Wednesday, May 22, 2019

MLF pro Bobby Lane topped the Knockout Round with 60 scoreable bass totaling 95-4 to lead the 10 anglers heading into Wednesday's Championship Round on Missouri's Table Rock Lake.

MLF pro Bobby Lane topped the Knockout Round with 60 scoreable bass totaling 95-4 to lead the 10 anglers heading into Wednesday's Championship Round on Missouri's Table Rock Lake.
The only things that could shut down the Table Rock Lake bite for Major League Fishing® (MLF) pro Bobby Lane were Mother Nature and sundown. The Florida pro would probably still be catching Ozark Mountains bass at a record pace if impending darkness didn't finally end competition at the Bass Pro Tour Berkley Stage Six Presented by TrueTimber.

Despite nearly five hours of delays in competition due to heavy wind, rain and lightning, Lane finished the Knockout Round with 95 pounds, 4 ounces, obliterating the existing Knockout Round weight record of 67-14 and breaking the single-day weight record of 89-5 set by Josh Bertrand just three days ago. Lane also established a new record for scoreable bass for the day with 60.

"It's almost ridiculous to think that I caught 60 fish for over 95 pounds," Lane joked as he started his tackle prep for Wednesday's Championship Round. "I caught 'em and caught 'em and caught 'em like there was no end. I'm not sure it's quite sunk in yet, but what a cool record to break."

Lane's performance secured him a spot in his first 10-angler Championship Round of the 2019 season. 

Working Through the Weather

The morning looked like it would belong to Andy Montgomery. Taking advantage of the shad spawn and a fierce spotted bass bite brought on by the approaching storm front, Montgomery connected with 31 fish in Period 1 for 47-5. That was part of a period in which 480 fish hit SCORETRACKER® for 782-5 (both Bass Pro Tour records). 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Defoe is Latest Record Breaker as He Dominates Elimination Round on Table Rock!

(Left to right) MLF pros Alton Jones Jr. (fifth place), Josh Bertrand (second), Ott DeFoe (first), and Cody Meyer (third) wrapped up their Elimination Round in style and will be heading to Tuesday's Knockout Round. 
Another day, another record at the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Berkley Stage Six Presented by TrueTimber on Table Rock Lake.
Ott DeFoe pushed his two-day weight total to 133 pounds thanks to 54-14 in today's Group B Elimination Round, and while that fell just short of Cliff Pace's record of 134-11 from the day before, DeFoe was still able to mint a new record with 91 bass caught during his Shotgun and Elimination rounds.
MLF NOW! live stream analyst Marty Stone summed up the week perfectly in the waning moments of the broadcast: "It wouldn't be a day at Table Rock if we didn't break a record."

It has become the story during the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds, and both the Knockout and Championship Round records are likely to fall in the next two days if the weather cooperates.
The fishing today slowed down for many in the field, but it was still excellent. It seems Table Rock Lake has set the bar high and even 951 scoreable bass seems like a downturn, which sounds absurd.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Records Continue to Fall During Elimination Round at Table Rock Bass Pro Tour Stage Six

MLF pro Gary Klein was one of 15 anglers who snatched 100 pounds
 or more in two rounds at the Bass Pro Tour
Three days into competition at the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Berkley Stage Six presented by TrueTimber, we're starting to run out of superlatives to describe the bite at Table Rock Lake. Choose your favorite - "stellar" and "outstanding" fit - but "record breaking" is still the most accurate.

Cliff Pace became the most recent record breaker, putting 38 fish on SCORETRACKER® for 60 pounds, 1 ounce on the day, giving the Mississippi pro a two-day total of 134-13 and obliterating the existing Elimination Round record of 105-6 held by Zack Birge. Pace's two-day fish total of 89 is another record. The field combined to catch 407 fish in the first period, and weighed 684-9 (both records).

And while all of the above numbers are impressive, the fact that 15 of the 20 anglers advancing out of the round surpassed the 100-pound mark tells the story of just how prolific this impoundment of the White River has been.

"Of all the years I've been around fishing, I don't know if I've ever seen anything like this as far as sheer volume of fish," said MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone. "I knew when we came here that this lake was in good shape, but I've never seen a like that's so good from one end to the next. We're looking at where guys are catching fish, and we're seeing anglers who are literally 50 miles apart catching them. It's harder right now to find a place where there's not a fish than a place there is."

Pace was followed by Gary Klein (130-2), Birge (129-11), Greg Vinson (125-12), Aaron Martens (121-15) and Jacob Powroznik (116-15). Jesse Wiggins, Michael Neal, Mark Rose, Fletcher Shryock, Russ Lane, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi, Casey Ashley, Dave Lefebre, Andy Montgomery, Fred Roumbanis, Brent Chapman, Randy Howell and Randall Tharp qualified for Tuesday's Knockout Round.

Tharp Escapes Elimination

As has become the daily storyline during Elimination Round competition, the race around the Elimination Line came down to a difference of a single fish. Trailing Jason Christie by 7 ounces entering the final 10 minutes of official competition time, Randall Tharp caught two fish for 2-13 in the final seven minutes, finishing with 94-12 and moving past Jason Christie into 20th. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Advanced TVA Ledge Fishing with John Murray

Ledge fishing is one of the hottest yet most frustrating bite of the year. Get on an active school of bass it can be the best bass fishing trip of the whole year. Learn from MLF Pro John Murray as he explains advance ledge fishing techniques.
John Murray is a legendary deep water angler with a lifetime of tournament knowledge. Listen as he explains how to up your ledge fishing game.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bass Elite Fort Gibson Event Postponed Due to Flooding

High lake levels at Fort Gibson Lake, Oklahoma, have caused the postponement of the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite tournament — originally scheduled for May 16-19, until September, B.A.S.S. officials announced.
The tournament will be rescheduled during the “Make-Up Week” of September 16-22, which was previously set aside in case a regular-season Elite tournament had to be postponed.
B.A.S.S. officials made the decision to postpone after flood conditions on Fort Gibson forced the closing of launch and weigh-in facilities at Taylors Ferry North Recreation Area in Wagoner. 
Heavy rain and flash flooding covered much of northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas the first week of May with some of the heaviest-hit areas within the 11,000 square-mile Grand River Basin, and the outlook heading into the tournament calls for more rainy days. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials told B.A.S.S. that conditions on the lake could be expected to worsen in the coming days.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ledge Fishing Gear Tips with Keith Combs.

If you fish for post-spawn bass then you need to listen up! Keith Combs is one of the very best at figuring out ledge fishing and one of the best with a deep crankbaits. Listen to Shimano pro and BASS Elite angler Keith Combs as he breaks down the correct gear for fishing ledges for big bass.
Keith lite up the Bass Toyota Big Bass tournament on Lake Fork using these same techniques.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Brandon Cobb Wins 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest with Massive 114lbs!

Canadians Gustafson 5th & Cory Johnston 5th.
By Bryan Brasher

 Brandon Cobb takes home the title at Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Fork after catching an impressive four-day total of 114 pounds. This is his second win of the 2019 Elite Series season.
(Photo: BASS)
Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams. It’s the inspiring mantra B.A.S.S. unveiled before the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series season, and it perfectly sums up the last two months for Brandon Cobb.
After earning his first Elite Series victory in April on Lake Hartwell in his home state of South Carolina, Cobb caught one big bass after another at Texas’ Lake Fork to amass a four-day total of 114 pounds. It earned him his second six-figure first-place prize of the season on one of the biggest stages in bass fishing — the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
He’s living his dream — big time.
“It’s absolutely been an amazing season for me,” said Cobb, who also earned an automatic berth into the 2020 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods with the victory. “I had a lot of success on the FLW Tour, but I never could quite put together a win.
“For so many things to go right this season, it’s just been a dream come true.”
Cobb went into the day with nearly an 8-pound advantage over his closest competitor. But after a slow start, he actually lost the lead for a while to Georgia pro Micah Frazier.
Then Cobb, a 29-year-old former college angler at Clemson University, started working the magic that helped him grab the lead during Sunday’s semifinal round with a catch of 37-15.
Cobb put a three-pounder in his livewell at 8:23 a.m. and then added a 4-13 and a 6-5 in the span of six minutes between 9:07 a.m. and 9:13. He added a 3-15 at 9:38 and a 6-2 at 9:43. At that point, he had 24-13 and the tournament seemed to be over.
He kept culling until his five biggest fish weighed 6-5, 6-2, 6-2, 5-10 and 5-12 for total weight of 29-15. All fish were weighed on the water and immediately released.
“It was really boring until you’d run into them,” he said. “Then when you’d hit them, it was amazing.”
Cobb caught the bulk of his weight all week fishing around shallow shellbeds where bass were feeding on spawning shad. His primary bait was a Dual Hardcore Minnow Flat 110 SP jerkbait in ghost pro blue.
“I was basically running points and flats, and the areas I was fishing might be 6 feet deep for 200 yards,” he said. “But the fish, when they were eating, were in 1 to 2 1/2 feet of water up on the tops of the shellbeds.
“I’ve got mud all over me because I had to pick mud off my jerkbait bill just about every cast. I was literally jerking it into the bottom.”
Surface activity always signaled Cobb that the fishing was about to get good.

Monday, May 6, 2019

John Cox Wins 2019 FLW Tour Lake Chickamauga with 83-9lbs!

Spawners, shad spawn and swim jig key to win!
by Justin Onslow
Shallow water spawners key to Cox win!
(Photo: FLW)

John Cox considers Lake Chickamauga his favorite lake in the country. On Sunday, it cemented itself as the lake that gave Cox his favorite and most memorable win.
With 21 pounds on Championship Sunday and 83-9 for the tournament, Cox won the FLW Tour event on Chickamauga, presented by Evinrude, thanks in big part to a couple trees the nine-year Tour pro forgot about until the waning moments of day four.
“I’m telling you, it was an amazing day,” Cox says. “I can’t believe this. All day I kept going and going. Right at the end… the last ten minutes was just unreal.
“It was last-minute. I don’t know why, it just popped into [my] head, ‘Go to the trees,’ and I went to them and it was unreal. It was the first cast to them.”
The first cast he’s talking about is the cast that almost broke his heart. Cox pulled up to the pair of trees he’d fished so many times before – but not once during this tournament – with the clock ticking on the end of his day. He hooked a big fish and lost it. It might have been a $100,000 fish.
Cox then went to the next tree and landed a 4-pounder. And then right back to the previous tree, where he’d just lost a big one, to land another 4-pounder, which ultimately sealed the deal on his tournament-winning bag.
“I’m not going to lie, when I caught those two fish real quick in the last 10 minutes, I got all worked up,” he admits. “I’m running back and tears are coming out. I felt something. It felt better than any other tournament any time I’ve won before. It was overwhelming. I’m getting chills thinking about it. I’ve never felt like that before.”
And Cox has had some amazing wins. He already has more hardware than he knows what to do with, including trophies from FLW Tour wins on Hartwell and the Red River, as well as an FLW Cup win on Wheeler. But this one just felt different.

Dean Rojas Wins Bass Pro Tour Smith Lake with 47lbs!

Location key to fast, flurry of bass.
By Joel Shangle

Dean Rojas takes home the trophy and $100,000 check after winning the Bass Pro Tour.
(Photo: MLF_

Fishing an area on the upper end of Smith Lake that he had found during practice for the Bass Pro Tour Phoenix Boats Stage Five Presented by Mercury, the Arizona pro went to work on the Sunday-morning shad spawn with a mix of baits (primarily a crankbait, swim jig, frog and swimbait). By the end of the first period, Rojas had put 23 fish on SCORETRACKER® for 36 pounds, 5 ounces – enough spotted and largemouth bass that Rojas could’ve put his rods down for most of the rest of the day and still won.
“It’s not too often that you get into a Championship Round where the fish are biting like that and you can use multiple baits to rack up a big lead,” Rojas said. “The conditions were right: we had overcast skies, a breeze, warm temperatures, and the fish were just feeding in the area I was in. It was just about capitalizing on this format. I knew I had to catch as many fish as I could early to put some distance between me and the field.”
Rojas added an additional 9-1 in the second and third periods for good measure, finishing with 47-0 and a 6-plus-pound win over Brent Chapman (40-14), Michael Neal (34-15), Jason Christie (32-6) and Todd Faircloth (32-2). Mark Rose (29-14), Brent Ehrler (26-0), Dustin Connell (24-14), Mike Iaconelli (17-14) and Fred Roumbanis (10-1) rounded out the Top 10.
“At the end of the first period, that was the end of (the bite),” Rojas admitted. “It was a big deal that I caught as many fish as I could to build a big lead. Period 2 and Period 3 were a matter of catching a few here and there, but I was struggling because they just wouldn’t bite.”

Rojas Cashes in on “Money Spot”

Rojas was one of a handful of anglers in the 80-man field who identified his primary area, a stretch of bushes in the Ryan Creek Arm. Rojas hit the area throughout the week of competition, sharing it periodically with Boyd Duckett, etc., but had the whole stretch to himself on Championship morning.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Day 3: Brandon Cobb Scores 37lb Limit and Lead!

Canadians Gustafson 9th & Cory Johnston 10th.
By Bryan Brasher
This 11 pounder plus 2 8-ponders equal mega limit for Cobb!
(Photo: BASS)
After catching two bass in the 8-pound range by 10 a.m., Brandon Cobb was already having one of the best days of fishing he’s ever had.
Then the bite of a lifetime at 2 p.m. moved the day to the very top of his list.
The giant afternoon bass, which weighed 11 pounds, 1 ounce and ranked as his biggest ever, lifted Cobb’s five-bass limit for the day to 37-15.
Now, with a three-day total of 84-1, he will enter the final day of Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Fork with margin of 7-5 over his closest competition.
“I’ve never had a day like this before — not even close,” said Cobb, who recorded his first Bassmaster Elite Series victory in April on Lake Hartwell. “A 29-pound limit was my best ever until the other day (Thursday), when I caught 31-11. Now this is without a doubt the most amazing day I’ve ever had on the lake.”
Cobb went into the day with two-part game plan.
He expected to spend much of his time fishing shallow shellbeds away from the shoreline where bass have been feasting all week on spawning shad. Then he planned to fish shoreline cover where he’s been catching good numbers of solid bass, but nothing huge.
The shad-spawn bite paid off big time, as he caught an 8-8, an 8-13 and a 4-4 — all before noon. Then when he moved to the shoreline, he found something he wasn’t expecting.
“When I went to fish the bank, honestly, I expected to catch 3-pounders,” Cobb said. “That was my goal for the day — to catch big ones off the shad spawn and then fill a limit fishing the bank.
“But then, when I went to the bank, I caught an 11 and a 5.”
The 11-1 monster not only helped Cobb jump into the overall lead, it put him in first place for Toyota Tundra Big Bass of the Week. The prize for that award is a new Toyota Tundra truck.
Cobb was fishing a frog down a shoreline when he noticed the big bass sitting on a bed. He dropped his Power-Poles, believing the bass weighed 7 or 8 pounds.
Then he proceeded to pester the fish until it bit.
“It was one of those fish that looked like it was gonna bite every cast,” Cobb said. “Every cast I would make, it would kind of nose down and look at it. It took about 20 minutes to finally get it to eat. But with the way she was acting, I knew I could catch her.”
Cobb’s meteoric rise was aided in part by the struggles of Michigan pro Chad Pipkens. After catching 30-plus pounds the first two days and entering Day 3 with more than an 11-pound lead, Pipkens caught just four fish Sunday that weighed 5-8.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Day 2: Chap Pipkens Lengths Lead with 62-12lbs!

Canadians Gustafason 7th, Cory Johnston 13th & Chris Johnston 40th
By Bryan Brasher

Pipkens has a massive 12lb lead!
(Photo: BASS)
After two days of competition at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the anglers will take a break from fishing Saturday.
Chad Pipkens said he will welcome the break — and with the cushion he has in the standings, he should rest easy.
Pipkens’ five biggest bass during today’s second round weighed 30 pounds, 15 ounces — his second straight day with more than 30 pounds — and he maintained his overall lead in the event with a massive, two-day total of 62-14.
 That means he’ll have a gigantic cushion of 11-4 over his closest competitor when fishing resumes Sunday morning.
“I had probably the best hour and a half of fishing I’ve ever had — and I got to have it on the right day,” said Pipkens, a Michigan resident who is fishing just two months after breaking his collarbone while playing ice hockey. “I’ve seen it like that before, but it happened on the wrong day when I had to let up on them.
“We have an off day tomorrow. So today, I was able to just keep hammering them.”
Unlike Thursday’s first round when Pipkens struggled early, he got off to a fast start today, exploiting an early-morning shad-spawn bite in shallow water. He caught a nice-size largemouth off his first spot and then moved to another spot where things got as good for him as they’ve ever been.

Christie Surges 25 Places Today to Join Final 40 Advancing to MLF Bass Pro Tour Knockout Round

As you take a look down the list of Major League Fishing® (MLF) anglers who finished above the Elimination Line Friday at the Bass Pro Tour Phoenix Boats Stage 5 Presented by Mercury, you notice the obvious numbers: Jesse Wiggins at No. 1 with nearly 100 pounds on his home-water Smith Lake; Todd Faircloth, Tim Horton and James Watson easily in the Top 20 with over 80 pounds apiece; six more anglers with more than 65 pounds over two days of competition.
But the name among today's Group B anglers at No. 12 - Jason Christie - is notable for a much less obvious number: 36 pounds, 3 ounces.  
That's how much more weight the Oklahoma pro put on SCORETRACKER® on Friday than he did during his Shotgun Round on Wednesday, an improvement that catapulted Christie from 37th place to 12th and qualified him for his first Knockout Round since Stage Two. And he did virtually all of it in two periods.
After weighing only one fish in Period 1 while fishing shallow, Christie switched up to a deeper offshore point in Ryan Creek and settled into a groove in Period 2 with a shaky head, connecting with 27 fish over the final five hours of competition time. The Mercury pro finished the day with 51-0 and a two-day total of 65-13.
"It felt good to finally catch a few," Christie said. "I stayed shallow the first day, but since we've been here, it's gotten so warm, the fish have moved out. Today I fished an area where I knew there were a lot of fish because I've seen them chasing bait, but instead of fishing in 3 feet of water I started fishing in 20."
The Elimination Line Battle
He's been known as "The Squirrel" for years, but it seems just as appropriate to call Jeff Kriet "Cardiac Kriet" after his latest flirtation with the Elimination Line. Kriet, who entered the day in 11th place with a seemingly comfortable 8-pound cushion between himself and the 20th spot, found himself gradually falling down the Top 20 throughout the afternoon. By the final 30 minutes of the round, Kriet was scrapping with Bradley Roy, John Murray, Anthony Gagliardi and Mark Daniels, Jr., for the 20th and final spot in the Knockout Round.
The Oklahoma pro caught four fish for 5-8 in the third period to finish the Elimination Round with 54-8 - just enough to finish 4 ounces ahead of Daniels to lock up the final spot in the Knockout Round.

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019 FLW Tour Lake Chickamauga Day 2: Matt Greenblatt Leads with 43-2lbs!

Canadians Richardson 83rd & Sim 109th
by Justin Onslow
Spawning bass and wacky rig Senkos key to leaders!
(Photo: FLW)

Matt Greenblatt was one of the few pros fishing the FLW Tour’s Lake Chickamauga event this week who didn’t let off the accelerator on day two. With weights down across the board, the Port St. Lucie, Fla., pro brought 19 pounds, 13 ounces across the weigh-in stage and jumped day-one leader John Cox to take the lead with 43-2 overall.

The tournament, presented by Evinrude, hasn’t quite lived up to expectations to this point, due mainly to the odd transitional period into which it falls. Some fish are still moving up to bed, but the big ones don’t seem to be all the out to the ledges yet – a summertime staple for Tennessee River fisheries – and they haven’t been all that easy to catch up shallow, either.
Greenblatt seems to have found the magic formula, or at least the magic spot, where some big ones have been hanging out. He isn’t catching giants, but he’s been hauling in enough quality fish to put together a bag that only needs one kicker to do some damage.
The six-year Tour pro didn’t change anything up from day one, which produced 23-5 of quality Chickamauga largemouths. He simply found a great spot that’s been holding a ton of fish and went to town.
“[It was the] same thing as yesterday,” he explains. “Same spot. Same everything. That slope, I milked her for everything she was worth. Yesterday, I was hoping I was going to get decent weather [on day two]. We were expecting rain and nasty stuff.”
With rain in the forecast for day one (rain that never ended up coming), Greenblatt hammered on that spot pretty hard, but his fish seemed to replenish overnight, and even with some extra fishing pressure on it Friday, it produced nearly as well.
“Of course, you get a little bit of company, too,” he adds. “I had two other boats in there with me: Lendell [Martin Jr.] and John Hunter. John got a 3-pound average out of there. We’re hitting it pretty hard, all three of us.
“We’ve got hopefully two more days in here, and I don’t know what she’s got left.”
Should Greenblatt’s spot dry up or the weather muddy up the water enough to turn off the bite, he has a backup plan in mind.

2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Day 1: Chap Pipkens Leads with 31-11lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 14th, Gustafason 24th & Chris Johnston 45th
By Bryan Brasher
Chad grabs slim lead over Zaldain.
(Photo: BASS)
When Chad Pipkens suffered a broken collarbone playing hockey back in early March, some people automatically assumed he was done fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series for the year.
But not only has he kept fishing, he’s actually been better since the freak accident happened.
The veteran pro from Lansing, Mich., caught five bass Thursday that weighed 31 pounds, 15 ounces and took the opening-round lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Fork.
The catch gave Pipkens a 4-ounce lead over Brandon Cobb of South Carolina (31-11) and a 1-5 advantage over Texas pro Chris Zaldain (30-10) on a day when 19 competitors managed at least 20 pounds for their five-bass limits.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to break anything else,” Pipkens said, laughing. “But being injured has definitely caused me to slow down and fish a little differently than I did before — and I think it’s showed in the way I’ve finished.”
Before Pipkens’ injury, he had 51st- and 54th-place finishes in the first two Elite Series events on the St. Johns River and Lake Lanier. After breaking his collarbone in three places and enduring a surgery that left him with a massive scar, he finished ninth in his next event at Lake Hartwell — his highest finish on the Elite Series since a fifth-place showing at the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., in 2015.
He actually got off to a slow start Thursday when he went looking for a couple of large bass he’d found on spawning beds during practice. When he realized those fish were gone, he tried to exploit a shad-spawn bite that has been hot all over the lake.
Since that particular bite happens early — and since he had wasted some time on the bedding fish — that didn’t work either.

Swindle and Palaniuk Survive in Group's Top 20 Going Into MLF Bass Pro Tour Knockout Round

MLF pro Gerald Swindle made a necessary rod change in the final minute of Group A's Elimination Round today to catch a 1-pound, 12-ouncer that leapfrogged him above the Elimination Line and into Saturday's Knockout Round on Alabama's Smith Lake. 

Swindle entered the final minute of competition on Smith Lake in 24th place, 1 pound, 4 ounces out of 20th place, and on the outside looking in for a spot in the Knockout Round. But on his last cast - after switching rods with under 60 seconds remaining because the line on the rod he was fishing was frayed - Swindle connected with a 1-12 that vaulted him past Brandon Palaniuk, Scott Suggs, Terry Scroggins and Bobby Lane into 19th place with 49-2, 8 ounces in front of Brandon Palaniuk. 
"You can't fish on gut instincts if you're playing defense, and I've been playing defense all year," Swindle said. "I'm happy to make it (to the Knockout Round), but man, I'm tired of playing defense. I'm looking forward to leading one of these things so I can play some offense. But I'll tell you one thing I know: I'm going to sleep really well tonight." 
Palaniuk Advances Via Tiebreaker
Palaniuk's entry into the Knockout Round was equally dramatic. After weighing only one scorable spotted bass in Period 1, the Idaho pro jabbed his way through a 12-fish day, connecting on a 2-3 largemouth with 17 minutes left in the round. Palaniuk then held on for dear life as both Chris and Bobby Lane chipped away at him before Swindle eventually leap-frogged him.  
Palaniuk and Scott Suggs finished the round with the same two-day weight (48-10), but Palaniuk earned the 20th spot on a tiebreaker: Palaniuk weighed 28 fish over two rounds to Suggs' 27.
"Unexpected," Palaniuk said of his day. "The first day I caught a bunch of my fish in the morning, but I only caught one bass at the very end of the first period today. It was an intense day coming down to the wire. So intense that it's a good thing my official was on top of his game or I wouldn't have made it - the third-to-last fish I caught, the fish was bouncing around the scale wouldn't lock.  

Thursday, May 2, 2019

2019 FLW Tour Lake Chickamauga Day 1: John Cox Slams 24-11lbs!

Canadians Richardson 71st & Sim 75th
by Justin Onslow
Shallow water expert Cox grabs lead.
(Photo: FLW)
John Cox just has a way of not taking himself too seriously. Maybe that’s why he was able to quietly haul the tournament-leading sack to weigh-in and take the lead with only one angler left to cross the stage behind him.
Cox doesn’t get hung up on figuring out how much weight he has. He’s not always crunching the numbers and stressing out about the weight he needs. And on day one of the FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga, which is presented by Evinrude, his 24-pound, 11-ounce stringer was more than enough to position the nine-year Tour pro atop the leaderboard heading into day two.
For Cox, it’s a pretty simple formula.
“I’m going to go out there [tomorrow] and try to catch five more decent males, and I’m hoping I can get lucky and catch a 9- or 10-pounder,” he says. “The thing is, this place is awesome. Someone’s going to pull up on a drop or hit a stretch of shoreline and smoke them. Hopefully I can be consistent and get that 22 or 23 pounds every day and I’ll be all right.”
Consistency isn’t always Cox’s calling card, but that isn’t a knock on his immense talent. He just loves to fish shallow – especially sight-fishing, which he did plenty of Thursday – and that recipe often leads to trouble when things don’t line up just right. Today, they did.
The DeBary, Fla., pro marked about 10 fish in practice that he thought might help him during the tournament. Many of those fish had already been caught or moved off their beds by the time Thursday rolled around, but he was able to make the most of what he had. He also might have something left in his bag of tricks tomorrow.
“I started on a real big fish and got frustrated with it,” he explains. “I couldn’t catch her, and I just bailed on her.”
Cox returned to that fish several times throughout the day, each time finding a new male on the bed with her. After trying a few times to catch the “probably at least 10-pound” female, he determined he might have better luck on Friday.
Top 10 BELOW

Jesse Wiggins Blisters MLF Bass Pro Tour Group B Shotgun Round at Smith Lake

Local knowledge lets Wiggins blow up Scoretracter! 
Shallow drains key to Wiggins lead.
(Photo: MLF)
From the moment it was announced that the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour would be making a stop at Lewis Smith Lake in northern Alabama, Jesse Wiggins was tabbed as a favorite.  
After his performance in the second Shotgun Round of the Phoenix Boats Stage Five Presented by Mercury, it's hard not to tab the Alabama pro as THE favorite. 
Wiggins - who grew up in Cullman and has been fishing Smith Lake since "Before I can even remember" - obliterated the Bass Pro Tour's single-round catch record with 49 fish, tallying 72 pounds, 4 ounces and finishing the day with a 16-4 cushion over second-place angler Todd Faircloth (56-0).  
"A good day on Smith Lake this time of year is 30, maybe 35 fish, so today was a heckuva day," Wiggins admitted. "I basically fished two spots all day long, they just happened to be schooled up in both of those spots." 
Wiggins Hit High Gear in Period 2
At the rate that Wiggins caught fish in Period 2, it's hard to imagine him wanting to stray outside his two Shotgun Round spots at all. Following a 12-fish first period, the St. Croix pro put 21 fish on SCORETRACKER™ in the second period for 32-9, almost all of it on a 3/16-ounce shaky head with a green pumpkin candy Jackall 5.8 Flick Shake Worm. 
"Jesse Wiggins did this on a lake in post-spawn that was supposed to be tough," marveled MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone. "This performance today isn't just about him being good on Smith Lake, it's about Jesse Wiggins just being flat good. You put a really good fisherman on a lake he understands really well and this is what you get."  
But despite a prolific day and a virtually fail-safe cushion above the Elimination Line, Wiggins plans to move out of his spots and spend the day (Elimination Round 2) deciphering how far out of the backs of their spawning pockets Smith Lake's post-spawn fish have gotten. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Jacob Wheeler Dominates Group A in Shotgun Round 1 at Smith Lake

Wheeler Maintains Momentum with Dominant Performance

Blistering speed of Wheeler gives him big jump ahead of the pool.
(Photo: MLF)
If you ever wondered if momentum is a thing in professional bass fishing, look no further than the five names at the top of SCORETRACKER™ after the first Shotgun Round of the Bass Pro Tour Phoenix Boats Stage Five Presented by Mercury: Jacob Wheeler, Andy Morgan, Wesley Strader, Ott DeFoe and Edwin Evers.
Led by Wheeler's record-breaking 38-fish, 61-pound, 15-ounce performance, that quintet of Major League Fishing® (MLF) pros racked up 138 scorable bass for just over 236 pounds to leave Smith Lake with comfortable cushions to carry into their Elimination Round competition on Thursday.
It was a continuation of recent success for all five anglers: Evers has four top-10 finishes in four events this season and leads the Bass Pro Tour points race; DeFoe is just a month removed from a Bassmaster Classic win; Strader has seven Top 20s in his last season-and-a-half; Morgan is shooting for back-to-back wins; and Wheeler has two Top 5s in his last four events.
"Momentum makes you a little fearless, for lack of a better term," said Morgan, who entered the week fresh off a win two weeks ago at Stage Four on Lake Chickamauga. "You're just kinda 'with it' from the get-go, whether you're getting bites from the get-go or not. Everybody is at their best when they're relaxed, and that's what everybody is after in this sport: to be relaxed, and to just keep it rolling."
Wheeler Was Dominant on Day 1 
No matter how you measure Wheeler's performance, "rolling" is an accurate description. On a fishery that showed signs of being in a slight post-spawn lull before the event started, Wheeler figured out the right patterns and the right locations early in the day, piling up 36 of his 38 fish in the first two periods and overtaking Morgan, who had rang up 18 fish and a big lead in Period 1.