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Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--A half-century ago, when Ray Scott of Montgomery, Ala., wanted to entice outdoor media to cover his upcoming press conference, he didn’t soft-sell the event.  He invited the journalists to meet him in Springdale, Ark., and learn about “The Biggest, Most Important Happening In Bass Fishing History.”

The “happening” was the All-American Bass Tournament on Beaver Lake, Arkansas, an event many mark as the beginning of the modern era of bass fishing. The tournament was held June 5-7, 1967 — 50 years ago next week. The tournament was successful enough to launch the professional fishing careers of Bill Dance, Stan Sloan, Don Butler and others, and it inspired Scott, an insurance salesman turned promoter, to conduct a “tournament trail” of events across the country.

And it spawned the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society — B.A.S.S. for short — which would grow into the world’s largest fishing organization with more than 500,000 members and a magazine, Bassmaster, currently read by 4.5 million people each month.

Bassmaster’s June issue marks the milestone of tournament fishing with a cover story written by Bob Cobb, who contributed greatly to the All-American’s success.

“This article is special because it pulls back the curtains and offers never-before-released details of how Scott was able to pull off a bass tournament that probably should not have happened,” said Bassmaster Editor James Hall. “Secondly, it is written by Bob Cobb, the first editor of Bassmaster Magazine, who was standing in the crowd during the weigh-in of the All-American event. Cobb was there, and he is one of only a few people on this earth able to tell the story in vivid detail from firsthand experience.”

Cobb is quick to note in his article that other tournaments, including Earl Golding’s Texas State Bass Tournament and Hy Peskin’s World Series of Sport Fishing, predated Scott’s event by a decade or more. But it wasn’t until the All-American Bass Tournament was held that competitive fishing caught on and outgrew its regional roots.

Thanks to tournaments organized by Scott and, later, by others, the black bass has become America’s most popular sportfish, helping drive a freshwater fishing industry that generates $73 billion for the nation’s economy and provides employment for more than 500,000 people nationwide.

“The celebration of Ray Scott’s first tournament is vital to our sport,” Hall said. “Ray and his small band of supporters legitimized bass fishing competitions and spawned an industry. That’s a big, big deal. Almost every tournament organization today still uses the basic rules developed for the All-American event held 50 years ago. That effort became the constitution for bass tournaments.”

Cobb, who was outdoors editor of the Tulsa Tribune newspaper at the time, said he was initially skeptical of Scott, but he bought into his vision for bass fishing after the two met in person.

“Scott looked me in the eye and told me about his dream to make bass fishing more popular, to create bass angling heroes, to get the sport on TV and have fishing fans watch and learn how-to techniques — the secrets of bass angling pros — and how he wanted to create a ‘Take A Kid Fishing’ movement and youth angling program, to ensure the future of the bass fishing sport,”.

He said those goals became the founding principles of B.A.S.S., which was officially organized in early 1968, when Butler became the first member of the organization and when the first issue of Bassmaster was published. B.A.S.S. will mark the 50th anniversary of those milestones with a yearlong celebration of the history of bass fishing, beginning in January 2018.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

LUFKIN, Texas--It’s not like Brandon Palaniuk had never won a Bassmaster Elite Series event. Coming into this week, the 29-year-old pro from Idaho had already claimed Elite Series trophies in 2012 and 2013 and came close to raising that win total with three other second-place finishes.

But for an intense competitor known as the “prodigy,” the four-year victory drought was an itch he desperately needed to scratch — and he did it during this week’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Palaniuk caught 24 pounds, 7 ounces of bass during Wednesday’s opening round and followed with 23-2 and 24-7 the next two rounds. Then he caught he caught 21-12 on Championship Sunday to push his four-day total to 93-12 and hold off a late charge by California pro Brent Ehrler.

Ehrler, who led the first two days, finished second with 91-12.

“I never found a school in practice where I could just go and pound on them and catch multiple fish in one spot,” said Palaniuk, who earned a $100,000 first-place prize and an automatic berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented DICK’S Sporting Goods. “It wasn’t until the tournament started to roll around that more and more fish started to transition out and school up on spots.

It was a sign of things to come for Palaniuk when he started Wednesday’s opening round with his biggest fish of the tournament — a largemouth that weighed 8-4. Palaniuk caught the bass in deeper water than what was being fished by most of the field.

That gave him the confidence to stay away from the shallower areas that were holding incredible numbers of bass, but not necessarily the size it would take to win.

“I was torn between deep and shallow,” he said. “There were so many fish shallow, and you could get so many bites, but I just wasn’t getting the big fish that I needed. I just kept telling myself the big fish were out deep, and if I could stick it out and get five to 10 bites a day, I could have a chance to win.”

Palaniuk said he spent a lot of time idling around looking for the usual summer postspawn hot spots, like the tips of points, humps and ledges.

He found lots of smaller fish on those places. But while moving from spot to spot on straight banks, he found a several brushpiles on his Humminbird electronics with incredible numbers of crappie and one or two bigger dots that he believed were bass. In that situation, he used a Neko Rig with a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm — and immediately caught a big fish.

“I knew that if I was hooking 8- or 9-pounders in brushpiles on that lighter line, there was a chance I was going to lose some,” he said. “Those fish are so strong, and that stuff is so thick. And it wasn’t like I was fishing the outsides of it. I was throwing directly into it and trying to get it to drop directly down into the center where the fish were.”

Palaniuk’s key bait for shallower, more aggressive fish was the size 13 Storm Arashi Top Walker in the pro blue color pattern. For deeper fish — since he couldn’t get bass to bite a crankbait — his top two lures were a 10-inch Zoom Ol’ monster worm in the plum color pattern with 1/2-ounce VMC tungsten weight pegged with a VMC stop on a 5/0 heavy-duty VMC extra-wide gap hook, and a Neko Rig Zoom with a green pumpkin magnum trick worm on a 1/0 weedless Neko hook that will debut at the annual ICAST fishing industry trade show in July.

Though Ehrler finished 2 pounds away from his first Elite Series victory, he didn’t go home emptyhanded. For catching the Toyota Big Bass of the week — a 9-1 largemouth on the first day — he earned a $50,000 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

RIDGELAND, Miss.--Due to unsafe weather conditions, the final round of the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett has been postponed until Monday, May 1.

Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director, announced the decision after extended communication with the National Weather Service of Jackson, Miss.

“After discussing the threat of severe weather with the National Weather Service, and with the safety of our anglers as our top concern, we felt postponing the final day was the best decision,” Weldon said. “These storms contain significant lightning among other severe weather factors, and it's not worth the risk.”

According to the National Weather Service, the storms are predicted to arrive by 9 a.m. and continue through the afternoon. They currently contain significant lightning, also “damaging wind gusts, hail and a few tornadoes will be possible.”

Dustin Connell of Alabama owns a comfortable lead of 5 pounds, 6 ounces over his nearest competitor, Keith Poche, also of Alabama. The event began Thursday with 109 Elite anglers, but only the Top 12 compete in the championship round.

Those 12 anglers will resume competition on Monday, May 1, at 6 a.m. CT, and will launch from Madison Landing. The weigh-in will begin at 2 p.m. CT at Old Trace Park.

The tournament is hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

RIDGELAND, Miss.--For the second day in a row, Alabama native Dustin Connell is leading the fourth Bassmaster Elite Series event of his life. The 26-year-old rookie is closing in on his first victory and the $100,000 first-place prize at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett.

The weather forecast for Ridgeland, Miss., is predicting strong thunderstorms and heavy rain for Championship Sunday, which could impact whether the tournament concludes on schedule or gets postponed until Monday.

Connell’s pattern produced 15 pounds, 7 ounces of largemouth bass for a three-day total of 51-14, which is just over 6 pounds ahead of second place.

“I’m fishing up in the Pearl River,” Connell said. “And if we get heavy rain, the potential flood waters could wash out my spots. If that happens, I may have to revert to plan B and pick up a frog. I’m hoping we’ll dodge a bullet and be able to fish on Sunday.”

Connell mentioned that he’s so confident in his fishing spots that if the weather holds off, he believes he can win.

“I’m trying to not focus on the what if’s right now, rather I’m focusing on what I need to do tomorrow to win, provided we get to fish,” he said. “I have been flipping 35 to 40 spots with lots of vegetation this week. The water in that part of the river is starting to stabilize, and fishing seems to be getting better. If we can avoid the rain, I think I could catch the biggest limit of my week.”

The young angler said he caught 12 or 13 fish during the day, and he missed several big bites that could have added to his lead.

“I’m happy to have a 6-pound lead, which on this lake will go a long way,” he said. “If the weather does hit, a 6-pound cushion will play to my advantage. At the very least, it’ll help me sleep tonight.”

Another Alabamian is also in contention for the win. Keith Poche caught 15-6 on Saturday’s semi-final round, pushing his total to 46-8.

“I really don’t know how this is going to end up,” Poche said. “The forecasted weather is a huge variable. I know I’m around some big fish, maybe even the winning fish, but several inches of rain will definitely change things — and if it does I will be starting over.”

Rounding out the Top 12: Kevin VanDam (46-6), Jonathon VanDam (45-15), Brent Chapman (44-13), Mark Menendez (44-13), Fred Roumbanis (44-12), Matt Herren (44-4), Ish Monroe (44-2), Dave Lefebre (44-1), Bobby Lane (43-10) and Skeet Reese (42-11).

Lester remains in the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award thanks to the 7-2 largemouth bass he caught during Thursday’s opening round.

Due to impending weather conditions for Ridgeland, Miss., Bassmaster tournament officials are in regular communication with the National Weather Service. They will make a decision about the final round of competition Saturday evening or early Sunday morning.

According to Bassmaster Elite Series rules, if Championship Sunday is canceled, the tournament will resume on Monday with a projected 6 a.m. CT takeoff and a final weigh-in at 2 p.m.

Connell won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Friday’s second day of competition.

The event is hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission.

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

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Jacob Louis and JT Russell of McKendree University jumped from third place on the final day today to take the championship title of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwest Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake of the Ozarks with a three-day total of 61 pounds of bass.

After holding the lead on Wednesday’s opening round of competition and losing it on Thursday, the Bearcat duo produced a 22-11 limit to regain the top spot. Louis and Russell stuck to their game plan, even with the declining weather and temperatures, and they were able to boat four fish in the first few hours of fishing today.

They had found a promising area loaded with baitfish as their practice session ended earlier in the week and decided to start the tournament there Wednesday. It paid big dividends as they caught 22-10 on Wednesday to take an early lead. They did most of their damage with jerkbaits and swimbaits in the shad-filled pocket. Fish were schooling at the surface, making it possible to follow the pods of bait as they roamed around the pocket.

That night a massive rain and hailstorm cooled off the water temperatures and stained parts of the lake. Their Thursday weight suffered as a result and they dropped to third after catching 15-11, but were in striking range of the lead. They made the trip to their magic area on the final day, but they knew right away that it would be tougher to stay all day.

“We didn’t see much shad activity, and with the temperatures in the low 40s they just weren’t grouped up like early in the week,” Louis said.

After landing four bass, which included a 4- and a 5-pounder, their spot dried up and they had to scramble. The pair made their way back toward Osage Beach and finished their limit with a 5 pounder and, later, a 6 that enabled them to cull a smaller fish.

They won by 4 pounds, 10 ounces over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Louie Dazzo and Collin Cropp who stayed in second place from start to finish this week at Lake of the Ozarks. After having weights of 19-12 and 21-3, the duo only managed 15-7 and stayed put on the standings in the runner-up position with a total weight of 56-6.

Dazzo and Cropp also found success with a jerkbait this week as well as a crankbait. It showed as they boated plenty of keepers on the final day, but they lacked the size they had caught on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We definitely had a slower morning than prior days, but we kept adjusting spots, and we started catching them,” Dazzo and Cropp said. “We saw some other teams catch some big ones in our same areas, but they seemed to be positioned deeper than we were so I’d have to believe the quality bass just moved slightly deeper.”

Jacob Harris and Tyler Smith of Southeast Missouri State University jumped from 12th place on Thursday into third after the final weigh-in because of their huge final day. Harris and Smith notched 23-9 on Friday, which claimed the Nitro Big Bag of the tournament and it was anchored by a 7-13 Big Bass. They finished with a three-day total of 55-3.

McKendree’s Brock Wilke and Brady Faust caught 22-2 on Friday to move into fourth, and Hunter Mills and Hunter McKinley of Murray State University rounded out the Top 5 after catching 17-14.

The Day 2 leaders, Nic Rand and Keegan Russell of Lake Superior State University only managed one fish on the final day, but it weighed 7-1 and kept them in the Top 10 as they finished ninth. For leading after Day 2, Rand and Russell won the Livingston Lures Leader award.

Hunter Scharphorn and Jake Dorony of Lake Superior State took the final qualifying spot with a three-day total of 41-11. The Top 19 teams will now move on to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held later 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.