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WELCOME TO THE BASS HOG'S BLOG.  PROFESSIONAL BASS FISHING CO-ANGLER AND OUTDOOR LEGEND.  GET THE LATEST AND GREATEST NEWS AND UPDATES ABOUT FISHING.  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG USING THE RSS FEED LINK IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THIS PAGE.  ADD THE FOLLOWING URL TO YOUR RSS FEED  http://apps.thebasshog.com/Blog/Rss FOR YAHOO, OUTLOOK, AOL, GOOGLE, HOTMAIL OR OTHER EMAIL ACCOUNT OR TABLET. YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW VIA http://thebasshog.com/news.html. THANK YOU.

Posted By The Bass Hog

Sept. 22, 2017--GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — For the past three years, Jacob Powroznik has qualified for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods by finishing inside the cut in the season-long Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings on the Bassmaster Elite Series.  This year, he had to work overtime to get to the Classic.  But he’ll be there just the same.

The Virginia pro caught 16 pounds, 11 ounces of bass Friday — compared to the 14-8 landed by Monroe — to earn the tournament’s automatic Classic berth.

“It’s unbelievable, man,” Powroznik said with tears in his eyes. “It’s just such a relief. It’s the most pressure I’ve ever fished under — and I mean ever.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

The Classic Bracket featured the Top 8 finishers in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings who failed to qualify for the Classic. The seeds were: 1. Kennedy, 2. Michael Iaconelli, 3. Jonathon VanDam, 4. Kelley Jaye, 5. Lefebre, 6. Monroe, 7. Adrian Avena and 8. Powroznik.

Powroznik, who spent much of the earlier rounds fishing boat docks with a spinning reel, switched to a baitcaster and a swimbait and scored early with a 3-4 largemouth on his first cast. He added a 1-2 on his second cast and steadily built a solid five-bass limit of 11-4 before an hour had passed.

He upgraded with a 3-14 largemouth around 10 a.m. and then had one of the strangest occurrences of the Elite Series season when he landed a solid bass with a yellow cull tag clipped in its mouth.

The tag had likely been placed there by an angler in a previous tournament who then somehow failed to remove it when the bass was released.

Monroe’s on-boat judge, B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart, originally ruled that the cull tag had to be removed before the fish could be weighed. But Powroznik objected.

“That’s the way it was when I caught it,” he said. “If the bass had a bluegill in its throat, I would get to weigh the bluegill. If it had a lamprey stuck to it, I would get to weigh the lamprey.”

Stewart consulted B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon, who advised him to weigh the fish both ways — with the tag and without. The weight in both situations was 3-3.

Once the sun began to break, Powroznik moved away from his largemouth areas and went looking for smallmouth. That’s when he put the tournament away with smallies that weighed 4-3 and 3-0.

“That place I started this morning, I had fished it so many times,” Powroznik said. “I knew they were there because I had been catching every time I went. This morning, I decided I was going to do something different and I started with that swimbait. It was the right move.”

Monroe’s early-morning strategy carried him into a small, picturesque canal that led into a weed-lined pond known as “Little Pokegama.” The decision proved to be a tough one, as Monroe got only two bites in the area — both of which came from northern pike.

He finally caught his first bass — a small 1-3 largemouth — at 8:53 a.m. and followed quickly with a 3-6 at 8:57. But the big bite like the 5-1 smallmouth he landed during the semifinals Thursday never came, and he wasn’t able to catch Powroznik.

Just before the final round ended, Monroe — who has long been known as one of the fiercest competitors in the sport — hooked a fish and lost it, causing him to throw his rod in frustration.

When time ran out, he cranked his outboard and motored back toward the launch in total silence.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.  (Congratulations Jacob, fished the FLW BP Series on the Potomac with you way back when!)


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

August 27--MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. —Catching a drum isn’t usually much of a reason for a bass fisherman to get excited. They don’t count in a bass tournament, and they can waste valuable fishing time while the angler fights and lands them.

But it certainly excited Jason Christie this week — mostly because every time he’d catch one, the smallmouth bass in the area would get excited, too.

Christie caught five smallmouth that weighed 22 pounds on Championship Sunday to push his four-day weight to 88 pounds, 8 ounces. It was enough to win the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair and keep the Oklahoma angler in contention for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

The drum were one of the keys to his week.

“Everything is lying on the bottom, and they were all eating crawdads,” said Christie, who is now a five-time B.A.S.S. winner. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught a drum here this week — and as the drum was coming up, it would be spitting out crawdads. There would be smallmouth out there below them, just eating everything they could get their mouths on.”

That commotion seemed to set the bass on fire.

“It’s just something that gets the bottom moving,” he said. “It may sound stupid, but I honestly believe that. I would take a drum off as fast as I could and throw my tube right back in there. I caught a lot of bass doing that.

Christie caught most of his bass with a Yum 4-inch tube in green pumpkin on a 3/4-ounce tube head. He used a Lew’s Custom Pro reel with a 7.5:1 gear ratio spooled with 10-pound Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon. His rod of choice was a 7-3 Falcon Cara Amistad Casting Rod.

“I chose a baitcaster for one reason,” he said. “I would rather use a spinning rod. But the grass is just thick enough that I couldn’t keep the bait clean on a spinning rod, and they wouldn’t eat it with grass on it.” The stiffer baitcast rod enabled Christie to rip the lure and shed any weeds clinging to it.

Garmin Panoptix helped Christie identify the smallmouth that were tagging along behind the drum in 15 to 20 feet of water. He said there seemed to be one solid window each day when the fish were really biting.

“Every day, there was an hour to hour-and-a-half spurt,” he said. “The first two days, it was the first hour. Saturday, it was 9 to 10, and today it was about the same time.

“I don’t know what makes them do that. I don’t know if you get a school fired up and you catch them real quick or what.”

Smallmouth are notorious for their high-flying acrobatics, and they’ll often throw a bait when they jump. But Christie said he was pleased with his execution during the landing process.

Mississippi angler Brock Mosley finished in second place for the second time in the past three Elite Series events with 86-5. Rookie Mark Daniels Jr. of Alabama earned his highest finish ever in an Elite Series event — third — with 85-7.

Besides winning the $100,000 first-place prize, Christie held onto to his second-place spot in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. With 796 points, Christie is just 15 points behind Brandon Palaniuk (811).

For retaining his lead in the AOY race, Palaniuk was awarded $1,000.

Mosley won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Saturday’s second day of competition.

Christie was awarded the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. He also earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. —Julyy 30, 2017--Nobody thought it was possible, Aaron Martens least of all. But on the final day of competition at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Martens massed a 23-pound, 5-ounce sack of bass and stunned the crowd, and the field, who all thought such a feat was impossible. He edged second-place finisher Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minn., by a little less than a pound.

“I'm still in shock,” Martens said, surrounded by reporters behind the stage, trophy at rest beside him on a chair. “I can’t believe I won. It still hasn’t set in yet.”

Martens, originally from California but now a resident of Leeds, Ala., wasn’t sure how much his limit weighed — it’s difficult to judge weight at a tournament where winners can be decided by ounces. But his bag included a 6-2 largemouth that was second only to Seth Feider’s 6-4 bass, which won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $1,500 for the tournament.

“I didn't know how much I actually had,” Martens said. “The only time all day when I thought I had a shot to win was when I saw 23-5 on the scales. The BASSTrakk (unofficial leaderboard) said I had 20-11. I thought I maybe had 22. But I just didn’t know. I overestimated BASSTrakk the first day, so maybe I got a little gun-shy and underestimated today. I’m still really in shock.”

For Martens, each B.A.S.S. win is a redemption of sorts. He’s widely regarded as one of the best anglers to compete in the modern era of bass fishing, and this marks only his ninth B.A.S.S. win across almost two decades of competition. Alongside those nine wins sit 13 gut-wrenching second-place finishes — four of which were at the Bassmaster Classic and seven were at Elite events.

Martens’ last win came at the 2015 Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay.

Martens also set a unique B.A.S.S. mark today: He climbed 19 spots on the final day to win an Elite event — a feat made possible because this weather-shortened event spanned three days, instead of four, and the Top 51 anglers fished the final day, instead of the traditional Top 12.

His winning pattern involved drop shotting a 4-inch Roboworm in Aaron’s magic red color on massive weed flats. The largemouth and smallmouth were mixed together and he caught quality fish of both species, although it was the largemouth that ultimately propelled him to victory.

He fished predominantly deep (20 to 30 feet) the first two days, but moved shallow today into 12 to 21 feet. He made a critical tackle change and switched to a 6'11" medium-heavy rod that allowed him to move hooked fish through the grass and to the boat. He noted that areas with several different weed types were best.

Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, retained his lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with one event remaining in the season. He was awarded $1,000 for leading at the end of the event.

“I don’t think about the race — I just think about catching them the next day,” Palaniuk said. “Every guy wants to win an Angler of the Year title, but I know for me, mentally, I fish a lot better not knowing where I am in the race. It’s not like I don’t care. It’s more like a racecar driver — if you’re worried about the guy behind you, you’re looking back and slowing down. I’m not going to do that. I’m going full speed ahead.”

Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Saturday’s second day of competition.

Palaniuk was also awarded the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.--Despite high water and heavy flows on the Arkansas River, the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge “is a go,” B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon said Wednesday.

“Barring unforeseen changes in weather or river conditions, the tournament will be held as planned,” Weldon said. He announced the decision after discussions this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other local experts on river conditions. “However, we will continue to track developments at Lake Dardanelle, and we will reschedule the event if conditions dictate,” he added.

In a message to the 109 Elite anglers participating, Weldon urged them to exercise caution in running the river, and to be especially alert because some jetties are expected to be under the surface.

While flow on the river next week is predicted to be higher than normal, B.A.S.S. events in the past have taken place on the same fishery when water levels and flow rates were similar. Boyd Duckett won a Bassmaster Major tournament in 2007 after a planned event out of Little Rock was moved upstream to Dardanelle. And Mark Menendez won an Elite tournament in 2009 on the same section following high-water events. Both four-day tournaments were won with about 55 pounds of bass.

The high, muddy water could present challenges during the sixth regular-season Elite tournament, but you can bet as the 109-angler field spreads out across the 40,000 surface acres, somebody will catch them and take home the $100,000 first-place prize money.

The Arkansas River would typically be a factor during a tournament like this; but with the high-water conditions, the river might not be as fishable as in years past, thus restricting the anglers to the backwaters of Dardanelle.

“The red Oklahoma clay is being washed into smaller tributaries thanks to an overabundance of spring rain, which is eventually ending up in the Arkansas River with a destination of Lake Dardanelle,” said Jerry Williams, a retired professional bass fisherman from Conway, Ark., who has fished the lake for more than 30 years.

He said Dardanelle has been a great bass fishery for years, but upstream erosion has taken its toll on the vegetation growth.

“There are still plenty of opportunities for big fish and heavy stringers,” he said. “But thanks to the persistent difficult conditions in recent years, the muddy water greatly restricts the needed sunlight, which impacts how well aquatic plants grow.”

Williams started fishing the lake in 1970, and enjoyed an exciting career as a pro angler on the Bassmaster Top 100 and Top 150 circuits. He qualified for the Elite Series twice but declined the invitations. The Arkansas native has seen his share of tough tournaments, and he expects Dardanelle to be challenging.

“With the high-water conditions, the main river will be difficult to navigate, and the backwaters will be jammed with anglers,” he said. “There are plenty of great spots to consider on the main lake, but if the wind blows hard enough, the field will be forced to share the water along the shoreline.

“It’s very exciting to win a tough tournament, I think,” he said. “Knowing you beat everyone when the conditions aren’t conducive to catching numbers of bass really places the top angler on a pedestal. This one will come with an exciting finish for sure.”

Even if the fishing is better than he expects, a thrilling finish is likely. When Jason Christie of Oklahoma won here in May 2014 with 72 pounds, 3 ounces, only 4 ounces separated him and Gerald Swindle, and Greg Hackney was only 8 ounces out of the lead.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

May 3, 2017-- BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —At just 20 years old, Brendan Baker of Jefferson City, Mo., has been given an opportunity that many B.A.S.S. fans dream of — a chance to fish with defending Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.

The biggest catch, he only entered the “Bassmaster Fish With Gerald Swindle Sweepstakes” once! Talk about luck of the draw.

“This cannot be real!” Baker exclaimed after learning he was the lucky winner. “I was literally in shock and couldn’t believe I just won my very own bass boat.”

Baker is an avid bass fisherman who attends Missouri State University. He fell in love with fishing at a young age, thanks to the time his father and grandfather spent teaching him all about the sport. He enjoys fishing local bodies of water with his 12-year-old brother, Connor, and he says they spend at least five days a week on the water in the summer.

Baker will take a trip to a to-be-determined location to fish with Swindle. The trip includes airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations and $500 in spending money.

In addition to the fishing trip with Swindle, Baker received a Triton 17 TX bass boat with Mercury 60-horsepower 4-stroke engine, Humminbird Helix 12 fishfinder, Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor, a set of four KMC or XD wheels and one set of Odyssey Marine batteries. He also won prize packs from T-H Marine, Zoom Baits, Sunline, Dude Wipes, Rod Glove and War Eagle, plus a GoPro Hero5, Huk All Weather jacket and bib, Quantum Smoke HD baitcast combo, Rigid deck light kit, and Swindle’s Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series jersey, autographed by “the G-man” himself. His total winnings were $32,500.

When asked if he was nervous about fishing with one of the most well-known pros in the sport, Baker said, “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous to fish with Gerald, I’m just excited for the opportunity and extremely blessed. I can’t wait to learn some tips from a pro angler.”

Fans will have another shot at winning soon, when the Ultimate Tundra Giveaway Sweepstakes kicks off on May 15.

The grand prize will include a Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab 4X4 as well as an additional accessories package. The total value of this prize is $44,511.

Fishing fans can enter daily until Friday, Sept. 15, at Bassmaster.com/Sweepstakes.

Courtesy of BASS Communications


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BRANSON, Mo. — There is just no place like home for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland.

Although he resides in Bella Vista, Ark., McClelland could consider Table Rock Lake his home waters since he spent so much time fishing there as a kid while staying at his grandparents’ property near the lake. He relied on his extensive experience on Table Rock to win the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open today, with a three-day total weight of 44 pounds, 4 ounces.

The win was his second B.A.S.S. victory on Table Rock, which earned him the top prize of a Triton 19XP/Mercury 200 Pro XS rig valued at $45,000, along with $8,491 in cash and a berth in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods if he fishes the remaining two Opens. The Arkansas pro also won the 2014 Bassmaster Elite event at Table Rock.  

The first two days McClelland had success keeping his boat in 45 to 50 feet of water and throwing a Cabela’s 3.4 Finesse Swimmer swimbait with a 1/4-ounce underspin jighead to bass holding in standing timber 25- to 32-feet deep. McClelland credited his Garmin Panoptix electronics for helping him see the bass he was catching from the trees. He also caught some shallower fish on a Spro McStick stickbait and a Spro Rock Crawler crankbait. 

“The wind killed me (today),” McClelland said. “It was gusting straight down the stretch I was fishing, and I never could get a good angle to fish the trees I was keying on. The Panoptix had allowed me to back off the trees and see exactly where the trees were. I could watch my bait come over the tops of the trees where the fish were coming up. But when I had all that wind and all that turbulence, I couldn’t stay steady enough to know where to throw.”

Largemouth bass made up the bulk of his catch the first two days, but he caught only spotted bass today. He finally abandoned his deep fish in the afternoon and switched to the McStick stickbait to complete his limit weighing 13-5.

After a tough first day, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Josh Bertrand put together two solid days to finish second in the pro division with 43-1. The Gilbert, Ariz., angler weighed in only four bass the first day, but he bounced back with 18- and 17-pound limits respectively the next two days. Yesterday, he found all of his bass relating to two pods of shad.

Bertrand said he caught bass in deep water (down to 30 feet) vertical fishing with a Berkley Gulp Minnow on a drop shot rig. He also caught bass about 10 feet deep on a Berkley 4-inch Beat Shad swimbait with a 1/4-ounce jighead and another thicker bodied swimbait on a 3/8-ounce jighead.   

Other anglers finishing in the Top 5 of the pro division were Drew Sloan, Scurry, Texas, third place, 42-14; Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., fourth, 42-5; and Pete Wenners, Galena, Mo., fifth, 41-15.

Throwing a 2.8-inch Keitech, Swing Impact Fat swimbait on a 3/16-ounce Owner jighead helped 26-year-old Brian Murphy of Sulphur, La., win the co-angler division with 19-7. The Lake Charles Tackle Shop employee received the first-place prize of a $30,000 Nitro Z18/Mercury 150 Pro XS package. 

The Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $750 on the pro side went to Ernie Stumpf III of Frisco, Texas, with a 6-1 largemouth. Brian Murphy weighed in a 5-3 largemouth to earn the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $250 on the co-angler side.

Randy Sullivan of Breckenridge, Texas, received the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $250 for finishing as the top pro on Day 2. Finishing as the Day 2 leader on the co-angler side, Mike Jones of Fayetteville, Ark., received a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Florida’s famous big-bass factory showed off during the first day of the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, as Tennessee native Ott DeFoe caught a huge five-bass limit that weighed 31 pounds, 3 ounces.

Anchoring his limit with two giant bass that weighed 8-6 each, the 31-year-old DeFoe knew he had located quality fish during practice on the lake, but he didn’t realize just how good they were.

“I had a lot of bites during practice, but I wasn’t catching very many fish over 2 1/2 to 3 pounds,” DeFoe said. “But, a few of those fish were in one area that seemed to have all the right ingredients to justify a return trip once the tournament began.”

DeFoe caught one of his big bass at his first stop early in the day, but decided to move after only having a few other bites.

“I stayed on that spot until after 9 a.m., and it was after 10 when I caught my next one,” said DeFoe, a six-time qualifier for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. “At that point, the rest of my limit was small, but I was happy to have them because I had the one big fish.”

He managed to upgrade into the early afternoon on one spot that was also consistent for him during practice. DeFoe also said his pattern developed as the day went on, and he’s confident Friday will produce similar results.

“Today was a special day,” he said. “But it’s Okeechobee, 30-pound-plus limits can happen every day on this lake, and if I play my cards right tomorrow I believe I can hang onto the lead.”

“When my twins were born, they both weighed several pounds less than those two big bass today,” he said with a laugh.

Weighing five-bass limits that exceed the 25 or 30 pounds is a rarity in this sport, and Browning agrees with DeFoe that today was indeed special.

“I don’t know if the quality of fish I caught today will still be available tomorrow, but it was sure a lot of fun,” Browning said. “I didn’t have a very good practice, so today I just went fishing and learned a lot. I really want to believe that I can catch another 25 pounds of fish tomorrow, but I won’t know if the pattern will hold until things get started in the morning.”

Many anglers commented on how water temperatures had dropped several degrees in recent days, and while cold fronts typically cause Florida-strain largemouth bass to become sluggish, the cold front that brought significant rain Wednesday afternoon seemed to have invigorated Okeechobee’s bass population.

“I’m going to hunker down and give it my best shot tomorrow — that’s all you can do when you’re learning as you go,” Browning said. “I’m sharing water with several other boats, and the improving weather should improve the bite. I’m doing something a little bit different, and I bet the pattern holds for another couple of days.”

Confidence is a key component to successful tournament angling, and like Browning, Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., who weighed 25-15 for third, was surprised by his Day 1 weight.

“At this point, I just can’t be sure tomorrow will be as productive as today,” Horton said. “I got off to a great start, but the fishing was pretty slow as the day went on. I got the right bites, but not that many of them. To have a shot in a tournament on a lake like Okeechobee, you’ve got to have at least one day in the 25-pound range.”

Like DeFoe and Browning, Horton knows what Lake Okeechobee is capable of. Horton has an impressive history on Okeechobee, including a couple of Top 10s and a win.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Whether it was cabin fever among bass fishing fans, pent-up anticipation of the new Bassmaster Elite Series season or simply continued growth in popularity, audience sizes for videos and other content achieved record numbers for the first Elite event of 2017.

For example, by the time newcomer Jacob Wheeler was crowned champion of the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake, Tennessee, Feb. 12, Bassmaster.com had recorded more than 1.1 million visits. That represents a 38 percent increase over total website visits during the previous most-viewed tournament, the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend in May 2016, when superstar Kevin VanDam dominated the competition.

Audience measurements showed similar growth in almost every category. Those visits to Bassmaster.com produced more than 13.4 million page views during the four-day event, a 65 percent increase over Toledo Bend numbers.

“Some might attribute the audience increase to cabin fever, but I prefer to view it as confirmation that bass fishing fans are growing more and more passionate about the sport,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “We are determined to provide quality content about bass fishing whenever, however and wherever fans want to consume it, and our efforts seem to be paying off.”

In addition to the digital traffic, Akin noted that attendance for the event totaled 11,450, including 5,200 people who crowded into the Knoxville Convention Center for the Championship Sunday weigh-in ceremonies.

Bassmaster LIVE — the live-streamed video programming introduced to the sport by B.A.S.S. in 2015 — also gained new viewers during the Cherokee tournament. A total of 235,520 video views were counted that week, a 22 percent increase over the previous record, and total minutes watched exceeded 6.5 million, which was 27 percent higher than Toledo Bend.

“We've been working hard to make the live shows a better experience with more cameras and more innovations, such as the bottom line ticker,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content and producer of Bassmaster LIVE. “It’s great to see that this fast growing Bassmaster LIVE audience is enjoying the sport more and more every day. On top of all the LIVE success on Bassmaster.com, we’re attracting a whole new audience with our simulcast on WatchESPN.”

Including LIVE, Bassmaster.com attracted more than 700,000 video views to the website, a 48 percent increase over the previous best, and minutes viewed almost hit 10 million during the event.

Following a national trend in almost every arena, consumption of social media content grew exponentially. Total impressions through all of B.A.S.S.’s social media platforms were 7.8 million, which nearly tripled the record from Toledo Bend. Coverage of the tournament garnered an additional 456,000 video views on social channels.

Jim Sexton, vice president/digital and editor of Bassmaster.com, attributed the increases in audience in part to the location, since the Elite Series had not visited the highland reservoir before. He added, “We also made a number of improvements to the way we cover our events, including more aerial photos and videos from drones, a sizable increase in the number of video clips from the water and new features such as the ‘marshal photo gallery’ and Facebook Live reports.”

The second stop along what anglers are calling “the dream season” of the series will be the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, Fla., this week.

Those two events will rack up even more audience numbers when “The Bassmasters” TV show debuts on ESPN2 at 8 a.m. (ET) March 12. The show will encore the following Sunday morning and will be aired again on the ESPN Classic channel.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

Feb. 12, 2017 KNOXVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — At only 26 years of age, Jacob Wheeler has already won more than his share of big-money bass tournaments.

But he’s never won one under the same set of circumstances he faced this week during the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake — and he’s quick to admit that he may never do it again.

After a week of adversity that some anglers don’t face in an entire season, Wheeler won the event and its $100,000 first-place prize with a four-day total of 69 pounds, 13 ounces. A final-day catch of 18-3 — his biggest of the tournament — helped him jump from third place into the winner’s spot.

Jamie Hartman finished second with 69-3, and Jesse Wiggins, who held a slim lead through the first three rounds of fishing, placed third with 69-0.

“I’ve won a few tournaments in my day,” Wheeler said. “But this one is by far the craziest, coolest win I’ve ever had — there’s nothing even close to it.

“Just all of the adversity that went down was so crazy — and through all of that, to go out and not only catch a limit every day, but to also catch winning bags every day, that’s just amazing.”

Wheeler had a fairly normal opening round, catching 17-10 to land in second place. But on the second day, things got crazy.

During pre-practice, Wheeler said he graphed the entire lake and had 1,600 waypoints marked from one end of the fishery to the other on his depthfinder. But an electronics mix-up on Friday left him without half of those waypoints, and he had to do much of his fishing by memory.

Then on Saturday, one of his batteries malfunctioned, leaving him without a working trolling motor. So he took advantage of a little-known B.A.S.S. rule that allows a stranded angler to fish with another competitor as long as a marshal is present.

While fishing with Elite Series rookie Dustin Connell, Wheeler caught two of his biggest fish of the day and brought 17-1 to the scales to land in second place heading into Championship Sunday.

“I had a lot of places to fish on this lake,” Wheeler said. “I think that’s what helped me fight through all of the things that happened as much as anything else.”

On the final day, having a wide selection of areas to choose from made all the difference.

“I had a backup card with all of my waypoints, so I had them back for days 3 and 4,” Wheeler said. “I could run to every rock, every boulder, every piece of structure I had found in practice.

Wheeler relied all week on a VMC Moon Eye Jighead with a 3-inch soft jerkbait in simple pearl white. He was watching for smallmouth on his Lowrance depthfinder and literally dropping the bait to specific fish in 20 to 30 feet of water.

He caught the biggest part of his limit during one 10-minute stretch around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It was absolutely crazy,” Wheeler said. “I was fishing a little pond, and I came across a wad of fish. There were so many of them that I thought they might be stripers. But I know the difference between stripers and smallmouth on my graph, and I thought those looked like big, old smallmouth.

“I dropped my bait down and about 20 of them came up at one time. It was crazy.”

“Later in the day, I went to fish a place down near the dam where I caught a lot of my really big, big fish this week,” he said. “I went there, I hooked one, and it was a 3 3/4-pounder. That was the winning bite, and it happened about 20 minutes before quitting time.”

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

KNOXVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — When B.A.S.S. announced it would be holding its first Bassmaster Elite Series event of the 2017 season on Cherokee Lake in the mountains of eastern Tennessee in February, some anglers wondered if they might need ice suits and heaters on the front decks of their boats just to stay focused on fishing.

But Brandon Card, an Elite Series competitor from Knoxville, said the area simply hasn’t had that kind of weather this year.

Card said it’s been one of the mildest winters he can remember — and when the anglers begin the event, scheduled for Feb. 9-12 with takeoffs and weigh-ins at Cherokee Lake Dam and TVA Boat Ramp, they’re likely to have multiple options for catching big fish.

“I have a lot of experience on Cherokee,” Card said. “But we’ve never had a winter this crazy, just in terms of how mild it’s been. I think we’ve just got to expect the unexpected in this one. Fish are going to be so scattered. They’ll be all over the place.”

Though some anglers dread frigid temperatures, Card said local anglers like him could have actually benefited from those conditions.

“I think if it had been one of those brutal winters, it would have definitely played into the east Tennessee guys’ hands,” he said. “But now, it kind of opens it up to anybody and everybody. There’s going to be a few fish in those predictable wintertime haunts, but that’s not going to be the winning pattern.

“Fishing history isn’t going to do much for you.”

The announcement of the tournament date and location — combined with a B.A.S.S. rule change that will now allow Elite Series anglers to use rods up to 10 feet long — led many to wonder if a finesse technique known as float-and-fly could be a big part of the event. The method allows anglers to fish a small jig on a long leader under a bobber to target suspended fish.

But Card said the mild winter may take that out of the equation as well.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as much of a factor as it might have been,” he said. “I’m sure there will be fish caught that way, but you could probably go down that same stretch of bank and catch them on a spinnerbait. So why would you want to watch a bobber if the water temperature is in the low 50s and you can catch them in other ways a lot faster.”

Regardless of how the fish are caught, those who know the lake well expect a close tournament from start to finish.

“Cherokee is so good, and there are going to be so many fish caught that to distance yourself, it’s going to take some good fortune,” said Brandon Coulter, another Elite Series angler who calls Knoxville home. “The situation won’t really benefit the local anglers, because everybody’s going to catch them.”

Coulter said that could make for some exciting daily weigh-ins.

“I really think 13 or 14 pounds probably won’t put you in the position you want to be in, but 16 will,” Coulter said “It’s going to be more like one of those northern tournaments – like the one we had on Cayuga Lake last year when 16 wouldn’t get you a check, but 17 would.

“Cherokee Lake will prove its reputation as an outstanding bass lake in terms of both size and numbers of fish,” said Adele Sensing, director of tourism for the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Tenn. “The smallmouth are good and plentiful. The number one reason that a tournament wants to come to an area is great fishing, and Cherokee Lake will deliver.”

Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville, agreed.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.