted spokesperson for the recreational fishing industry, was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame this past weekend. He was honored for being a legendary communicator and for being instrumental in introducing and garnering awareness for the sport of recreational fishing to the public.

    As an avid speaker, Fisher (far left in photo) is engaged with the many fishing clubs throughout the nation and has provided in-depth seminars to millions of anglers at numerous sport shows throughout his career.

    “We are extremely proud of Mark’s accomplishments,” said Rapala USA president Tom Mackin. “He has introduced a substantial number of people to the sport of fishing and is very deserving of this honor.”

    Fisher, the director of field promotions for Rapala, is currently involved in guest-hosting several television shows and radio broadcasts, and his articles appear in the most widely read regional and national angling publications. He's been a professional angler for more than 30 years, winning the prestigious U.S. Invitational Bass Tournament in the early 1990s.

  • TBF testifies in Wisconsin (updated)

    TBF testifies in Wisconsin (updated)

    In addition to B.A.S.S. conservation director Noreen Clough (reported yesterday), The Bass Federation (TBF) president and CEO Robert Cartlidge, VP and media director Mike Hofmann and two Wisconsin TBF members also testified at the recent hearing on Wisconsin Assembly Bill 35. The bill would eliminate that state's prohibition against culling in bass tournaments.

    In his remarks to the Natural Resources Committee, Cartlidge said “This is a law put into place well before the advent of modern day livewell systems – back when stringers and buckets were the norm. It is outdated and needs to change with the times. There is not a single study anywhere in the nation that we can find that says culling is a biological problem to bass fisheries management.

    "If it were detrimental to the resource, to bass fishing or to common-sense conservation practices, we would not be supporting the change. Secondarily, Wisconsin is missing out on millions in revenue because of an outdated law. A modest 10% increase in non-resident fishing license sales and related expenditures would result in an estimated $8 million dollar increase to the Wisconsin economy. Those are potential hard dollars that the people of Wisconsin could use right now, just for changing a law that no longer makes sense and, who every fishery professional agrees, will have no negative impact of bass populations. It is a win-win.”

    Wisconsin anglers are encouraged to contact their state representatives and senators and let them know they support the bill. Click here to access the state government website and go to the heading "Legislature" for an email directory of legislators.

    Update: The Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed the bill by a 10-5 vote today. It now moves on to the Senate Natural Resources committee and if it's passed there as well, it'll go to a full vote in both houses.

  • A kid and a big cat

    A kid and a big cat

    Blake Terry, a 12-year-old from Odessa, Texas, was practicing for the Jr. Bassmasters State Championship recently at Sam Rayburn Reservoir when he hooked and landed the 52-pound flathead catfish held by his father Jason in the photo at right (click the picture to see a larger version). The fish has been submitted for lake-record status in the youth rod and reel division, for which there is no current standard.

    Fishing with B.A.S.S. Federation Nation angler Albert Collins, Blake had caught about 10 bass from the area and the duo was about to depart in order to save it for the tournament. Then he hooked into the giant cat.

    He caught the fish on a jigging spoon, 15-pound line and a new Falcon Bucoo Micro Guide rod that he'd purchased with gift cards from winning the past three Permian Bass Club teen tournaments.

  • Evers on tour

    Evers on tour

    Edwin Evers, winner of the recent Bassmaster Elite Series event at the St. Johns River in Florida, has launched an Optima Batteries-sponsored tour of Bass Pro Shops locations this at which he conducts seminars and talks about marine battery care and maintenance.

    One fan will win an expenses-paid fishing trip with Evers through a sweepstakes conducted by Optima and BPS. To register, fans must be present during his visit to their local store (no online entries are allowed).

    “I’ve been an Optima supporter for a long time and I appreciate the opportunity to travel and meet with my fans,” he said. “Optima BlueTop batteries have the power and durability to keep my boat running when I need them most. In fact, during the 2007 Bassmaster Series, I was running across Lake Erie when I noticed my motor was hanging off and my boat filled with water. Luckily, my Optimas kept the pumps running long enough for me to be rescued and win the tournament.”

    Here are the remaining stops on the tour (times are noon to 3 p.m.):

    > April 30 – Pearl, Miss.
    > May 1 – Lawrenceville, Ga.
    > May 21 – Grapevine, Texas
    > June 4 – Broken Arrow, Okla.

    For more information about the sweepstakes, click here. For more about Optima Batteries, click here.

  • More hope for Wisconsin

    The bill to eliminate the Wisconsin regulation that disallows culling in bass tournaments now has a number and is working its way through the State Assembly. B.A.S.S. conservation director Noreen Clough recently traveled to that state to testify in favor of Assembly Bill 35, which was introduced by Assemblyman Joel Kleefisch (R, Oconomowoc).

    To read a pdf version of Clough's testimony, click here.

  • Chapman checks in

    Two practice days down, one to go at Pickwick.

    Brent Chapman says there's water in the bushes – too much really, and he'd like to see the water drop about a foot. For the scoop in his first 2 practice days, and how the events' setting up, click here to go On Tour With the BassFan Big Sticks.

  • Perilous Pickwick blow

    Perilous Pickwick blow

    Schools are closing early in north Alabama today – officials are trying to get the kids home before a powerful wall of thunderstorms blows through the area. It's the front side of a massive cold front and the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning, tornado watch and wind advisory.

    As of 2:30 ET today, it hadn't hit Pickwick yet, where the Bassmaster Elite Series field is practicing for this week's event. Randy Howell's still out on the water – checking the radar on his iPhone and communicating with his wife, who's also tracking the storm.

    "It's pretty nasty looking out here," Howell told BassFan from the water. "It's not above me yet, but I'm just trying to fish as long as I can before it gets too bad."

    The storm is supposed to move through tonight and leave cold, windy, bluebird conditions in its wake for tomorrow's final practice day. Initially, there was some speculation that the TVA would drop the Pickwick water levels, which would leave the bushes high and dry. Howell said there's still 3 to 4 feet of water in the bushes, so the flipping bite's still real strong.

    Competition begins Wednesday, and we hope everyone in Alabama comes through the storms okay.

  • Invisa offer

    Invisa offer

    BassFans searching for the next big thing in rigging should give the Aquateko Invisa Swivel a close look. The concept's simple, the advantages immense.

    The InvisaSwivel is a fluorocarbon swivel. Not only is it almost invisible when submerged, but it's nearly neutrally buoyant. The swivels have grown to dominate the saltwater market, and the applications in bass fishing are obvious. It's the perfect braid-to-fluorocarbon connector, and clearly a better option for any inline swivel rigs, such as a dropshot or Fluke. Excellent for Carolina-rigs too – especially with floating plastics.

    Aquateko wants everyone to try the product, so right now, there's a 2 for 1 promotion. Buy any InvisaSwivel product and get another free. The promotion also covers the company's Knot2Kinky "tieable" nitonal titanium leaders.

    To take advantage of the promotion, click here and enter the promo code AquaBOGO.

  • True-To-Test

    <b><font color = maroon>True-To-Test</b></font>

    Ever seen this trick? A company claims its line is extra tough and super abrasion-resistant. Then you look at the package and see that all the company did was make a fatter line. It hurts your fishing because line diameter can mean everything.

    That's the reason so many pros are excited about the new Stren Brute Strength, which reached store shelves this month. It fishes above its test-strength at the same diameter. In fact, it's so tough, you can step down 4 or 5 pounds in test strength without a sacrifice in break strength.

    For more about how this new line can help your fishing, with some advice from a few Elite Series pros, head on over to the Catch More Fish page.

    > In case you missed it, Stren's giving away a million yards of line in a new sweepstakes. For the details, click here.

  • Reversal for Roumbanis

    Reversal for Roumbanis

    Bassmaster Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis started and ended the 2010 season on sour notes, but 2011 has been a much different story thus far. The California native who now resides in Oklahoma finished in the 20s in both Elite events in Florida and also notched a 7th at the Okeechobee FLW Tour Open in January.

    That's quite a contrast to last year, when he opened with 85th- and 70th-place finishes in California and closed with an 82nd at Clarks Hill, a 77th at Kentucky Lake and an 87th at Fort Gibson.

    "Last year was brutal and I could only go up from there," the two-time Elite Series winner and two-time Classic qualifier said. "I think I might've finally learned to slow down – in all of those tournaments I keyed in on one or two areas and I just put the trolling motor down and fished.

    "In all three of them I was really consistent over the first 2 days. I just wasn't able to make any big moves on day 3."

    He fished differently in each event – he sight-fished at Okeechobee, flipped at the Harris Chain and threw a frog at the St. Johns River.

    "It's good for my confidence because now this year doesn't have to be such an uphill battle, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season."

    > He also announced that he's signed a new sponsorship deal with Noco Genius, which manufactures battery chargers.

  • Pickwick: out of the bushes?

    Pickwick: out of the bushes?

    One pattern the field would like to see next week at the Pickwick Bassmaster Elite Series is pre-spawn fish up in the flooded bushes. That makes for some of the best fishing of the year and it's when the flippers can really bring the hurt.

    But according to Mark Davis, that probably won't be the case.

    "Pickwick's definitely going to be pre-spawn, but the TVA prediction is the lake right now is 2 feet above summer pool, but they're supposed to drop it to 3 feet below summer pool," Davis said. "So we could see it drop substantially during practice and it might be the first day of the tournament before it even stabilizes. So I think it's going to be a tournament where a guy isn't going to be able to find them in practice, then catch them there in the tournament. The guy who wins is going to be the one who finds them during the tournament."

    Davis added: "I could be wrong – it's just a prediction – but I like that type of event, where you have to think on your feet and figure it out each day and adapt."

    > Davis, a post-spawn specialist, finished 16th last year at Pickwick when the lake fished to his strengths.

  • Duckett's plan revived

    Duckett's plan revived

    There was substantial buzz about a year and a half ago concerning 2007 Bassmaster Classic winner and successful businessman Boyd Duckett developing a series of competitive events involving top-level pro anglers. The talk died down shortly thereafter, but Duckett never abandoned his plan and now he says it's close to coming to fruition.

    He revealed that a coalition of top anglers has been working together for more than 2 years to put together a made-for-television tournament product. Gary Klein is another one of the principals involved in developing a product that, according to Duckett, is aimed at “expanding the audience of the sport and drawing in potential partnerships with companies outside the sport of competitive fishing.”

    “This is happening," he said. "We believe we’re aligning with the right people. This new product is something we will participate in during the times we’re not participating in our standard B.A.S.S. seasons. It will be filmed in the off-season, and I can’t emphasize enough that our primary goal is to expand our sport.”

    Stay tuned.

  • Pickwick pre, not post

    Pickwick pre, not post

    Last year, Kevin Short cranked to win the Pickwick Bassmaster Elite Series. He focused on the first drop outside the spawning areas and intercepted post-spawn fish on their way back out.

    The cycle should be in reverse this time around. The Elite Series visits Pickwick next week – about 3 weeks earlier than it did last year. Not necessarily a huge calendar difference, but in April, those few weeks can mean everything and the lake could fish completely different than it did last year.

    Chris Lane, who a little while back moved from Florida to Guntersville, is fishing Guntersville today. Front and center in his mind is the weather, and he feels that despite some warm teases, it's just too cold to expect much post-spawn activity at next week's event.

    "It's freezing cold," Lake reported from the water. "The water temp has gone from 65 to 55 and dropping. That's a pretty substantial drop. Honestly, I believe Pickwick will be a full pre-spawn deal."

    Daytime highs are predicted to climb back into the 80s this weekend, but are supposed to dip back down into the mid-60s during practice. That could put square-bills, jerkbaits and rattlebaits into play, but it should allow the plastics guys to fish their strengths around the grass – something Lane would welcome.

    Another important factor according to Lane – a lot of rain.

    "We've been getting a ton of rain," he said. "The water here on Guntersville's murky, and you don't see that a whole lot in April. So I really think you'll see the field flip-flop next week – sort of the opposite of who did well there last year. At least I hope so. I was 87th last year.

    "I'll start my practice by really focusing on pre-spawn fish, because the water's so cold," he added. "And I think that action's going to be mainly south, where the grass is."

    > The Pickwick Elite Series is a Wednesday (not Thursday) start, so fantasy-fishing picks need to be in a day early.

  • McKinnis in EverStart

    McKinnis in EverStart

    Jerry McKinnis' status as one of three new owners of B.A.S.S. hasn't stopped him from making an occasional foray into the FLW EverStarts. He's competing in the Central Division event this week at Kentucky Lake and was in 68th place (out of a field of 137 anglers) after day 1 with a three-fish, 6-15 bag.

    He's entered 28 EverStarts since 1999, but hasn't fished a full schedule since 2002. He last cashed a check in '04, when he logged a 44th-place finish at Sam Rayburn. His last appearance in a B.A.S.S. event was at the 2009 Rayburn Central Open.

    Former FLW Outdoors president and CEO Charlie Evans, a Gilbertsville, Ky. resident, is also fishing on the boater side this week for the first time since '02. He was 35th after day 1 with a 12-02 limit, sandwiched between Kentucky ace Sam Lashlee and FLW Tour pro Greg Bohannan in the standings.

    Evans fished this year's FLW Tour Majors at Beaver and Hartwell and the Open at Okeechobee as a co-angler.

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