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Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Andrew Helms and Jake Whitaker, students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, made collegiate bass fishing history today by scoring a 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic title to add to their National Championship title.
 
The anglers from Charlotte brought five bass to the scales weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces to win the College Classic title. UNC-Charlotte edged by a winning margin of just 4 ounces the runner-up team from Clemson University. The limit caught by Dean Legg and Spencer Waldrop weighed 9-2.
 
Just 1 ounce behind was Hampton Anderson and Josh Rennebaum of the University of South Carolina. Taking fourth place was Lander University’s Ben Stone and Collin Smith with 8-6.
 
“To win this twice is just incredible,” said civil engineering major Whitaker, 22, referring to their other win in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship .
 
“There’s no way that we’d gain the experience and skills we have now without the college B.A.S.S. program,” added Helms, 20, a marketing major.
 
The competition between eight colleges was held on Lake Keowee, an 18,500-acre impoundment located not far from Lake Hartwell, site of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
 
The teams weighed their catches on the very same stage where bass fishing’s world championship winner will be determined Sunday.
 
Helms and Whitaker are no strangers to Keowee. Whitaker fished the lake last month in a regional tournament and both anglers spent considerable practice time there.
 
For the win, UNC-Charlotte relied on two primary baits — the Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait and a shaky head.
 
Targeting high-profile structure was a key for applying the lures during a limited time available to the anglers. The winning team’s first stop was a submerged bridge in 18 feet of water. A bonus was the presence of baitfish and thus, the reason for using the jerkbait. The anglers triggered reaction strikes by working the lure across through the baitfish staged near the bridge.
 
After catching one quality bass from the rubble, the team moved into a creek channel to target submerged brushpiles between 25 and 35 feet of water.
 
“Having deeper water nearby was key to the bite with the shaky head,” Whitaker added. “The contour break near the brush really made a difference for us.”
 
Filling the limit required working the lure slowly through the isolated brushpiles. The technique produced the four bass needed to fill the limit.
 
Helms and Whitaker received an automatic invitation to return and defend their title at the 2016 Classic, site and date to be determined. 


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — On Sunday evening at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Casey Ashley completed a journey that began more than three decades ago and seemed to drag on forever these past few weeks.

The 31-year-old South Carolina native, who has lived just a few miles from Lake Hartwell all his life, caught five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces to cap a moving victory in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on his home waters with a three-day total of 50-1.

The weight was enough to help Ashley pass Elite Series pro Bobby Lane of Florida, who finished second with 46-15, and Texas angler Takahiro Omori, who placed third with 44-3.

The end of the weigh-in meant Ashley could finally take a deep breath after seven weeks when the lake was mostly off-limits due to B.A.S.S. rules and when virtually everyone he saw wanted to talk about him being the favorite to win.

“I wanted to win so bad here at home, and I had a long time to think about it. It was pretty rough.”

Once it began, Ashley made the most of his opportunity.

An accomplished singer, songwriter and musician in addition to his career as a pro angler, Ashley opened the event with a stirring rendition of the national anthem before Friday’s frigid opening-round takeoff at Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C.

Then he went out and steadily caught fish every day on a homemade fish-head spinner rigged with a Zoom Super Fluke Jr. in pearl white. His father, Danny, made him about 20 of the baits before the tournament began.

Ashley prefers to fish a jig — and he won an FLW Tour event last year on Hartwell doing just that. But the more he tried it this week, the more he realized it might sink him if he didn’t abandon the tactic and stick with the baits his dad made for him.

 “I was going out and getting a good limit with that bait and then going and fishing brushpiles and structure looking for big fish with a jig,” Ashley said. “I burned a lot of time doing that the first two days.

 “Then Saturday night, I was lying in bed and the (country music) song ‘Why Lady Why?’ kept going through my mind. So I asked myself ‘Why do I keep doing that?’”

He rose from fifth to first with his catch of 20-3.

“I knew I had to catch a big bag today, and the weather was textbook for me,” Ashley said. “It all came together, and I could just see it getting closer and closer and closer.”

Ashley, who held the trophy above his head with the song still playing and confetti spraying around him, said he considered his Classic victory a “win for everyone.”

He was also proud to be one of the few anglers who has managed to win a Classic on his home waters despite all of the distractions and potential pitfalls that come with the scenario.

“But these are really my home waters. This is my back yard — and that’s special.” Only two other anglers in 45 years have won the Classic in their home state.

Behind Ashley, Lane and Omori, were Arizona pro Dean Rojas (43-13), Virginia pro Jacob Powroznik (43-1) and New Jersey pro Michael Iaconelli (42-6).

The GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $1,000 was presented to Rojas on Day 1; an additional $1,500 was awarded to Rojas for having a GEICO decal on his boat’s windshield. Omori earned the Day 2 GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $1,000, and the $1,500 GEICO decal bonus.

Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., was awarded the GoPro Big Bass award of $2,500 for his Day 2 big bass of 6 pounds, 11 ounces.


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog
Warming Weather and Full Moon Could Produce Record Stringers
 
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2015) – The first tournament of the 20th anniversary season of the Walmart FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, kicks off March 5-8 with the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Mercury. Hosted by Experience Kissimmee and the Osceola County Department of Tourism, the tournament will feature 154 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
 
“I think that the timing of this tournament is going to be perfect,” said 18-year FLW Tour veteran Terry Segraves of Kissimmee, Florida, who will be among the 154 anglers competing. “It’s cold right now, but the warm weather is expected to return in the next few weeks. With the expected sunshine and the full moon, the fish are going to pop. There really isn’t going to be much of a local advantage; we’re going to see a lot of really big fish.”
 
Tournament anglers will have three days of practice starting on Sunday, March 3, to make the crucial decision on where they will be fishing during the tournament. Lake Toho, Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha and Lake Kissimmee all will be in play for tournament competitors.
 
“There is plenty of shoreline among the four lakes, so the anglers are going to be really spread out,” Segraves said. “Getting through the locks efficiently is going to be the key. The lockmasters do a great job of getting boats through quickly, but the locks will only fit 14 or 15 boats. I think 50- to 75-percent of the field will be locking down.”
 
Segraves said that swimbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps would all be popular baits thrown by tournament competitors, and that sight-fishing would most likely play a very big role
 
“The weather conditions are going to be a huge determining factor for the winning weights,” Segraves continued. “If the weather is nice, I think you’ll need to catch an average of 20 pounds through the first two days just to make the top-20 cut and fish the weekend. This tournament has the potential to set some new records.”
 
In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 20-23 on Lake Ouachita and is hosted by Visit Hot Springs. The Forrest Wood Cup Champion could win as much as $500,000 – professional bass-fishing’s richest prize.
 
Anglers will take off from Big Toho Marina located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee at 7:30 a.m. on the first three days of competition and 7:45 a.m. on Sunday’s final take off.
 
Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

 
Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The 2015 Bassmaster High School Classic crowned two Tennessee high school teams co-champions after the competition on Lake Keowee in South Carolina today.
 
The teams of Hunter Silverstrim and Nathaniel Burris of Queen City High School and Caden Watson and Cole Sands of Walker Valley High School each weighed in 11 pounds, 9 ounces to take home the High School Classic trophy. A total of 10 high school fishing teams competed on Keowee and weighed in on the same stage as the competitors in the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. 
 
Silverstrim and Burris caught their biggest fish of the day with a shaky head jig, and also had success using a 3/4-ounce football head jig. Their day started slowly, but improved after noon when they caught three fish back-to-back. Shortly thereafter, they caught their biggest fish of the day.
 
“We had nothing before noon, and we were thinking we might walk across that stage with nothing. But then we started thinking we might actually win this,” Burris said.
 
The first time the team from Clarksville, Tenn., fished on Lake Keowee was during practice, and they made the most of it. A spot they found during practice on Tuesday produced only one bass at the time, but it produced most of their fish on competition day.
 
“Lake Keowee is much different than our home lake, Kentucky Lake. It’s much more finesse fishing here, “ Silverstrim said.
 
Co-champions Watson and Sands also experienced some bad luck during practice. They discovered the float-and-fly technique, which employs a lightweight jig beneath a bobber, was working best. Their special float-and-fly rod broke, however, and they were unable to find a replacement. Luckily, with the help of Super Glue, athletic tape and creativity they were able to fix it.
 
The Walker Valley high school team used a crankbait and a shaky head in the rocks, and also caught one final keeper in the last 30 minutes right next to a boat ramp.
 
It was Watson’s and Sands’ first time on Lake Keowee, too. They said the key to their win was a successful practice and taking time to study maps to see where the fish would be.
 
The anglers from Cleveland, Tenn., said the win was an amazing experience for them.
 
“It felt like it was meant to be,” Sands said. 

“This was the biggest opportunity of my life. It was amazing to be able to walk across that stage,” Watson said.


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog
DENISON, Texas (Feb. 21, 2015) – The Central Oklahoma University team of Colten Hutson of Edmond, Oklahoma, and Brock Enmeier of Enid, Oklahoma, won the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference event on Lake Texoma Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 15 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Championship tournament.
 
“This is unbelievable,” said Hutson, a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering. “To go out there today and represent Central Oklahoma and get the win feels awesome.”
 
“Our whole goal coming in to this tournament was to qualify for the Conference Championship on our home waters of Grand Lake,” said Enmeier, a senior majoring in Industrial Safety. “Today was pretty sweet.”
 
The duo won handily, as they were the only team to bring a limit to the scales on the finicky Texoma. A strong morning wind forced the team to scrap their early plans and change their strategy. They found success targeting one specific brush pile near the back of Buncombe Creek.
 
“We moved to the brush pile around 8:30 a.m. and we ended up not leaving it all day,” Enmeier said. “It was about a 100-yard long stretch, and we fished it from 4- to 14-feet deep. We ended up catching seven keepers throughout the day.”
 
The club said that they managed to catch one fish on a green pumpkin-colored jig, but the other six keepers came on a Texas-rigged Big Bite Baits Yomama, in both green pumpkin and watermelon red flake.
 
Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

 
Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The final day of the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on Lake Hartwell is shaping up to be a free-for-all with a handful of former Classic champions sitting atop the standings with the coveted trophy and $300,000 first-place prize well within their grasp.

Takahiro Omori, an Elite Series pro from Japan who now makes his home in Emory, Texas, caught five fish that weighed 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday and claimed the lead going into Sunday’s final round with a two-day total of 31-11.

The 2004 Classic winner holds a razor-thin lead over Elite Series pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (31-9); 2003 Classic winner Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. (31-0); 2014 Classic winner Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. (30-11); and Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. (29-14).

Omori got off to a slow start Saturday. But with years of experience and one Classic title already under his belt, he didn’t panic and managed enough weight to jump from seventh into first.

“Yesterday, we were like two hours late starting — and when I got to my first spot, I caught five fish just like that,” Omori said. “We started at normal time today. So when I get to my spot, it was too dark. I was thinking there were no fish left out here.

“So I just hung around and stuck with it, and I caught most of my fish by noon. I ended up catching about 10 keepers today.”

Though he wouldn’t say much about how he’s catching his fish, Omori said every bass he’s brought to the scales this week has come from one 200-yard stretch of water. He added that he’s familiarized himself with every inch of the area, and he plans to give it a major workout Sunday.

Omori said he wants to avoid getting too excited about a chance to win a second Classic. But at the same time, he admitted it’s not just another day of fishing.

“I just want to do my things right,” he said. “I don’t want to jerk a hook set too hard and break my line or get too excited and miss something because I was being too crazy. I just want to enjoy the moment and have another great day.”

Omori can’t afford many mistakes with an angler like Rojas trailing him by just 2 ounces heading into the final round. Rojas, the Day 1 leader with 21-2 Friday, managed just 10-7 Saturday, but remained squarely in contention for his first Classic title.

“I didn’t get the big bite today that I was hoping for,” Rojas said. “But I’ve got another day to go out and try to find it again.”

Iaconelli dealt with a frustrating moment Friday when a fish he estimated at more than 3 pounds struck short on a jerkbait, preventing him from weighing in a five-bass limit. But he said the moment encouraged him just enough to make him go back to his shallow pattern Saturday — and that’s where the foundation came for the Saturday limit of 16-9 that lifted him into the Top 3.

 

Iaconelli said he finally identified the right area Saturday morning when he saw a loon flying out of a pocket.

“I caught two in there on a jerkbait, a deep Shadow Rap,” Iaconelli said. “One was a 2-pounder and one was a 4-pounder. That was a great way to start. Because when I go out deep, my biggest issue is I’m getting very few bites.

Rain is likely for Sunday’s final round, and Iaconelli said that could actually help his early morning pattern. Instead of moving deep at 9 a.m., he said he might be able to extend the pattern as late as 10:30.


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Doesn’t it just figure that after the coldest day in the history of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, four anglers from warm, sunny climates are sitting atop the standings?
 
Elite Series pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., wowed the crowd at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., with five Lake Hartwell bass that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces despite frigid temperatures that were in the neighborhood of 10 degrees just before takeoff at Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C.
 
Rojas also overcame a 28-minute penalty as punishment for being late for check-in to Wednesday’s practice period.
 
He leads Bassmaster Elite Series pros Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., (20-2); Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, (18-8); and Brett Hite of Phoenix, Ariz., (15-7).
 
“This is our biggest stage that we perform on, and to be able to catch a big bag like that on the first day is amazing,” Rojas said. “How could you script it any better than that? Obviously, I’d rather finish it that way. But hey, I’ll take it.”
 
Though Rojas hasn’t won a Classic in 12 previous appearances — and hasn’t finished first in an event since the 2011 Elite Series event on Toledo Bend Reservoir — he said he’ll be more excited than nervous to lead the field into Saturday’s second round.
 
He’s taking his Day 1 success in stride, much like he did the 28-minute penalty he endured Friday morning. 
 
“It was my fault,” Rojas said. “I worked really hard all year, and I wasn’t going to let that ruin the whole event for me.
 
“I know if things are going to happen, they’re going to happen. I was very relaxed this morning. I wasn’t thinking about all the fish that were biting without me being there. I was just waiting until it was my time.”
 
Rojas wouldn’t say much about how he was fishing.
 
“I was just using two or three baits,” he said. “Fishing shallow and deep — a little of both.”
 
Reese also tamed the cold for his bag of 20-2 and was equally secretive about his techniques. He allowed a B.A.S.S. media boat close enough to photograph him fishing docks at one point during the day, but asked that they not photograph the lure he was using.
 
The conditions for Saturday are expected to improve slightly with a high of 48 degrees in the forecast. But it’s not something Reese is expecting to really help the fishing.
 
“If you want to call that an improvement,” Reese said, laughing. “It’s still freezing cold outside right now, and it’s not going to get any warmer overnight.
 
“Maybe we won’t have to wash ice out of our guides until no later than 11 o’clock tomorrow. But I don't know that anyone will be able to go out and duplicate a 20-pound catch day after day.”
 
Friday’s takeoff was delayed until 8:30 a.m. due to concerns about ice on the new concrete ramp at Green Pond, and then even later when anglers had trouble launching. The fiberglass boats were actually frozen to the trailers, and it took a little extra effort from the boat drivers to get them into the water.
 
Once anglers ventured onto the lake, many experienced trouble throughout the day with ice forming in the spools of their reels and in the guides of their rods. Some rubbed Vaseline on their guides to help with icing, while others dipped their rods in the lake frequently or even used saliva to prevent ice from forming.
 

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. – After struggling most of the week to figure out Lake Martin in practice, two juniors from Tennessee’s Grundy County High School Bass Team scored at just the right time, landing five fish Saturday that weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces to top the 203-boat field.

They caught their fish from 60 feet of water, using D&L Jigs with Berkley Chigger Craws as trailers.

Electronics played a big role in helping the anglers locate their fish – as did the patience that was mandated by their captain, Wesley Taylor.

Taylor had to force the anglers to rest and refuel during the mandatory 10-minute halftime period at 10:15 a.m., and he called seven of the eight allotted timeouts.

“We lost a couple of good fish that could have really helped us in the long run,” he said. “They were big fish that would have really pushed our weight up.”

They were afraid the mishaps would hurt them at the scales, and they almost did.

“We only had two keepers at halftime, but we finished off a limit by about 12 o’clock and started culling by about 2:30. We only caught about six fish total all day.”

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — “It will certainly be covered in more different ways than previous Classics, which historically have reached more fishing fans than any other tournament,” said Jim Sexton, VP/Digital for B.A.S.S. “With new live coverage of fishing action on Bassmaster.com and advances in content for mobile devices, we’re hoping to surpass 1 million unique visitors on our website alone.”
 
The 2014 Classic on Lake Guntersville attracted 979,000 unique visitors to the site, and they generated a total of 33 million page views in February 2014, including 22 million during Classic Week.
 
In addition to web coverage, ESPN2 will air 12 hours of programming on the Classic, which is being held Feb. 20-22 on Lake Hartwell, with weigh-ins to be held in Greenville, S.C. The programs will be re-aired on ESPN2, ESPN Classic and on The Outdoor Channel. The 2014 Classic on Lake Guntersville attracted more than 1.3 million viewers, including approximately 880,000 on ESPN2 and 400,000 on The Outdoor Channel.
 
Bassmaster Magazine will cover the 45th Classic in its April issue, reaching 500,000 B.A.S.S. members and 3.7 million readers.
 
Among the media contingent, a crew from The Weather Channel will be broadcasting live from the take-off site, Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C., Friday and Saturday mornings, Feb. 21-22.
 
Employing somewhat new technology built into the same cameras used for the television show, video is transmitted through cell service and streamed live on the website, McKinnis explained. “We do things that inspire us, and we know if we get excited, typically the fans can get excited about it,” he added. “I think the fans will be blown away.”
 
The video will be streamed in the “Bassmaster Classic Live presented by Lowrance” programs on Bassmaster.com each competition day, Feb. 20-22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET.
 
Classic television coverage on ESPN2 will premiere Saturday, March 7, with a three-hour block covering Day 1 and Day 2 of the competition, and the final round will be covered in a two-hour show Sunday, March 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on ESPN2. (See Bassmaster.com for complete listings.) 

 
In addition to “Bassmaster Classic Live,” the Bassmaster.com website offers several other ways to keep up with the fishing competition in real time. BASSTrakk uses cellphone technology to record the location of each angler on a GPS map. Marshals assigned as observers for each of the anglers operate the BASSTrakk devices and send in updates immediately after each fish is caught and kept or released. That information is displayed in the Real Time Leaderboard, an unofficial ranking of each of the competitors, and is sent automatically to followers of @BASSTrakk on Twitter.
 

Fans will be able to contribute to the Classic coverage as well through Twitter and/or Instagram. By using the hashtag #BassmasterClassic, their Tweets and photos will appear on video screens in the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, on the big screen during weigh-ins at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and on Bassmaster.com.
 
Social media is expected to play a major role in telling the story of the event this year, according to Social Media Editor Tyler Wade. “More than 2,500 Instagram photos were posted with our hashtag during last year’s Classic, and we had barely established our Instagram presence then. With 25,000 fans on our Instagram account, @bass_nation, the number of posts will be much higher this year.”


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog
Carrillo wins co-angler title
 
DEL RIO, Texas (Feb. 14, 2015) – Local angler Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 15 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Lake Amistad presented by Frabill with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 50 pounds, 14 ounces. For his victory, Hanselman earned $33,300.
 
“I’ve been close, but I’ve never won at this level,” said Hanselman, who earned his first career victory after fishing FLW-sanctioned tournaments since 2002. “It feels great to finally come out on top.”
 
Hanselman overcame the tough fishing conditions on Lake Amistad by focusing on two different areas. On day one he fished the river drain mouths and grass near the main lake. He caught a couple of keepers on a Wahoo Lures Wing Ding, a deep-diving crankbait and an umbrella rig rigged with clear-colored Strike King Shadalicious swimbaits.
 
Looking for more action, Hanselman made a bold move by heading 50 miles up the Rio Grande to a spring running off of a canyon, a favorite spot of his.
 
“I caught three of my biggest fish up there using a Top Shelf Magnum Deep Runner swimbait,” said Hanselman. “I just slow rolled it over some boulders and found some large females that thrive in the warmer water.”
 
The Rio Grande spring proved to be the hot spot as Hanselman followed a similar pattern on day two.
 
“Warmer weather had moved in Thursday night and the sun was out, so I knew the fish would be actively swimming up that river,” said Hanselman. “I caught seven keepers at the spring with the swimbait, and a Texas-rigged green pumpkin-colored Strike King Baby Rage Craw.”
 
Moving into the final day of competition, Hanselman decided to stick to his original pattern, fishing the grass near the drain mouths throwing the Wing Ding. He caught three keepers before running up the Rio Grande one final time to catch a 6-pound beast on a Texas-rigged green pumpkin-colored Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw.
 
“Many of the fish on Lake Amistad are in the 80 to 100 foot depths right now,” Hanselman continued. “I was lucky enough to find suspended prespawn fish in the grass near the drains. Once they sit in the grass, they don’t move. Luckily the spring up the river helped me cap off my stringers.”
 
Brauer caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division Thursday – a fish weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $224.
 
Ricardo Carrillo of Laredo, Texas, won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117 with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor, with a three-day total of 11 bass weighing 23 pounds, 13 ounces.  
 
Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.