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Posted By The Bass Hog

ESCANABA, Mich. — Louisiana’s Greg Hackney, 41, is the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY). Over nine events, Hackney outpracticed, outstrategized, outfished and ultimately outlasted the other 107 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers who started the season.
 
Hackney finished 24th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Bays de Noc Monday after weather forced the postponement of the second (and final) round for three days. It was enough to lock up his first career AOY title.
 
Along with the sport’s most prestigious title and trophy, Hackney earns $100,000 as bass fishing’s best angler in 2014. The other 49 competitors earned shares of the rest of the $900,000 purse, based on their rankings in Angler of the Year points.
 
His season was solid right out of the gate. He finished a respectable 38th in the opener on Lake Seminole and followed it up with Top 16 finishes at the St. Johns River (16th), Table Rock Lake (third), Lake Dardanelle (third) and Cayuga Lake (first). His worst finish of the season was 48th at the Delaware River. He was the only angler in the series to earn a prize check (Top 50 finish) at every tournament.
 
Hackney entered the championship with a 15-point lead over defending AOY Aaron Martens and a 17-point margin over Todd Faircloth. Hackney knew that if he finished in the Top 15 at Bays de Noc, no one could catch him. Though he fell short of that mark, he was strong enough to hold off his challengers.
 
“I started thinking about Angler of the Year after the Lake Dardanelle tournament,” Hackney said. “I felt like I had a chance to do it. It didn’t change my approach to the tournaments, but it motivated me and made me fish harder.”
 
This was not Hackney’s first brush with the AOY title. In 2004, he finished second to Gerald Swindle as a rookie, earning Bassmaster Rookie of the Year honors in the process. He was also fifth in 2005 and eighth in 2010. He is the first Louisiana resident to win AOY, and the fourth angler to claim AOY honors with both B.A.S.S. and FLW (along with Denny Brauer, Kevin VanDam and Jay Yelas). A Bassmaster Classic victory would make Hackney the first angler in history to complete the Grand Slam of professional bass fishing — winning both AOY titles, the FLW Forrest Wood Cup (which he won in 2009) and the Classic.
 
The rest of the 2014 AOY Top 5 are Todd Faircloth, Jacob Powroznik, Aaron Martens and Mark Davis, respectively.
 
For the event, Jacob Powroznik took first place with two five-bass limits weighing 47-6. In addition to prize money earned for his rank in the Angler of the Year race, Powroznik won $500 and the Livingston Lures Leader Award which is given to the angler leading on the second day of the event.
 
Powroznik completed one of the greatest rookie seasons in B.A.S.S. history. Not only did he win the Rookie of the Year award, but he also became the first newcomer to the Elite Series to win two Elite events and the first angler of any classification to win two Elite tournaments in the same season since Skeet Reese in 2010.
 
Ironically, Reese came in second at this event with 46-2, and Mark Davis was third with 44-13. Brandon Lester and Mark Davis shared the Carhartt Big Bass Award with identical 6-4 smallmouths. Lester caught his on the first day; Davis on the second. For their lunkers, Lester and Davis share $1,000. A $500 bonus will be awarded to one or both if they were wearing Carhartt clothing.
 
As expected, Bays de Noc revealed itself to be one of the finest smallmouth bass fisheries in the world. Almost all of the competitors recorded five-bass limit catches in both rounds, and the average bass weighed 3 1/2 pounds.

Courtesy of BASS Communications. 
 


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Former Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Tyler cashed in his home water advantage to win the Bass Pro Shops Central Open presented by Allstate finale on the Arkansas River.
 
The Vian, Okla., angler hadn’t fished the river since last year’s Open at Muskogee, so he relied on five previous years of experience to catch the winning weight of 42 pounds, 14 ounces and took home a $40,000 Skeeter ZX200/Yamaha VF200LA rig and $6,101 in cash. Cattle ranching kept Tyler too busy to fish the river this year, but he estimated in the previous five years he spent about 100 days a year fishing the river.
 
“It was simple river fishing,” Tyler said of his winning pattern. “I just fished pretty much laydowns, little weed points and shallow-water cover — just like you would expect in a river system. The difference was I ran a bunch of spots that I have a lot of confidence in. From years of experience I knew a piece of wood I pulled up on would be a key piece.”
 
The local angler tried to stay on high percentage spots each day. “There really wasn’t anything complicated to my pattern because everybody was throwing at some kind of wood or shallow-water cover.” The first two days he caught all of his fish on a variety of soft plastics, such as plastic craws and worms. Today he caught all of his fish on a square-bill crankbait.
 
Finishing second on the pro side with 41 pounds, 3 ounces was Kenta Kimura of Livingston, Texas. He keyed on isolated logs each day and flipped either a Texas rigged Berkley Chigger Quad or a hand-tied jig with a Berkley Chigger Quad. Kimura also caught some keepers today on a Deps Evok square-bill crankbait. The rest of the Top 5 pro anglers were Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., third, 40-9; Jordan Lee, Vinemont, Ala., fourth, 39-7; and Brian Potter, Claremore, Okla., fifth with 37-12.
 
Afton, Okla., angler Toby Hartsell won the co-angler division and earned the top prize of a Nitro Z-7 bass boat and Mercury 150 Pro XS outboard worth $25,000. He caught nine bass weighing 27-6 while flipping soft plastics and jigs to shallow cover.
 
The Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament award of $500 was presented to Arkansas angler Skip Ibbotson, who caught a 5-13 largemouth.
 
Tyler 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, Hartsell received a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250.
 
The Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award was given to anglers in both divisions who advanced the most places up the leaderboard from Day 1 to Day 2. Pro division angler Matt Lee of Auburn, Ala., collected $250 by jumping 57 places from 118th to 61st. Co-angler Dustin Wrona of Tulsa, Okla., picked up $150 by climbing 76 places from 107th to 31st.
 
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Stephen Browning clinched the Central Opens points title with 584 points. The rest of the anglers who qualified for an invitation to the Elites are Jordan Lee, who finished second with 555, followed by Carl Jocumsen (the first Australian angler to qualify for the Elites), 544; Brian Clark, fourth, 536; Randy Allen, fifth, 530; and Ken Iyobe, sixth, 528.  
 
“Making the Elites is something I have always dreamed about since I was in eighth or ninth grade watching The Bassmasters,” said Lee, a former Carhartt Bassmaster College Series champion. “This is what I have always wanted to do. This is the first year I fished the Opens, and I fished all nine to try and reach the Elites.”
 
Lee also won the $1,500 Toyota Bonus Bucks award as the highest placing eligible Toyota pro angler entrant at the last Central Open.


    Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

Chad Pipkens picked the right day to have the best day of his life fishing Lake Erie on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Holt, Mich., angler, who has fished Lakes St. Clair and Erie since his college days, bagged 23 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3 presented by Allstate here on Lake St. Clair.
           
His three-day total of 67 pounds, 4 ounces edged out fellow Elite Series pro Fletcher Shryock of Ohio, who was second with 63-10, and Chris Johnston of Canada who was third with 63-6.
           
Joe Balog, the Harrison Township, Mich., pro and heavy favorite who led the first two days, lost valuable fishing time due to mechanical problems, caught only three fish, and fell to seventh.
           
Jeff Jenema of Marion, Mich., won the co-angler division by catching 13 pounds, 4 ounces on the last day while paired with Pipkens. Jenema posted a total three-day weight of 36 pounds, 11 ounces. He won a $25,000 Triton 17 Pro bass boat with a Yamaha F115LA outboard.
           
Pipkens won a $40,000 Nitro Z9 bass boat rigged with a Mercury 225 Pro XS outboard and $7,083 cash.
       
That’s why he gambled to make the long runs to Erie from Metropark on Lake St. Clair each day, a brutal ride across St. Clair, down the Detroit River and out into Erie.
          
“I only had two hours of fishing each of the first two days, but the change in wind direction let me fish longer and more effectively today,” he described. “My co-angler and I had periods where were catching big smallmouth on every cast.”

Pipkens targeted rocky, gravely corners on reefs scattered along the Canadian shoreline in 8 to 12 feet of water.
           
Everything came on a Damiki DC300 crankbait in “real shad” color. The lure dove to about 11 feet on a long cast with a 7-3 Powell fiberglass crankbait rod and Abu Garcia Revo STX baitcaster spooled with 12-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon line.
           
Shryock also fished Erie, working the area around Kelly and Pele Islands. “I was running 100 miles each way,” he said. “But that’s where the big fish are.”
           
He caught most of his fish on a green pumpkin tube with a 3/8 jighead and on two drop shot baits: Berkley Power Bait Twitch Tail Minnow and a 4-inch Gulp Crawler. The drop shots were rigged with a 1/0 Trokar hook and 1 1/2 –foot leader.
           
He fished ledges in 10 to 15 feet of water where the bass would set up and let the current carry the bait to them.
          
In the co-angler division, William Langille of Ohio pocketed a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250 for being the top finishing angler after Day 2.           


                                        Courtesy of BASS Communications.    


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The Arkansas River is shaping up nicely for local angler Chris Jones to repeat last year's performance when he won the Central Open here.
 
The river conditions for the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open presented by Allstate finale Sept. 11-13 are similar to last September’s tournament, which was held a week later. “There is a little bit more water flowing this year than there was last year,” Jones said. “There has been cooler weather, so they haven’t been generating quite as much and have been holding water back. There is a little bit of current still in the river, which is uncommon for this time of the year.
 
“The current could be a deciding factor, especially if you know what areas have current and when the current kicks on,” Jones said.
 
The Bokoshe, Okla., angler has observed the water clarity on the river is in better shape this year. “It is a little cleaner with a little bit more grass and vegetation than there has been in previous years,” he said. “It is shaping up to be a good tournament.”
 
The water temperature is usually in the 90-degree range this time of the year, but it has ranged in mid- to upper 80s because of this summer’s cooler weather. “We have been hitting the 100-degree mark lately, so the water temperature will be going up,” Jones said. “Last year I think we had 100-degree weather seven to 10 days in a row right before the tournament.
 
“The weather has been really crazy around here,” Jones said. “It has been really different. The water willows along the bank are usually burnt up by this time of the year and have turned yellow and lost oxygen, but now they are still green — kind of like everybody’s lawns this year.”
 
Central Open anglers can target grass along with wood and rocks for this event. “It is up in the air on all of them,” Jones said. “The weather will predict what the fish are going to be on.” He suggests typical river lures and tactics such as square bill crankbaits, spinnerbaits, flipping jigs, swimming jigs and topwater frogs will work best during the Open.
 
The local angler expects both the main river and backwaters to be productive throughout the Open. “It hasn’t gotten as hot this year, so there are fish in both areas,” Jones said. “It is just a matter of having an area or areas to yourself and having enough fish to go around for those three days.
 
“Managing the fish will be the most important part of this tournament,” Jones said. “It is like a relay race in that you have to scatter your fish out. You just can’t go in and catch a 20-pound bag and not have any fish for the next day. You can’t go into an area and weed out a bunch of fish to have a good sack.”
 
Jones has noticed the fishing has been good on the river this summer, taking 16 to 20 pounds to win one-day tournaments nearly every weekend. With the river in better shape and larger fish being caught lately, Jones thinks it might take more weight to make the Top 12 cut this year. “If you can catch 11 to 11 1/2 pounds a day, both days, and finish with 22 to 24 pounds, you will be fishing the final day,” he said. Jones expects the winning catch will be in the 40- to 45-pound range.
 
                                     Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

DETROIT — The home-field advantage played a big role in the first round of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open presented by AllState on Lake St. Clair Thursday.

Two local anglers jumped to the head of the pack, with formidable pro Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Mich., sacking 22 pounds, 8 ounces, good for a 4-ounce lead over fellow Harrison Township angler Andrew Smith.

Canadian Chris Johnston is third with 21-12, while Bassmaster Elite Series pros Fletcher Shryock of Ohio and Michigander Chad Pipkens are tied for fifth with 21-6.

In addition to valuable prizes going to the winner of this final leg of the Northern Open is a berth in next February’s Bassmaster Classic to be held on Lake Hartwell of out Greenville, S.C., providing the winner has competed in two previous 2014 Northern Opens.

As always when fishing St. Clair and its adjoining waters, Friday’s weather could have an impact on how well the field does. The potential of thunderstorms and heavy winds loom in the forecast for Friday, which could affect those anglers making the long trek to Lake Erie.

“I made a big run today, and the weather will be a huge factor in what I do tomorrow,” said Balog, who won a Bassmaster Open on Lake Erie in 2006 and was second to Michael Iaconelli on Lake St. Clair last year. “I have other options, but at this point, I’m not sure what I will do.”

Historically, Erie produces the heavier weights in St. Clair events, but storms can not only hamper fishing conditions, but they also cause anglers problems trying to return.
That held true for Derek Remitz, of Grant, Ala., who received a 2-pound penalty for being two minutes late. His hefty sack of 22-1 was diminished to 20-1 and pushed him into 10th place.

“It’s 40 miles from here (Metropark in Harrison Township) to the mouth of Erie,” noted Balog. “If it’s rolling, that makes for a short day, and you have to allow for it.”

Bad weather could bode well for second place Smith who said he stayed in Lake St. Clair to catch his fish.

Smith went to his first spot and caught a small keeper and a 5-9 smallmouth — but the spot went dead.

“I decided to go to a place where I previously had caught only 2 1/2-pounders, and the big ones were there,” said Smith, who grew up on St. Clair.

Several anglers said the fish were moving around and the hot spots they found in practice produced very little.

“Fishing had been pretty good, and the bass were gobbling up perch and crawfish,” Smith explained. “But the weather got hot, and they seemed to have scattered.”

Co-angler Jay Ahonen of Ortonville, Mich. caught the biggest bass of the day, a 6-pound, 10-ounce smallmouth. He caught the fish on a drop shot rig in 18 feet of water while fishing with pro Troy Morrow of Georgia.

Tournament anglers will take off daily from Metropark in Harrison Township at 7 a.m. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Metropark at 3 p.m., but on Day 3, only the Top 12 finalists will compete, and the weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Auburn Hills beginning at 4:15 p.m.

                             Courtesy of BASS Communications.