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Posted By The Bass Hog

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Standard opinion among the anglers fishing the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate was that the tournament couldn’t be won on Toho.

If you wanted big bass, Kissimmee was the place to fish.

Chad Morgenthaler proved them wrong, spending all three days on the host lake and rallying from ninth place to win the season opener.

In a tournament laced with some of Florida’s top anglers, the Coulterville, Ill., veteran Elite Series pro sneaked into the back door with a big sack on a day when the frontrunners struggled.

His last-day catch of 22 pounds, 3 ounces was more than enough to carry him to the top and give him a 52-7 total.

Kissimmee expert Bobby Lane, who had the second biggest bag of the day (14 pounds), finished second with 48-13, and Todd Auten of South Carolina was third with 48-1. Gerald Swindle of Alabama and second-day leader Brandon McMillan rounded out the Top 5 with 46-9 and 46-4, respectively.

“Being hard-headed and staying on Toho was really a key to my success,” said Morgenthaler, who punched his ticket to the 2016 Bassmaster Classic, providing he fishes the remaining two Southern Opens. “Everyone said you can’t win on Toho, but all of my big fish in practice came up here.”

He stuck with one bait all three days — a Missile D Bomb soft plastic creature bait — that he pitched into isolated cover in 3 to 4 feet of water far offshore. The color was bruiser flash, a black/blue variety.

“It’s a good mid-sized bait, so I didn’t have to worry about whether it was too big or too small, and it would slither through the matted vegetation easily,” he explained.

He rigged it with a 3/0 straight shank Gamakatsu heavy flipping hook and a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight. Most anglers use 4/0 hooks with the D Bomb, he noted, but switching to the 3/0 improved his catch ratio considerably.

“I was targeting the main-lake areas that the fish were moving to from the wintering holes,” Morgenthaler described. “These were fish just starting to move up and the cold fronts we’d been having were holding them back. Some guys were catching fish that moved up but I suspected the majority of big fish were still in transition. The sunny, warm day today put them right where I was fishing.”

The victory earned him more than $48,533, including a Nitro Z9 bass boat and tandem Nitro trailer rigged with a Mercury 225 Pro XS, Minn Kota Maxxum Trolling Motor and Lowrance HDS-7C electronics.

Floridian Alan Agnoli blew out the co-angler division with 32 pounds, 3 ounces, while Robbie Anderson of Crystal River, Fla., was second with 22-11. Terry Law of Tavares, Fla., was third with 22-3. Agnoli, who caught 17 pounds, 11 ounces (three fish) to take the second-round lead on Friday, won a Nitro Z7 bass boat rigged with a Mercury 150 Pro XS, Nitro Single Axle Trailer, Minn Kota Maxxum Trolling Motor and Lowrance Mark 5X electronics.


Also Saturday, B.A.S.S. issued the following statement:
"Based on an investigation of an incident Friday during the tournament on Lake Tohopekaliga, B.A.S.S. today disqualified two anglers from the event. Pursuant to B.A.S.S. rules, Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., and Keith Poche of Pike Road, Ala., were disqualified from the Open. Additional penalties for both anglers may be imposed pending the outcome of additional investigations that are ongoing at this time. Because of those investigations, B.A.S.S. will not comment further on the decisions."

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When talking with one of the 56 anglers taking part in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, Feb. 20-22 on Lake Hartwell, you can expect to hear the words “big” and “everything” a lot.

Serving as a border between Georgia and South Carolina, the lake has 56,000 surface acres and 962 miles of shoreline. That makes it one of the Southeast’s largest and most popular fishing destinations.

“It’s a lot bigger than I remember it being when we were there for the Classic that Alton Jones won (in 2008),” said Aaron Martens, who will be making his 16th career Classic appearance. “I don’t think I even saw half of the lake back then. It’s got a lot of acreage, and the amount of fishable water in that acreage is pretty large.”

The size of the lake combined with its diverse structure could make it hard for anglers to form a solid game plan that’s likely to withstand three days of the area’s often-erratic winter weather. The lake has everything from long, sloping points and underwater islands to standing timber, rocky banks, man-made brushpiles and deep underwater channels.

“There’s so much to look at – a little bit of everything, everywhere,” Martens said. “You can catch them shallow to deep. You have to be ready for it all, but that’s what we do. I think the fish will bite. But depending on the weather, it could be hard to present certain techniques to them.”

Along with diverse structure, Hartwell has two species of black bass that could both be helpful to anglers. First, there are the largemouth that have been the staple of most tournaments on Hartwell for decades. Then there’s the spotted bass that have steadily increased in size the past four or five years since making their way downstream from Lake Keowee, where they were introduced more than a decade ago.

Classic competitor Casey Ashley, who lives just 35 minutes from Lake Hartwell in Donalds, S.C., believes spots could play a major role in the outcome of the tournament.

“It could possibly be won off spots,” said Ashley, who won an FLW Tour event on Hartwell in March 2014. “The 3- to 5-pound spots are there, and there are a lot of them. I’ve just now gotten to where I’ll actually target spots. I wouldn’t in the past because for years, you just couldn’t win with spots. That’s just not the case anymore.”

Elite Series pro Stephen Browning of Arkansas, who will be appearing in his 10th Classic, isn’t sure the event can be won with spotted bass. But he believes they could make for an excellent “Plan B” if the largemouth prove too stubborn.

“Personally, with the exception of the Coosa River (in Alabama), I’ve never seen a lake where a guy can win a multiday tournament exclusively on spotted bass,” Browning said. “But mixing five or six of them in with largemouth may help you survive. I feel like if a guy gets to struggling, those will definitely be the fish to turn to.”

Those anglers and the rest of the field will be aiming to do more than survive — they’re gunning for the $300,000 winner’s prize and the almost instant fame and fortune that go with winning.

Weigh-ins will be held daily at the Bon Secours Wellness Center Arena in downtown Greenville, with the winner to be crowned there Sunday afternoon, Feb. 22.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog
BROOKELAND, Texas (Jan. 24, 2015) – The University of Louisiana-Monroe team of Tyler Craig of Frierson, La., and Brian Eaton of Monroe, La., won the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir Saturday with five bass weighing 29 pounds, 5 ounces – the heaviest one-day five-bass limit ever weighed in FLW College Fishing history. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Championship tournament. With 89 collegiate teams participating, this weekend’s tournament also broke the record for the largest field in FLW College Fishing history.
“It was amazing,” said Craig, a sophomore majoring in pre-Pharmacy. “It was a dream come true to win this tournament.”
“It feels pretty awesome,” said Eaton, a senior majoring in Nursing. “I’ve never won a college tournament before.”
To seal the deal, the University of Louisiana-Monroe duo threw Umbrella Rigs, Stanley Jigs and Zoom Swimmin’ Fluke Jr.’s up into a 10-foot ledge on the north end of the lake. Throwing to this spot, along with another 14-foot ledge nearby in deeper water, was the key to victory for the two anglers.
“We had about 20 pounds by 8:30 a.m. We felt we were in pretty good shape,” said Eaton. “By 12:30 p.m., we had the majority of our weight and figured it would be enough to win.”
The FLW College Fishing Southern Conference tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was hosted by the Jasper County Development District and was the first regular-season qualifying tournament. The next event for Southern Conference anglers is scheduled for Feb. 21 at Lake Texoma in Pottsboro, Texas, and is hosted by Highport Marina.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five Conference Championship tournaments. The top ten teams from each of the five Conference Championship tournaments will advance to the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

Posted By The Bass Hog
Clewiston’s Wilson wins co-angler title
CLEWISTON, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2015) – Val Osinski of Pompano Beach, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the Rayovac FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 70 pounds, 8 ounces. For his victory, Osinski earned $40,000.
“This feels fantastic,” said Osinski, who earned the first Rayovac FLW Series victory of his career. “So much time and effort went into this tournament. I made a few adjustments every day and the key for me was my patience flipping. I was not worried about catching a lot of fish; I was looking for big fish.”
The strategy paid off for Osinski, as he managed to bring five-bass stringers weighing more than 25 pounds to the stage in two of the three days of competition. He fished transition areas near spawning flats in the south end of Okeechobee targeting isolated patches of heavy cover flipping a Gambler Why Not and a Gambler Burner Craw. Osinski estimated that he caught around 47 bass throughout the three-day tournament.
“I fished two colors throughout the week – Junebug Shadow Blue and Gold Rush. I used the Blue in the dirtier water,” Osinski said. “The first two days the bass would hit the bait as I was pulling it out of the mat. They were very aggressive strikes.
“Today was a challenge,” Osinski said. “The wind was blowing from the south but switched to blowing out of the north. I had to switch to a White Lightning-colored Gambler EZ Swimmer to fill out my limit. I went back to flipping in the afternoon and was able to boat my biggest bass – weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces – around noon.”
“I like Guntersville a lot,” Osinski went on to say. “I cashed a decent check there last year and it sets up well for me. Lake Seminole can be hit or miss for me, but it’s a grass lake which I am very comfortable on. I feel good about the rest of this season.”
Ryan Bowman of Seneca, South Carolina, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division Thursday – a largemouth weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $300.
Local angler Moses Wilson of Clewiston, Fla., won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117C with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor, with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 38 pounds, 2 ounces.  
 Steven Schoffstall of Chelsea, Alabama, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Friday – a 9-pound, 13-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $200.
Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

Posted By The Bass Hog

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Anglers competing in the 2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Allstate on Lake Tohopekaliga are going to find a different body of water than they experienced in last season’s event.
Although the 2015 tournament will be held Jan. 15-17 — only a week different than when it was last year — Van Soles, the 2014 champion, says the Kissimmee system will provide a new set of challenges.
First, Central Florida has received a lot of rain, and the lakes could be as much as 3 feet higher than they were in 2014.
More importantly, the vast mats of vegetation that were there last year have been “decimated” by chemical treatments, according to Soles, who fishes the lake several times a year.
“I’d say there is 50 to 70 percent less vegetation than what we saw a year ago, due to the heavy spraying,” Soles lamented. “Nearly everything was killed in Hatchineha, and Kissimmee took the worst hit of the larger lakes. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen the weeds sprayed and killed like they were the past year.”
The Florida pro, who won by pitching a Gambler BB Cricket into matted grass, predicts the changing habitat will affect how bass are caught during the three-day event.
“There are a few isolated areas where you might find some grass to flip, but all the areas I fished last year are totally destroyed,” he said. “An angler might be able to catch a limit flipping, but he’ll have a tough time putting a five-fish limit together with that pattern alone.”
That’s not to say the lake won’t give up quality catches. Soles said it has taken catches weighing 25 pounds or more to win one-day local tournaments. He forecasts the Southern Open winner will average 18 pounds a day, but wouldn’t be surprised if some 30-pound bags are weighed in — providing the weather is stable.
The fish were starting to move toward the spawn in late December, and he anticipates some will be bedding during the tournament. He saw males cruising the shallows, and some of the females he caught were ready to spawn.
The full moon — a time when spawning activity picks up — occurs before and after the tournament, but sight fishing should still be in play.
“A lot depends on how stable the weather is,” he said. “With high water and less vegetation, the key will be to find cleaner, warming water.”
Due to the lack of shallow cover, Soles thinks the tournament could be won on offshore shellbeds, dropoffs and deeper grass where vegetation wasn’t chemically treated.
“I think that’s where you will find the staging fish that haven’t been disturbed,” he added.
Wind could be a huge factor. Without the vegetation to filter the shallows, Soles explained, any persistent wind will dirty up the shorelines and spawning flats.
“An angler will have to monitor the wind and the weather and be cognizant of what the wind will do to those areas each day,” he explained.
The tournament will launch each day at 7 a.m. ET at Big Toho Marina. Weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. ET at the marina the first two days, with the final weigh-in on Day 3 held at the Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m.
Soles knows his 2014 win will be tough to repeat.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog
Record-breaking Field Set To Compete In Season Opener
CLEWISTON, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2015) – A full field of 250 boats – the largest Rayovac FLW Series field of all-time – will open the 2015 season at Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Florida, as the Rayovac FLW Series season kicks off Jan. 22-24 in a tournament presented by Power-Pole, the first stop in the Southeast Division.
“Okeechobee is fishing really well right now,” said Walmart FLW Tour pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Florida, who has 10 top-10 finishes on Lake Okeechobee in FLW competition. “I think the main waves of fish are coming in to spawn right now as we speak.
“I was out fishing with some friends this past weekend. I got a bite and set the hook and handed the rod to my friend’s 11-year-old son,” Surman continued. “I knew it was a big one, but I didn’t realize how big it was. It ended up being an 11-pound, 8-ounce giant – the kid caught a fish bigger than his age. Not many people can say that. The big fish are definitely biting right now.”
Surman said that the south end of Okeechobee is fishing better right now than anywhere else on the lake, but that the popular community holes won’t play as big of a role.
“The community holes will still be in play, but they won’t be as dominating as they have been,” Surman said. “The good thing about Okeechobee is that you can essentially win the tournament anywhere around the whole lake.”
Surman said that the Gamble Why Not and Big EZ will be very popular baits amongst tournament anglers, but said that vibrating baits such as a Z-Man ChatterBait or a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe would definitely produce as well.
“It may take even more, but I believe that it will take in the neighborhood of 65 pounds to win this tournament,” Surman went on to say. “The winner is going to need to weigh in one really big stringer, and then back it up with two solid 20-pound limits.”
Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort located on 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston, Florida, at 7 a.m. each day. Weigh-in will be held at the marina on Thursday and Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 1005 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston, Fla., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
Courtesy of 

Posted By The Bass Hog
BROOKELAND, Texas (Jan. 13, 2015) – FLW College Fishing is headed to Sam Rayburn Reservoir January 24 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Southern Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Southern Conference Invitational tournament.
Walmart FLW Tour pro Andrew Upshaw, a former college fishing star for Stephen F. Austin University, said that there are two predominant patterns this time of year at Sam Rayburn.
“This time of year the fish are moving from their winter to prespawn patterns,” Upshaw said. “Targeting grass beds from the outside edge to the inside edge in 3 to 8 feet of water is a very smart move.”
Upshaw said that if the grass beds aren’t firing, college anglers should throw Carolina rigs to natural cover such as stumps, trees or deeper grass, from 8 to 12 feet deep.
“I think a red-crawfish or pinchin’ Peach-colored Rat-L-Trap would do the trick,” Upshaw continued. “The big thing is not to get discouraged if a cold front comes in. It’s only going to make the bite better. I think a college team will weigh in an 18 to 20 pound stringer to win this tournament.”
Anglers will take off from Umphrey Family Pavilion located at 5438 Recreation Road 255 W. in Brookeland, Texas, at 7 a.m. Saturday. Weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
Courtesy of 

Posted By The Bass Hog

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — Thomas Oltorik III and James Oltorik of Daytona State College won the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional on the St. Johns River Monday with a three-day total of 42 pounds, 6 ounces.
The Oltorik brothers started the event Saturday with a weight of 15-9, which landed them in second place at the end of the opening round. Things only went up from there for Daytona State as they took the lead on Sunday and kept the lead Monday on the final day, winning the event by 1 pound even.
“I’m absolutely speechless,” Thomas said. “Today was an amazing day. We had a lot of little fish biting all day long. I was just sitting there praying to God, just one big one. And then right there at the end ‘kaboom,’ she ate it. I set the hook and put it in the boat.”
That big one weighed about 7 pounds and definitely made the difference for Daytona State, who bested the runner-ups from Clemson University, Baylor Ronemus and Cole Tinsley, by 1 pound.
Today started much like yesterday for Daytona State. After about 15 minutes on their starting spot in Crescent Lake, Thomas and James knew it was time to make the decision to run down. The wind was blowing a sustained 15 mph, and their offshore spot was almost impossible to fish thoroughly. They chose to strap everything down and make the three-hour run south past Lake George where they caught their entire final round weight of 13-4.
Ronemus and Tinsley were the second-best team to compete on the St. Johns River this week with 41-6. Clemson bested Auburn University’s CJ Knight and Tim Ward by 1 ounce to clinch second and bump Auburn to third. Cody Spears and Justin Mahon of Florida State University finished fourth with 40-0, and Austin Littrell and Ben Wall of Auburn University brought in the biggest bag of the final day, weighing 18-8, to round out the Top 5 with a total of 39-8.
The largest fish weighed in across all three days of competition belonged to Nathan Felker and Joe Bates of Georgia Southern with their 10-7 monster from Day 2.
The Bass Pro Shops Nitro Big Bag award went to Spears and Mahon of Florida State University, who on Day 2 brought in the largest single-day stringer of the tournament weighing 19-15.
The winning team also earned the Livingston Lures Leader award worth $500 in Livingston Lures product.
In all, 18 teams qualified for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held later this summer.
For a complete list of the results as well as photos, videos and other stories from the event, visit 
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — Lealand Johnson and Drew Grow of the University of Alabama lead the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional after Day 1 with 16-7 including the Carhartt Big Bass weighing 7-15.
The Southern Regional on the St. Johns started a little slow for many teams. Although most reported more bites on Day 1 than they found during practice, getting the fish into the boat seemed to be a problem for many anglers.
The 7-15 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Johnson was the biggest bass weighed in on Day 1 by 2 pounds. The near 8-pounder may be a sign of things to come. There’s a full moon approaching that will hit on the final day of this tournament, Jan. 5, and that could bring loads of big St. Johns River females to the bank.
“I was almost to the point of quitting when that big fish bit,” Johnson said. “It’s been a long week with everything that’s happened to us, so we were pretty beat down.”
That long week consisted of a blown trailer hub on the way down, then the top cap came loose from the hull of their boat on Wednesday, and they had to drive to Panama City Wednesday night to borrow a boat from Johnson’s friend. When they got back to Palm Coast at 6 a.m. Friday they went straight back out on the water to practice all day and finally got a little sleep last night. So when the big one bit, they could feel their luck changing.
“We were lucky to get her in,” Johnson said. “I switched to braid about 30 minutes before that, and she wrapped me up in a bunch of stuff. Once we caught that big fish, everything turned around and the momentum changed for us.”
As for now, the Bass Pro Shops Nitro Big Bag award of 16-7 caught by Johnson and Grow of Alabama has the bar set. Four teams are within 2-8 of the lead. Thomas Oltorik III and James Oltorik of Daytona State College sit in second with 15-9 and pose the most immediate threat to the University of Alabama.
Thomas Oltorik finished second in the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional on the Harris Chain with his then partner Scott Heaberlin. Without a kicker in their Day 1 bag and considering their local knowledge of the area, Daytona State stands a good chance of making a move one step up the leader board on Day 2.
Rounding out the Top 5 are Jacob Reome and Matthew Garvin of Clemson University with 14-4, Frankie Appaluccio and Logan Shaddix of the University of Alabama with 14-1, and Landon Tucker and Grant Colson of Valdosta State University with 13-14.
Anglers will launch from Bull Creek Fish Camp at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m ET Sunday and Monday. On the final day, the field will be cut to the Top 20 teams. For more information, please visit 

2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha

2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Supporting Partners: Dick Cepek Tires, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano

Courtesy of BASS Communications.