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Posted By The Bass Hog

BRANSON, Mo. — Table Rock Lake will offer the rare chance to catch a grand slam of black bass during the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open, March 2-4.

The Central Open anglers will likely bring mixed bags of bass to the weigh-in scales because Table Rock contains populations of three species of black bass — largemouth, smallmouth and spotted — along with the spotted/smallmouth hybrid known as the “meanmouth.” 

“I think you might see a grand slam with a guy who has a 3-pound smallmouth, 3-pound largemouth and a spotted bass, along with a meanmouth,” Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brian Snowden said. “Those fish will be holding a lot in the same areas, deep or shallow. You will catch one smallmouth, then you will catch a largemouth and maybe then you will catch a spot.”

“Table Rock Lake offers a tremendous fishery and supports fishable populations of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, making it very diverse,” said Chris Bowes, Bassmaster Opens tournament director. “In addition, the Branson community is able to easily accommodate the 400 anglers who will attend, offering plenty of housing and dining options.”

The last Central Open held at Table Rock was in October 2015, and it was won by Missourian James Watson with 46 pounds, 4 ounces. The Rock also hosted the 2014 A.R.E Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite in April 2014, when Elite Series pro Mike McClelland of Arkansas won with a four-day total of 61-15.

McClelland won the springtime tournament by alternating a jerkbait in natural herring color with a Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait along windblown rocky banks.

A winter Snowden describes as “unbelievably mild” could have Table Rock close to the same conditions McClelland faced when he won the Elite Series event. “The water is 8 to 10 degrees warmer than it should be,” Snowden said. “It barely got below 50 degrees this winter.”

The lake is low, and a lack of rain lately has kept the water “clear to very clear,” according to Snowden. The Missouri angler, who guides on his home waters, believes it would take a 3- to 5-inch rain before the tournament for the lake to have any change in water color. 

The clear water will favor finesse fishing techniques such as swimming plastic grubs or working small soft plastics in watermelon candy colors on shaky jigheads. “There will be fish caught on a variety of lures,” Snowden said. “There will be some deep fish caught still on a jigging spoon. But I think a lot of fish will be caught on jerkbaits and crankbaits.”

Standing timber in 30 to 60 feet of water will be the prime targets for tempting deep bass with a 3/4-ounce jigging spoon. Snowden noted a green pumpkin/orange football jig with a crawfish trailer has been producing well lately on the Rock. 

The local pro predicts most of the prespawn fish will be in the 10- to 25-foot range where suspending jerkbaits in natural shad colors or crankbaits in natural craw hues will work best. “Due to the mild winter, the fish are real scattered, especially the shallow fish,” Snowden said. He suggests the best place to look for prespawn bass is along channel swings. 

The hottest spots on the lake could be the Long Creek and Kings River arms, according to Snowden. He thinks those sections of the lake could produce best because the Central Open competitors will find the warmest and most colored water in those two tributaries.

The lake has been yielding tournament-winning weights of 18 to 22 pounds throughout the winter.

“The guy who wins will probably have 17 to 19 pounds a day,” said Snowden, who predicts the winning weight for this event will be around 56 to 58 pounds.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

Texas Angler Bests 207-boat Field to Earn Fifth Career Victory, $50,500

JASPER, Texas (Feb. 25, 2017) – Texas pro Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 27 pounds even Saturday to vault to the top of the leaderboard after starting the day in ninth place and claim top honors at the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division opener on Sam Rayburn presented by YETI. Castledine’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 66 pounds, 11 ounces, was enough to earn him the win by a 3-pound, 11-ounce margin and a check for $50,500.

“I spent the first two days of the event sight fishing, and all of the fish that I weighed, I was looking at,” said Castledine, who pushed his career earnings to more than $230,000 in FLW competition. “Today, I was out of sight fish and just went fishing. I had a good day and had 16 or 17 pounds early, and I caught around 11 keepers.

“I was running all over the lake, and I stopped on this deep spot with 20 minutes to go in the day and made one cast,” Castledine continued. “It didn’t feel good, so I reeled up and told my co-angler that we were moving. I decided to graph the area before I left, and it looked like there was a big fish down there. I left anyways, and after running a bit down the lake, an intuition told me to turn around and go back. So, I made a U-turn and went back to that spot – it was mid-lake, about 18 feet and around stumps. On my first cast there I hooked into a 9-pounder.”

Castledine said that he caught the big 9-pounder on a 10-inch Strike King Rage Tail Anaconda.

“Twelve of the fish that I weighed in, including another 9-pounder that won me the Big Bass Award on Day Two came sight fishing with a Strike King Rage Bug,” Castledine said. “I also was catching fish on a swimjig and a Strike King 2.5 Squarebill, but the big one today came on the Anaconda.

“In these big multi-day events, you can’t win in one day – you have to survive,” Castledine went on to say. “I was hanging around – tenth place after Day One, and ninth place after Day Two – and just trying to keep myself in position to possibly win. I believe the intuition to turn around today was from the Good Lord above. I’m so happy that I listened to Him.”

Jason Bonds of Lufkin, Texas, caught a big largemouth weighing 10-pounds even Thursday – the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division. For his catch, Bonds earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $300.

Mat Downey of Kountze, Texas, won the Co-angler Division and $28,350, including a Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard motor. Downey earned his win with a three-day total catch of 15 bass weighing 55 pounds, 4 ounces.

Cade caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Friday, a largemouth weighing 8 pounds even that earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $200.

The Costa FLW Series on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce and the Jasper County Development District. It was the first Southwestern Division tournament of 2017. The next Costa FLW Series tournament will be a Southeastern Division event, held March 2-4, on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. For a complete schedule, visit

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

Posted By The Bass Hog

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Florida’s famous big-bass factory showed off during the first day of the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, as Tennessee native Ott DeFoe caught a huge five-bass limit that weighed 31 pounds, 3 ounces.

Anchoring his limit with two giant bass that weighed 8-6 each, the 31-year-old DeFoe knew he had located quality fish during practice on the lake, but he didn’t realize just how good they were.

“I had a lot of bites during practice, but I wasn’t catching very many fish over 2 1/2 to 3 pounds,” DeFoe said. “But, a few of those fish were in one area that seemed to have all the right ingredients to justify a return trip once the tournament began.”

DeFoe caught one of his big bass at his first stop early in the day, but decided to move after only having a few other bites.

“I stayed on that spot until after 9 a.m., and it was after 10 when I caught my next one,” said DeFoe, a six-time qualifier for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. “At that point, the rest of my limit was small, but I was happy to have them because I had the one big fish.”

He managed to upgrade into the early afternoon on one spot that was also consistent for him during practice. DeFoe also said his pattern developed as the day went on, and he’s confident Friday will produce similar results.

“Today was a special day,” he said. “But it’s Okeechobee, 30-pound-plus limits can happen every day on this lake, and if I play my cards right tomorrow I believe I can hang onto the lead.”

“When my twins were born, they both weighed several pounds less than those two big bass today,” he said with a laugh.

Weighing five-bass limits that exceed the 25 or 30 pounds is a rarity in this sport, and Browning agrees with DeFoe that today was indeed special.

“I don’t know if the quality of fish I caught today will still be available tomorrow, but it was sure a lot of fun,” Browning said. “I didn’t have a very good practice, so today I just went fishing and learned a lot. I really want to believe that I can catch another 25 pounds of fish tomorrow, but I won’t know if the pattern will hold until things get started in the morning.”

Many anglers commented on how water temperatures had dropped several degrees in recent days, and while cold fronts typically cause Florida-strain largemouth bass to become sluggish, the cold front that brought significant rain Wednesday afternoon seemed to have invigorated Okeechobee’s bass population.

“I’m going to hunker down and give it my best shot tomorrow — that’s all you can do when you’re learning as you go,” Browning said. “I’m sharing water with several other boats, and the improving weather should improve the bite. I’m doing something a little bit different, and I bet the pattern holds for another couple of days.”

Confidence is a key component to successful tournament angling, and like Browning, Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., who weighed 25-15 for third, was surprised by his Day 1 weight.

“At this point, I just can’t be sure tomorrow will be as productive as today,” Horton said. “I got off to a great start, but the fishing was pretty slow as the day went on. I got the right bites, but not that many of them. To have a shot in a tournament on a lake like Okeechobee, you’ve got to have at least one day in the 25-pound range.”

Like DeFoe and Browning, Horton knows what Lake Okeechobee is capable of. Horton has an impressive history on Okeechobee, including a couple of Top 10s and a win.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Whether it was cabin fever among bass fishing fans, pent-up anticipation of the new Bassmaster Elite Series season or simply continued growth in popularity, audience sizes for videos and other content achieved record numbers for the first Elite event of 2017.

For example, by the time newcomer Jacob Wheeler was crowned champion of the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake, Tennessee, Feb. 12, had recorded more than 1.1 million visits. That represents a 38 percent increase over total website visits during the previous most-viewed tournament, the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend in May 2016, when superstar Kevin VanDam dominated the competition.

Audience measurements showed similar growth in almost every category. Those visits to produced more than 13.4 million page views during the four-day event, a 65 percent increase over Toledo Bend numbers.

“Some might attribute the audience increase to cabin fever, but I prefer to view it as confirmation that bass fishing fans are growing more and more passionate about the sport,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “We are determined to provide quality content about bass fishing whenever, however and wherever fans want to consume it, and our efforts seem to be paying off.”

In addition to the digital traffic, Akin noted that attendance for the event totaled 11,450, including 5,200 people who crowded into the Knoxville Convention Center for the Championship Sunday weigh-in ceremonies.

Bassmaster LIVE — the live-streamed video programming introduced to the sport by B.A.S.S. in 2015 — also gained new viewers during the Cherokee tournament. A total of 235,520 video views were counted that week, a 22 percent increase over the previous record, and total minutes watched exceeded 6.5 million, which was 27 percent higher than Toledo Bend.

“We've been working hard to make the live shows a better experience with more cameras and more innovations, such as the bottom line ticker,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content and producer of Bassmaster LIVE. “It’s great to see that this fast growing Bassmaster LIVE audience is enjoying the sport more and more every day. On top of all the LIVE success on, we’re attracting a whole new audience with our simulcast on WatchESPN.”

Including LIVE, attracted more than 700,000 video views to the website, a 48 percent increase over the previous best, and minutes viewed almost hit 10 million during the event.

Following a national trend in almost every arena, consumption of social media content grew exponentially. Total impressions through all of B.A.S.S.’s social media platforms were 7.8 million, which nearly tripled the record from Toledo Bend. Coverage of the tournament garnered an additional 456,000 video views on social channels.

Jim Sexton, vice president/digital and editor of, attributed the increases in audience in part to the location, since the Elite Series had not visited the highland reservoir before. He added, “We also made a number of improvements to the way we cover our events, including more aerial photos and videos from drones, a sizable increase in the number of video clips from the water and new features such as the ‘marshal photo gallery’ and Facebook Live reports.”

The second stop along what anglers are calling “the dream season” of the series will be the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, Fla., this week.

Those two events will rack up even more audience numbers when “The Bassmasters” TV show debuts on ESPN2 at 8 a.m. (ET) March 12. The show will encore the following Sunday morning and will be aired again on the ESPN Classic channel.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

Minnesota’s Larson Wins Co-Angler Title, $20,350

JONESTOWN, Texas (Feb. 17, 2017) – Pro Stephen Patek of Garland, Texas, brought a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 1 ounce, to the scale Friday to take the lead after day two of the FLW Tour at Lake Travis presented by Quaker State with a two-day catch of 10 bass totaling 34-6. Patek will bring a slim 4-ounce lead over Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, into day three of the four-day event that features 164 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.

Patek said he’s working through the mouth of a main-lake pocket to catch his bass. He said he’s primarily focusing on a hump that has trees around the edges and rocks over the top.

“The mouth isn’t very big, but there’s a lot of bass in there,” said Patek, who is fishing his third season as a professional on the FLW Tour. “Its deepest section is 18 feet down. I think it’s a staging area for bass to spawn, and it seems to be reloading every night.”

Patek said his bait of choice is a Carolina-rigged 3-inch soft-plastic craw.

“They seem to like the smaller profile,” said Patek. “I caught my bass on it this morning, left the hump and didn’t return.”

“I plan on spending more time on the hump and the point tomorrow,” said Patek. “I think the mouth will kick out some more bass, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”

Wendlandt earned the day's $500 Big Bass award in the Pro Division after catching an 8-pound, 6-ounce largemouth.

Overall there were 546 bass weighing 1,109 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 154 pros Friday. The catch included 62 five-bass limits.

David Larson of Mound, Minnesota, won the Co-Angler Division and $20,350 Friday with a two-day total of six bass weighing 21 pounds, 10 ounces, followed by Thomas Martens of Jonestown, Texas, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 20 pounds, 11 ounces worth $7,550.

David Wootton of Collierville, Tennessee, earned $250 for the Big Bass award in the Co-Angler Division with a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth.

Overall there were 268 bass weighing 478 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 119 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 11 five-bass limits.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of anglers competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Travis presented by Quaker State is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CST each day from Jones Brothers Park, located at 10301 Lakeside Drive, in Jonestown. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at Jones Brothers Park beginning at 4 p.m.

Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lake Travis presented by Quaker State will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) April 12 from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.

Posted By The Bass Hog

HOUSTON — Will crowds at Minute Maid Park witness a double-digit bass weighed in during the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods? Considering the trophy potential of nearby Lake Conroe, where 52 of the nation’s best bass anglers will compete March 24-26, they might be treated to more than just a 10- or 11-pound bass — or two or three.

“I think we are going to see very big bass come weigh-in time in Houston, maybe a ShareLunker,” said Dave Terre, management/research chief of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). 

Established in 1986, the agency’s Toyota ShareLunker program encourages the catch and release of large fish and uses bass of 13 pounds or heavier for selective breeding, before being returned to the fishery from which they were caught. Of the 17 ShareLunkers caught at Conroe, five were taken during the month of March. The latest, a 13.14-pounder, was caught in early April 2015.

B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland added, “For years, Lake Conroe was the poster child for grass carp gone bad. Back then, the bass fishermen thought the world was coming to an end. But a solid long-term management plan that married passionate B.A.S.S. club members with the expertise of Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists, turned Conroe into a top-tier fishery.”

Seven Coves Bass Club, a B.A.S.S. Nation club, took a leadership role among those partners, and for its efforts, received a 2013 Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “This is probably the highest recognition our conservation program has received to date,” said Tim Cook, conservation director for the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation. “Every member should be proud to be part of an organization that gives so much back to the sport we all love.”

In 2008, following a second round of grass carp introductions to control invasive hydrilla, the club was awarded a grant for about $45,000 from B.A.S.S. and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build a plant nursery on property owned by the San Jacinto River Authority. The latter and TPWD also helped finance the effort.

“With the assistance and advice of TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, they started growing native aquatic plants to go into Lake Conroe,” said TPWD biologist Mark Webb. “More people all the time were getting excited about coming in and helping to grow ecologically appropriate native plants to provide the kind of habitat we need for fish and wildlife in Lake Conroe.”

The following summer, 150 plants grown in the nursery were placed in the lake; they were shielded from grass carp and turtles with protective cages. Many more were to follow, as Seven Coves expanded its alliances for the betterment of the fishery. In 2010, Seven Coves received an additional $20,000 from the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and Bass Pro Shops as part of the first ever Friends of Reservoirs Foundation grant.

“This project has brought a wide range of stakeholders closer together, which has been positive for the angling community,” said Ron Gunter, a club member and assistant conservation director for the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation.

Webb estimates that about 10,000 mature native plants have been added to the 21,000-acre fishery since 2008, with some, particularly water willow, now expanding on their own.

More than 500,000 Floridas were stocked annually in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013, and some almost certainly have reached ShareLunker size.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Some lakes are known for how deep they are.  Some are known for the type of structure and baitfish they have.  Others are known for serving as the sites of some of the greatest moments in professional bass fishing history — and one of those from that latter column has been chosen as the home of next year’s GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

The 48th annual world championship of professional bass fishing will be held March 16-18, 2018, in Greenville and on Lake Hartwell at Anderson, S.C., it was announced today in a news conference in Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena, which will be the site of daily weigh-in ceremonies.

“The opportunity to host the Bassmaster Classic for the second time in four years solidifies the Upstate of South Carolina as a destination, nationally, for bass fishing,” said Neil Paul, executive director, Visit Anderson. “Lake Hartwell is a tremendous natural resource and continues to gain national attention as a championship fishery, and we welcome anglers from all levels to enjoy its greatness. Our Anderson County team, our partnership with Greenville, support from our regional partners and the state of South Carolina have proven vital to our overall success where we continue to experience returns in residual tourism from hosting the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.”

“GEICO is proud to continue its successful partnership with the Bassmaster Classic,” said Ted Ward, vice president of marketing for GEICO, title sponsor of the event. “The Classic offers a great platform for us to engage and connect with a growing bass fishing audience, who are some of the most passionate and loyal fans in all of sports.”

The event will mark the third time the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” will have been held here. As in previous visits in 2008 and 2015, fishing competition will take place on Lake Hartwell, a 56,000-acre impoundment on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers along the South Carolina/Georgia border.

Takeoffs will be from Green Pond Landing and Event Center, a modern, $3.1 million launch facility in Anderson, S.C., that was completed just in time for the 2015 Classic and was built to accommodate that and similarly large bass tournaments.

The fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will again be held in the 250,000-square-foot TD Convention Center in Greenville March 16-18.

“Bringing the Bassmaster Classic back to the Upcountry of South Carolina was an easy decision,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S., which conducts the event. “Despite record-cold temperatures when we were there in February 2015, fishing fans turned out in force. Our attendance of 103,000 those three days marked a 40 percent increase over the 2008 Classic and was one of our biggest turnouts ever.

“We expect next year’s Classic to be even bigger and better — and warmer,” Akin added, noting that the fishing competition will take place almost a month later in 2018 than during 2015.

Perhaps no Classic in history has shown the strength of a fishery like that 2015 event, when temperatures made such a monumental dip. It was just 9 degrees for the opening morning of the tournament — a morning that featured the National Anthem being performed by South Carolina angler Casey Ashley — and competition was delayed with the anglers’ safety in mind.

Despite the conditions, there were still multiple five-bass limits of 20 pounds or more brought across the scales at the Bon Secours Wellness Center Arena, and Ashley needed an average of more than 16.6 pounds per day to win.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

Feb. 12, 2017 KNOXVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — At only 26 years of age, Jacob Wheeler has already won more than his share of big-money bass tournaments.

But he’s never won one under the same set of circumstances he faced this week during the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake — and he’s quick to admit that he may never do it again.

After a week of adversity that some anglers don’t face in an entire season, Wheeler won the event and its $100,000 first-place prize with a four-day total of 69 pounds, 13 ounces. A final-day catch of 18-3 — his biggest of the tournament — helped him jump from third place into the winner’s spot.

Jamie Hartman finished second with 69-3, and Jesse Wiggins, who held a slim lead through the first three rounds of fishing, placed third with 69-0.

“I’ve won a few tournaments in my day,” Wheeler said. “But this one is by far the craziest, coolest win I’ve ever had — there’s nothing even close to it.

“Just all of the adversity that went down was so crazy — and through all of that, to go out and not only catch a limit every day, but to also catch winning bags every day, that’s just amazing.”

Wheeler had a fairly normal opening round, catching 17-10 to land in second place. But on the second day, things got crazy.

During pre-practice, Wheeler said he graphed the entire lake and had 1,600 waypoints marked from one end of the fishery to the other on his depthfinder. But an electronics mix-up on Friday left him without half of those waypoints, and he had to do much of his fishing by memory.

Then on Saturday, one of his batteries malfunctioned, leaving him without a working trolling motor. So he took advantage of a little-known B.A.S.S. rule that allows a stranded angler to fish with another competitor as long as a marshal is present.

While fishing with Elite Series rookie Dustin Connell, Wheeler caught two of his biggest fish of the day and brought 17-1 to the scales to land in second place heading into Championship Sunday.

“I had a lot of places to fish on this lake,” Wheeler said. “I think that’s what helped me fight through all of the things that happened as much as anything else.”

On the final day, having a wide selection of areas to choose from made all the difference.

“I had a backup card with all of my waypoints, so I had them back for days 3 and 4,” Wheeler said. “I could run to every rock, every boulder, every piece of structure I had found in practice.

Wheeler relied all week on a VMC Moon Eye Jighead with a 3-inch soft jerkbait in simple pearl white. He was watching for smallmouth on his Lowrance depthfinder and literally dropping the bait to specific fish in 20 to 30 feet of water.

He caught the biggest part of his limit during one 10-minute stretch around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It was absolutely crazy,” Wheeler said. “I was fishing a little pond, and I came across a wad of fish. There were so many of them that I thought they might be stripers. But I know the difference between stripers and smallmouth on my graph, and I thought those looked like big, old smallmouth.

“I dropped my bait down and about 20 of them came up at one time. It was crazy.”

“Later in the day, I went to fish a place down near the dam where I caught a lot of my really big, big fish this week,” he said. “I went there, I hooked one, and it was a 3 3/4-pounder. That was the winning bite, and it happened about 20 minutes before quitting time.”

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

KNOXVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — When B.A.S.S. announced it would be holding its first Bassmaster Elite Series event of the 2017 season on Cherokee Lake in the mountains of eastern Tennessee in February, some anglers wondered if they might need ice suits and heaters on the front decks of their boats just to stay focused on fishing.

But Brandon Card, an Elite Series competitor from Knoxville, said the area simply hasn’t had that kind of weather this year.

Card said it’s been one of the mildest winters he can remember — and when the anglers begin the event, scheduled for Feb. 9-12 with takeoffs and weigh-ins at Cherokee Lake Dam and TVA Boat Ramp, they’re likely to have multiple options for catching big fish.

“I have a lot of experience on Cherokee,” Card said. “But we’ve never had a winter this crazy, just in terms of how mild it’s been. I think we’ve just got to expect the unexpected in this one. Fish are going to be so scattered. They’ll be all over the place.”

Though some anglers dread frigid temperatures, Card said local anglers like him could have actually benefited from those conditions.

“I think if it had been one of those brutal winters, it would have definitely played into the east Tennessee guys’ hands,” he said. “But now, it kind of opens it up to anybody and everybody. There’s going to be a few fish in those predictable wintertime haunts, but that’s not going to be the winning pattern.

“Fishing history isn’t going to do much for you.”

The announcement of the tournament date and location — combined with a B.A.S.S. rule change that will now allow Elite Series anglers to use rods up to 10 feet long — led many to wonder if a finesse technique known as float-and-fly could be a big part of the event. The method allows anglers to fish a small jig on a long leader under a bobber to target suspended fish.

But Card said the mild winter may take that out of the equation as well.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as much of a factor as it might have been,” he said. “I’m sure there will be fish caught that way, but you could probably go down that same stretch of bank and catch them on a spinnerbait. So why would you want to watch a bobber if the water temperature is in the low 50s and you can catch them in other ways a lot faster.”

Regardless of how the fish are caught, those who know the lake well expect a close tournament from start to finish.

“Cherokee is so good, and there are going to be so many fish caught that to distance yourself, it’s going to take some good fortune,” said Brandon Coulter, another Elite Series angler who calls Knoxville home. “The situation won’t really benefit the local anglers, because everybody’s going to catch them.”

Coulter said that could make for some exciting daily weigh-ins.

“I really think 13 or 14 pounds probably won’t put you in the position you want to be in, but 16 will,” Coulter said “It’s going to be more like one of those northern tournaments – like the one we had on Cayuga Lake last year when 16 wouldn’t get you a check, but 17 would.

“Cherokee Lake will prove its reputation as an outstanding bass lake in terms of both size and numbers of fish,” said Adele Sensing, director of tourism for the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Tenn. “The smallmouth are good and plentiful. The number one reason that a tournament wants to come to an area is great fishing, and Cherokee Lake will deliver.”

Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville, agreed.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.


Posted By The Bass Hog

Arkansas Pro Catches 18-pound, 3-ounce Final Day Limit, Wins $125,000

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (Feb. 5, 2017) – General Tire pro Mark Rose of West Memphis, Arkansas, caught five bass Sunday weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces to win $125,000 at the FLW Tour at Lake Guntersville presented by Lowrance. Rose’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 79-11 gave him a 15-ounce margin of victory of second-place angler Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina.

“I knew I had found one little special area, back in Browns Creek,” said Rose, who earned his seventh career win on the Tennessee River in FLW competition. “I just had that gut feeling that it would be special. Nobody else was back there and when I went there on the first day nobody came within a mile of it. I fished other areas, some grass, but all 20 of the bass that I weighed in came out of Browns Creek.

“I figured out a bait that they were just swallowing – an old Strike King Flat Side crankbait, part of their custom shop,” Rose said. “I was using the chartreuse and brown and a shad color. I just switched to the shad today – I made one cast with it and caught my last fish, a 5-pounder. That was at 3:15 and I had to check in by 3:30.

“I fished slow, and just keyed in on rock. I didn’t even make a cast under the bridges. I knew that there were a lot of scattered big fish up and down the rip rap and I’d let everybody else fight on the pilings.”

Rose and Thrift had found themselves in a similar situation at the 2014 FLW Tour at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. In that event Rose held a 2-pound, 14-ounce lead over Thrift heading into the final day of competition, but lost when the North Carolina pro caught 17 pounds to overtake Rose and win the $125,000. Sunday at Lake Guntersville, Rose caught enough to hold off the hard-charging Thrift.

“Any time Bryan Thrift is in the top 10, it’s going to be close,” Rose said. “I felt like I slipped up the last day and lost that Rayburn event. This one, I made Thrift have to beat me. If you want to win you’re going to have to beat the best, and he’s one of them.”

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Overall there were 47 bass weighing 155 pounds, 1 ounce caught by pros Sunday. Eight of the final 10 pros weighed in five-bass limits.

Jeff Ragsdale of Gardendale, Alabama, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 30 pounds, 6 ounces, followed by Benjie Seaborn of Guin, Alabama, who finished in second place with eight bass weighing 24 pounds, 9 ounces worth $7,500.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of 330 anglers competes Thursday and Friday. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina, Aug. 11-13.

The FLW Tour at Lake Guntersville presented by Lowrance was hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The next event for FLW Tour anglers will be the FLW Tour at Lake Travis presented by Quaker State, Feb. 16-19 in Jonestown, Texas.

Courtesy of FLW Outdoors.