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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

  • Manson with Flip In The Bird

    Manson with Flip In The Bird

    Flip In The Bird, manufacturer of the bird-imitation topwater lure, has added Bassmaster Elite Series angler Travis Manson to its pro staff.

    "We at Flip In The Bird are honored and thrilled to have Travis Manson as our new Elite Series pro," company co-owners Sam Kennedy and Dan Pirofalo said in a press release. "We wanted to find someone to represent Flip In The Bird Lure Co. who, like us, is up and coming, has strong integrity and a will to succeed. We took the time in choosing Travis because we can clearly see he will genuinely represent us with the same bedrock principles we are building our company on."

    Said Manson: "I am excited to be working with this great company. Flip In The Bird is a unique topwater that is unlike any other. I've had a chance to throw the bait here in Wisconsin and look forward to having it in my arsenal around the country."

  • Starks inks two deals

    Starks inks two deals

    Fresh off his victory at the Douglas Lake Bassmaster Elite Series, Jeremy Starks has signed separate sponsorship deals with Seaguar and Bite-Me Tackle.

    The deal with Seaguar sheds some light on the mystery surrounding the brand and weight of line he used to get his crankbaits to dive into the 30-foot range at Douglas. He had previously not disclosed information about the line he used.

    “I’m really excited about these deals,” Starks told BassFan. “I actually was using Seaguar AbrasX (fluorocarbon) at Douglas, but I didn’t tell anyone. It’s such a great line.

    “I’ve been using Seaguar line since 2006 for different techniques because their line just seemed to work better.”

    Bite-Me is an Indiana-based jighead maker and Starks has been a loyal Bite-Me user “since I started throwing a shakey-head jig,” he said.

    Look for Starks in his slightly revamped jersey displaying his new sponsors next week at the Toledo Bend Elite Series.

  • Lowrance pairs with Legend

    Lowrance pairs with Legend

    Lowrance announced today it has signed a 3-year agreement with Legend Boats to be the exclusive marine electronics supplier for new Legend models. Lowrance products will come standard and consumers will have the option to upgrade to other Lowrance offerings.

    “We are pleased to partner with Lowrance and offer their award-winning electronics to our customers,” said Legend Boats CEO Dean Smith. “Lowrance is perfectly suited to the high-quality caliber of our custom-built bass boats. Their product performance and quality, as well as delivery and customer service, make Lowrance the first choice for Legend Boats.”

    Said Louis Chemi, chief operating officer of Navico Americas, “We’re honored to partner with Legend Boats. The Lowrance electronics suite is a natural fit for its top-quality bass boats. We are committed to providing our channel customers the best quality, delivery and after sales support – in addition to providing the most innovative and high-performance fish-finding and navigation solutions. We are confident that Lowrance electronics will exceed new Legend owners’ expectations.”

  • Colson still haunted by ’11 KY Lake result

    Colson still haunted by ’11 KY Lake result

    Ramie Colson, Jr. thinks about it every day – the one that got away. But it’s not a 10-pounder coming unbuttoned at the boat that runs through his mind. It’s the 2011 Kentucky Lake FLW Tour Major.

    After blasting nearly 45 pounds over the first 2 days and opening almost a 7-pound lead, things took a turn with the help of Mother Nature. A wicked round of thunderstorms blew through the region and his lead virtually evaporated on day 3 when he weighed just two fish. He couldn’t recover on day 4 and settled for 4th place.

    “I think about it every day,” he said. “It was pretty heartbreaking. I looked back as soon as the tournament was over and there were some things that I could’ve done and still had a chance to hold on, but that’s just fishing. Sometimes we get hard-headed and I stayed with what I did the first 2 days. The weather didn’t help, especially fishing the ledges like I was. It tends to scatter the fish more than it bunches them up.”

    His shot at redemption will come next week when the Tour returns to the lake he’s called home his entire life. He says that if weather becomes a factor again, he’ll make the necessary adjustments even with drastically different water levels and temperatures.

    “It’s quite a bit different this year,” he noted. “For 2 years in a row, we’ve had the highest water ever for this time of year and this year we’ve got some of the lowest water we’ve ever had this time of year for both lakes (including Lake Barkley).

    “I was talking with Andy Morgan today and was saying with the weights it’s been taking to win tournaments here recently, it seems the big fish are hard to come by,” he said. “There are some 8- and 9-pounders being weighed in, but without the flooding we’ve had the last couple years, the milfoil is coming back in the southern end. I think that’ll be a key next week. We won’t be catching a bag of 6-pounders, but with a couple of those and a few 3-pounders it’ll put you in good shape.”

    Fishing his home waters will also give him a chance to punctuate what’s otherwise been a dismal season. After a 50th-place finish at Lake Hartwell, he logged two straight finishes in the 100s at Table Rock Lake and Beaver Lake, before posting a 53rd at the Potomac River.

    “It seems like I can have a decent practice and that’s all you can ask for, but come tournament time I just couldn’t put it together,” he said. “You look at guys like Brent Ehrler or Bryan Thrift or David Dudley. They’re all very consistent. That’s something I’ve worked on and worked on, but I haven’t quite gotten my hands on the key to it yet.”

  • Magic ditch key to BassPack’s title

    Magic ditch key to BassPack’s title

    Before last week, Ben Dziwulski and Ethan Cox had only fished together once before. It was during last year’s Kentucky Lake Collegiate Bass Fishing Open. Despite an 11th-place finish out of 38 teams, Dziwulski was quick to call it one of the most valuable learning experiences he’s had in fishing.

    “We didn’t do very well because we would look at the (sonar) graph and any time we’d see anything cool, we’d fish it,” Dziwulski said. “We still finished 11th, but that wasn’t good by our standards.”

    Adhering to a new strategy was the key element to breaking down Lake Pickwick for the duo from North Carolina State University en route to their victory at the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. Their 45.60-pound total over 2 days included a tournament-best 25.67-pound stringer on day 2 as well as the event’s big bass -- a 6.56-pound brute caught by Cox. Their total was more than 4 1/2 pounds better than the runner-up team from Tennessee Tech (Joe Slagle/Matt Clay) and nearly 9 pounds heavier than 3rd-place Auburn University-Montgomery.

    “We applied what we learned, which was to not fish what looks good, only fish where the fish are,” said Dziwulski (pronounced Jah-wulski). “I don’t care if it was a straight ledge with brush piles and even bait. If you don’t see bass there, it’s not where you want to be.”

    It’s the third such championship for N.C. State. Here’s a brief rundown of their triumph for the BassPack, the fishing brethren of the school’s WolfPack:

    In Their Words

    > “It’s huge. It means everything right now,” Cox said. “I was actually going to start looking for sponsors and with this on my résumé, I think it’ll put me ahead of some other guys in the minds of potential sponsors. That’s one of the very best bites I’ve ever been on. I’ve never been on a bite like that in a tournament. It was just a 40-yard stretch and they were just stacked in there. I want to thank my dad and family for their support. Without them being there with us all week and taking care of all the off-the-water stuff, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did. They were a real big part of it."

    > “For me, it’s a huge boost. With the fishing industry being as tough as it is, it’s very hard, especially coming out of college, to have any sort of momentum or prestige to acquire any sponsorships and make that transition from college to the big leagues,” Dziwulski said. “I’m hoping to use this and the exposure and renown that comes from this to really make a name for myself and my sponsors to hopefully acquire additional sponsors so I can take the next step and jump into the semi-pro or pro ranks.”

    3 Keys To Victory

    > “On Monday, we pulled up on a school we’d found in the middle of nowhere near a tiny little ditch or depression,” Dziwulski said. “We made a couple of casts and I had a 5-pounder and Ethan caught a 3-pounder. That moved to the top of our list and since we didn’t have anything else to convince us otherwise, we went there on day 1 of the tournament never left it the entire tournament. It was two ditches that ran parallel to the bank and in between the ditches was a ridge with some shellbeds and a little bit of grass on it. That’s where the fish were holed up, gorging themselves on shad that were moving off the flats. It set up like one of those elite winning areas. It was a very subtle spot and I’ve never been so dialed in in my entire life. As the sun kept rising, the fish kept getting bigger.

    > “We initially started throwing Strike King Series 5 crankbaits and moved to Series 5 XD to start dredging a little more,” added Dziwulski. “Halfway through day 1, it slowed down so I switched to a silent Series 6 XD and I think the combination of the bigger profile and the silence, they just started eating it. Almost every fish we weighed in came on the Series 6 XD. We were burning them, too. We’d cast perpendicular into the first ditch and it would work its way down into the middle of the first ditch and then up and down the ridge and we’d try to bang it off of every piece of structure we could find.”

    > “We were fishing 12- and 14-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon and I know people usually crank with pretty light line, but one thing I’ve learned from Kevin VanDam and a bunch of the other good crankers is you can put the bigger line on there and it’ll still dive to the depths you need,” Dziwulski said. “Especially since we were fishing shallower water, the 12- and 14-pound line stayed durable both days. We didn’t break anything off and we were fishing around all kinds of heavy cover.”

    > Crankbait gear: 7’11” medium-heavy JB Custom Rods Missile and 7’11” medium-action JB Custom Rods Missile Light crankbait rods, unnamed casting reels (6.3:1 and 5.4:1 ratios), 12- and 14-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon line, Strike King Series 5, Series 5 XD and Series 6 XD crankbaits (citrus shad and sexy shad).

    > Main factor in their success – “It wasn’t rocket science,” Dziwulski said. “We just had it dialed in. We made the right adjustments when the fish stopped biting. When they turned off on the rattling bait, we switched to the silent bait. When they slowed down on that, we’d change the angle of the cast we’d make depending on the wind. We had a prevailing current. We were fishing so our baits were moving with the prevailing current and then we’d turn around and throw a different direction and that would fire them up.”

    > Performance edge – “Our electronics were key and the Navionics Platinum chip was huge,” Dziwulski said. “We could find the ditches just looking at the map. We didn’t even have to idle. The lure, the line and the rod, too. Without one of them, we couldn’t have caught that many fish.”

    Notable

    > Dziwulski is a native of Woodbine, Md., and is scheduled to graduate in December. He’s majoring in agricultural business and minoring in economics. He’s a certified CrossFit trainer and intended to pursue that as a career out of college, but fishing has supplanted that as his top priority.

    > Cox hails from West End, N.C., and graduated earlier this month with a degree in business administration. He’s also planning to puruse fishing as a career. He finished 3rd among co-anglers at the Lake Norman Bassmaster Southern Open this year.

    >BassFan columnist Miles “Sonar” Burghoff teamed up with Central Florida teammate Casey O’Donnell to finish 18th with 27.34 pounds. They won the event in 2011.

    > For the complete results, click here.

  • Missile lands at Dick's

    Missile lands at Dick's

    Virginia Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews announced today that his Missile Baits will soon be carried at 200 select Dick's Sporting Goods stores around the country. Crews and Missile pro-staffer Ish Monroe will be making appearances at stores in conjunction with the launch.

    "We work really hard to be able to bring great fishing lures to anglers all over the world," said Crews. "We've built a wonderful relationship with many independent retailers to make our baits available. To have a company such as Dick's Sporting Goods bring Missile Baits into their stores will definitely allow many more anglers access to better soft-plastic baits. I'm looking forward to this relationship."

    Dick's will stock the D-Bomb (which Monroe used to win the Okeechobee Elite Series in March), the Missile Craw and the Tomahawk 8.75, with each available in six colors.

    Crews will appear at the Dick's store in Roanoke, Va. from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday (June 1). Monroe will be at the Dick's in Modesto, Calif. from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 2.

  • Razr Rods picks up Scanlon

    Razr Rods picks up Scanlon

    Razr Rods has added Bassmaster Elite Rookie and 2013 Classic qualifier Casey Scanlon to its pro staff.

    "We feel really blessed to have a fisherman as talented as Casey on our pro staff," said Razr Rods president Rick LaPoint. "To have a 2012 Central Open champion and 2013 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier choose to fish with Razr Rods says a lot about our products. We are excited for Casey to represent us at the Bassmaster Classic in 2013 at Grand Lake in Oklahoma."

    Said Scanlon: "These rods are light, sensitive, and very durable. Best of all, Razr Rods is a small, responsive company that is easy to deal with. It's important to me that all the rods are made in the U.S.A. and offer a lifetime warranty.

    "They offer both High Modulus Graphite and E-Glass models in many different actions. Their E-Glass deep-cranking rod was instrumental in my Central Open victory for keeping those big bass hooked up."

  • Small tools perform big jobs

    When you're fishing, any task that must be performed before making your next cast becomes a major undertaking. Berkley understands that, and that's why the company developed its new Superline Shears and 14-function Multi-Tool.

    Both are small implements that'll fit just about anywhere until they're needed. And when that time comes, you'll be glad you have them.

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

  • Opinion: Livewell snafus a bad precedent

    Jim Moynagh, the 4th-place finisher at last week's Potomac River FLW Tour Major, and 143rd-place finisher Roland Martin were both penalized after co-anglers placed fish on the wrong side of the livewell during competition days. In the view of BassFan Senior Editor John Johnson, the incidents strengthen the case against having back-seaters compete in professional events.

    For more, click here.

  • Mystery solved: Green Bay/Lake Michigan

    Mystery solved: Green Bay/Lake Michigan

    The mystery has been solved.

    After months of keeping the seventh stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series schedule a secret, B.A.S.S. today announced that Lake Michigan and Green Bay, Wis., will be hosting the Elite Series tournament on June 28-July 1.

    It’ll mark the second Elite Series event ever held in Wisconsin and will come on the heels of the first, which will take place the week prior on the Mississippi River in La Crosse (a 4-hour drive to Green Bay). The Bassmaster Tour visited Lake Wisota for an Elite 50 in 2005 – the year prior to the inception of the Elite Series.

    A complete story with angler reaction to the decision will be published soon.

    Below is the news release from B.A.S.S. regarding the announcement:

    Green Bay, Wis., Revealed As The Mystery Fishery Of The Bassmaster Elite Series

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — After months of speculation, the wait is finally over. The “Mystery Lake” now has a name. B.A.S.S. today announced that Green Bay, Wis., and Lake Michigan will be the site of the seventh Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season, June 28 through July 1, 2012.

    “We wanted the Mystery Lake to not only be a surprise to our anglers, but also a body of water they had no prior knowledge of,” explained Jerry McKinnis, co-owner of B.A.S.S. A major Bassmaster tournament has never been held on Lake Michigan out of Green Bay. However, one Elite Series angler, Travis Manson, is from the city of Green Bay and is familiar with the adjacent waters.

    The fishery was placed off-limits to Elite Series anglers beginning immediately after the official announcement at 1 p.m. Thursday.

    “What makes this such a neat format is that it got people talking about where the event might be, and it puts the best anglers in the world on a lake that they have to figure out in a couple of days. And fans benefit from watching these guys find fish in short order. You get a sense of how good these anglers really are,” McKinnis continued.

    The Mississippi River Elite Series event out of La Crosse, Wis., will conclude on June 24, a 210-mile drive from Green Bay. Once competitors arrive, they will have three days to find schools of big bass on Green Bay and the Fox River. Weigh-ins will be held in Green Bay, Wis., the host city. Additional details will be available on Bassmaster.com.

    To win local bass tournaments on Green Bay in late spring/early summer has required as much as 30 pounds per day (for five bass). The Elite Series tournament will be a little past the prime big-bass period, but fishermen familiar with the area expect outstanding fishing, weather permitting.

    “This is a world class fishery,” said Mark Zona, cohost of The Bassmasters TV show and an outstanding bass angler with tournament experience on Lake Michigan. “The only enemy it has is also what makes the Great Lakes so special — Mother Nature.” High winds can make boating and fishing brutal experiences, “but there are plenty of places to hide from the wind,” he added.

    “It was quite a challenge keeping this a secret for so long,” said Michael Mulone, B.A.S.S. Event Partnerships director. “In trying to secure accommodations for anglers and staff, we couldn’t tell anyone who we were with. When talking to park officers, we had to remain unidentified. And we secured permits for four different lakes, two in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin, just in case folks started snooping around.”

    Now that the announcement has been made, there’s a lot of work to do to prepare for this tournament.

    “Only two of us at B.A.S.S. knew the location of the Mystery Lake until very recently,” McKinnis said. “Now, our folks have to do all that they do to make this event happen, from television crews and staging to securing Marshals for all competitors. It certainly adds excitement to the process!”

    The Mystery Lake concept, which was scheduled this year to pay homage to the early days of the Bassmaster Classic when the destination was not announced until anglers were in an airplane, was a success.

    “Not only did it allow us to look back at the rich history of B.A.S.S., but it also presents the most equal playing field in all of fishing,” McKinnis said. “It will simply be a test of putting the best anglers in the world on an incredible fishery and being privileged enough to watch it play out.”

    The site was revealed in simultaneous announcements Thursday in a press conference by Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt and on a special edition of the “Livewell” Web TV program broadcast on Bassmaster.com. Additional information as well as live coverage of the event next month also can be found on Bassmaster.com.

    “We are excited to be the Mystery Lake host,” said Schmitt. “With our revitalized downtown and beautiful bay, this promises to be the best event on the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series tour! We look forward to welcoming the Bassmaster anglers, staff and visitors.”

    Brad Toll, CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, added, “This is an exciting opportunity to highlight our region and our wonderful natural resources, the Fox River and Lake Michigan.”

    Even though it was kept secret until a month prior to the beginning of the tournament, the event is expected to be popular with a large and passionate group of fishing fans in the Lake Michigan area. Previous host communities have reported over $1 million in economic impact from expenditures derived from Elite Series tournaments, noted Mulone.

    The Green Bay tournament is crucial to the careers of the 99 Elite Series anglers as well. At stake in addition to the $100,000 first prize are berths in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Okla., and the Bassmaster All-Star event in Decatur, Ill., later this year. And with only one more Elite event remaining in the season, Green Bay will play a pivotal role in determining the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

    Hosts of the Bassmaster Elite Series event at Green Bay include the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wisconsin Tourism and the City of Green Bay.

  • Mercury ethanol chat

    Mercury ethanol chat

    Mercury will be hosting a live chat session on ethanol topics today at 2 p.m. EST. The Facebook chat will be hosted by Mercury experts Ed Alyanak (technical advisor), Frank Kelley (fuel specialist), and Heidi Stark (Quicksilver product manager).

    They will answer questions related to ethanol fuels and marine engines, best practices for engine care and more. To join the chat session, click here.

  • Sunline Strong Performer – Potomac

    <b><font color=green>Sunline Strong Performer – Potomac</font></b>

    Justin Lucas appeared to be headed toward his third straight finish in the lower half of the pack at last week's Potomac River FLW Tour Major. A pedestrian 12 1/2-pound sack left him in 90th place after day 1 and he didn't have a single keeper in his livewell at 10:30 on day 2.

    "I decided to just go do something different and start over right then," he said. "So I ran into Mattawoman Creek, which is an area known for good fish, and caught the biggest fish of the tournament (a 6-05) right away. That gave me all the confidence in the world to stay in there and get four more good bites.

    "I was in the last flight, so I had like 5 hours left in the day, and I was able to put my head down and put the trolling motor down and pitch to every place I thought there might be a bass.

    "A lot of times when you panic and start running around, things turn out worse," he continued. "But after catching that 6-pounder I settled in and got focused on four more bites, and I actually ended up getting 12 or 15 more."

    His 18-11 sack that day moved him up to 20th place – the last slot inside the first cut. A bag that was just 5 ounces lighter on day 3 propelled him to 5th, and he caught 16 1/2 pounds on the final day to end up 2nd – just 3 ounces behind winner Scott Martin.

    The runner-up finish was easily the best of his 3-year pro career.

    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.

  • Iobee, anyone?

    Iobee, anyone?

    Want to win a Jackall Iobee frog, like the one Cody Meyer uses in this video? Just follow this link, then "like" the page and send the company a short message.

    You'll be entered to win one of four frogs, which are among the hundreds of lures Jackall will give away this year. Good luck.

  • Combs to host WW benefit

    Combs to host WW benefit

    Texas Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs will host the inaugural KC's Crappie Tournament on Saturday (May 26) at Lake Texana. The event is a benefit for the Wounded Warriors.

    "We are really excited about the chance to raise money for the Wounded Warriors organization," he said. "I can't think of a more deserving group of people than the men and women who have been injured defending our freedom,"

    Along with the fishing, there will also be a drawing with a grand prize of a guided trip with Combs to either Falcon Lake or Lake Sam Rayburn (winner's choice). The grand prize comes complete with up to $500 in travel expenses.

    "We've got a lot of great things to give away, including autographed products from several of my Elite Series competitors like Aaron Martens and Brent Chapman. Oakley Sunglasses also donated a bunch of sunglasses and the grand prize is the fishing trip with me.

    "Every dollar raised from this process will go to the Wounded Warriors organization. We have to word it carefully here in the state of Texas, but you'll get one chance to win for a $5 donation or you can get three chances to win for a $10 donation. You don't need to be present to win and you can make the donations on my website at KeithCombsFishing.com. This year's event is our first, so it won't be huge, making it a great opportunity to win a trip to one of the best bass fishing lakes in the world."

    Anglers can fish two adults to a boat or two adults and one child for the same price. Combs stated,

    "We realize that for people in other areas of the country that it's not realistic to make the event. However, if they choose to help the cause, they can make the donations on the website and get a chance to win great prizes."

  • Big Bite Lookback – Potomac

    <b><font color=green>Big Bite Lookback – Potomac</font></b>

    Alabama rookie Clent Davis missed making his second FLW Tour Top 10 in three events by a single placement in last week's derby at the Potomac River in Maryland. He would've made it to the final day if a slew of good fish hadn't gotten unbuttoned before reaching his boat.

    "Day 3 could've been even better than day 2 if I'd just put the fish in the net that bit, but it was just one of those days," he said. "I lost at least eight fish, and one of them was over 5 pounds, for sure. It was sickening."

    He weighed just 13-10 on day 3 after coming in with a stout 19-06 the previous day.

    "They were eating the swimjig really weird (on day 3). The one big one I got, the jig was hooked in the top of its head. They were coming up wanting to kill it, but then they weren't putting it in their mouth.

    "I caught that big one real quick, so I just kept throwing the jig and kept losing them. I was telling myself, 'If you can just get one of these in the boat, you're fishing tomorrow.' Justin Lucas, my travel partner, slowed down with a (stickbait) that day and whacked them. I probably should've thrown a Senko, too."

    On a more positive note, his 11th-place finish gave him the lead in the Rookie of the Year race, where he holds a 41-point advantage over New Jersey's Adrian Avena.

    "I've got to go out and bust it for two more tournaments. I need to distance myself at Kentucky Lake a little bit because Avena lives on Champlain."

    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.

  • Walker with Cabela's

    Walker with Cabela's

    David Walker notified BassFan today that he's signed a sponsorship deal with outdoor retail giant Cabela's.

    "I'm pretty happy," he said. "I've never worked with an outdoor retailer before. They're a great brand – I've been wearing their fishing and hunting apparel for years.

    "When you're already familiar with the products, it makes everything that much easier."

    Walker is 2nd in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race at the season's halfway mark, 26 points behind leader Randy Howell.

  • New poll: Military sponsorships

    The House Appropriations Committee last week approved an amendment to the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill that would eliminate all military sponsorship spending in professional and semi-professional sports, including NASCAR, bass fishing and mixed martial arts. Where do you stand on this issue?

    To cast your vote, scroll down the right side of the home page.

  • Cup/Classic fields at a glance

    Cup/Classic fields at a glance

    A few more spots in bass fishing’s most prestigious events were sewn up recently.

    Still, so much remains to be settled, namely the Angler of the Year races for both pro tours as those will largely determine the balance of the fields for each tournament. Here’s an overview of the anglers who have locked up spots in the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup and 2013 Bassmaster Classic and how the balance of the fields will be filled.

    Forrest Wood Cup

    Here are the anglers who have locked up berths in the Forrest Wood Cup, scheduled for Aug. 9-12 at Lake Lanier in Georgia. The remainder of the 46-person field will consist of the top 35 finishers in the FLW Tour Major points standings so it is feasible for there to be several double qualifiers. David Dudley is the only double qualifier so far as he won the Angler of the Year (AOY) award last year and also finished 5th in the FLW Tour Open points. That opened the door for Thanh Le, who finished 6th in Open points, to fish the Cup. If there are additional double qualifiers, the spots will be filled via the 2012 FLW Tour Major points standings, starting with 36th place and so on.

    > Scott Martin -- 2011 Forrest Wood Cup champion
    > David Dudley -- 2011 FLW Angler of the Year (Double qualifier)
    > Dan Morehead -- 2011 EverStart Series Champion
    > Shinichi Fukae -- 2011 FLW Tour Open Champion
    > Dave Lefebre -- 2011 FLW Tour Open Runner-up
    > Glenn Browne -- 2011 FLW Tour Open 3rd place
    > Scott Suggs -- 2011 FLW Tour Open 4th place
    > Thanh Le -- 2011 FLW Tour Open 6th place
    > Gilbert Gagner -- 2012 TBF National Champion
    > Brian Maloney -- 2012 BFL All-American Champion
    > Ryan Patterson -- 2012 FLW College Fishing Champion

    Bassmaster Classic

    So far, eight anglers have clinched spots in next year’s Classic, scheduled for Feb. 22-24, 2013 at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. Chris Lane, this year’s Classic champ, is the first double qualifier as he also won the Harris Chain Southern Open. If he maintains his current position among the top 28 in points, he’ll qualify three ways.

    The balance of the field will consist of winners from the four remaining Elite Series events, the top 28 anglers from the 2012 Elite Series points standings, the winners of the five remaining Bassmaster Open tournaments (one Southern, one Central, three Northerns) provided the winners have fished all three of the divisional events, six regional champions from the Federation Nation, the Weekend Series champion and the College Series champion.

    > Chris Lane -- 2012 Classic champion/Harris Chain Southern Open winner
    > Alton Jones -- St. Johns River Elite Series winner
    > Ish Monroe -- Lake Okeechobee Elite Series winner
    > Brandon Palaniuk -- Bull Shoals Lake Elite Series winner
    > Jeremy Starks -- Douglas Lake Elite Series winner
    > Brent Chapman -- Lewisville Lake Central Open winner
    > Casey Scanlon -- Table Rock Lake Central Open winner
    > Tracy Adams -- Lake Norman Southern Open winner

  • Amphibia inks four

    Amphibia inks four

    Amphibia Sunglasses announced that it's signed a quartet of Bassmaster Elite Series anglers – Jeff Kriet, Todd Faircloth, Mike McClelland and Jeremy Starks – to sponsorship deals. Amphibia glasses are equipped with the patented AirCel that allows them to float.

    “Teaming up with Amphibia Sunglasses was an easy decision," said Kriet (pictured). "I've been testing them for almost 8 months now and truly believe they have the best fishing-specific lenses available.

    "My sunglasses are one of the most important tools for fishing. I want them to be the best available and that is what I’m getting from Amphibia – not to mention that they're the most comfortable glasses that I have ever owned, and they float."

    Although Amphibia has been in the marketplace for some time, their “Fishing Specific” lenses are just now hitting the market.

    “Designing these lenses and frames has been an exercise in perfection," said Amphibia VP of research and design Tim Dighton. "We did not want to come out with something that was above average. We wanted to come out with the best.”

    To learn more about Amphibia's features, go to www.AmphibiaSports.com.

  • TBF tabs marketing manager

    TBF tabs marketing manager

    The Bass Federation (TBF) announces that it's hired Dustin King as its digital sales and marketing manager. King holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from Jacksonville State University.

    “I am very excited to take this position with The Bass Federation,” he said. “This grassroots organization is giving anglers at the club level unparalleled opportunities and benefits for being a member. I am proud to be a part of everything they’re involved with, from youth to conservation and beyond. The sky is the limit to the success we as a company can see in the future. ”

    Said TBF president Robert Cartlidge: “Dustin will make a great addition to our national team here at TBF. He is young and energetic. He brings fresh ideas and new marketing perspectives to our group so we can all better support our members and partners. Dustin is a hard worker and has a true love for the sport. I am confident he will prove to be an asset to the Federation.”

  • Monroe likely out of Cup contention

    Monroe likely out of Cup contention

    Ish Monroe has already claimed a berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic, and he'd like to qualify for this year's Forrest Wood Cup as well. It looks as if that won't be possible, though, because the Elite Series and FLW Tour schedules will overlap twice next month.

    The Californian is in prime position to make the Cup – he's 18th in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race after last week's derby at the Potomac River. But the Classic spot he gained by winning the Okeechobee Elite Series in March is contingent upon him fishing all of that circuit's events.

    If he could, he'd forfeit the $10,000 worth of entry fees for the Elite events at Toledo Bend (June 7-10) and the mystery venue (June 28-July 1) and compete in the FLW tournaments at Kentucky Lake and Champlain.

    "It'd be worth it to try to make sure I fish (the Cup)," he said. "But I plan on fishing the Elites as of right now to keep that Classic qualification. Even though there's $600,000 up for grabs (if a Ranger owner wins the Cup), it's still the Bassmaster Classic. It's still the crown jewel, and everybody feels that way.

    "When (FLW) sent me the text telling me I was in 18th place, I was like, 'Ah, really?' If I was in 50th or 60th, I wouldn't feel so bad."

    The more likely scenario will have him forfeiting his deposits for the two remaining FLW Tour Majors.

    "I'm going to talk to (B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon) one more time this week to see if anything can be done."

  • Rankings: Dudley supplants KVD at top

    Rankings: Dudley supplants KVD at top

    David Dudley has claimed the No. 1 slot in the BassFan World Rankings for the first time in his career following his 3rd-place finish at the Potomac River FLW Tour Major. He swapped positions in this edition with Kevin VanDam, who'd topped the list since this time last year.

    "Of course I'm excited," Dudley said. "I've watched the Rankings my whole career and to be No. 1 and knock Kevin out is pretty cool."

    To see the full list, click here.

  • Maloney sews up A-A title, Cup berth

    Maloney sews up A-A title, Cup berth

    Brian Maloney’s stringer was more than a pound lighter than yesterday, but his 13-06 sack was just enough to close out a wire-to-wire win at the BFL All-American, held at the Potomac River. The Osage Beach, Mo., resident finished with 43-04 to edge Dick Shaffer, who closed with 42-14 after catching 14-00 today.

    The win earned Maloney $120,000 in cash as well as a berth in this year’s Forrest Wood Cup, to be held in August at Lake Lanier in Georgia.

    David Williams caught the heaviest bag of the final day (15-05) to finish 3rd with 42-03.

    Here’s how the 10 finalists finished up:

    1. Brian Maloney: 43-04
    2. Dick Shaffer: 42-14
    3. David Williams: 42-03
    4. Dicky Newberry: 40-13
    5. Conrad Bolt: 38-01
    6. Roger Fitzpatrick: 37-03
    7. Christopher Jones: 36-01
    8. Corey Saint: 35-02
    9. Scott Hamrick: 32-11
    10. Marc Snyder: 28-14

    Details of Maloney’s winning pattern will be published soon.

  • Maloney maintains A-A lead

    Brian Maloney holds a 1-pound lead over Dick Shaffer with 1 day of competition remaining in the BFL All-American at the Potomac River.

    Maloney retained the lead by catching a 14-10 stringer on day 2, giving him 29-14 through 2 days.

    “We got on a big school of bass early,” said Maloney, who qualified through the Missouri TBF chapter. “But then it really slowed down about 9:30 to 10 o’clock, so we moved to a new area to try something different. That was wrong. We went back to the original area where we were fishing and the bite was back. I targeted the same ditches as yesterday; the bass seem to be sliding back in the holes as the tide pulls out.

    “The bass I am catching appear to be post-spawn,” Maloney continued. “They are really beaten up and starting to heal, but I’ll take them. I was using shaky-head (rigs) again today and then started using crankbaits. I started using crankbaits just to try and hold the area. There were a lot of guys trying to move in, but I didn’t want the spot getting a lot of pressure so we started playing the waiting game. I’m not really familiar with this tidal game, but tomorrow should be a lot of fun.”

    Shaffer caught 14-07 and has a 28-14 total. Christopher Jones is 3rd with 28-05.

    Here’s a look at the 10 anglers who will fish the final day with a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup on the line:

    1. Brian Maloney: 29-14
    2. Dick Shaffer: 28-14
    3. Christopher Jones: 28-05
    4. Scott Hamrick: 27-11
    5. Dicky Newberry: 27-04
    6. David Williams: 26-14
    7. Conrad Bolt: 26-01
    8. Corey Saint: 25-09
    9. Marc Snyder: 24-07
    10. Roger Fitzpatrick: 24-02

  • Elite points: Expect more shuffling

    Elite points: Expect more shuffling

    Four tournaments. Four different leaders in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings. Such is life under the revamped points system in place for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

    It’s the first time since 2004 that four different names have graced the top spot in the standings through the first four events on the schedule.

    We’re at the halfway mark and already BassFans are starting to see the effects of the new Elite Series points system which awards 99 points to the winner, 98 to the runner-up, 97 to 3rd and so on. If the intent was to instill more drama in the process, B.A.S.S. has already earned more than passing marks.

    Randy Howell is the man everyone’s chasing (for now) with 358 points. He enjoys a 26-point cushion over David Walker, but as Brent Chapman found out at Douglas Lake, a 20-plus point lead can quickly evaporate so Howell’s position is precarious at best despite his wickedly strong start (10.5 average finish). There’s little doubt this year’s AOY will go right down to possibly the final day at Oneida Lake in August.

    While there are still a fair number of pros who probably still believe they have a legitimate shot to be this year’s AOY, a spot in next year’s Bassmaster Classic hangs in the balance for countless others.

    The magic position in the standings is 28th as that’s the cutoff for automatic berths in the Classic. Those with Elite Series wins this year among the Top 28 will be considered double-qualifiers so additional Classic berths will be given to those next in the standings. Currently, four anglers (Chapman, Jeremy Starks, Alton Jones and Chris Lane) among the Top 28 in points already have a Classic ticket in hand so the magic spot may ultimately be 32nd or lower.

    While it’s a subjective and maybe unfair comparison due to the drastic change in how points are awarded, a comparison of the standings through four events last year with the final standings revealed only six anglers moved into the Top 28 over the course of the second half of the season with Ish Monroe making the biggest leap from 59th to 20th.

    It stands to reason that there will be extensive shuffling as the schedule tilts toward the stretch drive this year, so BassFan did some number-crunching and looked at those anglers currently within 50 points of J. Todd Tucker, who is 28th with 248 points. That brought us to Russ Lane, who is tied for 55th with 198 points.

    BassFan went back over the past three Elite Series seasons and examined each angler’s second-half results during each campaign in an effort to determine who may or may not make a strong push toward a Classic berth.

    Listed below are the current standings from 29th to 55th with this year’s point total and average finish over the second half from 2009-2011 shown in parenthesis in red. Jamie Horton and Cliff Prince are Elite Series rookies and sufficient data wasn’t available for them. Andy Montgomery and Nate Wellman fished the FLW Tour in 2009 and 2010 so their second-half results from those seasons were factored in.

    29. Dean Rojas – 246 (52.6)
    30. Nate Wellman – 246 (52.8)
    31. Kelly Jordon – 240 (36.6)
    32. Jamie Horton – 239
    33. Greg Hackney – 236 (39.8)
    34. Michael Iaconelli – 235 (34.3)
    35. Rick Clunn – 234 (40.4)
    36. Andy Montgomery – 229 (50.6)
    37. Mark Davis – 227 (39.1)
    38. Yusuke Miyazaki – 226 (63.6)
    39. Derek Remitz – 226 (43)
    40. Cliff Pace – 226 (35.8)
    41 Jared Lintner – 223 (51.3)
    42. Scott Rook – 221 (46.7)
    43. Mark Menendez – 221 (37.1)
    44. Zell Rowland – 220 (74.7)
    45. Greg Vinson – 219 (44.8)
    46. Matt Reed – 211 (41.9)
    47. Ishama Monroe – 209 (50.8)
    48. Cliff Prince – 208
    49. Stephen Kennedy – 207 (36.3)
    50. John Crews – 205 (37)
    51. Jason Quinn – 200 (46.7)
    52. Travis Manson – 198 (67.3)
    53. Terry Butcher – 198 (34.2)
    54. Jason Williamson – 198 (47.7)
    55. Russell Lane – 198 (24.8)

    While it may be hard to glean much from the list, it’s worth noting that several anglers are holding close to form as the schedule turns to the second half. That might not bode well for their Classic chances.

    For others, like Rojas, who’s coming off Top-5s at Douglas Lake and the Old Hickory PAA Series and has a great track record at Toledo Bend and Oneida, the second half can’t get here fast enough. Lane may also be worth keeping an eye on as he has 11 Top-50s and four Top-12 finishes in the second half over the past three seasons. He’ll need to keep that trend going if he hopes to move up the standings.

  • Bill would slash military sponsors

    Bill would slash military sponsors

    If two members of the House of Representatives have their way, funding for military sponsorships in pro sports, including bass fishing, will no longer exist, according to a story published in USA Today.

    The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to the $600 billion Defense Appropriations bill that would eliminate sponsorships underwritten by the military. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) are the co-sponsors of the amendment.

    This would greatly impact NASCAR teams as well as FLW Outdoors, which has long-standing ties with the National Guard. The story quoted McCollum’s website as saying the National Guard spent $20 million in 2011 and 2012 on professional bass fishing.

    According to FLW’s website, there are 14 members of the National Guard fishing team, including six current FLW Tour pros (Brett Hite, Mark Rose, Brent Ehrler, Justin Lucas, Scott Martin and Jonathan Newton).

    To read USA Today’s report, click here.

    To read the related press release from Rep. McCollum’s web site, click here.

  • New spin on cut-tails

    The Subwoofer, one of the newest offerings in Berkley's Havoc lineup of baits, features all of the fish-attracting effectiveness of traditional cut-tails. However, it also has an innovative design to help increase hook-ups.

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

  • Maloney snags A-A lead

    Maloney snags A-A lead

    Brian Maloney cracked a 15-04 stringer today to take the lead after day 1 of the BFL All-American. The event is running concurrent with the Potomac River FLW Tour Major, but the fields are fishing separate sections of the river.

    The Missouri resident, who finished 6th at the TBF National Championship in March, holds a 4-ounce lead over Michigander Marc Sndyer. Dick Shaffer caught 14-07 and is 3rd, Conrad Bolt was an ounce lighter in 4th and Rob Digh sits in 5th with 13-02.

    Here’s a quick glance at the Top 10 following day 1:

    1. Brian Maloney: 15-04
    2. Marc Snyder: 15-00
    3. Dick Shaffer: 14-07
    4. Conrad Bolt: 14-06
    5. Rob Digh: 13-02
    6 (tie). Roger Fitzpatrick: 12-11
    6 (tie). Corey Saint: 12-11
    8. Christopher Jones: 12-10
    9. Dicky Newberry: 12-09
    10. Scott Hamrick: 12-05

    The field will be reduced to the Top 10 after day 2 and the winner will be determined following day 3 by highest cumulative weight. The winner will clinch a berth in this year’s Forrest Wood Cup.

  • Mystery: Winnebago or Michigan?

    Mystery: Winnebago or Michigan?

    The site of the June 28-July 1 Bassmaster Elite Series mystery event won't be officially announced until next week, but evidence suggests it'll be either Lake Winnebago or the Green Bay portion of Lake Michigan, both in Wisconsin. The circuit will fish the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. during the week leading up to the mystery derby.

    B.A.S.S. has applied for permits for that week at both Winnebago and Michigan, according to information available on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fishing tournament application website. Worth noting is that the Michigan event has been approved (the application was made in late April), while the Winnebago application was logged just this week and approval is still pending, according to the site.

    B.A.S.S. tournament manager Chuck Harbin is listed as the contact person on both applications.

    The Winnebago site seems to make sense from several angles, including the proximity of B.A.S.S. sponsor Mercury. Perhaps as important as the business tie-in is that the Mercury facilities in Fond du Lac and/or Oshkosh could provide the organization with ready-made storage for its tournament equipment.

    Another factor that might point to Winnebago: Two salmon/trout tournaments, consisting of as many as 950 boats between them, are set for Green Bay that weekend. That could create some major logistical issues there.

    Information on the Winnebago application can by found by clicking here. For info on the Michigan application, click here.

    BassFan has requested comment from B.A.S.S. communications officials, but the organization has not yet responded.

  • Tucker: All about confidence

    Tucker: All about confidence

    J. Todd Tucker is on the hot seat.

    The Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Georgia currently occupies the 28th position in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings, the final spot that’s guaranteed an invite to next year’s Bassmaster Classic. He’s satisfied with where he’s at for now, but knows better execution at the Douglas Lake Elite Series could’ve pushed him higher up the points ledger.

    “Douglas was a true nightmare from what I got ready for,” he said. “It didn’t turn out the way I planned. I rigged up for deep-water fishing. I did my homework on that lake the best that I could. It absolutely disappointed me and I had to regroup on the final day of practice and go with what I felt comfortable with.”

    He made the cut in 33rd, but was stung by a couple of lost fish, which led to his drop to 48th place on day 3. Those 15 slots equaled 15 points in the standings and had he held firm in 33rd, he’d be inside the Top 20 in points. Still, the result gave him checks in his last seven tournaments dating back to last fall.

    “I love the points race the way it’s set up now because you see the people who are truly consistent,” he added. “The top end, from 30th up to 15th, is real tight.”

    After closing out 2011 with 10th- and 33rd-place finishes at the Lake Champlain and Lake Guntersville FLW Tour Opens, respectively, he opened 2012 with a 12th at the Lake Okeechobee FLW Tour Open. He scored another 12th-place finish at the St. Johns River Elite Series and had three other finishes in the 40s.

    He attributes his run to a simple ingredient – confidence, which was in short supply last season when he made just three 50-cuts in the Elite Series.

    “It was something I was lacking very much,” he said. “Even though I thought I had it, I really didn’t. Confidence is going with your gut feeling that day. To compete with these guys, if you don’t get it you’ll never make it. For me, it was I either needed to get it quick or I’d better quit.”

    He’s never made the Classic, but he’s been around long enough to understand the kind of boost it can give an angler’s career.

    “It would be huge for me and my sponsors,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been lacking these last 3 years. It’s aggravating to me to have not made it. It would be the biggest thing I’ve done in my career. It’s my ultimate goal right now.

    “It makes you think about the next four tournaments. It makes you think about catching a good limit every single day. You don’t need to swing for the fences all the time because that can get you in trouble in the points. There’s a lot to think about.”

    If he continues on his current hot streak, he should easily attain that goal, especially with three of the four remaining Elite Series events above the Mason-Dixon line, assuming the mystery lake event is in the upper Midwest or Great Lakes region.

    “I’ve always done well up north,” he said. “If you look at my history on Champlain, Oneida and even Erie, it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of my comfort zone.”

  • Win a Lew's Tournament MG

    Win a Lew's Tournament MG

    FLW Tour pro Marty Stone is conducting another prize giveaway on his website – this time it's a Lew's Tournament MG baitcasting reel. Entries will be accepted through the end of the month.

    To enter, go to www.MartyStone.com and scroll down to the bottom right of the home page.

  • Sonar ailing, but somewhat confident

    Sonar ailing, but somewhat confident

    BassFan columnist Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is one of 49 anglers competing in the BFL All-American this week. The event will take place on the Potomac River in conjunction with the FLW Tour Major.

    Following is his practice report:

    "Well, this year's installment of the All-American is sure to be exciting. The reason for that is the 49-boat field is limited to only a small portion of the Potomac River – right smack-dab in the middle of our nation's capital. The FLW Tour is limited to everything below the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and the All-American field is limited to everything above. This portion of the Potomac is void of grass, but has an abundance of wood and rocks in certain areas and is known for fishing very small, which means that we'll be playing bumper-boats all week.

    "My practice was somewhat disappointing. It wasn't bad because of lack of bites, but due to the fact that last night during the tournament meeting I became sick as a dog and got less than an hour's worth of sleep. I unfortunately had to call it quits a few hours early today, which I have never had to do during a tournament practice before, and I really hate to come in early. However, sleep seems really important to me right now.

    "From what I see, this section of the river has a pretty healthy population of 15- to 17-inch keepers, but finding bigger fish is a challenge, especially with such heavy pressure. I was able to get bit on a bunch of different baits, but I have one that seems to catch more and bigger fish than others. That being said, it isn't going to be what you throw, but where and when you throw it, since tides have a major influence on the fishing here.

    "Despite my shortened practice, I feel like I have got a good shot to put myself in contention. I will soon find out."

  • Mystery Lake revealed next week

    Mystery Lake revealed next week

    Since the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule was announced last summer, professional anglers have been kept in the dark about the seventh stop on the circuit – the Mystery Lake Elite June 28-July 1.

    The secret will be revealed at 1 p.m. CT, Thursday, May 24, a month prior to the start of official practice for the event. The fishery will immediately be placed off-limits to the competitors, who will also be forbidden to obtain any information about the fishery that isn’t publicly available, noted B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon.

    “Keeping it a secret is definitely a challenge,” said Weldon.

    Not only does the advent of the Internet and social media channels make it hard to maintain secrecy, but logistical considerations also add to the difficulty. It takes at least 50 staff members and volunteers to conduct an Elite event. Plus, travel and lodging must be lined up, and marshals must be recruited as observers for the 99 anglers. It’s a big production.

    It was easier to pull off a mystery event in the early Bassmaster Classics, after which the Mystery Lake Elite was patterned. In 1971, only two dozen competitors were invited to fish the first championship, and they weren’t told their destination – Lake Mead, Nev. – until their chartered jet was en route.

    It was more of a challenge to keep the Classic location a secret in 1972. That year, Ranger Boats became the official boat sponsor, and the company was required to transport identical rigs – at night – to an empty hangar near Nashville’s Percy Priest Reservoir. Trouble was, Ranger owner Forrest Wood was one of the qualifiers for that Classic, as was Blake Honeycutt, who was responsible for moving some of the equipment.

    To keep the two from revealing the secret, B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott had the pair held under house arrest in a Memphis, Tenn., motel, guarded by city policemen who were also B.A.S.S. members, until the announcement. The 1972 mystery flight was the shortest. Classic contestants and their media observers boarded a plane in Memphis and landed in Nashville.

    A year later, the Classic contingent flew east out of New Orleans, giving most of the anglers the idea they would be fishing in Florida. They weren’t told the true destination until their plane circled low over Clarks Hill Lake before landing in Augusta, Ga.

    In the succeeding years, mystery flights embarked for airports near Wheeler Lake, Ala. (1974), Currituck Sound, N.C. (1975) and Lake Guntersville, Ala. (1976).

    By 1976 – the first of Rick Clunn’s four Classic victories (see accompanying photo) – the event had grown too big and become too popular with fans to keep a secret. For the next several years, however, locations were not announced until weeks prior to the events, in an effort to keep the pros from scouting the lakes in advance.

    The same strategy was behind B.A.S.S. co-owner Jerry McKinnis’ desire to hold a Mystery Lake Elite event this year. Unless some anglers made lucky guesses, no one was able to “pre-fish” the fishery that is soon to be revealed.

    Since the official practice period begins Monday, June 25, the day after the finals of the Mississippi River Rumble at La Crosse, Wis., everyone assumes the lake will be within an 8-hour drive of that host city. Speculation among the pros has placed the location as far away as Kentucky Lake, with others predicting lakes in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and, of course, Wisconsin.

    The only Elite angler with Mystery Lake experience is Clunn, who fished the last three Mystery Lake Classics and won the final one on Guntersville.

    “I totally love the concept,” said Clunn. “Everybody has a system for preparing for tournaments, and this is going to force them to adapt that system to this format if they’re going to be successful.”

    Will the Mystery Lake be a largemouth fishery, or will smallmouth dominate? Will it be natural or man-made? Will it be deep and clear or shallow with lots of cover? How do you pack for all these contingencies?

    The answers to these questions matter. The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and nearly three dozen berths in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic are at stake.

    Stay tuned. Bass fishing’s biggest mystery of the year will be revealed on May 24 in a special video presentation on Bassmaster.com.

  • Fox dialed in after St. Johns bomb

    Fox dialed in after St. Johns bomb

    Kyle Fox’s rookie season as a Bassmaster Elite Series angler got off to a bumpy start at the St. Johns River in his home state of Florida. He logged a 76th-place finish on the tidal fishery, but in the three tournaments since, he hasn’t finished lower than 23rd. His hot streak has pushed him into the Top 20 in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings and into 2nd place among rookies, trailing only Brandon Card.

    It’s safe to say his confidence is soaring heading into the second half of the season.

    “I think I’m doing good,” Fox told BassFan today. “I came from 76th in points to 17th right now. That’s hard to beat. To make that comeback, I feel pretty good. In the past two tournaments, I’ve done nothing but move up every day so I feel good about it. It’s just a matter of keeping it going. It’s fishing. Anything can happen out there.”

    He earned his invite to the Elite Series after finishing 4th in the Northern Open points last year. One of the main adjustments he’s had to make is to make the most of the 2 1/2 practice days allowed to Elite Series pros. When fishing the Opens, he’d put in 4 or 5 days of work before the event. The change has led to him making more on-the-water decisions. It’s a strategy that is paying off.

    “The biggest thing I’ve had to change – and I’ve done it in the past – is to be able to pick up and go when you’re fishing and abandon a game plan,” he said. “The past three tournaments have been real good for me, but I haven’t been on anything. I haven’t felt like I had a chance to get a Top 10 or a Top 50. I just go out and utilize what I’ve learned and continue to learn. That’s one of the things I learned last year from fishing the Opens. I wasn’t on much, but when I went fishing and tried to learn it, stuff comes together the way it should and before you know it by the end of tournament you get pretty dialed in to what you should be doing.”

    As a rookie, he’s not too concerned with impressing his older, more experienced peers. That’ll come with success. He wishes them luck each morning at the dock, but is more focused on what he needs to get accomplished.

    “I’m not there to get autographs,” he said. “They’re nice to me and I’m nice to them. You build friendships, but when we go to our meetings, I like to sit by myself. I like doing my own thing. I think that’s the only way you’ll get better really.”

  • Melvin spearheading kids' event

    Melvin spearheading kids' event

    Former longtime tour pro and renowned Florida guide Sandy Melvin will conduct the 2nd annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament Saturday out of Boca Grande. The event is a fundraiser for the Families First program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida, which helps parents and children adjust to the changes that occur within the family when a parent has cancer.

    The tournament will feature a full field of 26 boats, each of which has paid a $1,000 entry fee. Teams consist of up to four youths, most between the ages of 10 and 15.

    "It's basically kids having fun fishing to help other kids and families in need," Melvin said. "We think it has the potential to get really big."

    Each member of the winning team will receive an Apple iPad. The full amount of the entry fees collected will go to Families First.

    Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bobby Lane will chaperone a team from his church in Lakeland. They'll fish with guide Roger Crafton, a former FLW Tour pro.

    "I'm looking forward to it – I've got some fired-up kids around here," Lane said. "I think a lot of neat things are going to come from this, and the tarpon are stacked up out there right now. They're a mile thick and 30 feet off the bottom, so it's not going to be hard to catch them."

    More information can be found on Melvin's webiste (www.4Tarpon.com) under the "Events" section.

  • Sonar locates Weigh-to-Win

    Sonar locates Weigh-to-Win

    BassFan columnist Miles “Sonar” Burghoff got his nickname from a tournament fishing buddy, and certainly it seemed more than fitting given the fact that his Emmy Award-winning father played the character “Radar” on the TV series M*A*S*H.

    The younger Burghoff is paying his dues and collecting awards of his own in the form of tournament paychecks, and thanks to his allegiance to BoatUS Angler since winning the 2011 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship, he’s recently added cash bonuses to his winnings as a member of the BoatUS Angler "Weigh to Win" program.

    “I gained an early appreciation for BoatUS Angler in a pretty humorous manner when Casey O’Donnell and I won the championship on Lake Lewisville,” said the University of Central Florida senior. “I accidentally left my livewell pumps running during the weigh-in, and then long after the weigh-in, while we were doing media interviews and photo shoots. By the time Casey and I returned to load up my boat, we had both a championship trophy and a totally dead cranking battery.

    “Everybody we knew had already left the ramp. Thankfully, I remembered to reach into my pocket and call the toll free TowBoatUS dispatch number. In less than 20 minutes, a TowBoatUS captain was there to give us a jump. He was super-nice, and I couldn’t believe how fast he got to us."

    Burghoff learned the “there-when-you-need-them” goodness of his BoatUS Angler membership last year, but only recently recognized the benefits of the Weigh-to-Win tournament cash bonus program.

    “I’ll be honest with you, a year ago, I didn’t pay much attention to tournament bonus programs. I just wanted to win. But then I realized how much money I had been missing out on, and signed up. Since then I’ve won $2,000 through Weigh-to-Win.

    “The coolest thing about Weigh-to-Win is that you don’t even have to win the tournament to win the bonus money. You just have to be the highest eligible finisher."

    Four hundred college anglers will have a chance at the same $1,000 Weigh-to-Win bonus Burghoff won last year when they compete next week on Lake Pickwick in the 2012 BoatUS Angler Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship – but only if they’re members of BoatUS Angler and “Weigh-to-Win.”

    It pays to buy a highly affordable BoatUS Angler membership regardless of which B.A.S.S., FLW, LBAA, College Bass or PAA events you compete in. That's especially true when you’re registered for the bonus program, and that’s why hundreds of anglers signed up last year. To make sure you are eligible in 2012, just dial (918) 742-6424 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, and ask for Kendell – she’ll make sure you get signed-up. To learn more, click here.

  • Carhartt picks Dynamic

    Carhartt picks Dynamic

    Carhartt, the legendary manufacturer of rugged work and outdoor clothing, has dramatically increased its presence on the bass-fishing scene this year with its sponsorship of B.A.S.S. events. Today it was announced that the company has entered a marketing partnership with Oklahoma-based Dynamic Sponsorships to further its integration with anglers and fishing fans.

    “Being an angler from Michigan, I’m glad to see Carhartt, a Michigan-based company, involved in our sport,” said Kevin VanDam. “B.A.S.S. and Carhartt are two very iconic brands for sportsmen. I think our fan base will see that Carhartt offers a very diverse line of clothing that is really suited to fishing and the outdoors. They don’t just make work clothes.”

    Dynamic, launched in January 2006, offers more than 80 years of combined fishing, boating and hunting industry experience and logs 80,000 annual highway miles going to and from fishing- and hunting-related events.

  • Potomac: Less grass, but still lots of fish

    BassFan Big Sticks Jay Yelas and Luke Clausen are both in the Top 10 in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race heading into this week's event at the Potomac River – the fourth of the season's six Majors. Clausen would gladly take the same result he achieved there last year – seeing as how he won – whereas Yelas will look to improve upon his 73rd-place showing.

    Both commented on the relatively sparse amount of grass on the river this year in their initial practice reports, but both predict the weights to be about the same as they were last year. For more, click here.

  • KVD welcomes AOY challenge

    KVD welcomes AOY challenge

    Does Kevin VanDam have a legitimate shot at his fifth straight Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) title? Although he currently sits at No. 11 in the standings, he most certainly believes that he does

    "Until it's not possible anymore, anything can happen," he said. "With the 1-point increments it's a little harder to make up ground this year, but there's only a couple of guys who have a sizable lead on everybody else. That could be made up in two tournaments.

    "I know I'm going to have to step it up over the next four tournaments, but this thing's a long ways from being over. (Leader) Randy Howell has had a really good year – he hasn't had a bad tournament at all yet – but one or two bad ones changes everything."

    VanDam expressed major disappointment in his last two showings – a 45th at Bull Shoals and a 41st at Douglas. What made those mid-pack placements particularly galling was the fact that both were crankbait-dominated events, in which he historically fares extremely well.

    Following the next event at Toledo Bend, the circuit will conclude with three derbies in the northern part of the country (the Mississippi River out of LaCrosse, Wis., the mystery venue and Oneida). The Michigander should feel like he's right at home for at least a couple of those.

    "The bottom line is I need to go out and perform in all of the next four, and at least two of them (Toledo Bend and Oneida) are places I've fished before and feel real good about. I'll guarantee that the AOY standings will look a lot different after these next couple of tournaments – not necessarily for me, but all the way through."

    He'd like to see the mystery event end up at one of the many premier bronzeback fisheries in or around the Great Lakes.

    "It could be Bay de Noc, since we (had an Elite event canceled) there a few years ago, or it might be Green Bay. I like those smallmouth venues, not because I consider myself a better smallmouth angler, but just because I like to catch them so much. I want to go someplace fun."

  • Kennedy wins at Old Hickory

    Kennedy wins at Old Hickory

    Steve Kennedy caught a 9.86-pound bag today at Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee to claim his second PAA Tournament Series victory in 2 years. The Alabamian, who also prevailed last year at Neely Henry, finished with a 3-day total of 44.27 to outdistance runner-up Gary Yamamoto by about 2 1/2 pounds.

    Kennedy caught just five keepers today, including two that barely met keeper standards. Still, his bag was easily big enough to hold off all challengers after he began the day with a 7-pound advantage.

    "Every day was a struggle," he said. "My weights have been good before today. I had the bites to catch 15 pounds, so the opportunities were there, but I had a lot of fish just bumping my bait.

    "Today was one of the worst days I've had in a long time execution-wise, and I've had some bad ones lately. It's painful to have that kind of a day with a camera guy in the boat."

    Yamamoto caught the biggest sack of the tournament (17.73) to move up six places. Day-1 leader Dean Rojas closed strong with a 16.57 stringer after weighing just 7.27 on day 2.

    Full details of Kennedy's winning pattern will be published soon.

    Here are the final totals for the 15 anglers who fished the final day:

    1. Steve Kennedy: 44.27
    2. Gary Yamamoto: 41.81
    3. Dean Rojas: 41.27
    4. Tim Messer: 38.67
    5. Mark Menendez: 35.29
    6. Keith Caka: 34.81
    7. James Niggemeyer: 34.46
    8. Jordan Lee: 34.19
    9. Ish Monroe: 32.69
    10. Greg Hackney: 32.63
    11. Jeff Baker: 31.80
    12. Casey Ashley: 31.74
    13. Todd Auten: 31.44
    14. Greg Ryan: 30.21
    15. Stephen Scoggin: 28.11

  • Haynes sews up Kentucky Lake victory

    Haynes sews up Kentucky Lake victory

    Randy Haynes caught the biggest stringer today to win the Kentucky Lake Central EverStart. His 19-10 bag gave him a 54-06 total over 3 days. He beat Sam Lashlee by nearly 4 pounds to claim his third career EverStart title. Lashlee wound up with 50-09. Lance Ricketts, who led after the first 2 days, caught 13-09 today and settled for 4th with 49-10. Here's how the Top 10 finished up:

    1. Randy Haynes: 54-06
    2. Sam Lashlee: 50-09
    3. Jason Lambert: 50-07
    4. Lance Ricketts: 49-10
    5. Tim Griggs: 48-11
    6. Curt McGuire: 48-02
    7. David Fields: 47-11
    8. Scott Mansfield: 46-09
    9. Drew Lynch: 46-06
    10. Matt Robertson: 45-14

    Details of Haynes' winning pattern will be published soon.

  • Luminaries to miss U.S. Open?

    Veteran Western scribe George Kramer noted in his blog recently that Rick Clunn and Gary Klein, both devout supporters of the annual U.S. Open at Nevada's Lake Mead, will likely miss this year's edition due to their quest to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

    To read the post, click here.

  • Kennedy up big

    Kennedy up big

    Steve Kennedy caught his second straight 17-pound bag today to open a massive lead at the Old Hickory PAA Tournament Series in Tennessee with 1 day to go. His 17.14 stringer gave him a 2-day total of 34.41 and a lead of more than 7 pounds over 2nd-place Tim Messer.

    Messer weighed 13.51 for a 27.32 total. Keith Caka brought in a 12.16 sack to move up five places to 3rd. Day-1 leader Dean Rojas' 7.27-pound stringer was one fish shy of a limit and he dropped to 4th with 24.70.

    Kennedy's lead wouldn't be nearly so large had he not caught three fish that weighed at least 3 pounds each in the final 15 minutes of the day.

    "That's a concern for tomorrow because we have to be in an hour and a half earlier," he said. "I put in a lot more time today doing what I've been doing to catch the better ones, but I struggled, really. I'd get a bite every now and then, and then I wouldn't catch them."

    His sack was topped by a fish that weighed slightly more than 4 pounds.

    "That one actually bit me twice and I got lucky to catch him. I jerked it away from him the first time and that got him mad, and he came back and ate it. I could've poked him with the rod tip the second time."

    The heavy traffic from multiple local tournaments that will take to the water tomorrow is also a concern.

    "It could muddy the banks and there might be a lot of rocking and rolling, and that could hurt me. I think I've got other things I can do to catch fish, but I have no expectations of catching 17 pounds again."

    Tomorrow's weather forecast for the Nashville area predicts clouds with showers in the afternoon – a stark contrast from the blue-sky conditions of the first 2 days.

    "That could be great, or it could be the pits. I almost refused to do what I did today with the bluebird and an east wind because I knew they wouldn't eat it, but they did."

    Here's how the Top 10 stacks up going into the final day:

    1. Steve Kennedy: 34.41
    2. Tim Messer: 27.32
    3. Keith Caka: 25.21
    4. Dean Rojas: 24.70
    5. Mark Menendez: 24.21
    6. (tie) James Niggemeyer: 24.09
    6. (tie) Jordan Lee: 24.09
    8. Gary Yamamoto: 24.08
    9. Ish Monroe: 23.78
    10. Jeff Baker: 23.60

  • Meyer's frog-fest

    California FLW Tour standout Cody Meyer returns to his bank-fishing roots to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new Jackall IOBEE Frog in the video embedded below. One thing's for sure – you're going to wish you lived on the shores that lake.


  • Howell: No fear of remaining venues

    Howell: No fear of remaining venues

    Randy Howell may or may not win the 2012 Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) award. The only certainty is that whatever the number of points needed to cop the title ends up being, he's quite a bit closer to it right now than anybody else.

    The 38-year-old is eager to take on the challenge that the summer months will bring.

    "I really feel more excited about the four tournaments ahead than I was about the four that are behind," he said. "There were a couple back there that I might've been a little nervous about, but they worked out okay."

    He's seriously contended for the title in previous years on both major circuits. His career-best final placement on the B.A.S.S. side was 5th, and he was the runner-up to Denny Brauer on the FLW Tour in 1998.

    Next up is Toledo Bend, where he finished 7th last year. Then comes the Mississippi River, which will play to his greatest strength: shallow water. He made a pre-practice trip to Wisconsin and liked what he saw.

    The mystery event will come a week after the Mississippi, and although he doesn't know the location, he knows it'll be someplace where the fish should bite like crazy. Then there'll be a 7-week layoff before the finale at Oneida – one of his favorite bodies of water in the country and where he finished 5th in a Bassmaster Northern Open in 2011.

    He's finished no lower than 14th (twice) in any Elite event this year. He admitted that just about everything has gone right for him so far.

    "A lot of it has to do with timing. The Lord has blessed me because a lot of things have happened that needed to happen as far as decisions on the water and the size of some of the fish I've caught. A lot of the breaks have been going the right way.

    "I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing – preparing as much as I can to make sure I'm ready when I get there to start practice, and then putting in 12- or 13-hour days on the first couple of practice days. Then I hope I can keep fishing smart and making the right decisions."

  • Berkley trailer heading to Omaha

    Berkley trailer heading to Omaha

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at the Scheels store in Omaha, Neb., Thursday through Saturday (May 18-20). The 60-foot trailer offers consumers fun, great deals and activities, along with fishing education for all levels of anglers.

    The trailer has videos and interactive demonstrations along with seminars scheduled throughout the day. Each stop has special retail promotions only available while the trailer is at the location.

    “We're excited about having the Experience Trailer on the road in 2012 and stopping at many new locations across the country,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is set to help anglers of all ages and skill levels learn about our broad spectrum of products and how best to use them to catch more fish.”

    Other elements include a knot-tying contest and demonstration, where anglers can learn new knots and compete for prizes. Under the tent, big-screen videos help anglers experience the adventure with Berkley and display racks are filled with the latest products. The Berkley Experience staff will be on hand to answer questions.

    The store is located at 17202 Davenport Street in Omaha. The phone number is (402) 289-5666.

    Future stops will be at Scheels in Sioux Falls, S.D. (June 8-10) and Dakotamart in Pierre, S.D. (June 15-17).

  • New poll: Elite AOY

    The Bassmaster Elite Series season has reached the midway point, and Kevin VanDam will need to leap-frog 10 anglers over the final four events to claim his fifth straight Angler of the Year (AOY) title and eighth overall.

    Who's your pick to wear the AOY crown after the final event at Oneida Lake in late August? To cast your vote, scroll down the right side of the home page.

  • A craw built for speed

    <b><font color=maroon>A craw built for speed</font></b>

    The new Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw, designed by former Forrest Wood Cup champion Scott Suggs, has already made an impact at the sport's highest level – it's helped Ott DeFoe, Bobby Lane and Skeet Reese cash some big paychecks.

    Its combination of high-action pinchers and realistic tentacles allow it to emulate a fleeing crayfish like no other bait in its category. To learn more, click here to visit the Catch More Fish page.

  • Rojas, Kennedy pull to front at Old Hickory

    Rojas, Kennedy pull to front at Old Hickory

    Dean Rojas and Steve Kennedy both surpassed the 17-pound mark today to separate themselves from the field on day 1 of the Old Hickory PAA Tournament Series in Tennessee.

    Rojas weighed a 17.43-pound sack and Kennedy was close behind with 17.27. Tim Messer was a distant 3rd with 13.81.

    "I surprised myself today," said Rojas (pictured). "I thought 15 pounds would've been really good, and it would've been. I just bounced around a little bit and caught a fish late that helped me out.

    "I think I've got a chance for another good bag tomorrow because I didn't beat up on them too bad today."

    He caught about 10 keepers for the day and weighed all largemouths. The biggest of those was a 4-pounder.

    Both he and Kennedy were reluctant to reveal any pattern details at such an early stage.

    "I didn't have anything where I just hammered them – it was one here and one there," Rojas said. "I fished seven or eight different areas.

    "The weather was kind of funky today. In practice it was pretty cloudy and today we had high skies, so it was totally different. It threw me a curveball and I had to adjust to it."

    Kennedy had a similar mindset to begin the day – he thought his best-case scenario was somewhere around the 14-pound mark. The key was a late 5-pounder that had a baby duck hanging out of its mouth.

    The duck went to the scale along with the fish.

    "Oh yeah, he's going to digest it," Kennedy said. "I wasn't going to pull it out, I promise you."

    He also weighed all largemouths and said he lost at least one that would've helped him. He missed his fifth fish on at least five occasions before completing his limit.

    "I've got four different deals going, but I really didn't get the timing down. I didn't execute, but I still caught a good bag. It's all about a 5-pound bite here and hopefully I can dial in tomorrow."

    Here's a look at the Top 10:

    1. Dean Rojas: 17.43
    2. Steve Kennedy: 17.27
    3. Tim Messer: 13.81
    4. James Niggemeyer: 13.72
    5. Gary Yamamoto: 13.54
    6. Mark Menendez: 13.28
    7. Stephen Scoggin: 13.11
    8. Keith Caka: 13.05
    9. Jeff Baker: 12.40
    10. Greg Hackney: 12.21

    For the complete day-1 standings, click here.

  • Sonar: A major logistical challenge

    Sonar: A major logistical challenge

    Sonar Sound-Off columnist Miles Burghoff is about to embark on a 2-week odyssey that'll include three high-level tournaments. It's a logistical nightmare, but he's wrangled a ride on a private jet to help him pull it off.

    To read his latest submission, click here.

  • BRP to test butanol

    BRP to test butanol

    BRP (parent company of Evinrude) has begun a program to test butanol-extended fuel in a variety of recreational marine engines for Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Butanol-extended fuel will be tested as an alternative to gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15).

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline. According to industry test data published last October, E15 can cause significant damage to marine engines. A 2011 alternative fuel study executed by BRP, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) concluded that isobutanol was a promising alternative fuel in marine engines.

    “Gasoline with 10 percent ethanol (E10) is still an acceptable fuel for marine engines, including BRP's Evinrude outboard engines, but isobutanol, which has a higher energy content than ethanol, could be a viable alternative to E15,” said Jeff R. Wasil, an engineering technical expert at BRP. “Isobutanol represents a unique opportunity for BRP, and the entire marine industry, to be at the forefront of innovation in alternative fuels.”

    With oversight from Argonne and the Department of Energy, the project calls for many types of recreational marine inboard and outboard engines to be tested in both a laboratory setting and through on-the-water trials to determine the effects of butanol-extended fuel on engine power, performance, emissions and overall durability. Phase I of the isobutanol testing on the water takes place this week in Annapolis, MD. Phase II is planned for later in 2012.

    Along with BRP, Argonne Laboratory and the NMMA, marine manufacturers Volvo-Penta and Indmar Marine have provided testing resources for the first phase of the project.

  • Clausen's summer picks

    Clausen's summer picks

    The Outdoor Hub published an article today in which Luke Clausen lists his Top 5 destinations for summer bass-fishing, and they're spread out all over the country. To read it, click here.

  • Old Hickory isn't easy

    Old Hickory isn't easy

    Tim Carini, a former Bassmaster Tour pro and currently a sales representative for Game & Fish and BassFan, is competing in the PAA Tournament Series this year as part of a partnership formed last year between Game & Fish and the PAA. He's chronicling his experiences in a blog at GameAndFishMag.com.

    To read his practice report for this week's event at Old Hickory, click here.

  • Live leaderboard for PAA event

    Live leaderboard for PAA event

    The Professional Anglers Association (PAA) has partnered with Yamaha to provide a live online leaderboard for all of the 2012 PAA Tournament Series events, beginning with this week's derby at Tennessee's Old Hickory Lake.

    “Yamaha manufacturers many great marine products and we are excited to partner with them on this new venture to bring instant results to our web viewers” said PAA president, Dave Mansue.

    The leaderboard can be accessed via the PAA website (www.fishpaa.com) during the weigh-ins. Times for the weigh-ins are 4:15 p.m. CT on Thursday and Friday and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

  • Morgenthaler adds Snapper

    Morgenthaler adds Snapper

    Illinois FLW pro Chad Morgenthaler has partnered with EPCO Products Inc., maker of the Snapper Remote Control Boat Latch.

    “It’s a really cool addition to all kinds of boats, but especially bass boats,” he said. “As someone who has left a boat on the ramp before, believe me, the Snapper captures your boat and locks it on in wind, current, any conditions you can encounter. It doesn’t matter if the ramp is deep or shallow, the Snapper will get the job done and it’s a lot cheaper than fiberglass work.”

    The Snapper is easy to install and operate – a simple push of the button on a remote-control key fob is all it takes for the device to release or capture the boat. That’ll make any angler quicker off the ramp and faster to the fish, even when launching alone.

    “We’re happy to have Chad on the team,” Said EPCO sales manager Dwight Creger. “He’s worked diligently with us to design a pivot plate that will hold the Snapper Boat Latch in the correct position every time.”

  • Cheater nabbed at Wylie BFL

    Cheater nabbed at Wylie BFL

    FLW announced today that a North Carolina angler who finished 3rd in a BFL at Lake Wylie on Saturday has been disqualified and banned from the organization's future events. John Hoyle (pictured) of Rutherfordton, N.C. was penalized under BFL Rule No. 9 (Sportsmanship) when one of the fish he brought to the weigh-in was found to have an 11-ounce weight in its gullet.

    Hoyle forfeited a $1,082 prize check. Ironically, the 11 ounces didn't help him, as his bag without the additional weight would've registered 13-01 – an ounce more than original 4th-place finisher Rob Digh. He'd have needed another 11 ounces to reach runner-up Roger Pope's 14-07 tally (Brian Huskins won with 14-08).

    Hoyle's profile at FLWOutdoors.com credits him with having won more than $8,000 during his career in the BFLs. More than half of that total was amassed last year, when he pocketed $4,394 for winning a March 19 event at Wylie with a 16-04 bag.

    The tournament's co-angler standings were not affected by Hoyle's disqualification.

  • Jones steers to safety after tire blowout

    Jones steers to safety after tire blowout

    Alton Jones and his family escaped injury on Sunday when the right-front tire on their 45-foot motor coach blew out while on the way back to Texas from the Douglas Lake Elite Series, where Jones had finished 28th.

    Jones was driving 65 mph heading West on Interstate 40 in Tennessee, about 60 miles west of Nashville when the blowout occurred. He’s unsure if he struck something or if the tire had been previously damaged.

    “Everybody’s good. We were pretty fortunate,” he said. “I was going around a curve and down a hill and the right front just blew. It was like trying to wrestle a gorilla. I don’t know how I kept it from going off the road. I managed to stay on the shoulder because if we’d have gone off, it was a like a 45-degree grassy slope down into some trees about 100 feet away.”

    His daughter, Jamie, was the only passenger in the motor coach. His wife, Jimmye Sue, was driving the Chevy Suburban tow rig. The blowout caused some minor damage to the coach, but once the tire was replaced he was able to drive it the rest of the way home.

    “It was a heart-pounding moment to say the least,” he said. “I feel really fortunate because we could’ve been hurt really bad. It ended up being a 5-hour inconvenience.”

    As for his result at Douglas, he was happy to rebound from a disappointing day 1 when he weighed 11-09. He has three Top-30 finishes in four Elite Series events this season and is 14th in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings.

    “Finishing 28th doesn’t sound good, but after you’ve been in 48th, it feels good,” he added. “It’s a nice comeback and gives me the points I need to move up in the Angler of the Year race and keep my post-season hopes alive.”

  • Rankings: Dudley now No. 2

    A new edition of the BassFan World Rankings was published today, and David Dudley (winner at the recent Beaver Lake FLW Tour Major and reigning Tour Angler of the Year) is up to the No. 2 slot behind Kevin VanDam.

    For the full list, click here.

  • Sunline Strong Performer – Douglas

    <b><font color=green>Sunline Strong Performer – Douglas</font></b>

    Seeing his name in 73rd place after day 1 wasn’t exactly what David Walker envisioned for himself at the Douglas Lake Bassmaster Elite Series. The resident of nearby Sevierville, Tenn., was hailed as one of the pre-tournament favorites because of his mailing address and the fact that he hadn’t finished lower than 17th in an event this season, including the Bassmaster Classic.

    He bounced back with a 16-04 stringer on day 2 to jump 42 spots in the standings and make the 50-cut in 31st place. He carried the momentum through day 3, catching another 14-05 to move up an additional seven spots and close the week in 24th with 40-10.

    While he failed to join his two Tennessee counterparts, Brandon Card and Ott Defoe, in the Top 12, he came away from the fourth Elite Series event of the season with a glass half-full outlook. Because of Brent Chapman’s 68th-place finish, he moved up a spot to 2nd in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings and trails current leader Randy Howell by 26 points.

    “The tournament didn’t start off so good, which was really disappointing to me,” he said. “You have to look at what went right this week and for me, when you start off in 75th and you’re 3rd in the Angler of the Year points, it’s not where you want to be. I managed to move up every day and managed to move up another spot in the Angler of the Year race. I have a lot of positives to work off.”

    Day 2 went more according to plan and that’s when he made his big move up the standings, thanks to a couple key bites.

    “I was that much more determined to do well,” he said. “I was basically mad about (day 1) because I knew I could do better than that. On top of that, I caught a 5 1/2-pounder. That makes a lot of difference. It was one of the first fish I caught on day 2 so that was a real momentum-changer for the whole week.”

    He caught fish on a variety of baits, including a big flutter spoon, several models of deep-diving crankbaits, a football-head jig, a swimbait and a Carolina rig. His depth range was to 25 to 35 feet, targeting fish near the bottom on main-lake points and bars.

    “It wasn’t like I didn’t know where to go or what to throw,” he added. “That was the frustrating part. I fished in the same exact spot where three of the 20-pound bags came from on the first day. Some of it’s out of your control. There are only certain things you can control, but some it is just timing and things just happen for you. It didn’t happen for me, but fortunately I didn’t let that be the headshot and just give up. I used it as more of a kick in the (butt).”

    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.

  • Big Bite Lookback – Douglas

    <b><font color=green>Big Bite Lookback – Douglas</font></b>

    In many sports, it’s not how you start an event, but how you finish that matters most. It’s one of the etched-in-granite rules of tournament fishing.

    Matt Reed couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Douglas Lake Bassmaster Elite Series. The Texas pro weighed 21-14 and was firmly planted in 2nd place. He was on the type of quality fish that he believed would allow him to remain in contention. The next 2 days, however, were a different story.

    He failed to crack 12 pounds on each of the two subsequent days and finished 2 ounces out of the 12-cut. He still managed a 13th-place finish and earned enough points to push him into the Top 50 in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year (AOY) standings with four tournaments left.

    “I got enough bites (on day 1) that I felt like I could continue to catch them, but I just couldn’t,” he said. “They just never positioned right and I didn’t have enough stuff to fall back on. It’s one of those tournaments you hated to go into damage-control mode, but I did. I went for a limit (at the bank) and went out there tried to do what I needed to do.”

    His best fish were suspended in 33- to 43-foot depths over 50 to 70 feet of water. On day 1, he pulled a YUM Money Minnow rigged on a jighead through three separate schools to trigger reaction bites. He also caught fish on a big flutter spoon. However, increased boat traffic and fishing pressure kept the fish from coming up with the same frequency on days 2 and 3.

    “These fish seem to be the most boat-shy deep fish I’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “If I could get them to move up there, I could catch them, but I could never get them to position right again after the first day.

    “I think it was the boat pressure. During practice, you could idle around and find numerous schools of them and they’d be positioned correctly. The longer the week went, they just wouldn’t move up there. We had a great spectator crowd and tons of follow boats. That’s great for the sport, but it wasn’t good for my fish.”

    He didn’t employ the deep-cranking tactic that most in the Top 12 relied on because he didn’t feel he could get a plug to pull through his key depths.

    “The fish I was fishing, I really didn’t think I could get a crankbait to them,” he said. “And in all honestly and maybe it’s my lack of understanding of our rules, but I thought long-lining was illegal. I’m not complaining, but I didn’t know we could do that. That took my crankbaits out of my arsenal, I thought.

    “I should’ve known better and dug into it deeper to know that it was legal. It is a very gray area, especially when you’re doing it with your big motor. I should’ve known it was okay, but I thought it wasn’t okay.”

    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.

  • Davis breaks 80 in Guntersville victory

    Davis breaks 80 in Guntersville victory

    Alex Davis is a fishing guide on Lake Guntersville and has fished the Alabama bass factory virtually every day since January. Even he didn’t anticipate it taking 80-plus pounds to win the Guntersville Southeast EverStart this week. It did, and he put the victory away today with a 27-01 stringer that gave him 81-12 over 3 days.

    He held off Justin Lucas, who whacked 31-10 today and finished 2nd with 78-08. Rick Cotton was 3rd with 76-03.

    Here are the final results for the 10 anglers that fished today:

    1. Alex Davis: 81-12
    2. Justin Lucas: 78-08
    3. Rick Cotten: 76-03
    4. Marshall Deakins: 75-05
    5. Casey Martin: 73-09
    6. Richard Peek: 73-01
    7. Mark Rose: 70-15
    8. Gary Fleming: 69-09
    9. Derek Hicks: 60-09
    10. J.T. Kenney: 58-14

    Details of Davis’ winning pattern will be published soon.

  • Guntersville EverStart: Hawg-fest in progress

    It might wind up taking more than 80 pounds to win the Lake Guntersville Southeast EverStart. That’s the kind of astonishing pace the leaders have set through the first 2 days.

    Alex Davis stuck a 30-02 limit today to seize the lead with 54-11 with 1 day remaining. He’s catching most of his in shallow water, targeting grass beds with top-water baits and a big worm.

    He leads Casey Martin, who’s 2nd with 50-09. Rick Cotton is 3rd with 49-06.

    Here’s a look at the 10 anglers who’ll be fishing the final day tomorrow:

    1. Alex Davis: 54-11
    2. Casey Martin: 50-09
    3. Rick Cotton: 49-06
    4. J.T. Kenney: 49-00
    5. Richard Peek: 48-10
    6. Mark Rose: 48-03
    7. Marshall Deakins: 47-13
    8. Justin Lucas: 46-14
    9. Gary Fleming: 45-10
    10. Derek Hicks: 44-08

  • Runner-up pumped about rockslide pattern

    Runner-up pumped about rockslide pattern

    James Kiser of Texas, the runner-up at last week's Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open, is in his first year competing as a boater on that circuit. He's pumped about his finish, which kept him in contention for a 2013 Elite Series berth, particularly because it came as a result of an observation he'd made while fishing as a co-angler a year earlier.

    He wanted to share his story with BassFans, and we've printed it below.

    The week before I left my home in Cypress, Texas (just north and west of Houston), I watched the massive storms tear through northern Arkansas and that got me to thinking. Being from the South, I'm accustomed to very turbid water most of the time. During the Table Rock event last year I was amazed at how clear the water was.

    I decided that I was going to try to find the dirtiest water on the lake and target largemouth in shallow water. With the help of a local guide before the official practice, I was directed to the backs of two creeks – Long Creek and Yokum Creek. Both of these creeks run well across the state line into Arkansas. It was there that I found the dirty water I was looking for –and quality largemouth relating to rocks and laydowns in less than 3 feet of water.

    I pitched a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss to those rocks and laydowns for a limit by 9 a.m. on both of the first two competition days, but it was the secondary pattern that I found during practice that anchored my strong showing.

    My secondary pattern was something that I'd wondered about for almost a whole year. While fishing as a co-angler in last year’s event, I noticed something on my drive to and from the launch every morning and evening. I took note of the massive rockslides along the roads that had high bluff sides to them. What intrigued me was the way the trees fell with the rocks and piled up like massive brushpiles on the edge of the road.

    While I was on the water with my pro each day I saw the same type thing on the lake, except the massive brushpile portion was under the water. I knew there had to be fish relating to that stuff, but I couldn’t convince any of my pros to give it a try.

    I tried it on the second day of practice and almost gave up on them. I threw crankbaits, jigs, dropshots, swimbaits – you name it, I tried it, with no bites. I knew the fish were there – I could see them on my electronics. I opened my rod box to get another rod and I saw a spinning rod that had a Texas rig with a No. 2 hook, a 1/4-ounce weight and a 4-inch Senko that I used in a small pond next to my house. I picked it up made one cast, and the bait was inhaled and my line broken immediately on the first run.

    I retied and on my third cast caught a 6-pounder. I moved to a second slide and caught one over 8 pounds. I caught two more quality fish on two other slides and knew I had a viable secondary pattern.

    I caught all of my big fish, including the 6-15 that was the big bass on the pro, side doing this. On day 3 I arrived in the back of my creeks to find that the water had cleared up and the bass had shut down. I left the spot at 10 a.m. with one small keeper. I went out on the main lake to my rockslides and caught a limit and culled twice.

    I believe an angler should learn something every time he or she goes on the water. I learned several things while competing in this event. Anglers should always pay attention to the effect that weather has on the body of water they are fishing and try to use that to create situations that allow them to fish their strengths. I also learned the importance of paying attention to the topography of the area you are fishing, on the water and on dry land around the water. And finally, although I know this is important, I reinforced to myself as an angler how critical it is to have more than one thing working in a multi-day event.

    I love this sport – it has taught me self-confidence and discipline and it kept me out of trouble when I was younger. If you have the chance, pass it along to a young person and the world will be a better place!

  • Lucas hammers ‘em at home

    It’s been a struggle so far in the FLW Tour Majors for Justin Lucas. A little home cooking might be just what he needed.

    Coming off a 110th-place finish at the Beaver Lake FLW Tour Major, he caught a 29-06 stringer to open the Lake Guntersville Southeast EverStart in first place. He was among 18 anglers to weigh 20-pound bags on day 1.

    The Guntersville, Ala., resident holds less than a 2-pound lead over Casey Martin, who caught 27-09. Rick Cotton, another Guntersville resident, is 3rd with 25-11.

    Here’s how the Top 10 looked after day 1:

    1. Justin Lucas: 29-06
    2. Casey Martin: 27-09
    3. Rick Cotton: 25-11
    4 (tie). Gary Fleming: 25-09
    4 (tie). Bryan Gregory: 25-09
    6. J.T. Kenney: 25-07
    7. Richard Peek: 24-15
    8. Alex Davis: 24-09
    9. Derek Hicks: 23-01
    10. Rodger Beaver: 22-15

  • Berkley trailer in N.D.

    Berkley trailer in N.D.

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at the Scheels store in Bismarck, N.D., Thursday through Saturday (May 10-12). The 60-foot trailer offers consumers fun, great deals and activities, along with fishing education for all levels of anglers.

    The trailer has videos and interactive demonstrations along with seminars scheduled throughout the day. Each stop has special retail promotions only available while the trailer is at the location.

    “We're excited about having the Experience Trailer on the road in 2012 and stopping at many new locations across the country,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is set to help anglers of all ages and skill levels learn about our broad spectrum of products and how best to use them to catch more fish.”

    Other elements include a knot-tying contest and demonstration, where anglers can learn new knots and compete for prizes. Under the tent, big-screen videos help anglers experience the adventure with Berkley and display racks are filled with the latest products. The Berkley Experience staff will be on hand to answer questions.

    The store is located at 802 Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck. The phone number is (701) 255-7255.

    Future stops will be at Scheels in Omaha, Neb. (May 18-20) and Sioux Falls, S.D. (June 8-10).

  • Steal some bites

    <b><font color=maroon>Steal some bites</font></b>

    The Thief, one of several baits Berkley introduced in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic, is a versatile offering that's suited for a wide range of applications. It can be rigged numerous ways – from Texas-style to weightless.

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

  • Chapman anticipates changes

    Brent Chapman isn't near the top of the leaderboard, but he has a strong shot at the making the cut at the Douglas Lake Bassmaster Elite Series. To check out his take on day 1, click here to go on tour with BassFan Big Sticks.

  • Soldiers feted in NY

    The New York B.A.S.S. Federation Nation recently held its 4th annual "Take a Soldier Fishing" event. It drew 127 soldiers – each of whom received a meal, a rod-and-reel combo and tackle – and approximately $6,500 worth of door prizes were handed out following the weigh-in.

    To see a video, click below.

  • Mom will have to wait

    Mom will have to wait

    With Mother’s Day just around the corner, TowBoatUS Capt. Dave Anderson may have some making up to do. But accomplished female tournament angler Janet Parker will forever be grateful for the assistance he provided her during the Bassmaster Central Open on Table Rock Lake.

    Yes, Parker swears it’s true – Anderson actually declined a cell-phone call from his own mother while assisting her with a dead battery in the midst of competition on day 1 of the tournament.

    Parker found Anderson’s decision to shun his own mother rather humorous, but there was nothing funny about being powerless after just her second stop of the day on the first day of the tournament, when attempting to crank up and run farther north on expansive Table Rock.

    “On my second location I caught a keeper, but the fish were not really cooperating so I decided to make a run farther north, but my boat wouldn’t start,” Parker explained. Thank goodness she listened to her inner voice at the mandatory angler registration meeting the night before, and signed up for a BoatUS Angler membership with representatives who were on site.

    “I always had the ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude. Fortunately when I was at registration, I had a little voice say I'd better sign up for both the BoatUS Angler Unlimited On-the-Road and On-the-Water Towing services. I figured if I never used it I’d only be out $72, but if I needed it, it’d be priceless. Guess what – it proved priceless.

    “The TowBoatUS captains went above and beyond what was required or expected. With permission from the tournament officials, Ranger Boats rep George Liddle met Capt. Dave at a marina with a new battery, and then Capt. Dave and Delton came to where I was fishing and installed the new battery.

    “Capt. Dave and Capt. Delton even came to the weigh-in later that day to see how I did, and I reminded Capt. Dave that he’d better call his mama back.”

    Turns out, Parker wasn’t the only angler that TowBoatUS aided during the event. Capts. Dave and Delton answered numerous other dispatch calls for on-the-water assistance from Parker’s competitors during the 3-day event on ‘The Rock.’

    Tournament anglers who buy a BoatUS Angler membership will also benefit greatly from their subsequent free participation in the BoatUS Angler "Weigh to Win" tournament cash bonus program.

    Simply said, it pays to buy a highly affordable BoatUS Angler membership, regardless of which B.A.S.S., FLW, LBAA, College Bass or PAA events you compete in, especially when you’re registered for the Weigh-to-Win cash tournament bonus program. That’s why hundreds of anglers signed up last year.

    To make sure you are eligible in 2012, just dial (918) 742-6424 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, and ask for Kendell. She’ll make sure you get signed-up. To learn more, click here.

  • Wright's big finish

    Wright's big finish

    Jay Wright had to use a dropshot rig to dredge up a 21-pound sack on day 1 of the recent Clear Lake Western EverStart. The swimbait bite turned on the next day, however, and he went on to catch back-to-back bags that weighed 26-11 to notch the victory.

    For the details, click here.

  • DPS joins FLW

    DPS joins FLW

    FLW announced today that the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) has become a sponsor of the 2012 FLW Tour.

    “FLW is proud to be associated with Dr Pepper Snapple and its powerful portfolio of brands,” said FLW marketing president Trisha Blake. “We are excited to welcome them to the sport of fishing and their association with some of our top anglers.”

    The DPS-sponsored anglers are Glenn Browne (Dr Pepper TEN), Jacob Powroznik (Snapple) and Jim Dillard (Hawaiian Punch).

  • Mixed bag at Douglas

    Aaron Martens and Brent Chapman have wrapped up practice for the Douglas Lake Bassmaster Elite Series. As expected, there's a mix of shallow and suspended fish. To read their wrap-up reports, click here to go on tour with BassFan Big Sticks.

  • Jim Rogers dies

    B.A.S.S. reported today that Jim Rogers, a competitor in the organization's early days and a renowned lure-maker, has died at age 80. To read more, click here.

  • Alan Report – Douglas

    Former B.A.S.S. emcee Keith Alan is eager to see how the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year race changes after this week's event at Douglas Lake – he expects to see some reshuffling among the leaders. To read his latest Alan Report, click here.

  • Scanlon's commitment paid dividends

    Scanlon's commitment paid dividends

    Casey Scanlon didn't get as many bites as a lot of his competitors did at the Table Rock Bassmaster Central Open, but his determination to fish in deeper water with a big crankbait paid off with a victory that earned him a 2013 Classic berth.

    To read more, click here.

  • ShareLunker season closes with 13 entries

    ShareLunker season closes with 13 entries

    April 30 marked the end of the 26th season of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s ShareLunker program. Thirteen largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more were entered into the program during the season, bringing to 536 the number of big bass entered since the program’s inception in 1986.

    The largest fish entered into the program this season was a 14.39-pounder caught from Lake Falcon by Gary Wingate of Amarillo (pictured). Wingate’s catch earned him Angler of the Year honors – in addition to the replica of his catch and ShareLunker clothing received by all anglers in the program, Wingate also will receive a lifetime fishing license and a prize package valued at $818. The package includes a G. Loomis rod, a Shimano casting reel and 150 yards of Power Pro super-braid line.

    The six lakes producing entries this season will receive a share of the offspring produced by the fish that spawned. To date Wingate’s fish and a fish caught by Stan Lawing from Ray Roberts have produced more than 132,000 fry. These fish will be divided among Lakes Fork, Falcon, Austin, Toledo Bend, Ray Roberts, and O.H. Ivie.

    One fish, Toyota ShareLunker 528, was a repeat entry. Originally caught by Carl Adkins from Lake Austin in 2010, it was re-caught by Landon Glass on Feb. 14. ShareLunkers have an electronic tag injected so that they can be identified.

    Lake Austin was the top-producing reservoir this season with five entries. Fork, Falcon and O.H. Ivie each had two and Ray Roberts and Toledo Bend each had one.

    It is known that some bass grow larger than others, but why remains unknown. TPWD is planning to conduct research to try to identify the gene or genes that may influence size in Florida largemouth bass. This research has never been done before and if the effort is successful, TPWD will use that information to guide its breeding and stocking of largemouth bass in the future.

    “If we can identify the genetic markers that result in maximum growth, we can select broodfish that have those markers,” said Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. “The goal of the ShareLunker selective breeding program is to increase the occurrence and size of 8-pound or larger bass, and this research is the next step in that process.”

  • Berkley trailer to Fargo

    Berkley trailer to Fargo

    The Berkley Experience Trailer will be at the Scheels store in Fargo, N.D. this Thursday through Saturday (May 3-5). The 60-foot trailer offers consumers fun, great deals and activities, along with fishing education for all levels of anglers.

    The trailer has videos and interactive demonstrations along with seminars scheduled throughout the day. Each stop has special retail promotions only available while the trailer is at the location.

    “We're excited about having the Experience Trailer on the road in 2012 and stopping at many new locations across the country,” said Berkley marketing director Andrew Marks. "Our Experience Trailer team is set to help anglers of all ages and skill levels learn about our broad spectrum of products and how best to use them to catch more fish.”

    Other elements include a knot-tying contest and demonstration, where anglers can learn new knots and compete for prizes. Under the tent, big-screen videos help anglers experience the adventure with Berkley and display racks are filled with the latest products. The Berkley Experience staff will be on hand to answer questions.

    The store is located at 3202 13th Ave. South. The phone number is (701) 298-2918.

    Future stops will be at Scheels in Bismarck, N.D. (May 10-12) and Omaha, Neb. (May 18-20).

  • Partnership paying off

    Partnership paying off

    Brent Chapman and Randy Howell are 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race heading into the season's fourth event this week at Douglas Lake in Tennessee. The longtime buddies both credit the other's help for their strong start to the 2012 campaign.

    "With such a strong friendship, we can believe each other 100%," Chapman said. "That's the key to working together out here on tour. If you can't believe the other person 100%, then it just doesn't work."

    Said Howell: "I know Brent's going to tell me everything he knows and I'll do the same for him, and I think he knows that. Without that it just wouldn't work.

    "If one of us gets on a bite, we can help each other with the details. We fish very similar – we're both shallow-water anglers, so it works out well. If Brent finds something, I can usually use that information to adjust what I'm doing."

    Chapman agrees.

    "We share everything from structure, cover and bank type to baits and color selection. It's amazing how a small change can really affect the number of bites you get. Even though we share everything, it's rare we have to share water. Generally, we'll find different areas and fish them with similar styles.

    "Nothing is going to change for us. We'll continue to break down the water as we have all season and let the results fall where they may. Besides, it's still way too early to start worrying about the Angler of the Year race. There are 99 great anglers out here and things can change fast."

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