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Posted By The Bass Hog

Is there a better way to start a new year than casting for bass on one of the country’s best big fish factories? The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series thinks not, as the Southern Regional will be held Jan. 3-5 on Florida’s St. Johns River, which ranked 48th last year on Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list.
 
There is little doubt that one New Year’s resolution for each of the 100 preregistered, two-angler teams competing in the event will be to clinch a position for the national championship to be held in the summer. There are a minimum of 10 qualifying spots for the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which leads to a berth in the 2016 world championship of bass fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
 
One angler who is especially eager to get started is Hunter McKamey, a Florida native and member of the University of Central Florida’s Reel Knights. McKamey resides on the St. Johns, although this event will be held an hour and a half upstream from his typical stomping grounds.
 
“The St. Johns River is really diverse,” McKamey said. “There are several lakes in that area that could play a factor. You’ve got Crescent, Lake George, Little Lake George and even as far south as Dexter and Woodruff. Then you’ve got the river, too, and certain spots in the river always hold fish no matter what time of the year. It’s going to be a crazy tournament, to be honest. A lot of factors are going to go into it.”
 
One of those factors is a tidal influence on Crescent Lake of nearly a foot that will be in full swing because the tournament falls on a full moon. If by chance the weather sets up right prior to the event, the possibility of a full-blown spawn is there.
 
“Fish could be out on the edges of the grass, in the grass or up really shallow,” McKamey said. “We actually have a high-water situation right now. We’ve had a lot of rain the last couple months, which is unusual for this time of year, and that could push the fish up shallow.” 
 
“There have been some good bags of bass caught out of Crescent the last couple of years in bigger tournaments. There are bass all up and down those lakes. Getting them to bite could be the hard part if a January cold front blows through.”
 
Someone will get those bites. To see who, tune in for live-streamed weigh-ins daily on Bassmaster.com, where visitors can also find on-the-water photo galleries and blog posts throughout the event. Launches and weigh-ins will be held at Bull Creek Fish Camp (3861 CR 2006, Bunnell, FL 32110) at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
  

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog
WHAT: The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League will kick off its tournament season the weekend of Saturday, Jan. 3. The Gator Division will open the season with a tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Florida. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event.
 
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015
 
Gator Division
Lake Okeechobee
Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort
920 E. Del Monte Ave.
Clewiston, Fla.
Hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort
 
NOTES: The bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee is expected to be good. According to recent reports, the lack of any recent storms or hurricanes currently has the native vegetation flourishing and with good water quality along the shoreline the bass population could be at an all-time high. Flipping and pitching will most likely be the technique favored by anglers this time of year, but vibrating jigs and moving baits along the grass lines are expected to produce as well. The winner of this tournament is expected to bring a five-bass limit nearing 25 pounds to the scale.  
                                                                                                                                                                
ABOUT FLW
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW visit FLWFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series field is now set with a mixture of well-known veteran pros and young up-and-comers ready to zig-zag the country, vying for thousands of dollars and the coveted Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

Topping the 113-angler field is Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., who won the 2014 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite Series event on New York’s Cayuga Lake en route to capturing the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. The remainder of last year’s Top 5 points earners is also returning with four-time B.A.S.S. tournament winner Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas; three-time winner Jacob Powroznik of Port Haywood, Va.; six-time winner Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala.; and five-time winner Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark.

There will be 13 newcomers to the Elite Series field, including Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., who qualified by finishing seventh in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens standings. Though he has yet to win a B.A.S.S. event, Ehrler has enjoyed success on the FLW Tour with eight victories, 33 career Top 10 finishes and more than $2.2 million in earnings during a decade-long career.

The field will feature a dozen former Classic winners, including Davis, Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss.; Davy Hite of Ninety Six, S.C.; Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J.; Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas; Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala.; Alton Jones of Lorena, Texas; Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.; Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss.; and 2014 winner Randy Howell of Springville, Ala.

The Elite Series will begin March 19-22 with a trip to the Sabine River in Orange, Texas. The trail will then set a demanding pace for the anglers with trips to Alabama’s Lake Guntersville on April 9-12, California’s Sacramento River on April 30-May 3, Arizona’s Lake Havasu on May 7-10, Tennessee’s Kentucky Lake for BASSfest on June 3-7, New York’s St. Lawrence River on July 30-Aug. 2, Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay on Aug. 13-16, Michigan’s Lake St. Clair on Aug. 27-30 and Wisconsin’s Sturgeon Bay for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Sept. 17-20.

Standard Elite Series events will feature a total purse of $638,000, with $100,000 going to the winner and at least $10,000 going to anyone who finishes 50th or better. BASSfest will offer a total purse of $850,000 with a $100,000 winner’s payout, $60,000 for second place and at least $10,000 for any angler who places 60th or better.

The Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Championship will have a whopping total purse of $1 million, with the winner pocketing $100,000, the second-place angler earning $55,000 and third place paying $45,000. The remainder of the Top 50 pros in the AOY points standings will share in the rest of the championship payout.

Last year’s Elite Series, which featured the first-ever BASSfest in Dayton, Tenn., and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship in Escanaba, Mich., set a new attendance record by drawing 128,600 fishing fans.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

 


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — In celebration of the Yuletide season, Brandon Gray received a couple of early Christmas presents for being a good angler at DeGray Lake.


By winning the bracket portion of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship, Gray earned the final 2015 Bassmaster Classic berth and accepted another gift of a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig for him to run in the Classic Feb. 20-22 at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. The Bullock, N.C., angler caught five-fish limits both days during the individual fish-off and finished with 20 pounds, 3 ounces.

“It’s been a long hard road for me,” said the 42-year-old Gray. The occupational hearing conservationist (he conducts OSHA standard hearing tests for companies) disclosed he has  come close to making the Classic three times through the Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship.

“The last three years I have fished it, I finished second at Dardanelle and lost by 2 pounds, then lost by 2 pounds at Guntersville the year before and lost by about 3 pounds at Old Hickory last year,” Gray said.

Gray had doubts about even coming to this team championship. “It was a long drive, and we had a successful year back home (fishing with Todd Massey in the Anglers Choice team trail),” Gray said.

However, he thought there might be something  special about the site of the championship so they made the long trip. “We both have the same last names — DeGray Lake and Brandon Gray,” he said.

Gray thought spooning would be the best way to catch DeGray bass, but he changed his mind when the tactic produced only a couple of keepers in practice. “It’s all about making the right decisions, and I felt like I made the right decisions here,” said Gray, who decided to throw Norman DD22 crankbaits to catch his fish the last two days.
 
Courtesy of BASS Communications.

 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — Fishers of Men teammates Flannagan Fife and Royce Davis made B.A.S.S. history Thursday by becoming the first team winners of the inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship today at DeGray Lake by bringing in a two-day total weight of 26 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Arkansas anglers topped a field of 155 two-man teams from a host of B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country to earn the championship title along with the grand prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig and the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $500. The national champions also received a traveling trophy to take back to their Fishers of Men team trail.

Thursday’s action concluded the team competition of this unique four-day tournament. Friday the six anglers from the Top 3 teams will fish individually for the final two days of competition. The individual Bassmaster Team Trail champion qualifies for the final 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic berth and receives a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.

Fife and Davis spent both days cranking the shallows to earn the nine bass they caught Thrursday. Although the weather changed from sunshine yesterday to clouds today, Fife thought their pattern stayed about the same.

“We had a lot of lulls when we weren’t getting bites, and we would try to make adjustments. But, we still wouldn’t get bit, so we went right back to cranking,” he said.

The team tried about 30 spots during the two competition days, but only four of their spots kept producing fish. Even though they will be fishing the next two days, Fife and Davis didn’t save any spots for the next round.

“We went all out (to win),” Fife said. “Most of our spots are isolated, and we didn’t have a lot of them. To get five bites we had to fish everything and lean on it hard. I don’t know if there is anything left there or not.”

Fishers of Men anglers Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll moved into second place with 23-13 and will also fish in the bracket round starting Friday. The weather change caused their fish to go deeper, so they had to make some adjustments to catch a limit weighing 12-8 today.

Gladish said they used “three or four different baits,” while keying on largemouth bass the first two days and are using tactics totally different than what they fish back home in Indiana. Since they will be fishing against each other Friday, they will have to share their most productive spot. “There are a lot of fish there, so we should be in good shape,” Gladish said.

Day 1 leaders Brandon Gray and Todd Massey stumbled today and caught only four keepers weighing 8-14. However, they made the bracket cut by finishing in third place with 23 pounds overall.

“The cloud cover really hurt our fish,” Massey said. “We just couldn’t get anything really good going. We had four keeper bites today and fished clean. We did catch a short fish which was probably a quarter of an inch short in the last 15 minutes, but it might have moved us up only one place. We just couldn’t get the bites.”

The North Carolina anglers from the Anglers Choice circuit keyed on one area both days. “We bounced around and tried a few other areas but went back to that one area we have really been focusing on and lived or died there,” Massey said.

Hosting the tournament is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Launches and weigh-ins for Friday and Saturday will be held at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.


Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — North Carolina anglers Brandon Gray and Todd Massey had never seen DeGray Lake before this week, but this team found a few clues in practice to have a solid start on the first day of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.
 
Massey said their practice went “not real well,” and he was surprised they caught five fish weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces to move into first place today. “We found some spots (in practice) that had some fish, but we never really beat them to see what was there,” Massey said. “Today, we just started picking those spots and tried to dissect them from there. We bounced around a couple of times but kind of stayed in the same general area.”
 
The North Carolina anglers caught fish in both deep and shallow water. “I think the fish are scattered,” Massey said. “There are some fish shallow, and there are some fish deep. So you can fish whatever style you prefer to fish.”
 
Massey and Gray qualified for the first Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship through the Anglers Choice circuit and have fished as a team for four years. “We traveled together and fished the (Bassmaster) Weekend Series for some years,” Massey said.
 
Fishers of Men teammates Flannagan Fife and Royce Davis fish DeGray Lake about once a year and usually do well in tournaments on the lake, according to Fife.

The Arkansas anglers took over second place with four bass weighing 13-1. Because they had what Fife described as an “inconsistent practice,” they decided to use their confidence bait today. “Everything we caught was on crankbaits shallow — about 4 feet of water or less,” Fife said. “We were doing a lot of hopping around and fishing isolated stuff.”
 
Another Fishers of Men team from Arkansas moved into third place. Wayne Dixon and Jared Allen had only five bites all day, but they boated five keepers weighing 12-9 to take over third. “We didn’t fish for Kentuckies. We stayed out and fished for largemouth all day long. We just junk fished all day,” Dixon said, referring to a term used to describe fishing a variety of techniques and locations.
 
This unique four-day tournament is two events rolled into one. Today was the first round of a two-day competition pitting two-man teams from various B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country against each other to determine a national champion.
 
The winning team will be awarded the first-place prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig and the Livingston Leader Award of $500. A traveling trophy is also presented to the team champions to take back to the team trail they represent.
 
The six anglers from the Top 3 finishers of the team competition advance to the final two days of the tournament and will fish individually. The individual winner of the tournament will qualify for the final 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic berth and receive a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.
 
The DeGray Lake Resort State Park is hosting the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship. Launches and weigh-ins for the next three competition days will be held at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Title Sponsor: Toyota Bonus Bucks

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Official Sponsors: Mercury, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: Booyah, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — The inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship Dec. 10-13 at DeGray Lake is two bass tournaments in one, offering two highly prized titles.
 
In the first segment of the unique, four-day tournament, two-angler teams from various B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country will vie to become the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Champions, a title that includes the first-place prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig valued at $26,995 as well as the Livingston Leader Award of $500. The team champions will also receive a travelling trophy to take back to the team trail they represented.
 
Members of the Top 3 finishers in the team competition advance to the final two rounds of the tournament and will fish individually for the final qualifying spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic to be held Feb. 20-22 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C.
 
Competitors in the Classic rounds will fish from six identically rigged Skeeter FX20 bass boats powered by Yamaha. In addition to the Classic berth, the winner will receive a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha250 outboard rig valued at $85,360, which he or she will run in the Classic.
 
“The team championship is another way to serve grass-roots anglers we haven’t been reaching,” said Jon Stewart, Bassmaster Team Trail manager. “Team competition is a fast-growing part of bass fishing, and it involves some truly outstanding anglers. Until now, these anglers and their trails have not received the recognition and exposure they deserve.”
 
Thirty-eight independent tournament trails were eligible to send teams to the championship. Stewart said each trail was required to hold a minimum of four tournaments throughout the year to become sanctioned by B.A.S.S. and to be eligible for the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.
 
The team championship contenders can expect good fishing at DeGray, according to a couple of local experts. “The lake is down and most of the fish will be on the ledges,” said Wayne Crumpton, a local guide and former Bassmaster tournament winner. He predicts most of the fish will be holding in the 10- to 30-foot depth range.
 
Crumpton expects some of the best patterns during the tournament will be running deep-diving crankbaits or magnum spinnerbaits in the deep brushpiles on ledges or dragging football jigs along the rocky points. The local guide notes a shaky head worm fished in the rocks will be another productive pattern. “If the wind comes up maybe Rat-L-Traps will work in the backs of pockets,” he added.
 
Low and clear water are the conditions Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Davis favors when he fishes DeGray. “It is also a lake for jigging a spoon in the creek channels,” Davis said. “I would prefer the lake low for fishing offshore. I would probably fish with a 3/4-ounce spoon if the water is clear.”
 
The Mount Ida, Ark., pro predicts the best spoon fishing action will be in depths of 30 to 35 feet, but fishing in the shallows could be good if the area experiences significant rains before the tournament. “The lake can come up really fast if we get some rain,” Davis said.
 
DeGray yields mainly catches of largemouth and spotted bass with a few smallmouths in the mix. Crumpton suggests the teams need to catch 12 to 15 pounds a day to make the Top 3. Davis predicts the winning weight for the individual champion will be around 30 pounds for the two days of Classic qualifying competition.
 

Courtesy of BASS Communications.