Lake St. Clair is a massive body of water, yet it seems one stretch along the southern Canadian side is where everyone’s focus will be on Sunday.
Dylan Hays, Chad Grigsby and Brad Knight are all fishing within sight of one another, with Hays and Knight essentially sharing the same area. In first, Hays put 22 pounds, 6 ounces in the boat to get up to a total of 72-3. Slipping slightly, Grigsby is just 15 ounces back in second. Busting 25-5, Knight moved up to third and is less than 2 pounds off the lead.
“Basically, one of us is going to bring in 24 to 25 pounds tomorrow between the three of us,” says Hays. “And whoever does is going to win.”
While the tournament set the two-day FLW record for most weight weighed in, there have been only four 24-plus-pound bags. All of them have been caught by the top three. Grigsby did it day one and day two. Hays also did it day two, bringing in the heaviest bag of the event at 26-7. Today it was Knight with 25-5.
Combined, the three have brought in 213 pounds, 13 ounces of fish from the area. If that isn’t ridiculous enough, all three say they haven’t laid into their best places as hard as they can, and all three say they’ve lost some giant fish that could have pushed their weights higher.
For now, Hays holds the lead, something the second-year pro has never done at an FLW Tour event. Yet, as excited as he is, day three was his worst day of the tournament thanks to losing some really big fish.
“The area has the quality to make up for losing big fish, but if I’m to win it I’ll have to keep them all buttoned up tomorrow,” Hays says. “I wish I had today, because it would’ve been nice to have more than a 15-ounce cushion.”
Chad Grigsby figured his only chance at making the Forrest Wood Cup was by winning at St. Clair. He’s halfway there, but he’s far from assured anything with the way the lake is fishing.
The Maple Grove, Minn., pro sacked up 24 pounds, 4 ounces to retain his lead at FLW Tour stop No. 7, which is presented by Mercury. That weight has him as the only pro to crack the 50-pound mark after two days (50-1, to be exact), but he only has a 4-ounce lead over Dylan Hays going into the weekend thanks to even more massive bags behind him.
Weights typically drop on day two, and one would certainly expect that after a day one featuring 39 limits of more than 20 pounds. Instead, the fishing got even better. A total of 50 20-pound bags crossed the weigh-in stage today (36 pro, 14 co-angler), with Hays cracking the derby’s biggest bag at 26 pounds, 7 ounces.
That said, Grigsby is pretty happy with how his tournament has gone so far.
“I’ve had to adjust every day, but I feel like I’ve managed to stay one step ahead of the fish so far,” says Grigsby. “If a bait isn’t working within 5 minutes I try something else. You just keep rotating until they tell you what they want.”
Like he did on day one, Grigsby made a key bait switch to something he hadn’t even thrown in practice – a smaller-profile, “super-finesse” bait – and immediately the bass told him he made the right choice, as he had all his weight by 10 a.m.
After that, he went looking to see if he could find any other areas near his on the southern section of Canadian waters, but was unable to really expand on his pattern or area. Fortunately, his area is pretty large, with a few sweet spots tucked in it.
“I have some waypoints in there that I follow,” Grigsby says. “One of them – I don’t know why – but I’m pretty much guaranteed a fish every time my boat is right on it.”
The mystery of South Dakota’s smallmouth was solved by Elite Series pro David Fritts during the first day of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia. The 1993 Bassmaster Classic champion caught a 19-pound, 7-ounce limit of smallmouth to best the 107-angler field on a body of water that he had never seen before, while battling 4-foot waves.
“Man, I should have had 23 pounds today,” the tournament leader lamented. “I had three giants jump off this morning that would have really improved my weight. But I’m really happy with what I caught.”
The North Carolina veteran found his pattern during the waning hours of the final practice day.
“I was pretty frustrated until about the last hour of practice, when I stumbled on this little deal. It involves a pretty specific structure and Berkley bait combo, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to duplicate this tomorrow,” he said. “I didn’t sit there and burn up a bunch of fish.”
Making Fritts’ catch even more impressive was the fact that he fought through massive waves to land his limit, which made not only the fishing tougher, but also negatively affected the school he had found.
“The wind killed me today. Really, it blew out some of my best stuff and made it just so difficult to make precise casts and then to fight fish that are hooked. If it lays down tomorrow, it will probably be better for everyone.”
In addition to leading the tournament, Fritts also weighed in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the day. The 4-11 smallmouth was the first bass he caught this morning. If that fish holds on as big bass for the next three days, Fritts will earn $1,500.
Mark Daniels Jr. landed 18-12 to take the second place spot after the scales closed on Day 1. “I had a pretty good practice, but didn’t think I had found an 18-pound limit. So, I’m pretty jacked,” Daniels said. “The wind was brutal. There were easy 5-footers out there, and I ran 50 miles north. But, it looks like the effort was worth it.”
32 limits over 20lbs but Grigsby's the heaviest!
Catching 20 pounds in a
tournament is a great day for most any lake in the country. Lake St. Clair,
however, is showing it’s not like most any other lake.
While pros knew St. Clair was
going to put out some big limits of smallmouth bass at FLW Tour stop No. 7,
which is presented by Mercury, few predicted that the pro field would catch 32
limits of more than 20 pounds on day one. Plus, co-anglers added seven more
20-pound-plus bags. Heck, Larry Nixon – the winner the last time the Tour
stopped here – caught 18 pounds and sits in 79th.
While seemingly everyone caught
plenty of big bronzebacks, no one did it better on day one than Chad Grigsby.
The Maple Grove, Minn., pro’s 25-pound, 13-ounce bag was anchored by a 6-3
kicker, giving him a 1-13 lead over second-place pro Darrel Robertson.
Yet, as great as his day ended
up, it certainly didn’t start that way.
“I really didn’t catch them well
until 10 a.m.,” Grigsby says. “That’s when the clouds left and the lake slicked
off. I made a little adjustment to a different bait. I hadn’t thrown it at all,
even in practice, but almost immediately we started catching them.”
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Notching his fifth Bassmaster victory, Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., produced a solid limit of largemouth bass that weighed 16 pounds, 2 ounces to win his first victoryin six years at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing. Monroe’s four-day total was 65-7, edging out Jacob Powroznik of North Prince George, Va., who produced a four-day limit of 64-12. Powroznik finished in second place. Across the four official competition days, there were four different leaders, which kept the event very exciting until the final weigh-in. Monroe started out in 20th place on Thursday’s opening round, moved up to sixth on Friday, third following Saturday’s semi-final round of competition and then into the top spot on ChampionshipSunday. The impressive victory earned the 44-year-old pro valuable Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and a $100,000 payday. “Everybody knew that the rising river levels would affect the fish and how they positioned on the structure,” Monroe said. “I had a plan, but early on Day 1, I got stuck on a sandbar, and that was as stuck as I’ve ever been in a bass boat. I freed my boat, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Tharp's adjustments nets him narrow lead. (Photo: BASS)
Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., scrapped his fish catching game plan because floodwaters washed out his primary hot spot and forced him to find a place to catch bass on the upper Mississippi River. That adjustment might earn him a second Bassmaster Elite Series title and a healthy $100,000 payday. Tharp’s efforts produced 15 pounds, 10 ounces of bass today, giving him the lead going into Championship Sunday at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing. His two-day total is 49-12 — only 1 ounce ahead of Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala. Martens will start the final round Sunday in second place with 49-11. The moderate flooding of the Upper Mississippi has been a hot topic in La Crosse this week. It’s affected the fishing for most of the field — some good and some bad. For Tharp, it’s kept him on his toes. “I knew my pattern was falling apart. The more the water levels increased, the more concerned I’ve been that my bass would move,” he said. “And they did. I started out in the same area I have been over the past couple of days, and after an hour or so I knew the fish weren’t there any more. I decided to call an audible, and it paid off.” The 49-year-old pro said that he was catching bass right along a section of the bank that is now under water, and the bass are no longer positioned on the same structure.
In 2017, Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., won the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener on Lake Champlain with 54 pounds, 9 ounces and a mix of largemouths and smallmouths. Today, Nelson won the 2018 season opener, which was presented by Power-Pole, this time with 15 healthy bedding smallmouths for a total of 60 pounds even.
After weighing five smallies on the final day for 19-8, Nelson edged out Brett Carnright for the title by 8 ounces. Nelson’s third Costa FLW Series win earns him $51,700 and a Ranger Z518 with a 200-hp outboard.
Winning with all smallmouths on Champlain is pretty unheard of in a multi-day tournament. It happens, but seemingly only once a decade or so. This week, Nelson sincerely tried to catch largemouths, and almost weighed in a couple, but in the end he went all brown.
“I had the same strategy as last time,” says Nelson. “These fish are so easy to catch. They gave me a lot of window to take my co-angler fishing and try to find a big largemouth. I just did not see the largemouths I saw last time. The water quality was not the same. It seemed dirtier this year; it just seemed off. I knew that a 4-pounder was a great fish no matter what it was, but I also knew I couldn’t catch a 5-plus smallmouth. I could have a real shot at catching a 5-plus largemouth.”
Nelson lost a big largemouth on day one that would have probably given him the lead right then. As it was, he triumphed over a pile of locals with slightly heftier bedding smallies.
“I learned pretty quick that you’d find quality fish in any section you went to. It was just a matter of learning a given section and putting time in,” says Nelson, who mostly fished the main lake around the Gut (the passage between Grand Isle and South Hero).
A lot of the field spent time with their heads buried in a bathyscope, searching for smallies or eyeing them up while bed-fishing. Nelson bucked that trend to a degree.
“I found them all with my eyes, and I’d just catch them to see what they weighed,” says Nelson, who caught less than 10 smallmouths each day. “My Flogger [bathyscope] got shipped to me during practice, and I just started playing with it and couldn’t tell the size of the fish. I had a few fish where I’d catch them and then I could catch them again next pitch. Time-wise, I wanted to know exactly what I was putting time into. I didn’t want to flog them and think it was a 3 1/2-pounder and have it end up being a 3-pounder.”
Nelson tried to look for deeper beds, and he caught his smallies in 5 to 10 feet on a Poor Boy’s Erie Darter (watermelon gold) and a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver rigged on a 1/4- or 3/16-ounce darter head. When he fished for largemouths, Nelson targeted reeds, grass and docks with a Yamamoto Senko and a jig.
On day one Nelson lost a big largemouth around 11 a.m. On day three, he worked a 4-2 smallmouth for hours, even getting it to bite a topwater at one point. Had he caught either of those fish, he might have coasted to the victory. As it was, he had to climb from second and sweat it out.
“It’s really special. It really is,” says Nelson of the win. “I thought I was beat, to be honest with you. I thought he [Carnright] fished really hard and had a big advantage, but however the chips fall they fall, and it’s a blessing. You fish for fun, and to win twice is really cool.”
Top 10 pros
1. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 60-0 (15) – $51,700 and a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower outboard
Perfect weather and another cavalcade of smallmouths were the primary features of day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Power-Pole on Lake Champlain. Hanging tight to the lead, Brett Carnright of Plattsburgh, N.Y., put 19 pounds, 8 ounces on the scale and now boasts a 40-pound, 15-ounce total. In second, last year’s champion Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., weighed 19-13 for a total of 40-8 and sits just 7 ounces off the lead.
Deep spawning smallmouth and local knowledge key for Brett.
Through two days, Carnright has mined bedding smallmouths north of Plattsburgh to tally up an impressive 20-pound average. Nearly everyone in the top 10 is leaning hard on spawning brown fish, but Carnright has things a bit more to himself than some of the other pros.
“I am fishing a lot deeper than any boat I’ve seen around me,” says the local angler. “I had 10 fish that I went to catch, and all 10 of them have been there. I’m very lucky that none of them had been picked. Some of them are very easy to catch, and some have just swum up to the trolling motor to look at the boat. It’s definitely extraordinary, but you have to have something extraordinary to win these.”
Martens and Zaldain share honey hole. (Photo: BASS)
With this tournament being his fourth visit to the legendary Upper Mississippi River, Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., is now eyeballing a $100,000 payday as he took the lead at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing.
The water is rising at La Crosse, but it’s not stopped the big largemouth and smallmouth bass from eating with regularity. River levels are expected to remain within the forecasted range: 12 feet high by Sunday, and cresting sometime Monday. Twelve feet is considered flood stage, which will certainly impact the fishing from day to day. Regardless of challenging river conditions, Martens posted a five-bass limit that weighed 17 pounds, 14 ounces to push him to the atop of the leaderboard with a two-day total of 34-3.
The three-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year finished in fifth place in 2012 when the Elite Series visited La Crosse, second in 2013 and 30th in 2016. To say he wants to win here is an understatement. “I know the winning limit of fish is swimming where I'm fishing,” he said. “I want to prove it this time. But a number of factors are going to have to go my way for that to happen.” Over the years, he’s spent a lot of time across this vast fishery, and he said it’s an amazing place to come and catch a lot of bass. But his location close to the launch in Veterans Freedom Park continues to produce quality fish year after year.
Chad all smiles with 5-8 pound largemouth.
Nonstop soaking rain, increasing river levels and heavy limits of
big smallmouth and largemouth bass were of hot discussion after Thursday’s
opening round of competition at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River
presented by GO RVing.
The tough conditions didn’t keep the Mississippi River bass from
Thirty-four-year-old pro Chad Pipkens of Lansing, Mich., took
control of the top spot after an impressive five-bass limit that weighed 17
pounds, 15 ounces.
The derby pays $100,000 to the top-scoring angler, and the dandy
5-8 largemouth has Pipkens also in charge of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award.
That fish could earn him an extra $1,500 once the event wraps up.
one of the Costa FLW Series tournament presented by Power-Pole on Lake
Champlain was a smashfest – everyone in the top 10 weighed 19 pounds or better
and the vast majority of that was brown. Leading the way, Brett Carnright
caught 21 pounds, 7 ounces to get things underway. In second, Austin Felix
tuned up 20-15 of smallmouths and sits just 8 ounces off the lead.
everyone in the top 10 is primarily or exclusively targeting bedding
smallmouths, and Carnright is no different. He made the top 10 last year on
Champlain with spawning brown bass, and he’s got it going on again this year.
had my five that I wanted to catch, and I caught all five of them, and those
were the only fish I caught today,” says Carnright. “I went searching for new
fish the rest of the day after about 9 o’clock. It was pretty relaxing – my
co-angler had his five even before my five.”
off with 21+ is great, but consistency is key on Champlain. Carnright finished
ninth in last weekend’s T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) event on Champlain
and seems to think he can keep the ball rolling.
had 18-10 in the BFL, but I saved fish then and actually caught two that I
would have weighed in the BFL today,” says the local angler. “Practice was
good, I had four full days on the water and had a much better practice size
wise than last year.
don’t think I can catch that amount of weight again, but I can definitely catch
a good bag. I found some new fish today, and I feel like I have the area to
myself. I didn’t see a lot of boats around me.”
Top 10 pros
Brett Carnright – Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 21-7 (5)
Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 20-15 (5)
Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 20-11 (5)
Ministry of Natural Resources
and Forestry Seize Nearly A Freezer Full Of Fish
From Road Check In Port Hope
Originally posted by Today's Northumberland
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry held a fish and wildlife check station which yielded nearly a freezer full of seized fish on Saturday. From approximately 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. MNR Conservation Officers set-up just north of the intersection of Telephone Road and County Road 28 just north of Highway 401. Conservation Officers directed people with boats along with periodic checks of vehicles to enter into a works yard just west of the intersection. Numerous Conservation Officers then checked licenses along with vehicles and boats to see if everything was in order. Conservation Officer Mike Duncan with the opening of bass season in most fishery zones the officers were checking for bass, walleye, panfish, perch, crappy and other types of fish. “It’s been a very busy day.” “We had people right away and we also had great feedback from the public who are glad to see us. Unfortunately we’ve been catching some people who have been abusing the resource as well.” The main reason the fish were seized is the fish were transported in a live well. “When you catch the fish and leave the lake, they can’t be transported live,” said Duncan. So they have to be taken out of the live wells. You can place them on ice so they can keep cool while you’re heading home.”
Newell Brands, the owner of up-for-sale Pure Fishing, has completed the first disposal of its latest batch of companies that are deemed surplus to requirements.
The New York-based conglomerate has sold Rawlings Sporting Goods for approximately $340 million. The sale is part of its previously announced Accelerated Transformation Plan which includes the sale of companies within its organisation that are not part of its long-term plans – including Pure Fishing.
It aims to sell-off unwanted brands to create a ‘simpler, faster stronger portfolio of leading brands’.
There has been no update on the situation involving Pure Fishing or any negotiations with interested parties.
Managing bass key to Greg's wire to wire win. (Photo: BASS)
If the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge had been a five-day tournament, the outcome might have been different. But it was only four days — and Greg Hackney owned it from start to finish. Despite exhausting his best fishing areas the first three days and bringing in only 7 pounds, 5 ounces to the weigh-in stage on Championship Sunday, Hackney claimed his sixth career B.A.S.S. victory in wire-to-wire fashion with a four-day total of 48-5. Hackney’s first win since 2016 earned him $100,000 and pushed his career winnings with B.A.S.S. to $2,415,784. “If we’d had to fish another day, I probably would have hunted and gone to some new water,” Hackney said. “I really don’t think all of the fish were gone. But we had all of that rain Saturday, and my best place had a couple of drains running into it. “The water wasn’t dirty, but the water temperature dropped to 80 degrees after being in the 90s the first three days.” Hackney fished secluded canals and backwaters all week and relied heavily on two topwater presentations around shallow cover — a 1/4-ounce black Hack Attack Select ToadBuzz rigged with a black plastic toad (no skirt) and a KVD Sexy Frog Stump Jumper. That drastic drop in the water temperature brought those tactics nearly to a halt today, and he had to switch to the technique he is most known for — flipping. When he flipped heavy cover, he used a Strike King Rage Bug in the Bama Craw color. BASSTrakk, the unofficial leaderboard that fans can check on Bassmaster.com throughout the day, showed Hackney with only two fish several hours into the final round. But he said he always knew he could fill out his limit flipping — even if the fish he was catching with that technique were running much smaller than his topwater fish. “I really was amped up a little bit today, and that’s why I got a lot quieter, said Hackney, laughing. “I always have a lot more to say when things are going right. “But in the back of my mind, I knew I could pick up a flipping stick and catch a keeper anytime.” His two best fish still came on the frog. But when he switched to flipping, he caught 10 keepers in 45 minutes. “I probably should have done that sooner, but I just felt like I would have been punting,” he said. “Out of those 10 keepers I caught in the last 45 minutes flipping, they were all about 12 to 12 1/2 inches long.