Monday, February 28, 2022

Alton Jones Jr. Wins 1st National Event!


QUITMAN, Texas – After making the Bass Pro Tour Championship Round six previous times, for the first time in his career Alton Jones, Jr. has earned his own big red trophy. The 29-year-old Waco, Texas, pro caught 13 bass weighing 46 pounds, 2 ounces Friday to win the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns in Quitman, Texas, and earn the top prize of $100,000.

Going into the third and final period of competition Friday, Jones held a 9-pound, 7-ounce lead over fellow Texan Dakota Ebare. However, 10 minutes into the period, Ebare had boated a 4-13 and a 6-8 to seize the lead from Jones with just 50 minutes left in the competition. Five minutes later, Jones managed to catch a 2½-pounder and took the lead back from Ebare by a scant 10 ounces. Neither was able to catch a fish in the final 45 minutes, and although Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler made it interesting at the end to get within six pounds, Jones’ 13 bass for 46-2 earned him the win by a narrow 10-ounce margin.

“I’m so excited – I really didn’t see this coming,” an emotional Jones said at his Bass Pro Tour Trophy Presentation. “If you’d asked me halfway through our first day if I’d have a shot to win this thing, I would have said absolutely not. Somehow, someway, by the grace of God, it just kind of came together this week. They say when it’s your time, it’s your time and I guess it’s just my time.

“There are so many great anglers here,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of really great anglers that have fished for a very long time and never won one. You see it all the time. I don’t even feel like I’m that good of an angler. I don’t know why it was me, but I just feel so blessed, so fortunate, so lucky and just thankful.”

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Gustafson Joins X2Power Batteries!

X2Power Batteries expands their pro team and increases their support for popular bass fishing tournament trails.

Starting off 2022 in a positive direction, X2Power Batteries has expanded their pro team lineup to 19 members and has increased their support for popular bass fishing tournament trails around the country. New additions to the X2Power Pro Team include anglers from various locations including:

            • Bassmaster Elite Series
            • Bassmaster Opens
            • Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour
            • Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit
            • National Walleye Tour
            • MORE
The Vice President of Category Management at Batteries Plus, Shawn Budiac, mentioned, “We are very proud of how quick the X2Power brand has entered the industry and gained the reputation that it has. Much of our success can be attributed to the great work of our pro network and local tournament partners. In 2021, our pro team lived the X2Power brand and had tremendous success in their seasons. Going into 2022 we are very proud to have all our 2021 pro’s back running X2Power batteries and we are excited to welcome an expanded group of anglers and industry experts into the X2Power family!"
X2Power Batteries Pro Team for 2022:

JEFF GUSTAFSON (@GussyOutdoors) – Jeff Gustafson is from Keewatin, Canada and is entering his fourth season as a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro. Gustafson won the 2021 Bassmaster Elite event on the Tennessee River and will be competing in his third Bassmaster Classic in 2022.
JUSTIN ATKINS (@JustinAtkinsFishing) – Justin Atkins is from Florence, Alabama and is entering his second season as a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro. Atkins is a former college bass angler and won the Forrest Wood Cup in 2017 on Lake Murray.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Buddy Gross Wins 2022 Bassmaster Elite on Harris Chain of Lakes!

Gross Earns Second Career Victory In Bassmaster Elite At Harris Chain

Buddy Gross, of Chattanooga, Tenn., has won the 2022 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with a four-day total of 77 pounds, 11 ounces.
(Photo: BASS) 


LEESBURG, Fla. — A chance encounter on Day 1 directed Tennessee pro Buddy Gross to an unexpected finding that delivered four days of limit catches and propelled him to victory with a total weight of 77 pounds, 11 ounces at the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain.


Gross, who also won the 2020 Elite event on Lake Eufaula, placed third on Day 1 with 22-12, then took over the Day 2 lead by adding 17-11. Semifinal Saturday tested Gross’ resolve, as he found only 14-14 and slipped to sixth, but a Championship Sunday limit of 22-6 pushed him across the finish line.


Edging Drew Benton of Blakely, Ga., by 2-10, Gross earned the $100,000 top prize.


“This snuck up on me; I had a terrible practice, but I stuck to my guns and stuck to my strengths,” Gross said.


Except for brief Day 2 visits to lakes Beauclair and Eustis, Gross spent the majority of his tournament on the east side of Lake Harris. He did most of his work in Banana Cove, but also fished a point across from the cove on Day 4.


“The first day of the tournament, I went over to this spot where I thought I could catch a couple of keepers just to get me going and then I’d go to the grass and weed through them,” Gross said. “When I stopped that morning, I caught 30 or 40 — I had some other anglers around me so I didn’t stop.”


Gross said that once he’d tallied 20 pounds on that initial spot, he started seeking similar scenarios. With opportunity blossoming, he realized he’d found a pattern with winning potential.


“As I was looking for new spots, I started catching more fish,” he said. “Some of those spots started turning into bigger fish and then they turned into bigger schools.


“Every day I’ve caught them in different places. I could never relocate a school. I just got blessed enough to find enough of them on different places. The fish just kept coming. If I busted them up, I could come back and catch them again.”

Sunday, February 20, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite on Harris Chain of Lakes Day 3: Hanselman Snags Lead!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 39th & Jeff Gustafson 47th.

Ray Hanselman Jr., of Del Rio, Texas, is leading after Day 3 of the 2022 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 1 ounce. (Photo: BASS)


LEESBURG, Fla. — His target zone shrunk, but Texas pro Ray Hanselman Jr., made the right adjustments and moved into the lead on Day 3 of the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 1 ounce.


A steady performer with an upward trajectory, Hanselman caught a 22-pound limit on Day 1 and placed fourth. He weighed 17-4 on Day 2 and added a Semifinal Saturday limit of 18-13 to edge second-place angler Kenta Kimura by 7 ounces.


Hanselman repeated the game plan he’s followed since Day 1 — diligently prospecting the 3- to 7-foot grass flats of Banana Cove on the east side of Lake Harris. He caught a 6-pounder around 10:45 a.m., but with several boats sharing the area, he saw his overall opportunity level decline.


“There were like three schools where you could get bit in a football field-size area, but now it’s down to about 1 1/2 (schools),” Hanselman said. “The others are depleted and we’re starting to crowd one another.


“You never know what can show up. Those fish know that the grass is there — it’s the only grass in the lake. The baitfish are there and they’ve been trying to have a shad spawn. It could recharge or it could be that’s what’s there.”


Hanselman described his area as a staging spot for fish that were coming and going from the spawn.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite on Harris Chain of Lakes Day 2: Buddy Gross Leaps into Lead!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 19th, Gustafson 42th & Chris Johnston 63rd.

Buddy Gross of Chattanooga, Tenn., is leading after Day 2 of the 2022 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with a two-day total of 40 pounds, 7 ounces. (Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.)


LEESBURG, Fla. — Regrouping after an early disappointment and then replicating a specific scenario allowed Tennessee pro Buddy Gross to lead Day 2 of the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with a two-day total of 40 pounds, 7 ounces.


After placing third on Day 1 with 22-12, Gross added 17-11 Friday. He will head into Saturday’s semifinal round with a lead of 1-3 over Ray Hanselman, but Gross said reaching this point was no easy task since the pattern he relied on for Day 1 vanished.


“Today, I had to work and run a lot of the lakes,” Gross said. “I went to Beauclair, Eustis and I stayed in Harris for a long time today. Yesterday, I stayed in Harris, but today that was not the case.


“I don’t know whether it was the cloudiness or they just moved. I think I was catching postspawners and they were schooled up yesterday. Today, I caught one fish off somewhere I could fish yesterday; everything else came off something new.”


Since Wednesday’s full moon coincided with a warming trend, many predicted an all-out spawning event. But while some anglers reported finding bass on beds, Gross said the lack of significant spawning activity did not hurt his game plan.


“I never do the spawning thing, if I can keep from it,” he said. “I’ll always try to find one or two in case I need them, but I’m not going to go to a tournament and just (focus on) spawning.”


Admitting that he was “winging it today,” Gross said he had two keepers at noon, four at 1:45 p.m. and finished his limit at 2:30. Gross held his cards low on that second pattern, but he said he believes it exists in many areas.


“I was still throwing reaction baits; I just changed up where and how,” he said. “I think it’s something I can take elsewhere, I just have to move around a little bit more tomorrow.


“It’s about a combination of three things. It has to have a little bit of those things for me to get bit. I’ll fish 10 places like that and won’t catch a fish, and then I’ll stop on one and catch three in five casts.”


Gross said he’ll begin Day 3 fishing the spots he identified Friday, but he suspects he’ll need to find more. With the field cut from 94 to 47 for Saturday, Gross will be able to fish more aggressively.


“Tomorrow I think I’ll be a little more specific and target places where I think I can catch a bigger bite and just swing,” Gross said. “Now, we’re in the Top 47 cut, so I have to try and stay in the Top 10 and that’s going to take some weight tomorrow.”


Hailing from Del Rio, Texas, Hanselman, is in second with 39-4. He placed fourth on Day 1 with 22 pounds and gained two spots with Friday’s limit of 17-4


Hanselman said success required fast, aggressive presentations that triggered bites. He accomplished that with a Strike King Hybrid Hunter, a rattling crankbait designed for an enticing action and a 5-inch Strike King Shadalicious swimbait.


“I rigged the swimbait on a 3/8-ounce belly-weighted hook, and I put a 3/8-ounce bullet weight on the front so I could keep it down and just grind it through that grass,” Hanselman said. “I used an 8-foot Power Tackle moderate swimbait rod for long casts, (efficient) hook sets and the power to rip that bait through the grass.

Friday, February 18, 2022

2022 Bassmaster Elite on Harris Chain of Lakes Day 1: Brandon Lester Grabs Slim Lead with 23 pounds!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 32nd, Gustafson 39th & Chris Johnston 73rd.

Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., is leading after Day 1 of the 2022 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain with 23 pounds. (Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S)

LEESBURG, Fla. — Building on the momentum of his recent success, Tennessee pro Brandon Lester caught a five-bass limit of 23 pounds Thursday to lead the first round of the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain.

Two weeks after winning the St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, about an hour south of Leesburg, Lester holds the top spot in a tight Top 10 with only 2-7 separating first and 10th places. Lester will enter Day 2 with a 1 ounce lead over second-place Pat Schlapper of Eleva, Wis.


“People call it momentum, but I think you get into a good rhythm and a good pace,” Lester said. “In tournament fishing, sometimes it’s like you’re out there and the day just flies by; but right now, I’m out there (during a tournament day) and it’s like I have all the time in the world.


“It’s like I don’t have a care in the world. Part of that is the fact that I’ve already qualified for the (2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., March 24-26). That takes a load off. Good things are happening out there and I’m having fun.”


Dividing his day between three different lakes, Lester focused on shallow flipping with a 7 3/4-inch Bitter’s Mega Wand in the junebug color. He spent most of his time blind bed fishing — targeting unseen fish in likely spawning areas.


“I caught one of them that I was actually looking at on the bed,” Lester said. “I was actually just fishing at that time and I looked down and it was like, ‘Oh my.’ I only caught that one off a bed and the other four came while I was just fishing.”


When he was blind casting the bedding areas, Lester fished his worm unweighted and Texas-rigged. For sight fishing, he added a Humdinger Power Spinner — a screw-in willowleaf blade for added appeal.


“You have to fish this bait slow,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing in Florida — if you go down a bank just cast, cast, cast, cast — you’ll fish right over top of them. You have to pitch it in there and just shake it in place. Most of the time, after you start shaking it, they’ll grab it.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Cooper Gallant signs with G Loomis and X Zone Lures!


Canadian Cooper "Coop" Gallant signs G Loomis NRX and X Zone Lures sponsors for 2022. On his quest to become the 4th Canadians to fish the Bassmaster Elites, Cooper is fishing all 9 BASS Opens to fulfill his quest to quality for the Elites. 

"I'm super pumped to have officially teamed up with G Loomis NRX and X Zone Lures." states Coop, "Without my sponsors, there is no way I could pursue my dream." 

Coop documents his quest for fishing glory with his YouTube channel.

Follow Cooper on his social media platforms:

Instagram - @CooperGallant.Fishing

LIKE/COMMENT/SUBSCRIBE - @Cooper Gallant Fishing 

Facebook - Cooper Gallant Fishing


Saturday, February 12, 2022

2022 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River Day 3: John Crews Maintains Lead into Finals!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 17th & Chris Johnston 35th 

John Crews of Salem, Va., is leading after Day 2 of the 2022 AFTCO Bassmaster 
Elite at St. Johns River with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 3 ounces. (Photo: Seigo Saito/BASS)


PALATKA, Fla. — You can’t win a Bassmaster Elite event with one fish, but a single bite transformed John Crews’ day and kept the veteran from Salem, Va., in the lead on Day 3 of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 3 ounces.


Crews opened the event with a Thursday limit of 28 pounds and held on to the lead on Friday with a limit of 17-3. He added a 13-pound limit Saturday — anchored by a crucial 6-pounder — and overcame a slow morning to head into Championship Sunday with a lead of just 3-1 over hard-charging John Cox of DeBary, Fla.


Breaking his pattern of starting in Rodman Reservoir, Crews spent his first hour fishing the main river, where he caught a small keeper on a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with a Missile Baits D Bomb in the bruiser (black/blue) color. Transitioning to the reservoir, he spent two unproductive hours before making a key transition.


“I fished the areas where I caught my fish the first day and I never had a bite,” Crews said. “I told my cameraman ‘We need to make a change, I’m going to go shallow. I think I can catch some small fish, fill out a limit and see what happens.’


“I made a run and when I set the boat down, I looked over and saw a clump of pads. The first flip was that 6-pounder. I pitched in there and when I reeled up, my line was zipping on out to the main channel.”


Bradley Roy Breaks Down his Stage One Win on Bussey Brake

 It was a moment that Kentucky pro Bradley Roy has been working toward his entire professional career: his first Bass Pro Tour victory. Roy landed just five bass during the Championship Round of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Power-Pole, but they were the right kind, totaling 26 pounds, 2 ounces. At the end of the event, Roy explained how he managed to pull it off, despite not knowing much about Bussey Brake, the Championship Round playing field.

Link here for video

2022 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River Day 2: John Crews Continues to Lead!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 10th, Cory Johnston 34th & Gustafson 51st 

John Crews of Salem, Va., is leading after Day 2 of the 2022 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns 
River with a two-day total of 45 pounds, 3 ounces. (Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S)

BASS Press Release 

PALATKA, Fla. — Fighting through a painfully slow morning, John Crews of Salem, Va., capitalized on the afternoon bite and caught a limit of 17 pounds, 3 ounces to retain his lead in the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a two-day total of 45-3.

After posting a Day 1 limit of 28 pounds, Crews edged Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis., by 12 ounces. On Friday, Crews greatly improved his position and will head into Saturday’s semifinal round with a 9-13 lead over Elite Series rookie Masayuki Matsushita of Tokoname-Aichi, Japan.


A telling moment that bespoke the attitude driving Crews’ decisions came midmorning when Crews’ cameraman asked if he had a target weight.


“I never do that; I want to catch as much as I can,” Crews said. “If you say, ‘I’ll be okay if I get 15,’ or, ‘I’ll be okay if I get 18,’ if you reach that, you might take your foot off the gas.


“Early on in my career, I settled more than I should have in a tournament, instead of going for the kill. Whether I finish first, second, 12th, 15th or whatever, I’m going to try to catch every fish I can catch.”


Despite high-pressure, postfrontal conditions, Crews did not take his foot off the gas Friday. Retracing his Day 1 game plan, he returned to Rodman Reservoir, where he threw a jerkbait and a drop shot. Rigged with a prototype Missile Baits worm, the latter produced all of his Rodman catches.


By the time he left Rodman at 1 p.m., Crews had only a small limit of 10-9 that he anchored with a 4-pounder. The reservoir was much more productive on Day 1, as Crews locked out with a 24-pound bag that included an 8-1.


“I got very fortunate to catch the bag that I caught yesterday, but I made some good adjustments today,” he said.


Specifically, he fished his way out of the Rodman canal and spent the rest of his afternoon targeting shallow cover on the main river. His afternoon effort allowed him to make three upgrades with a 4 1/2-pounder, a 4 and a 2.

Friday, February 11, 2022

2022 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River Day 1: John Crews Captures Lead with 28 Pounds!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 14th, Gustafson 60th &  Cory Johnston 69th

BASS Press Release 

John Crews of Salem, Va., is leading after Day 1 of the 2022
 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with 28 pounds.

PALATKA, Fla. — Looking past current conditions and considering the forthcoming weather patterns, John Crews of Salem, Va., employed a two-stage strategy and sacked up a Day 1 limit of 28 pounds to lead the season-opening AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River.


Leading Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis., by 12 ounces, Crews also sits atop the VMC Monster Bag standings for the event’s heaviest limit.


Following the miserably rainy, cold conditions that plagued practice, Day 1 dawned clear and bright. It was definitely a postfrontal, high-pressure scenario, but air temperatures quickly rose and spurred the fish.


“At the beginning of practice, I was practicing for these conditions, so it made me look really smart, like I made a good decision,” Crews said. “Hopefully, it will hold up. I think we’ll have the same weather tomorrow.”


Running upriver from Palatka, Crews started his day in Rodman Reservoir. While 22 other boats passed through the Buckman Lock with him, Crews said he never felt cramped or crowded. Covering a 2-mile area, he had to hit several spots to secure a limit.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Brian Latimer Signs with 13 Fishing for Hard Baits

Top Pro Circuit Angler and YouTube star Brian (B-Lat) Latimer will be running 13 Fishing Hard Baits on the tournament trail, his YouTube channel and new show Straight Up Fishing this 2022 season.

Prior to 2019, B-Lat had already made a name for himself on the tournament scene as well as his videos. After taking home the big trophy for the TW Pro Circuit on Lake Seminole he proved he could beat some of the sport's best.

"Brian is an incredibly talented angler and also a super humble guy," says 13 Fishing's Marketing Director Ben Alcocer. "Watch any of his videos online and you'll see that he has a unique ability to teach and entertain at the same time. This makes him a true dual-threat when it comes not just selling fishing tackle but also growing the sport of fishing."

Since taking home the "W" in 2019 B-Lat has not missed a beat. After numerous top 10 finishes and countless great videos, he is ready to keep on going strong because he just loves fishing. "You know a lot of guys spend the offseason hunting or whatever, but to me that is time to go fun fishing - especially with my family," say Latimer. "Its a really special thing when you get to do what you love for a living, and I'm blessed to live it every single day".

Monday, February 7, 2022

Lester Notches First Bassmaster Win At Southern Open On Kissimmee Chain

Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., has won the 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open at Kissimmee Chain with a three-day total of 51 pounds, 2 ounces.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Steady productivity paved the path to success for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Lester, who tallied a three-day total of 51 pounds, 2 ounces to win the St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open on Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

Recording his first Bassmaster victory, the pro from Fayetteville, Tenn., placed 13th on Day 1 with 14-13, added a second-round limit of 18-1 and earned his Championship Saturday berth in second place. With a final-round limit of 18-4, Lester edged Joey Cifuentes of Clinton, Ark. (48-12), who led the first two days.


Lester won $52,500 and earned a berth in the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., March 24-26.


“There were 225 hammers fishing this event — I feel like this is harder to win than an Elite Series tournament,” said Lester, who was fishing his 114th major tournament with B.A.S.S. “I’ve been close; I’ve finished second here, I’ve finished third here, I have I don’t know how many Top 10s in the Opens. I love fishing these events and it feels really good to finally pull one off.


“Now the Classic qualification is off my mind the rest of the year. I couldn’t be happier because it was just announced that the (2023) Classic will be in my home state of Tennessee.”


All three days, Lester locked down to the lower Kissimmee Chain waters and split his time between Lake Kissimmee and Cypress Lake. The latter yielded most of his weight and dominated his final-round productivity.


“Cypress had a ton of hydrilla; this is the first year with this much grass in it,” said Lester, who now has 22 Top 10 finishes with B.A.S.S. “When I went in there in practice, I noticed right off the bat that I was seeing empty beds everywhere. That was the whole key to me winning this tournament, there’s no doubt.


“I knew they were bass beds and I knew that with that many beds around and a warming trend coming, those fish would be coming in — and they did.”