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

Posted By The Bass Hog
MONROE, La. — Matty Wong said he envisioned the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Trophy sitting on his passenger seat during the 25-hour drive from his home in Culver City, Calif., to the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Turns out, it’ll be there.

Wong caught 15 bass for a three-day total of 35 pounds, 9 ounces to win the championship that concluded Friday on the Ouachita River in north Louisiana. In addition to the hardware, Wong collected a $20,000 Nation’s Best first prize presented by Nitro/Mercury and a spot on the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2022. He’ll have use of a fully-rigged Nation’s Best tournament boat for the Elite season, which he emphatically stated he’ll join.

Wong also earned a berth into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk scheduled for March 4-6 on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell. Washington’s Taylor Smith (second place, 33-15) and former Elite Series angler Jared Miller who hails from Oklahoma (third, 33-7) also claimed spots in the Classic.

Wong, a 33-year old Hawaii-born angler, rallied from an 8-ounce deficit heading into Day 3. He fished cypress laydowns on the main river channel throughout the week and was consistent with his catch. He caught a 12-2 limit on opening day and followed with an 11-2 limit on Day 2, trailing only Alabama’s Coby Carden heading into the finals.

Wong caught a 12-5 bag Friday, with no fish weighing more than 3 pounds.

“I caught a 3-pounder to start the day and felt OK,” he said. “Then I caught another 3-pounder and felt good. When I caught my third 3-pounder, I actually started crying.”

Wong doesn’t hide his emotions. He shed tears again on stage shortly before taking the hot seat with only Carden left to weigh. Carden, who’s reached two previous Classics, mustered only a 6-8 limit on the final day and fell to seventh overall.

That left Wong holding the trophy he dreamed was sitting shotgun on last week’s long drive across the continent.

“This whole thing is a dream,” he said. “I’m absolutely speechless.”

Wong leaned on a variety of balsa wood squarebill crankbaits to boat his best bass, with bluegill, shad and chartreuse as his go-to colors. He also flipped a brown jig and used a War Eagle spinnerbait with a chartreuse blade and chartreuse trailer.

“It basically was trash fishing,” he said. “But I was looking for unusual stretches of laydowns. I was looking for places on the riverbank that were on a bend, after a sandbar or a long stretch of mud.”

Smith, 36, caught the big bag on Friday – a 16-8 limit that vaulted him from 12th place to second. It is the second time he’s finished runner-up at a B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, having done so on Lake Hartwell in 2019. He’ll head there again for his second trip to the biggest event in bass fishing.

“Being in the Classic for me is pretty special,” he said. “Whether it’s Ping-Pong or cornhole, I want to win. So, there will still be pressure.”

Smith used an aluminum boat on Friday to reach a backwater area that wasn’t accessible earlier in the week in his fiberglass boat. He threw a white Bandit crankbait on Day 3 and wound up catching the second-biggest bag of the tournament.

Miller, 37, caught a 13-4 limit on Day 3, moving from seventh place up to third and into a spot in the Classic. His primary bait was a Berkley MaxScent Creature Hawg (green pumpkin).

“Half my fish this week came from squeezing behind docks and the other half came from main-river laydowns,” Miller said.

Both Smith and Miller will have their entry fees paid into the 2022 Bassmaster Opens in all divisions. 

Also fishing on Friday were: fourth, Arkansas’ Chris Johnson, 32-6; fifth, Wisconsin’s Jim Barczak, 31-11; sixth, Utah’s Ben Byrd, 30-6; seventh, Carden, 30-4; eighth, Rhode Island’s Mike Wolfenden, 28-0; ninth, South Africa’s Justin Karan, 26-13; 10th, Missouri’s Ray Cates, 26-4; 11th, Pennsylvania’s Aaron Green, 24-15; 12th, Wisconsin’s Dustin Drath, 23-12; 13th, Arizona’s Zack Holwerda, 20-6; and 15th, Minnesota’s Richard Lindgren, 17-4.

A total of 101 anglers from 47 states and three foreign countries competed this week for $96,000 in prize money. The field was narrowed to 14 after Thursday’s cut, including the Top 10 boaters, Cates and Drath from the nonboater division, and Green and Lindgren as leading anglers in the championship from their respective B.A.S.S. Nation regions. Missouri’s Nick Luna finished 14th overall with 17-5 but didn’t make the cut to the final round.

Carden won $1,000 for having the big bass of the tournament (5-7).

Cates won the nonboater division on Thursday. He collected the Louis “Pee Wee” Powers Memorial Trophy as well as a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of Nitro/Mercury. His 4-3 bass was the heaviest among nonboaters and he won another $500 for that catch.

Drath, who finished second among nonboaters, won $7,500, part of a $31,500 purse split among the Top 12 in that division.

As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Jason Pittman of Covington, Miss., earned $5,000 as the program’s highest placing entrant while last year’s B.A.S.S. Nation champion and current Elite Series pro Pat Schlapper of Eleva, Wis., claimed an additional $2,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — It was a day of firsts for Bill Perkins, as the New York pro made the most of his Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens debut to dominate the Northern Division event at Oneida Lake from start to finish with a three-day winning total of 52 pounds, 3 ounces.   

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

With weights of 18-11 and 17 pounds, the first two rounds gave Perkins a slim lead each day. On Championship Saturday, he stepped on the gas, added 16-8 and crossed the finish line more than 2 pounds ahead of second-place A.J. Slegona Jr., of Walker Valley, N.Y.

Because Perkins didn’t fish the first Northern Open of the season on the James River, he’s not eligible for an automatic berth into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. That berth will go instead to Texas pro Ray Hanselman, who was sitting on the verge of Classic qualification in the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year standings. 

But Perkins, a resident of Rochester, N.Y., still earned the Skeeter Boats top prize of $45,000 — and was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.

“I haven’t let loose in three days; I haven’t slept, I haven’t eaten, I’ve been losing my mind, but it was all worth it,” he said. “I don’t know what to say, I’m just superappreciative.

“Thank God — He blessed me this week and He’s blessed me time and time again. I thank B.A.S.S., I thank my family and friends. The last three days have been epic. I won’t ever forget it.”

Spending his tournament in the midlake region, Perkins targeted rocky bottom structure in about 14 to 20 feet.

The first two days, he had to contend with full-field crowding, plus strong winds that presented challenging conditions. While there was no escaping the boat pressure, Perkins managed to moderate the latter impediment with tackle adjustments.

“I was fishing a drop shot with a 2.8-inch Keitech Easy Shiner and a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight, and a 1/6-ounce Z-Man finesse Ned head with a Z-Man TRD in the goby Bryant color,” Perkins said. “I had to go heavier on my weights to keep the baits on the bottom.

“Even with that adjustment, it was hard to make accurate presentations because I was getting blown off my spots by the wind. Even with Spot-Lock, I was getting blown back.”

A field that was reduced to 10 for the final round allowed Perkins the freedom to fish just about anywhere he wanted. The biggest advantage, however, was the nearly flat conditions, which allowed him to closely inspect his area with his Humminbird MEGA 360 and make precise presentations.

“I’ve been running multiple areas and today, I sat down on my best spot in Fisher Bay because there wasn’t as many guys on the water and I had it all to myself,” Perkins said. “There was a bunch of isolated rock in there and I was just slowly picking it apart.”

Surprisingly, Perkins was unable to get bit on his drop shot or Ned Rig Saturday, so he switched to a 1/2-ounce Keitech tungsten football head with a green pumpkin Keitech Spider Grub. Working this bait with a painfully slow retrieve delivered prompt results.

“I had a limit today by 8:04 and I caught my biggest one — about a 4 1/4 — at 7:30,” Perkins said. “That took the pressure off.”

Day 1 yielded only six bites and Perkins had to endure several hours of catching only drum before boating a bass at 11:30. Day 2 started more productively, with a limit by 10:04, but Perkins would catch only six fish. He attributed his final-round success to persistence.

“The key was staying put,” he said. “I got all my good bites in Fisher (the first two days) and I said, ‘There’s not going to be nearly as many guys today, I’m gonna buckle down in there.’ I had it all to myself — it was great.”

Slegona placed second with 50-2. After a 21st-place bag of 15-12, he added 17-14 on Friday and entered Championship Saturday in third place. Matching Perkins’ final-round weight allowed him to rise one spot.

Focusing on main-lake rock shoals in 10 to 12 feet, Slegona fished a Carolina-rigged Zoom Speed Craw in grassy areas. In more open areas, he used a 1/2-ounce Keitech football jig with an Erie Darter trailer.

“I only had six to seven bites a day throughout the tournament,” Slegona said. “It was just all about timing. They turn on at different times and, every once in a while, you get the right rockpile with fish biting on it.”

Sam George of Athens, Ala., finished third with 49-8. He caught 18-2 on Day 1 and tied Thomas Hughes of Cicero, N.Y., for third place, then added 16-10 on Friday and moved up to second before slipping back a spot with a final-round limit of 14-12.

Targeting a large main-lake grass flat with gravel patches, George caught his fish by drop shotting a Strike King Rage Swimmer in sexy shad and a Strike King KVD Dream Shot in honey candy.

“I got a little dialed in on Day 1,” George said. “I had a rough start and didn’t get a lot of bites, but late in the day, I got on a little area where it started happening for me.”

Liam Blake of Syracuse, N.Y., won the $750 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award.

George won the $500 Garmin Tournament Rewards for being the highest finishing competitor using Garmin products.

Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, leads the Northern Open standings with 392 points. Mike Iaconelli of Pitts Grove, N.J., is in second with 381, followed by Hugh Cosculluela of Spring, Texas, with 372, Alex Redwine of Blue Ash, Ohio, with 360 and Jacob Powroznik of North Prince George, Va., with 357.

Powroznik leads the overall Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens points standings with 878 points.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

LEESBURG, Fla. — When Patrick Walters happened across a golden opportunity, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Summerville, S.C., stepped on the gas and sacked up a five-bass limit of 24 pounds to lead Day 1 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open at the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Walters, who opened his 2021 season with a fourth-place finish in the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River, said he typically approaches Florida events by moving fast in practice to locate productive areas and then slowing down with methodical tournament execution.

Thursday saw him go off script.

“Honestly, sometimes, it’s just fluke luck,” Walters said of his unexpected morning events. “I started throwing a (lipless crankbait) on a spot, and I looked down and saw two of them chasing my bait.

“I said, ‘Okay, maybe there’s some fish here.’ I passed through there, turned around and started whacking them. I probably caught 30 fish there and had my weight by 10 a.m. and then I left.”

Committing his day to Lake Harris, Walters found those morning bass in about 6 feet of water. He attributed the attraction to the right mix of habitat and clarity.

“There’s a little bit of clear water, there’s some hard bottom, there’s some grass; it’s just that good mixture,” he said. “It’s also a little shallower than most people are fishing.”

With a cold front dropping overnight and tournament morning temperatures by about 10 degrees, Walters surmised that Thursday’s postfrontal “bluebird” skies had repositioned the shallow fish. The ones he was catching were postspawn fish that had pushed out from recent bedding areas and staged in a comfortable recuperation area.

“I should have had about 28 pounds (based on the length of the fish), but every single one of them was skinny as a rail,” he said. “I think they just stopped at the first feeding spot.

“The good thing is I caught them pretty well and I didn’t have to burn any of my other water. I didn’t touch any of the stuff I’d found in practice, so I’m going to go back tomorrow and ride this as long as I can.”

Noting that his spot is most productive in the morning, Walters said he caught his bass on a mixture of lipless baits and jerkbaits. Returning in the afternoon, he found a couple more bites that encouraged him to keep that spot in his Day 2 game plan.

“There was some dirtier water that moved in later in the day, so I may go there (on Friday) and not catch another fish, but I pulled in there around 2 and caught a couple more on a Zoom Mag Trick Worm,” he said.

Walters said his productivity belied a lean practice.

“My other spots were similar but a little different,” he said. “Practice was tough, but I thought I could catch a limit in (my spots). It’s a little different type of cover than what I fished today.

“The good thing is I didn’t have to fish those spots today. I had some good flipping bites in practice, but I didn’t get any flipping bites today.”

Scott Gibbs of Rome, Ga., is in second place with 21-5. Making his Harris Chain debut, he crafted a concise game plan of targeting hydrilla and eelgrass in Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris and stuck with it all day.

Gibbs caught his fish slow rolling a reaction bait.

“My plan was to hit some areas where I thought there’d be some good postspawn fish,” Gibbs said. “I had three key areas and I made a little milk run.”

Alex Wetherell of Middletown, Conn., is in third place with 20-11. He looked for shallow bed fish, but when that search came up empty, he moved offshore and used a combination of moving baits and slower presentations to target postspawn bass in deep grass.

“I looked for the thicker stuff, and the cleaner the water, the better,” he said. “Those were the only two good spots I had and I milked them all day. Thankfully, they had some good fish on them.”

Charles Proctor of Conway, S.C., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with a 9-0 largemouth.

JW Battle Jr. holds the overall lead in the co-angler division with 13-11, and Jeff Fellows holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with an 8-8 largemouth. Both anglers are from Orlando.

Besides prize money and a berth in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, the anglers are fishing this week for valuable points that will count toward the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year title. The title, which was won last year by North Carolina pro Bryan New, carries a cash prize of $10,000.

This year’s Opens circuit includes three divisions — Southern, Central and Northern — with three events in each. The Top 3 finishers from each division’s points standings will receive an invitation to fish the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series, as will the Top 3 from the overall standings accumulated in all three divisions.

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. ET from Venetian Gardens (Ski Beach). Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the Venetian Gardens (Ski Beach) at 2:45 p.m. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m.

Lake County and the City of Leesburg are hosting the tournament.

2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Basspro.com

2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala

Courtesy of BASS, LLC Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Public boat ramp closures in South Carolina and Kentucky, as well as extended federal guidelines limiting social gatherings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, have prompted B.A.S.S. to postpone four additional upcoming tournaments.

The Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes in Clarendon County, S.C., Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Lake Cumberland presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series at Lake Cumberland presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors and Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series at Lake Cumberland, all three to be held in Jamestown, Ky., are being rescheduled for later in the year, B.A.S.S. officials announced today.

“B.A.S.S. believes it is imperative to heed the advice not only of the CDC but of our elected officials as our country navigates this national crisis,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “We are encouraging our anglers, staff and fans to live smart and fish smart, practicing responsible social distancing measures and doing their part to help limit the spread of this disease.”

B.A.S.S. has postponed eight events originally scheduled between March and May and is evaluating upcoming tournaments based on precautions and advice from the CDC and public officials as well as local mandates regarding public spaces and events.

“Although we are disappointed to postpone the Bassmaster Elite Series event previously scheduled for April 16-19, the health and safety of event organizers, the anglers and our community is our top priority,” said Tiffany Myers, Director of Tourism for the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce. “We are continuing to work with the B.A.S.S. organization to reschedule the event at a later date.”

While the national State of Emergency is in place, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has closed boat ramps and landings on the state’s lakes, rivers and waterways. Additionally, he has ordered anyone arriving into South Carolina from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans to self-quarantine for two weeks.

As more states adopt “shelter in place” recommendations and continue to limit operation of nonessential businesses, B.A.S.S is also considering the impact that potential logistical issues and travel restrictions, including Canadian border closures, may have on anglers’ ability to travel to tournaments.

During this national crisis and uncertain time, B.A.S.S. is encouraging people, where possible, to use this unexpected time to enjoy the outdoors and recreational fishing in a safe and responsible way with their new “Live Smart, Fish Smart” campaign.

B.A.S.S. is also producing stories and videos designed to ensure those staying inside can still connect to the sport, and people, they love. This includes upcoming content covering topics such as teaching fishing skills to kids and bank fishing basics.

 

Fans of fishing and the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers can find live Q/A videos, inspiring stories, helpful tips and more at Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. is also encouraging outdoor enthusiasts and tournament anglers alike to share photos with the hashtags: #livesmart #fishsmart #bassmaster.

About B.A.S.S.

B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2 and The Pursuit Channel), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

 

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, new Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

 


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Television’s biggest name in fishing is now entering its 20th season on ESPN. The 2019 season of the award-winning program The Bassmasters will see expanded airtime on ESPN networks as part of the sports giant’s increased coverage of B.A.S.S. fishing.

Beyond its 30 hours of coverage of Bassmaster Elite Series events and the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, ESPN has nearly doubled (54 hours) its shows on ESPN Classic for the 2019 season.

“For two decades, ESPN has had an incredibly strong relationship with B.A.S.S., giving millions of bass fishing fans innovative, quality coverage of professional bass fishing,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of Bassmaster LIVE and The Bassmasters. “No matter the sport, ESPN has the best networks for coverage, and we’re excited that ESPN has committed fantastic coverage for our shows.” (View the schedule here, https://www.bassmaster.com/tv-schedule )

In addition to the television coverage, ESPN will now be streaming 24 hours of “Bassmaster LIVE” programming from each Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on both ESPN3 and the ESPN App – up from 18 hours per tournament in 2018. Counting nine regular-season Elite events, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship and the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods, B.A.S.S. will be live-streaming 252 hours of programming through ESPN and Bassmaster.com this year, an increase of 27 percent in streaming hours over last year.

Coverage of B.A.S.S. will also extend to ESPNU, with nine hours of programming from events in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops as well as the Mossy Oak Fishing High School Series.

The Bassmasters will begin airing on ESPN2 with back-to-back weekends from the biggest stage in tournament fishing, the Bassmaster Elite Series. March 9 will kick off with the inaugural event of the Elite season, the Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River, Fla., followed the next weekend, March 16, by the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier, Ga.

The GEICO Bassmaster Classic will be covered in three episodes airing on Sunday mornings, March 31, April 7 and April 14.

McKinnis noted that the recently announced agreement with the Pursuit Channel to air The Bassmasters has been expanded to 130 hours for 2019, providing for a total of 223 hours of television time to complement the on-the-water streaming programming.

“Along with our industry-leading magazines, website and social media following, the increased programming hours on ESPN networks and the Pursuit Channel, more fans will now be able to enjoy their favorite sport wherever, whenever and however they want to follow it,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “This means the biggest stage in bass fishing just got even bigger.”

About B.A.S.S.

B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage onBassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan will be held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, Oct. 19-21, B.A.S.S. announced today.

Competitors from all over the world will compete for a chance to return to Lake Hartwell next March for the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

“We are excited to be going to Anderson, S.C., and Lake Hartwell for the Championship,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director. “It is a great fishery, and Green Pond Landing is a fantastic launch and weigh-in area.

“The city and state did a great job renovating the ramp area for the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic a few years ago, and they have improved it even more since then. We are expecting the weather and the fishing to be excellent that time of year.”

Forty-seven states and one Canadian province (Ontario) will send 20-person teams (10 boaters and 10 nonboaters) to one of three regional tournaments — Central, Western and Eastern. The top boater and nonboater from each state will then advance to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Hartwell.  

Also invited to the Championship are the top boater and nonboater from nine other foreign countries (which have their own qualifying events), the Paralyzed Veterans of America champion and the defending B.A.S.S. Nation champion.

“We are so proud of the opportunity to host the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Green Pond Landing and Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, Visit Anderson’s executive director. “In Anderson County, we take great pride in being able to host anglers from all over the country in our community, and the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship is yet another opportunity to host a championship event in our championship facility on our championship lake.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be able to host the great team from B.A.S.S. in Anderson County, and we cannot wait to welcome the anglers and their families to our great community.”

The champion will receive a Bassmaster Elite Series berth, paid entry into the division of their choice in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, a prize boat to keep, plus a “B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best” prize package, which is a fully rigged tournament-ready boat for one year.

Second- and third-place finishers will earn paid entry into their division of choice in the Bassmaster Opens, and the “B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best” prize package, which is also the use of a fully rigged tournament-ready boat for one year.

The nonboater champion will win a memorial trophy, paid Bassmaster Opens entry to his or her division of choice, a prize boat and a Bassmaster Classic Marshal spot.

In 2016, Ryan Lavigne of Gonzales, La., won the tournament as an unlikely candidate — a nonboater — and won it by an enormous margin of 16 1/2 pounds on Lake Conroe outside of Houston, Texas. He also earned a chance to compete in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which was held March 24-26, 2017, also on Lake Conroe, in which he finished 16th among 52 of the world’s best bass anglers.

The Western Regional will be April 19-21 on Lake Shasta, California, with the final qualifying tournament, the Eastern Regional, to be held June 14-16 on Upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

Competing in the Eastern Regional for a berth in the Championship will be a few new female faces, including Angela Mayo, who was crowned the first female non-boater champion in the North Carolina Western qualifier.

Last year, Becca Golightly became the first female angler to compete in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

MONROE, La. — Jamie Laiche of Gonzales, La., only traveled four hours to get to the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, so it seems like he would have home-lake advantage over the rest of the field. However, he had never fished the Ouachita River until he started pre-fishing it earlier this fall, and now he leads the event on Day 1 with 16 pounds, 6 ounces. 

“I call the Atchafalaya Basin my home water,” Laiche said, “and so I’d call myself a shallow-water, stump, cypress tree fisherman. This is right in my wheelhouse. 

“I’m used to fishing tough for seven to eight bites a day, which is how this is fishing,” he said. 

Laiche is one of a handful of anglers who brought small boats to navigate the stumpfield of the Ouachita. 

The drawback to that small boat? “It goes 28 miles per hour,” said Laiche with a laugh. “They’re all passing me.” 

He’s covering a lot of water in his area, though, just using his trolling motor. He’s relied a lot on a push-pole, too, which has left him muddy from each time he pulls it out of the water. 

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could have that second day back,” Laiche said. The Ascension Area Anglers club member had qualified for the Classic that year through the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. He had a great first day that put him in the Top 20. But then, the second day came. 

“I changed my game plan because of the weatherman,” he said. “I should have stayed with my game plan.” He ended up finishing in 38th place. 

Laiche is confident going into Day 2, but he’s not counting his chickens before they hatch. 

“There is no comfortable lead in the Central Division,” he said. “It’s got some phenomenal anglers. I can’t slip. I’ve got to make the right decisions, I’ve got to execute, and I’ve got to have all my equipment top-notch.” 

Laiche added that he would be very surprised if he could follow up with another 16-pound sack. 

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


 
Posted By The Bass Hog

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Brad Weese used a rarely exploited river fishing tactic to win the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional on the Monongahela River Friday. 

In three days of undeniably some of the toughest fishing in divisional history, the West Virginian caught 19 pounds, 1 ounce to win the three-day event with 10 bass total.

His tactic focused on man-made current generated by the water release from navigational locks. Much of the tournament field of 78 anglers sharing boats locked upstream on the Monongahela into other fisheries. Not Weese, who intentionally remained within range of the discharge creating current in his area. 

“That’s why I had such a good bite in the early morning,” said Weese, who fished for the Maryland B.A.S.S. Nation as a member of its the Garrett Bassers. 

“It’s a long run into both pools so everyone was headed up there early.”

The current generated by the emptying of the 10,000-gallon lock chambers from either dam provided just enough moving water for his pattern. The bite went cold when the water returned to calm conditions. 

In another wise move, Reese chose one lure capable of covering lots of water and quickly. The single bait enabled him to focus on one technique, instead of spending costly time changing lures and modifying presentations for the area. 

His choice was a custom-made spinnerbait made by local acquaintance Brent Dodrill. The 1/4-ounce lure has a white skirt and head with twin gold Colorado blades. 

“The presentation wasn’t anything special,” he said. “I slow -rolled the spinnerbait anywhere from 6 inches to 10 feet.”

In simple terms, Weese dictated his casts and retrieve based on the shoreline features. Casting targets included isolated laydowns and stretches with concentrations of wood on the bank. 

“The key was keeping the bait in the water and not spending time running the river,” he added. 

Weese spent most of the tournament in the same area:, a boat ramp he defined as a community hole. However, the appeal of making long runs by most of the tournament field left the area open to Weese. 

The win was made sweeter for Weese because Maryland won the competition between the six states. Maryland finished with 88 pounds, 2 ounces, with Virginia taking second place with 74-9. New Jersey placed third with 63-6, and West Virginia took fourth with 62-7. Pennsylvania claimed fifth place with 57-14, and Delaware finished with 46-4 for sixth place. Scores were totaled based on the cumulative weight caught by each 14-angler team. 

For the win, Maryland received a Skeeter/Yamaha boat, motor, trailer and accessories package valued at $33,340.  

Jacob Jones and Austin Gaab of the Susquehanna Valley Fishing Club in Pennsylvania won the high school division. High school state champions fished for the final two days in the tournament under a model program that introduces students to tournament fishing at a higher level. 

Weese will go to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in November as the top angler from Maryland. Advancing with him is Fabian Rodriguez of Delaware; Michael McMahon of New Jersey; Chad Shutty of Pennsylvania; Brian Harold of Virginia; and Sammy Bounds of West Virginia. 

Anglers earned the following sponsorship contingency awards:. Livingston Lures Leader Award: Weese earned the $250 award by leading the tournament on Day 2 with 13-7.


Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.


 
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.