Monday, February 18, 2019

Edwin Evers Wins BPT Lake Conroe Event with 51-12lbs!


A big 8-pounder seals deal for Evers
By Joel Shangle
BPT PRESS RELEASE

Evers adds a win and a 2nd place in 2 BPT tournaments.
(Photo BPT)
In the immediate aftermath of the first MLF Bass Pro Tour event in Kissimmee, Florida two weeks ago, Edwin Evers’ dissatisfaction with finishing second was palpable. Ever the professional, Evers complimented his fellow competitors and smiled for photos at the Berkley Postgame Show, but no talk of Cup points could bring the Oklahoma pro comfort.
Sunday afternoon on Lake Conroe, Evers made sure that the only postgame talk would be of how he earned his first-ever MLF Bass Pro Tour trophy.

Evers racked up 51 pounds, 12 ounces to outdistance Jeff Sprague, (40-8), Boyd Duckett (35-15), Brent Ehrler (34-13) and David Walker (34-7) and claim the win at the Bass Pro Tour Huk Stage Two presented by Favorite Fishing. The Oklahoma pro caught 24 scorable fish on the day, including an exclamation point with 9 minutes left in competition: an 8-1 that hit a drop-shot Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper.

“You can’t imagine how good it feels to catch a fish like that,” Evers admitted. “I knew there were big fish in there, because I shook some big ones off the second day of the event. The big females just hadn’t gotten there yet, but they’re coming.”

Evers’ winning area
Evers’ pattern was to flip his way down the bank with a Black Blue Berkley Havoc Pit Boss, picking out small indentations and grassy, undercut banks and flipping his bait as close to the bank as he could. He also caught some fish on a vibrating jig.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Paul Mueller Wins 2019 BASS Elite on Lake Lanier with 69lbs!

Canadian Chris Johnston 10th. 
By David Precht
BASS PRESS RELEASE
Mueller's first Elite a family celebration.
(Photo: BASS)

Former B.A.S.S. Nation Champion Paul Mueller proved he belongs in the big leagues of professional fishing by winning a spotted bass shootout on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. Mueller earned $100,000 by winning the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier today.

Desperate to fill out his five-bass limit with bigger spotted bass, Mueller returned to a deep ridge that had produced most of his big spotted bass on previous days. There, he managed to dredge up two big spotted bass that pushed him ahead of Texas angler Chris Zaldain by less than a pound.

“I struggled today,” Mueller said. “I had run out of options, so I went back to my primary spot and caught a 5 1/4 (pounder) and then a 4. Without those two fish, I don’t win.”

Mueller had 18 pounds, 8 ounces for the day, giving him a four-day total of 69-0. It could have been even more. “There were still fish on that spot when I left,” he added. “At the end of the day, I lost a couple of big ones. I could have had a 20-something bag today.”
He described the structure as a large, underwater ridge with two shallower areas on top and very deep water on each side. He caught most of his spotted bass the first day on a Reins Bubbling Shad on a Do It Molds Freestyle Jighead, but the big producer the rest of the time was a 3 1/4-ounce Reins Fat Rockvibe Shad Swimbait on a 1/2-ounce herring head underspin jighead with the spinner removed.

“Who would have thought you could win this tournament — a blueback herring tournament — off of one spot?” he said. In fisheries where the nomadic herring are a main staple of bass diet, spotted bass are notorious for leaving their holding areas unexpectedly and en masse.

That happened to Zaldain, who also had to contend with a wind shift today that moved his schools of bass. A sudden drop of temperatures into the low 40s didn’t help.

“I fished long, sloping points all week and had to switch to western banks today because of the east wind,” he said.

Zaldain was the leader with 51-9 going into Championship Sunday, when only the Top 10 finalists competed, but he fell short with a 16-9 limit today that included two smaller bass. He alternated between a 3-inch Megabass Spark Shad swimbait on a 3/8-ounce jighead and a 3/8-ounce drop shot with a 3-inch Megabass Hazedong Shad.

Unlike Mueller and Zaldain, the others in the Top 5, and most of those in the Top 10, fished crankbaits in shallow to medium depths, especially on shorelines and points in 38,000-acre Lake Lanier.

Keith Combs of Texas finished third with 66-1, earning a $20,000 payday that pushed him into the Millionaire’s Club of B.A.S.S. His career earnings now stand at $1,001,635. He alternated between Strike King crankbaits and a 6-inch shaky head worm and followed a “run-and-gun” pattern to try numerous spots during the day. “I didn’t stay anywhere long,” he said.

2019 BPT Lake Conroe: Duckett Leads Top 10 Anglers into Championship Round

Stephan Browning jumps into Top 10 at very last moment!
By Rory Connellan
BPT PRESS RELEASE

Battle for the win starts tomorrow!
(Photo: BPT)
For the better part of the past year, Boyd Duckett has been "Mr. MLF" as he worked endlessly to establish the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. But for the seven hours of competition in the Knockout Round of MLF Bass Pro Tour Huk Stage Two Conroe presented by Favorite Fishing, Duckett was "Mr. Consistency".

Duckett caught his first scorable bass 22 minutes into the competition at Lake Conroe and then steadily added fish to SCORETRACKER® throughout the morning and early afternoon, swimming a small worm. By the time Period 3 got underway, Duckett had already weighed 31 pounds, 14 ounces, and owned a 9-plus-pound lead on the field.  

 

The Alabama pro would eventually finish the day with 38-5 on 21 fish, followed by Gary Klein (30-1), Edwin Evers (29-2), Brent Ehrler (28-12) and Jordan Lee (28-12).
"I've always been decent at compartmentalizing my fishing and my work, but I just couldn't make fishing the most important thing at Toho," Duckett admitted, referring to the MLF Bass Pro Tour's inaugural event in Florida two weeks ago. "Coming into this one, I told everybody that I was going to concentrate on my fishing. It's been nice to just be an angler at this event."
And Duckett the angler has been consistently stout on Conroe from Day 1. He recorded 46 fish in his first three rounds, despite spending the majority of each competition day either looking for new water, or guarding what he considers his best area.    
"I like that this fishery is tough," Duckett said. "I've traditionally done well in events that are difficult to fish. You really have to figure out how to catch these fish, you can dial something in that's just a little bit different than what the other guys are doing."
Surviving the battle for the Championship 10
Randall Tharp (27-13), David Walker (27-10), Wesley Strader (27-5), Jeff Sprague (26-6) and Stephen Browning (25-13) filled out the Top 10 and will compete in the Championship. And while all five anglers endured their moments of stress, Browning had to work especially hard for his spot in the finals.
Entering the last 10 minutes of competition, Browning, Shin Fukae, Keith Poche, Andy Montgomery and Jonathan VanDam all sat within 14 ounces of each other in the race to make the 10 cut.   

Saturday, February 16, 2019

2019 Bassmaster Elite Lake Lanier Day 3: Chris Zaldain Battles to Lead with 19-02lbs!

Chris Johnston 6th 
By Bryan Brasher
BASS PRESS RELEASE

Fishing deep paying off for Cali pro.
(Photo: BASS)

For Chris Zaldain, this week has been an exercise in extreme patience.
The California native, who is fishing his eighth season on the Bassmaster Elite Series, said many of his casts have been taking an excruciating five minutes from start to finish as he targets spotted bass suspended in 40 to 60 feet of water.
But his patience has paid off, as he’s built a three-day total of 51 pounds, 9 ounces, including a Saturday catch of 18-4 that lifted him into first place at the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier.
Zaldain will lead the Top 10 remaining pros into Championship Sunday, with a $100,000 first-place paycheck on the line.
“From the time I cast my bait, let it sink and reel it all the way back to my rod tip, it’s literally taking me up to five minutes,” said Zaldain, who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas. “You have to do that simply because the fish are really picky. You can’t fish fast at all, or you won’t get a bite.”
Zaldain is fishing near Buford Dam on the lower end of Lake Lanier in water that he said is only 47 degrees. Having fished ultradeep, ultraclear water in California, he knew coming into the week that’s where the lake’s biggest spotted bass would be.
“I’m fishing deeper than most everybody else,” Zaldain said. “I truly believe that’s where the biggest spots live because it’s the deepest, bluest, clearest water on the lake.
“They suspend out in those deep trees — and when they begin feeding to get ready for the spawn, they pull up to the depth zone I’m targeting.”
Zaldain’s catch of 18-4 was his biggest of the week. But he doesn’t think duplicating that catch on Sunday will be enough to help him win.
He believes a 20-pound catch is “more than doable” on the lake — and he says the conditions could be shaping up perfectly for it to happen. The Sunday forecast calls for a high of 49 degrees with a 90-percent chance of rain.
“That’s exactly how it was when I had my best day in practice,” Zaldain said. “I keep checking those spots where I caught them really good in practice, and they haven’t been there.
“Maybe it ends up being one of those magical weeks where they start showing up on my best stuff on the last day.”
Zaldain can’t afford to stumble, with veteran pros like David Mullins of Tennessee (51-4), Paul Mueller of Connecticut (50-8) and Keith Combs of Texas (49-10) all within easy striking distance.
After catching 17-12 and 19-6 the first two days, Mullins slipped a bit Saturday. But even as his game plan cooled, he still managed to catch 14-2.
“I actually caught as many today as I did yesterday,” Mulllins said. “But every fish I ‘laid back on’ was a lot smaller.”

Friday, February 15, 2019

2019 Bassmaster Elite Lake Lanier Day 1: Jeff Gustafson Grabs Lead with 19-02lbs!

Chris Johnston 27th & Cory Johnston 57th
By Bryan Brasher
BASS PRESS RELEASE

Gustafson fishing like back home!
(Photo: BASS)

Jeff Gustafson said coming into this week that Lake Lanier on the historic Chattahoochee River was probably his favorite fishery in the lower 48 United States.
Thursday didn’t do a thing to change his mind.
The 36-year-old first-year Elite Series pro from Keewatin, Canada, caught five bass that weighed 19 pounds, 2 ounces and took the lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier. He said the lake reminds him of home — even though he is more than 2,000 miles away, fishing for green spotted bass instead of brown smallmouth.
“Obviously, today was a lot more fun for me than last week when I had two fish to start out my Elite Series career in Florida,” Gustafson said. “I’m not catching a lot of fish, but I got some good ones today.”
Gustafson learned to love Lake Lanier last year when he finished seventh here in an FLW Tour event. He said that prior knowledge told him what was swimming in the lake — but not how to catch them this week.
“It’s completely different this year,” he said. “I didn’t catch fish off any of the places that I did last year.
“But I like fishing for spots. These things act a lot like the smallmouths do up at Lake of the Woods, where I live.”
Gustafson’s two biggest fish — both spotted bass in the 4-pound range — were the first two he put in his livewell. His finesse tactics included a jerkbait, a swimbait and other lures he said were “really no secret.”
His biggest obstacle of the day was the light line he’s using to target fish in the clear water. He said he broke off two bass in brushpiles that could have helped him eclipse the 20-pound mark.
Gustafson’s bag topped a day that was dominated by healthy spotted bass that looked like they had all swallowed footballs. David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., was second with 17-12, followed by Virginia pro Rick Morris with 17-6 and Californian Chris Zaldain with 16-15.
Like Gustafson, Mullins said his experience with smallmouth — albeit on Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake — played a role in his Day 1 success.
“This lake fishes a lot like home, where you have a window in the morning for about an hour and half to two hours and then it kicks back up in the evening,” Mullins said. “It’s the same way at home — and if you have wind, it seems like they’ll bite all day long.
“The wind just didn’t blow much today.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2019 BPT Lake Conroe Pool 1 Day 2: Wesley Strader Seal the Deal with 56lbs!

Strader rallies in skinny water
By Joel Shangle

Wesley Strader put enough fish on SCORETRACKER to finish on top of Group A.
(Photo: BPT)

With the first Elimination Round of the MLF Bass Pro Tour Huk Stage Two presented by Favorite Fishing officially in the books, Wesley Strader can take a quick breath of relief and rest up for Saturday’s Knockout Round.
Even more importantly, he can let his best water rest, too.
After adding 23 pounds to to his Shotgun Round total of 33-0 – bringing his two-day total to 56-0 – Strader heads into the semi-final round on top of the 40-man Group A, exactly 1 pound ahead of Bobby Lane (55-0). But Strader is quick to acknowledge that the competition has now become as much a game of strategy as of picking apart the water at Lake Conroe.

The East Tennessee pro summed it up best right after he put his last fish of Period 2 – a 4-4 – on SCORETRACKER: “I don’t care who passes me, I’m out of here,” Strader said as he Power-Poled up and backed his way out of the narrow creek he had been fishing to go scout new water. 

Strader would eventually add another three fish to his total in Period 3 to claim the top spot in the group, but used the entire period as a scouting exercise, hoping to find “the juice” for Saturday, when the weights zero.

“I looked around more than I fished today,” Strader admitted. “I have a real specific (condition) I’m looking for – when I see it, I catch one about 75 percent of the time. But this thing I’m looking for is really hard to find, and I have to cover a lot of water on the trolling motor to find it. I feel like I can go behind guys and catch them, though, because I have a real specific bait that they really like. Hopefully I can make that work again on Saturday.” 
The majority of the Top 10 – most of whom were in good shape on SCORETRACKER when competition began, anyway – followed Strader’s lead.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2019 BPT Lake Conroe Pool 1 Day 1: Brent Ehrler Leads with 33-12lbs!


Conroe tricky for MLF anglers
By Luigi De Rose

Ehrler caught them early and stayed with it all day long.
(Photo: BPT)
Under dark clouds and 20 to 30 mph winds, the 40 anglers in Pool A headed out to start Stage 2 of the BPT tour. Muddy water kept the catch rate down but someone always figures them out and Brent Ehrler was that guy all day long. Docks, canals and corners were all key for consistent bass fishing. Brent Ehrler jumped into an early lead and held it right to the finish.  Wesley Strader and Jason Christie rallied in the afternoon periods to threaten the leader but to no avail. Pool B starts tomorrow with 40 new anglers giving Conroe another try. Live action starts at 10am CT time.

Pool A Top 5

Rank
Angler
Total Weight
Total # Fish
1st
33 - 12
15
2nd
33 - 00
18
3rd
29 - 11
10
4th
29 - 04
12
5th
29 - 02
15


Monday, February 11, 2019

Buddy Gross Wins 2019 FLW Tour Lake Toho with 85-12lbs!

2nd win for Gross
by Curtis Niedermier
FLW PRESS RELEASE


Key grass bed and current secure win for Buddy!
(Photo: FLW)
Buddy Gross says his experience today on Lake Toho for the final round of the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats was nothing but a blessing. If you watched FLW Live this morning, you understand why. Gross rolled down to the spot that produced 14 of the 15 keepers he brought to the scale to get into first place coming into today, and he quickly banged out about 18 or 19 pounds in the rain. There were some slow periods mixed in for Gross, but not slow enough to stop him. The Chickamauga, Ga., pro culled his way up to 23 pounds, 12 ounces to cap off an 85-12 performance to handily finish his second FLW Tour victory by a margin of 4-10 over John Cox, who led the first two days.

“I still can’t believe they were there like that,” Gross says. “It was crazy, dude. I am not but kidding you it was the craziest thing I’ve seen.”

Gross came down to Toho to pre-practice before the cutoff and spent the entire time graphing the grass to learn and how it all set up. He pieced together enough good-looking spots that it took him three days of official practice to fish them all. During that time, Gross found about 10 spots where he could get bit, but only the one really paid off for him. He did catch one kicker from a shallow ditch on the way in on day three.

The winning spot was on the main span of Lake Toho just north of the lock at the lake’s southern end. It was identifiable on the surface by a V-shaped notch in a grass mat. The notch was about 30 yards wide and jutted into the mat by about 50 yards. However, it’s what was below that was really key to Gross’ success.

“[It was] two ditches with clumps in the middle,” Gross says. “Those fish were sitting in the clumps, but there was 20-foot gaps in between each clump. They’d set up in them [the clumps]. I’ve never seen this before: I could take a swim jig and my swimbait, and usually if you come out of a clump you get bit, but this particular place here I’d throw it up on top of the farthest clump away from me, reel it through the open water where there’s no grass, and as soon as I’d hit the other clump, almost like a dead-end stop, they’d eat it right off the clump. The first day that I caught them it was in the ditch. After that everything was on the clumps.”


Though Gross describes the area as having two ditches, he says the “ditches” weren’t any deeper than the surrounding area. They were just open lanes with no grass. The entire spot was about 7 feet deep.
The spot produced both prespawn and postspawn fish. Interestingly, in a tournament that will be celebrated for its parade of 8-plus-pounders, not a single one of Gross’ keepers weighed more than 5 1/2 pounds in four days. He found giants in practice, but none in the tournament.
In the end, his victory was due to consistency and finding a spot that would reload with fish every day. 
“Yesterday, I thought it was done, and I went there this morning and they fired,” Gross says. “It was a whole other school of fish. This thing was loading every day. It loaded yesterday more with postspawn fish. Today was all for the most part prespawn. I had one skinny [postspawn] fish there. If that thing had had a body on it, it would’ve been a 7-pounder.”

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rick Clunn Wins 2019 Bassmaster Elite St. Johns River with 98-14lbs

Canadians finish 2nd and 8th!
By Bryan Brasher
BASS PRESS RELEASE

Mega limit with two 9 pounders seal Clunn's 16th BASS victory!
(Photo: BASS))
After becoming the oldest angler ever to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event in 2016 on the St. Johns River, Rick Clunn provided what has become one of the most famous quotes in professional bass fishing history when he said, “Never accept that all of your best moments are in your past.”
On Sunday, he walked it like he talks it.
Clunn, who turned 72 in July, broke his own record for agelessness, winning the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 98 pounds, 14 ounces. His amazing week was punctuated on Championship Sunday with a tournament-best limit of five bass that weighed 34-14.
It was the 16th career victory for Clunn, whose $100,000 first-place paycheck put him over $2.5 million in career earnings with B.A.S.S.
“I think this just reinforces what I said after I won here in 2016,” Clunn said. “A long time ago, I stopped paying attention to timelines. The terrible twos, the ugly teens, the midlife crisis, retirement time — I don’t pay any attention to any of that.
“If you listen to everybody else, you’ll get premature notions about who you really are.”This week, there was no doubt about it. He was “Rick Clunn: Legend.”
The Ava, Mo., angler started modestly with a limit of 17-5 on Day 1. But he inched his way up the standings with 23-11 on Day 2 and then caught 23-0 on Day 3 to make Sunday’s Top 10 cut in eighth place with a three-day total of 64-0.