Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Lee Livesay Wins 2022 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork!

Canadian Chris Johnston 10th.

Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, has won the 2022 Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a four-day total of 113 pounds, 11 ounces. (Photo: BASS)


BASS PRESS RELEASE

QUITMAN, Texas — Lee Livesay definitely expected to do well; he just never expected his second consecutive victory on his home waters to be fueled by a “junk” spot.

 

But that’s exactly what happened, as the Longview, Texas, pro turned in a four-day total of 113 pounds, 11 ounces to win the Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork.

 

Livesay caught 32 pounds on Day 1 and finished just 5 ounces out of the top spot. A second-round limit of 28-10 then gave him the lead with a 4-pound margin over Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho.

 

Livesay added 27-5 on Semifinal Saturday and entered Championship Sunday with a 3 1/2-pound advantage over Palaniuk. Then his final limit of 25-12 sealed the victory and pushed him past Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Ala. — both with 102-2 — by a margin of 11-9.

 

Ties are broken by the heaviest single-day weight. Palaniuk’s 30-1 limit on Day 2 topped Swindle’s Day 1 limit of 29-7.

 

“This week is the most stressful week ever for me because I want to do good for every single person in this crowd that supports me — friends, family, sponsors, everybody,” Livesay said. “This place is special to a lot of people, but it’s special to me because it’s home.

 

“It’s hard to win on your home lake, but I’m a very blessed man.”

 

It marked the third Elite title for Livesay, who won at Lake Fork in 2021 and Chickamauga Lake in 2020. In addition to the $100,000 first-place prize, Livesay claimed his second Century Club belt for breaking 100 pounds in a four-day event. His first was for last year’s Lake Fork winning total of 112-5.

 

Despite intimate Lake Fork knowledge earned through a lifetime of fishing and several years of guiding, Livesay lamented a tough tournament. The lake is down 5 1/2 feet for dam repairs, so many of the spots he fished last year were inaccessible, if not high and dry.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork Day 3: Livesay Lead Going into Last Day!

Canadians Chris Johnston 8th & Gustafson 24th.


Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, is leading after Day 3 of the 2022 Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a three-day total of 87 pounds, 15 ounces. (Photo: BASS)

BASS PRESS RELEASE

QUITMAN, Texas — Despite a lifetime of fishing Lake Fork and several years of guiding on the East Texas powerhouse, Lee Livesay found something he’d never seen before and that revelation delivered a Day 3 limit of 27 pounds, 5 ounces that kept him atop the Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a three-day weight of 87-15.

 

Livesay heads into Championship Sunday with a 3 1/2-pound advantage over Idaho superstar Brandon Palaniuk — and he credits much of his success to that new discovery.

 

“Most of the fish I’ve caught this week have come from a spot I’ve never even caught a bass on,” said Livesay, who won his first St. Croix Bassmaster Open presented by Mossy Oak Fishing at Ross Barnett on April 30. “I found them the first day of practice and thought they were little, but they grew. I got lucky yesterday and got an 8-pounder on another spot where it was just her.”

 

Livesay knows Fork intimately, but the spot he’s leveraging this week was so unassuming that it had never caught his eye. During practice, another tournament crowded the lake’s diminished waters — the lake level is down 5 1/2 feet for dam repairs — so Livesay searched for less obvious spots.

 

“I went looking at off-the-wall stuff I’d never looked at,” he said. “When I found them, I thought they were catfish. I came back the second day of practice and caught two under 4 pounds.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork Day 2: Livesay Lead Texas Slugfest!

Canadians Chris Johnston 10th, Gustafson 40th & Cory Johnston 50th

Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, is leading after Day 2 of the 2022 Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a two-day total of 60 pounds, 10 ounces. (Photo: BASS)

BASS PRESS RELEASE

QUITMAN, Texas — Lee Livesay couldn’t find what he was looking for, but the pro from Longview, Texas, found what he needed to lead Day 2 of the Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a total weight of 60 pounds, 10 ounces.

 

Livesay, who won last year’s Lake Fork event, started the day trailing opening-round leader Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., by 5 ounces. But after adding 28-10 to his first-round weight of 32 pounds, Livesay heads into Semifinal Saturday leading Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, by 4 pounds.

 

An active morning saw Livesay catch all of his weight by 10 a.m. Anchoring his bag with a 7-10, he spent the rest of the day searching for one of the mega-schools that he knows hold the caliber of bass that could’ve pushed his total past his Day 1 effort.

 

“I had a 4-11 and I jumped one good one off that would have helped me a little bit,” Livesay said. “I thought for sure I was going to run into a school that was right to catch a 7-plus-pounder this afternoon, but it just didn’t happen.

 

“Obviously, I’m happy with leading the tournament. I can’t complain; I’m just a little frustrated not finding a new group yet.”

 

Livesay said he’s hopeful that a smaller Day 3 field — only the Top 47 competitors — will afford him greater opportunities. With Lake Fork’s water level down about 5 feet for dam repairs, plus big winds rendering a lot of areas unfishable, Livesay struggled to find anything that would cull.

Friday, May 20, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork Day 1: Prince Takes Narrow Lead On Windy Lake Fork


BASS PRESS RELEASE

QUITMAN, Texas. — Early success gave Cliff Prince the comfort and confidence to look for the big bites he needed to amass an eye-popping Day 1 limit of 32 pounds, 5 ounces that leads the Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork.

 Hailing from Palatka, Fla., site of the Elite season opener on the St. Johns River, Prince leads last year’s Lake Fork champion, local pro Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, by 5 ounces.

 

“I had one place when I was working my way to the back of a pocket, and I caught 25 to 26 pounds off of that spot by about 9:30,” Prince said. “I caught everything I had off that first spot in about 20 minutes.

 

“I caught 10 fish there and they were still biting when I left.”

 

Knowing he had positioned himself well, Prince transitioned to a more aggressive strategy. Essentially, he became more discerning, as he sought quality over quantity.

 

Crowding throughout the lake, plus a strong Southwest wind blowing 15 to 20 mph, compelled him to remain in the creek where he started and diligently seek its greatest potential.

 

“Having 25 pounds early allowed me to go find what I found this afternoon,” he said. “I wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere because I knew the wind was going to wipe out a lot of the stuff. I knew (big fish) live in that creek, and I knew it was the right place to be.

 

“I fished around in that area and tried to find something else and, late this afternoon, I tried to duplicate (my morning spot) and I ran across two other points that had some fish. On the second one I fished, I caught two 7-pounders. That’s what made the difference.”

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Elite Angler Whatley Takes Medical Hardship Ahead Of Lake Fork


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the last 12 years, Texas angler Brad Whatley has dealt with the autoimmune disorder known as Crohn’s disease. Fortunately, over the last eight to nine years, the disease was in remission and caused him few issues — until the beginning of 2022.

Earlier this year, the disease flared up again, causing excruciating pain. The flare-up was bad enough that Whatley spent several days in the hospital in January, just before the start of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, and he has been forced to go back to the hospital four times since then.

After battling the pain through the first four events of the season, the two-time Classic qualifier will take a medical hardship and focus on getting the disease back in remission.

“Out of the four events I’ve fished this season on the Elites, two of them I had absolutely no business being out there,” said Whatley. “I’ve had to miss a quarter of the practices this season because I just physically couldn’t do it. I’ve tried to battle through it, but at the end of the day, it’s taken its toll on me.”

Since the flare-ups began again, Whatley was placed on new medication, and he feels confident that this will help get him back to better health.

“This new medicine will hopefully put it back in remission and I can get back to who I was,” said Whatley. “I’m never truly 100% because there’s no cure for Crohn’s, but as long as I can get back in remission and avoid these major flare-ups, I’ll be good to get back out there.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Nick LeBrun Wins 2022 MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me event on Lake Guntersville!


By Joe Sills

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – On Championship Sunday, Nick LeBrun stepped to the deck of his boat surveying an expanse of eelgrass on the Tennessee River. He told his cameraman, E.K., that a 5-pounder would change everything for him today as he let a cast fly 120 feet over the bow. Seconds later, a 7-pound Guntersville largemouth smashed his line and really did change everything for the newest Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me champion.

LeBrun went on to boat a 22-pound, 15-ounce total that gave him his first MLF win since a Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American title in 2018. It’s at that BFL event where this week’s story begins.

On an early summer day four years ago, LeBrun stood onstage holding a $100,000 check, his wife of six years, Jolene, invisible in his mind.

Two weeks later, LeBrun said he was on the side of the road in Louisiana preparing to commit suicide.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

2022 MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me event on Lake Guntersville Day 2: Shuffield Continues to Lead!


By Joe Sills

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Guntersville is back. That’s the common refrain from competitors across the 156-angler field of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me event on Lake Guntersville. The world’s most storied bass fishery has regularly topped the list of the planet’s best bass lakes since the sport rose to prominence in the 1960s; however, recent years have been less productive. If this week’s showing is any indication, the anglers are right.

In two days, 23 five-bass bags with weights of more than 20 pounds have been brought to the podium. From top to bottom, competitors seemed to be boating numbers over the past two days, but only the 50 most fortunate advanced to Day 3 as the cut came for anglers unable to find a big bite in the crowd.

Day 1 leader Spencer Shuffield continues to lead the pack after adding 18-11 to his 25-6 weight from Thursday, good for a 44-1 total. Meanwhile, Oregon angler Lane Olson rode a 26-14 bag all the way from 70th to second place. Defending Pro Circuit Angler of the Year Michael Neal rounds out the top three after tossing 19-7 onto 22-2 from the first day of competition.

Shuffield returned to the hot spot that produced a monster sack yesterday to quickly catch four fish weighing more than 15 pounds. After a brisk early bite, he says the spot shut down, possibly due to wind conditions.

“I fished out around them more than anything,” said Shuffield, who added that he switched to a flutter spoon and a hair jig to target the bass after the crankbait bite he rode on Day 1 shut down.

With one more day of competition before weights are zeroed for Sunday’s championship day, Shuffield sits in the best position in the pack to sail through toward a 10-man, one-day derby for $100,000 (or more).

“I can go catch 13 or 14 pounds a hundred times over in the shallows,” he said. “As far as catching a big bag, I am going to have to do that on ledges. I have four places where I feel like I have the potential to catch over 20 pounds off. I want to make it to Sunday because I feel like I will have those places to myself, pretty much.”

Friday, May 13, 2022

2022 MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me event on Lake Guntersville Day 1: Shuffield Clocks 25lbs for Lead!


By Joe Sills 

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Spencer Shuffield is leading the pack at the site of his very first pro tournament, 11 years after his debut in the professional bass fishing ranks. The Arkansas pro turned in a 25-pound, 6-ounce bag to cap Day 1 of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me event on Lake Guntersville; and he’s hoping to stay ahead of the pack by riding a volcanically hot honey hole to the finish line.

To do so, Shuffield will have to stay ahead of a wolf pack of pros nipping at his heels with a variety of pick-and-pop patterns at their disposal. From spawning fish, to a shad spawn and of course, fish flooding to the ledges, the field can pick their fancy at B&W Trailer Hitches Stop 4 Presented by A.R.E. With several 20-pound bags crossing the scale, Shuffield leads the charge with a 3-4 lead over offshore guru Michael Neal. Behind them sit a plethora of seasoned pros who are biding their time to strike on the famed fishery.

“It was really good,” said Shuffield of his Day 1 start. “I found four big schools the last afternoon of practice. The first school I found, I pulled up and caught an 8-pounder on it. On that spot there were maybe 100 of them schooling and of them maybe 30 over 6 pounds.”

Shuffield says he didn’t start the tournament on his honey hole but did eventually slide into it after a local angler graciously allowed him to move on.

“It’s the winning spot, no doubt,” Shuffield said. “It’s just a matter of who might be on it the next two or three days.”

Shuffield says his spot contains enough fish for multiple anglers to sustain themselves on for the duration of the event. However, he’s relying on an extremely deep-diving crankbait to target the fish that he hopes will continue to provide him with an edge.

“All of the fish I caught today were on a Hardcore Bullet Crank 7+,” Shuffield said. “We haven’t been anywhere yet that I have been able to throw it. It’s a brand-new bait that gets down to 26 feet on 14-pound fluorocarbon. These fish are at 22 feet. You can throw it so far, and getting that bait down to that depth is the key because they just don’t ever see crankbaits that deep.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

B.A.S.S. Founder Ray Scott, The Father Of Modern Bass Fishing, Has Died


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Ray Scott passed away on Sunday, May 8 at around 11:30 p.m. He died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes. Scott was 88 years old. 

Scott founded the first national professional bass fishing circuit, the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, in 1967 and the following year founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society — B.A.S.S. — which would grow to become the world’s largest fishing organization. 

 

“Our entire organization was saddened to hear about the passing of our founder, Ray Scott,” said Chase Anderson, B.A.S.S. CEO. “Ray’s passion and vision for bass fishing birthed our entire industry more than 50 years ago when he founded B.A.S.S. and started the first professional fishing tournament series. His legacy is felt to this day and continues to influence B.A.S.S., the world’s largest fishing membership organization, which he started in 1968. Ray’s contributions and impact on conservation and his advocacy and passion for anglers and our sport set the standard for tournament fishing and are something we will always strive to uphold.

 

“Our hearts and prayers are with the Scott family.”

 

The bass tournament competition Scott created rewarded anglers who caught the heaviest limits of bass in the three- or four-day events, which served as the proving grounds for rapid advancements in bass boats, outboard engines, fishing tackle, lures and electronics. Everyday anglers began purchasing whatever the bass pros were using, spawning a massive bass fishing industry that today has an economic impact in excess of $125 billion per year and employs more than 800,000 people nationwide.