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Posted By The Bass Hog

HOUSTON — In 2013, Jordan Lee was a member of the Auburn University fishing team.  Today, he’s on top of the professional bass fishing world.  The 25-year-old pro from Guntersville, Ala., stayed within striking distance all week at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Then during Sunday’s final round at Minute Maid Park, he caught five bass from Lake Conroe that weighed 27 pounds, 4 ounces, pushing his three-day total to a tournament-best 56-10.  Lee earned $300,000 and the most coveted trophy in the sport, while Steve Kennedy — a resident of Auburn, Ala. — finished second with 55-1.

“To all of the guys fishing the college tournaments right now, this just says you can do it,” Lee said. “It’s hard work — and you’re going to have a lot of days out here that aren’t good.  “On this lake, I wasn’t sure there was any way I could do it. But you’re never out of it here.”

Lee had every reason to fold after Friday’s first round when he caught only three fish that weighed 8-6. But Saturday provided a revelation that would ultimately lead to his first B.A.S.S. victory.

He was fishing a point with a hard bottom that he found during practice, and he believed it would pay off during the tournament. After failing to catch a fish there in windy, cloudy conditions on Friday, he returned to the spot in calmer weather on the following day.

“With zero fish in the box at noon on the second day, I went back to that spot and caught a 7 1/2-pounder on the first cast,” Lee said. “When I was landing that fish, there was a whole school of 5- and 6-pounders that came with it.

“Right then, I knew something was about to happen — and I caught two more that were both big.”

Lee still didn’t manage a five-bass limit on Saturday, but the four fish he brought to the scales weighed 21-0.

That moved Lee into 15th place with 29-6 and guaranteed him a spot in Sunday’s Top 25. But he still didn’t feel good about his chances of catching California angler Brent Ehrler, who had led the first two rounds of the event and entered Championship Sunday with 43-4.

Sunday began with Lee planning to fish his magic point all day — even if the fishing had fizzled. As it turns out, he didn’t have much of a choice.

Engine troubles left him without the ability to run from spot to spot and forced him to milk every possible bite out of the point. He eventually had to hitch a ride back to the weigh-in with a spectator that he knew from Cullman, Ala. — a legal ploy in the Classic, as long as no fishing takes place in the spectator’s boat.

Lee’s main baits were a Strike King 5XD crankbait in the citrus shad color pattern, a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey for a trailer and a Bullworm on a magnum shaky head.

“I stuck with it all day and caught fish on a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey,” Lee said. “I threw the 5XD and the Bullworm and didn’t really get any bites on them. I caught all 27 pounds on that football jig.”

Lee had to sweat through the final few anglers, including Kennedy who weighed in 21-15 and fell just 1-9 short of the title. The final angler with a chance to unseat Lee from the top of the leaderboard was Ehrler, who weighed in just 11-10 and finished third with 54-14.

Ehrler was trying to become just the sixth angler in Classic history to lead the event from wire-to-wire and the first since Cliff Pace in 2013. Instead, he became the second angler in a row to lead the first two days, only to fall short in the end.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Fifty-two of the world’s best bass anglers will head to Houston next week to compete for more than $1 million in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, and fans will be able to follow the action as it happens.

Classic LIVE will be broadcasting in real time from the B.A.S.S. booth at the Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“What an incredible venue we have this year being set up in the heart of Houston, Texas, and watching the action unfold live on a lake that some anglers are saying might produce multiple 10-pound-plus bass,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.

Cameras will be streaming live coverage of the Classic leaders on Lake Conroe back to the expo production facility, where hosts will break down the action for fans tuning in through Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN. Hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, and Davy Hite along with Dave Mercer and on-the-water reporter Robbie Floyd, will provide analysis and live updates.

This year, special guest Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings will also be onsite for the Classic LIVE show to provide some local insight. Robison played for the University of Texas and calls Lake Conroe his home lake.

Also, special guest RJ Mitte, who plays Walter White Jr. on the series “Breaking Bad,” will be joining the set at the expo.  

The 2016 version of “Classic LIVE” reached nearly 12 million minutes viewed during the three-day event.

Each day of competition will have six hours of coverage, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Watch the tournament leaders catch bass in real time on the exclusive Classic LIVE program on Bassmaster.com and simulcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

Facebook Live broadcasts will be added to the coverage this year, on the B.A.S.S. Facebook page, including coverage of takeoff on Day 1, the Toyota Mid-Day Report all three days around noon, and the press conference with the Top 6 anglers after each competition day.

Also on Bassmaster.com, fans can keep up with every fish caught through BASSTrakk, a real-time leaderboard that shows each angler’s catch according to estimates of marshals assigned to each competitor’s boat. In addition, on-the-water reporters provide a running commentary on the action in the Live Blog.

“Through those features, along with videos and photo galleries, we’ll have the lake covered from top to bottom,” said Jim Sexton, B.A.S.S. VP/Digital. “And we’ll cover every inch of the Minute Maid Park weigh-ins and the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo, as well.”

The 47th world championship of bass fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will host 52 of the world’s best bass anglers competing for more than $1 million, March 24-26 in Houston, Texas. Competition and takeoff will begin each day at Lake Conroe Park (14968 TX-105, Montgomery, Texas) at 7:20 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins will be held daily March 24-26 at 3:15 p.m. in one of Major League Baseball’s Top 20 largest stadiums, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park (501 Crawford Street, Houston, Texas).  

In conjunction, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be open daily only a block from Minute Maid Park at George R. Brown Convention Center, (1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston, Texas) the largest in Classic history. Expo hours are Friday, March 24, noon – 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

Hometown Favorite Brings 2-pound, 2-ounce Lead into Final Day

LEESBURG, Fla. (March 11, 2017) – Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, retained control of the leaderboard Saturday at the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats for the third straight day with five largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds, 4 ounces. If he retains his lead Sunday, Cox will earn his fourth career FLW Tour win and best 163 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.

“Today was not very good for me,” said Cox, who retained his lead despite weighing in the second-smallest limit amongst the top-10 Saturday. “I ran all over the place trying new places. I locked to (Lake) Apopka today for the first time this week. I was mainly sight-fishing, but I think I’m going to have to scrap that tomorrow and just go fishing.”

Cox said that with no real pattern to go on, he has been forced to change his baits each day. He said a Yamamoto Senko has his been his most productive bait this week, but he’s also caught fish on a Dirty Jigs swimjig, a fluke and pitching a jig. He welcomed the changing weather conditions that are currently being forecast for Sunday.

“Nothing went wrong for me today, it was just tough,” said Cox. “Hopefully the little bit of wind and rain that is being forecast tomorrow will make things exciting. So much can change here, even overnight. I’m pretty much just going to try to feel it out as the day goes.

“All that I know is I’m so happy to be where I’m at. I’ve dreamt of this moment – to be leading an FLW Tour event on my home lake. I cannot wait to get back out there tomorrow.”

Cox’s three day total of 15 bass weighing 54 pounds, 14 ounces, gives him a 2-pound, 2-ounce advantage over North Carolina pro Shane LeHew, who advanced to the final day cut of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 52-12.

“I’ve caught the majority of my fish this week sight-fishing,” said LeHew, who earned his first career top-10 cut in FLW Tour competition. “I’ve been throwing a white Bizz Baits Killer Kraw and a Bizz Baits Sassy Stick.

“I’ve ran out of bed fish. I had one 2½-pounder left, and I caught him today. Now I’m going to have to go chunk and wind. I probably caught around 40 fish today, and I lost a 4-pounder, so I’m around some fish. Hopefully tomorrow I can make something happen,” added LeHew.

For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Overall there were 96 bass weighing 236 pounds, 9 ounces caught by pros Saturday. Seventeen of the final 20 pros weighed in five-bass limits.

Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Florida, won the co-angler division and $25,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Tyler Woolcott of Port Orange, Florida, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 9 ounces, worth $7,550.

The final 10 anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday from the Venetian Gardens, located at 201 E. Dixie Ave., in Leesburg. Sunday’s championship weigh-in will be held at the Venetian Gardens beginning at 4 p.m.

The total purse for the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro division. The tournament is hosted by Lake County, Florida.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

MANY, La. — Hunter Courvelle and Alex Erickson had spent so much time in the hot seat their legs may have fallen asleep.

Then with only two duos remaining, the 2015 Bassmaster High School national champions Alex Heintze and Justin Watts came to the scales at Cypress Bend Park. Word was they had a great bag, and they did. But it wasn’t enough to bump the leaders from the pole position.

Courvelle and Erickson caught a limit of five bass weighing 23 pounds, 3 ounces to win the single-day tournament held on Toledo Bend Reservoir. Heintze and Watts of the Livingston Parish (La.) Bassmasters, came in second with a bag of 22-3, and Carter Pourciau and Zach Naquin of Assumption (La.) High were third with 20-14.

Courvelle and Erickson’s limit was an ounce shy of the one-day record for a Bassmaster High School event. In fact, it was Watts and Heintze who set that mark back in 2015 during their national championship win on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.

Both of the Sam Houston High anglers breathed a heavy sigh of relief when they realized they had survived Heintze and Watts. Only a moment later, they were hoisting championship trophies and mugging for pictures snapped by well-wishers who withstood a steady rain to view the weigh-in.

It was, however, a flat the duo located in practice that they fished Saturday, and it was extremely productive. They were fishing inabout 6 to 8 feet of water with Carolina rigged flukes in the watermelon red color pattern. They had five keepers in the boat by 9 a.m., and Erickson landed the lunker of the creel about 12:30 p.m. That big fish weighed approximately 7 1/2 pounds, but it wasn’t the biggest bass he’s ever landed.

“We fish up here every weekend this time of year,” Erickson said. “It’s about an hour and half drive from home (in Lake Charles). So we see some big bass.”

Toledo Bend is known for lunker bass, and Courvelle said the set-up they used in the Central Open was productive for a couple of reasons.

“We were fishing some deeper water and in the wind, it was easier to use that Carolina rigged fluke,” he said. “It was about 5 inches long, and it was easier to get it down in the water.”

Courvelle and Erickson couldn’t celebrate their catches too loudly. That’s because Saturday’s top spot was only a couple hundred yards from the Cypress Bend Marina and there was ample traffic through that area during the day.

Erickson’s big bass came out of Housen Bay on the Texas side of the reservoir, said boat captain Keith Courvelle.

“There was a lot of adrenaline, but we didn’t want to make much noise,” Erickson said. “Someone might see our spot.”

They didn’t, but everyone did see the pair of high school juniors clinch a spot in the upcoming Costa Bassmaster High School Classic, which will be held in Houston, Texas, at the end of March in conjunction with the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The Top 5 teams at the Central Open earned spots in the High School Classic, and the Top 19 teams advanced to the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods to be held this summer. Courvelle and Erickson also earned $1,500 for their high school bass team with the win.

Heintze and Watts fished with Carolina rigs and football head jigs in 12 feet of water to boat their haul Saturday. Other teams advancing to the Bassmaster High School Classic include Nolan Wright and Coltin Pool of Blanchard (Okla.) High (fourth place, 19-5,) and Jackson Hall and Daniel Helsley of Lovejoy (Texas) High (fifth place, 19-3.)

The Bassmaster Big Bass Award went to Hunter Martin and Justin Jacob of Lutcher (La.) High. Martin landed a largemouth that weighed 8-11.

Courtesy of B.A.S.S. Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mix the technology of Bassmaster LIVE with the zaniness of Mark Zona and you get the latest Bassmaster.com offering — “Zona Live.”

“Think fun and interactive,” Zona said. “A 4-hour fishing funhouse.”

The latest live offering on Bassmaster.com will be Zona plying a body of water with a special guest. The first of four planned live shows this year will air from 8 a.m. to noon CT on Tuesday, March 14. Greg Hackney, the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, will be Zona’s first guest on a lake in southern Louisiana.

“I’m excited about Zona Live as much as any project I’ve ever worked on,” said Zona, who’s served as a Bassmaster TV analyst for 12 years, as well as hosting Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show. “I’m the type of viewer who wants to see it all unscripted — the good, bad and the ugly. I'm sure we’ll have a lot of those highs and lows because that’s what fishing is.

“Although we will have scouted the lake, what you see — whether we catch ’em or not — will be happening in real-time.”

Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of The Bassmasters, said plans for Zona Live have been in the works since around the time B.A.S.S. began its live programming at the 2015 Classic.

The innovative program, pioneered in the realm of competitive fishing by JM Outdoors and B.A.S.S., employ the same high definition cameras that capture on-the-water action for The Bassmasters show on ESPN2, to stream video online through Bassmaster.com.

“We’ve kind of perfected the live show, so why not take one of our biggest stars in the sport, pair him with one of the biggest Elite anglers in the sport and watch what they do live?” McKinnis said. “With a TV show, you get to watch 22 minutes — with Zona Live, you’re getting four hours of content and have feedback with both people on camera.”

Zona hopes to turn the final 10 minutes of each hour into a fast-moving, question-and-answer period. He wants viewers to ask anything, from what size hooks the anglers are using to “why puppy dogs smell so good.”

Prizes will be awarded for the best questions submitted, and Zona will act as judge.

“I already have the prizes, and they’re awesome,” he said. Among them, he suggested, might be “Viewer of the Day” or “Viewer of the Week.”

“I want our viewers to feel comfortable asking anything to me or our guest ... no matter how off-the-wall it is.”

Zona fans and other viewers can join the conversation and pose questions at #ZonaLive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This hashtag will be monitored to bring the best posts onto the show.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

PALATKA, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2017) – The Osceola High School duo of Bailey Chisholm and Cole DePuy, both of St. Cloud, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces, to win the 2017 TBF High School Fishing Florida State Championship tournament on the St. Johns River in Putnam County, Florida. The win advanced the team to the 2017 High School Fishing National championship, held June 27-July 1 at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama.

A field of 57 teams competed in the no-entry fee tournament, which launched from the City Dock Launch Ramp in Palatka. In FLW/TBF High School Fishing competition, the top 10-percent of teams competing advance to the High School Fishing National Championship.

The top five teams on the St. Johns River that advanced to the 2017 High School Fishing National Championship were:

  1st:        Osceola High School – Bailey Chisholm and Cole DePuy, both of St. Cloud, Fla., (five bass, 17-5)

  2nd:      Okeechobee High School – Kaitlyn Williams and David Daniel, both of Okeechobee, Fla., (five bass, 15-13)

  3rd:       Fort Meade High School– Tyler Bazemore, Mulberry, Fla., and Shane Schmucker, Lakeland, Fla., (five bass, 15-9)

  4th:       First Coast High School – James Brooks, Inverness, Fla., and Matthew Sorrells, Middleburg, Fla., (five bass, 15-3)

  5th:       Seminole County Junior Anglers – Fisher Omans and Steven Steinard, both of Oviedo, Fla., (five bass, 14-15)

Rounding out the top 10 teams were:

  6th:       Bartow High School – Jeremy Morgan and Joshua Johnson, both of Bartow, Fla., (five bass, 14-4)

  7th:       Keystone Heights High School – Coy Givens and Madison Givens, both of Keystone Heights, Fla., (four bass, 13-10)

  8th:       Seminole County Junior Anglers – Joey Bloom, Winter Springs, Fla., and Dylan Westhelle, Sanford, Fla., (five bass, 13-4)

  9th:       Seminole County Junior Anglers – Logan Wright, Oviedo, Fla., and Colin Blanton, Winter Springs, Fla., (five bass, 12-15)

  10th:     Seminole County Junior Anglers – Noah Napolitano and A.J. Alameda, both of Longwood, Fla., (five bass, 12-8)

Complete results and photos from the event can be found at HighSchoolFishing.org.

The 2017 TBF High School Fishing Florida State Championship was a two-person (team) event for students in grades 7-12, open to any Student Angler Federation (SAF) affiliated high school club in the state of Florida. The top 10 percent of each Challenge, Open, and state championship field will advance to the High School Fishing National Championship. The High School Fishing national champions will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship to the school of their choice.

In addition to the High School Fishing National Championship, all High School Fishing anglers nationwide automatically qualify for the world’s largest high school bass tournament, the 2017 High School Fishing World Finals, held in conjunction with the National Championship. At the 2016 World Finals more than $60,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded.

Full schedules and the latest announcements are available at HighSchoolFishing.org and FLWFishing.com.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

In the 20-year history of the FLW Tour, there has never been a back-to-back winner in a single season. There have been pros who have won multiple events in a season. And there have been pros who have won on the same lake in back-to-back seasons. But never has an FLW Tour pro won two consecutive events in a season.

That all changed Sunday when Mark Rose, fresh off his Tour win at Guntersville, raised the winner’s trophy at the FLW Tour presented by Quaker State on Lake Travis. The historic win made Rose the first back-to-back winner in FLW Tour history.

However, Rose had to earn that record the hard way. For the second time in three weeks, Rose fought off a hard charge from Bryan Thrift in what has become an ongoing heavyweight bout between two of the Tour’s most decorated stars.

On the final day at Guntersville, Thrift entered the day in second place, and methodically tracked Rose all day, closing in on him by the hour. And just when it looked like Thrift had Rose down for the count, Rose thwarted Thrift’s victory charge with a last-minute 6-pounder to win by just 15 ounces.

Sunday, the roles were reversed. Rose entered the day in second place by just a pound and was the one who had to close in on Thrift. And right when it looked like Rose had Thrift in his sights, Thrift tried to give Rose a taste of his own medicine by catching a 5-pounder in the last hour in an attempt to hold off Rose.

“I’m blown away right now,” Rose said after accepting the trophy. “I’m speechless. I consider Bryan to be the best angler on the planet. He is what pushes me every day to be a better angler. This kind of competition at the top of the game is what this sport is all about. I don’t even know what to say right now except that God is good.”

With his back-to-back wins, Rose has also broken his reputation of being a Tennessee Valley-only winner. All of his previous Tour wins have been along the Tennessee River. This one, however, marks his first win away from his favorite river basin, proving he is a far more diverse angler than just being a summertime “ledgemaster.”

But in order to pull off this win, Rose did have to resort to his comfort zone – offshore structure in depths ranging from 18 to 50 feet.

Ironically, Rose started the event far up the Colorado River, cranking shallow river banks to the tune of 11 pounds, 9 ounces. He had practiced offshore but couldn’t get anything going, so he resorted to the river.

On day two, Rose returned to his offshore wheelhouse.

“I started doing what I should have been doing the first day – fishing out – way out,” Rose says. “I started fishing those big flat points on the lower end. At first I was trying to fish up on top of them, dragging a jig across the tops in about 18 feet of water. I caught a few that way, but every time I eased up there to cast up on the points, I could see big arches on my graph on those 25-to-45-foot breaks. So I backed out some more and started dragging that Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig down those deeper breaks – what I called stair-step ledges – that fall off those points. I caught some fish as deep as 50 feet here this week. I even dropped down from 17 to 15-pound Seagaur Tatsu to decrease the line resistance at those extreme depths.”

On the morning of day three, Rose tied on a big 6-inch swimbait fastened to a 1-ounce Strike King Squadron Head to see if he could entice those suspended bass by winding the big swimmer over the top of them. His first cast with the swimbait produced a 6-pounder.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors,Rob Newell.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Patrick Walters and Tyler All of the University of South Carolina claimed the title of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Winyah Bay with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 14 ounces of bass.

The Summerville, S.C., anglers stayed consistent on Thursday and Friday of this three-day event and saved their explosion for Championship Saturday as they weighed 20 pounds, 11 ounces — the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament.

Unlike most teams this week, Walters and All targeted an offshore school of bass and capitalized with a solid limit each of the first two days. Most of the bass they weighed in were caught during the first hour of their fishing time. The only thing they were missing each day, was a bigger bass that would provide a comfortable margin over the rest of the field. Today, when it counted most, they checked that accomplishment off the list.

“We targeted bends in the river where the tide and current would concentrate groups of fish,” Walters said. “We focused our efforts on the main river.”

As usual, the pair limited out early and even culled a few times. But the bite stalled after the first hour and half. They changed spots, but Walters felt an overwhelming urge to go back to their bread-and-butter fishing hole that had placed them in the lead.

“We fished a few other areas within this river, and we just didn’t feel comfortable there today,” Walters said. “We went back to our best area and stuck it out. The bigger fish bit for us today.”

The Gamecock teammates utilized both soft and hard jerkbaits to mimic shad and entice bites in a river ditch on the Santee River. They caught most of their bass on soft jerkbaits, but the biggest fish of the day hit a hard jerkbait.

Their 7-pound, 6-ounce largemouth today landed them the Bassmaster Big Bass Award, and they also managed the Nitro Boats Big Bag of the Tournament with the 20-11 stringer. For taking the lead after Day 2, the duo also took the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award worth $500 in merchandise.

Coastal Carolina’s Jonathan Kelley and Max McQuaide stayed in second place after weighing 12-15 on Championship Saturday. They managed 38-14 for the three-day event, but fell to Walters and All by 9 pounds.

Kelley and McQuaide ran their boat more than 70 miles one way to get to an area in the Pee Dee River where they found plenty of bass all day, but no big ones. Their struggles on Thursday with cloudy conditions hurt their week, but they managed to stay consistent and land limits in the 12- to 14-pound range all week.

The duo of Noah Pescitelli and Sean Hall of the Savannah College of Art and Design jumped from sixth into third on the final day, as they brought the second biggest bag of the day to the scales. They stayed consistent the first two rounds, weighing limits in the 10-pound range. Their 13-14 limit today produced a final tally of 35-4.

Collin Smith and Ben Stone of Lander University were fourth with 34-5, and Rick Couch Jr. and John Kaufman of Central Florida finished fifth with 31-7.

The Top 13 teams earned a berth in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, to be held this summer.

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.