Monday, March 27, 2023

Gussy Wins the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota with 42-07lbs!

Gussy becomes first Canadian to win the Classic!
(Photo: James Overstreet/BASS)

By Brain Brasher 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Canadian pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson’s bass refused to play fair on the final day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota on the Tennessee River.

But fortunately for him, the bulk of his work was already done.

Despite catching only two smallmouth bass that weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces on Championship Sunday and falling three fish short of the 15 he’d been counting down toward all week, Gustafson held on to win the most treasured title in professional fishing with a three-day total of 42-7.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

2023 Acedemy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic Day 2: Jeff Gustafson Continues to Lead with 35-11lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 7th, Chris Johnston 31st & Cooper Gallant 52th.

Five more to go! Is what Canadian Jeff Gustafson needs to close 
out the 2023 Classic. (Photo: James Overstreet/BASS)

By Brain Brasher 


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Since the opening moments of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson has been counting down.

Not to a five-bass daily limit, but to the three-day limit of 15 he needs to be crowned a Classic champion. 

After Saturday, he can say, “Ten down, five to go.” 

Using the same moping technique he used to win a regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series event here on the Tennessee River in 2021 — and to take the lead in this Classic on Friday with 18 pounds, 8 ounces — Gustafson added five more smallmouth Saturday that weighed 17-3 and now holds a commanding lead with a two-day total of 35-11. 

His closest competition going into Championship Sunday will be Florida largemouth specialist John Cox, who sits almost 6 pounds back in second with 29-15. 

“I’ve just got to go out and get it done tomorrow,” said Gustafson, who has now led all six days of the two tournaments he’s fished here on Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes. “I don’t have any good backup plans. I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing.” 

2023 Acedemy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic Day 1: Jeff Gustafson Leads with 18-08lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 5th, Chris Johnston 7th & Cooper Gallant 48th

By Brain Brasher 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jeff Gustafson’s motto during the opening round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota seemed to be, “Why make it complicated?” The fifth-year Bassmaster Elite Series angler from Kenora, Ontario, Canada, took the lead Friday in the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing on the Tennessee River — and instead of starting over or trying to reinvent something, he caught his bass the same way he did when he won a regular-season Elite Series event on this same venue back in 2021.

Fishing the same canal that connects Fort Loudoun Reservoir and Tellico Lake where he parked himself during that 2021 event, the 40-year-old pro caught a five-bass limit of smallmouth that weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces and positioned himself for a run at a spot in pro fishing history.

“There’s just something about this place,” he said. “I’m jiving with it, and it’s worked so far. The technique I’m doing is one of my favorites. It’s a technique that I feel like I’m probably pretty good at compared to the rest of the field.
“You don’t get that opportunity at most of the venues we go to, but here it works.”
During his 2021 victory, Gustafson used a tactic referred to as “moping” that involves identifying smallmouth on forward-facing sonar — he uses Humminbird MEGA Live technology — and dangling a bait just within their strike zone. He did the same thing on Friday and expanded the areas where it will work.

“There’s a lot of fish in those same spots as 2021, but they’ve just been fished so hard that they’re really hard to catch,” he said. “The bites are real nippy and they look at it and they’re lazy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Yamamoto Announces New Yamatanuki: Heavy Gravity Bait


Staying true to our roots of innovative baits that absolutely catch fish,

we bring you the Yamatanuki. While this is it’s first time being available in

the US, it has been a very popular bait for the Japanese Yamamoto lineup for years.

The Yamatanuki is credited as the bait that started a trend of “heavy” soft

plastic lures that have become popular in the US in recent years with offerings

from Japanese manufacturers.

The original Yamatanuki will be available in a 3.5” size that weighs 5/8 oz.

It is made from a custom “heavy” soft plastic formula that allows it to be fished

weightless yet cast great and fall fast. This makes the Yamatanuki an incredible

option for flipping, casting and dragging, as well as casting to fish on

forward-facing sonar. The 8 colors are handpicked by our pros to give anglers

an awesome array of fish-catching options no matter what conditions they face.

The Yamatanuki is another incredible tool in your fishing catching arsenal

brought to you by the world’s most premium soft plastic brand, Yamamoto Baits.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


Anglers know that you have to go where the fish are and be prepared to catch them wherever that is. With more pressure on fisheries, bass have become warier and warier and it requires light line, finesse baits and the perfect light wire hooks toget bites.

“Cold fronts, high pressure, clear water…anything that has those fish in a funk, a finesse approach, such as a drop shot or neko rig, excels at catching bass when they don’t want to bite anything else,” said Rapala pro Seth Feider, who counts deepwater smallmouth bass fishing as one of his favorite styles of fishing.

Designed specifically for tournament bass anglers, the VMC® RedLine Series™ is comprised of eight hooks ultra-engineered hooks built for optimum power, strength and hook-up speed. With velvety-smooth P.T.F.E. coating, RedLine hooks penetrate 50% faster than ordinary hooks. Combined with the company’s unique, compressed needle point design that produces an ultra-sharp point, fish practically hook themselves.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Bryan Thrift Wins 2023 Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch!

Mason Prince


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – He was the favorite to win before the week began. He was the man to beat all week. He was the leader for the past two days. On Sunday, Bryan Thrift made the inevitable a reality. Thrift is the Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch Champion.

The North Carolina native proved to be too much for the pursuing Alton Jones Jr. and Edwin Evers to overcome. Thrift finished with five bass for 13 pounds, 10 ounces, pushing his three-day total to 46-12 and 4-6 clear of the second-place Jones.

Thrift becomes the first angler in history to win both a REDCREST and Forrest Wood Cup trophy as well as the fourth different pro to win the Bass Pro Tour championship since its inception.

How Thrift got it done on Norman

The weights were indeed lower on Sunday just as Jones Jr. predicted on Saturday — the heaviest limit of the day belonged to Casey Ashley at just 15-11 — but that’s to be expected with the frigid and wet weather that rolled through the Lake Norman area. Thrift wasn’t immune to the struggles that the rest of the Top 10 faced. After two limits over 15 pounds before the final day, Thrift only managed 13-10 on Sunday.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

2023 Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch on Lake Norman Day 3: Bryan Thrift Leads!

Bryan "Smoke" Thrift showed out yet again on his home pond of Lake Norman.
Photo by Phoenix Moore.

Tyler Brink


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As soon as Lake Norman was announced as the site of Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch, all eyes looked towards North Carolina’s own Bryan Thrift. He was the preeminent favorite to win as soon as the location was announced in July, and today he showed why, after catching a leading limit weighing 17 pounds, 12 ounces.

That tally is the best of the tournament so far and it feels like Thrift is taking things up a notch as he took an early 2-8 lead over two-time Bally Bet Angler of the Year Jacob Wheeler.

Thrift quickly caught limits each morning the first two days of competition and appeared to be in cruise control for much of the day. He did just enough to advance to the Knockout Round by placing 19th in the Qualifying Round, possibly finishing that low only because he was aware that weights started at zero today.

There’s no reason to hold back anymore, as a cumulative three-day total will decide the 2023 REDCREST winner and Thrift is in the pole position in the home of NASCAR.

Thrift’s one-two punch paying off

Mixing it up with two largemouth and three spotted bass, Thrift showcased a consistent bite throughout the day. His largest fish was a 4-9 and smallest a 2-14, with the other three in the 3-pound class. To get there, he’s relying on his extensive knowledge of the lake and mixing it up with two patterns.

“Today was a good day and most came doing what I’ve been doing all week; the big ones just ate a little bit better today,” he said. “I’m starting by fishing a little drain with a Damiki underspin to get a quick limit each morning. That helps me calm down, and I can start fishing for bigger ones.”

Friday, March 10, 2023

2023 Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch on Lake Norman Day 2: Edwin Evers Jumps into Lead!

2019 REDCREST champion Edwin Evers leads the field of 20 into the final leg of the tournament. Photo by Garrick Dixon.

Jody White


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Through the first two days of Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch, Lake Norman has proven to be a confusing playing field. Local aces Bryan Thrift and Andy Montgomery made it through the Qualifying Round by the skin of their teeth, we’ve seen big bags of spotted bass, some big largemouth, and some of the big hitters really back off.

Case in point, Dustin Connell and Jacob Wheeler were first and fourth on Day 1, and finished the round in fourth and 18th, with both spending their afternoon scouting far up the river.

Winning the round with 29 pounds, 15 ounces, Edwin Evers is looking for his second REDCREST trophy and seems to have practiced his way into back-to-back impressive days on the Carolina lake. Ending the round in second with 28-8, Casey Ashley has been strikingly consistent fishing exactly how he wants to fish, and practicing for the latter half of Day 2.

With $300,000 and a trophy on the line, the next three days are sure to be interesting. Weights won’t zero, the local favorites are in the hunt, and the weather is about to get rowdy.

Evers eyeing more Norman success

The winner of a 2005 Bassmaster Tour event and a 2010 PAA event on Norman, Evers has fished a nearly perfect tournament so far – at least, as things traditionally go on Norman. A 6-pound largemouth on Day 1 keyed his weight and is the biggest fish of the event by far. Though he’s starting from scratch now, the Oklahoma pro sure sounds like he has a good idea of how to be successful.

“This is one of those lakes where you try to duplicate your patterns, and I’m just trying to really narrow down where the bites are coming from,” Evers said. “It’s been pretty random, from the back of a pocket to a point and everything in between.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

2023 Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch on Lake Norman Day 1: Cornell Secures Lead!

Dustin Connell is off to a solid start at Bass Pro Shops REDCREST
 Presented by Shore Lunch. Photo by Garrick Dixon. 

By Tyler Brinks


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Coming into Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch, many predicted that spotted bass specialists would be hard to beat. Early in this event, that prediction seems to be “spot on” as spot guru and 2021 REDCREST champion Dustin Connell finished Day 1 with the lead and a total of 16 pounds, 7 ounces.

A Connell last-second catch

of a 3-7 spotted bass broke a tie with fellow spotted bass expert Brent Ehrler. The two were deadlocked for much of the afternoon, but that final catch propelled Connell to a half-pound lead over Ehrler. Connell will lead the field going into the second day of competition at Lake Norman.

Connell feels good about prespawn pattern

Spring is in the air and bass are spawning, but Connell is doing his best to avoid sight fishing and is instead utilizing his electronics. That was part of his plan in the morning and he plans to stick with it for the rest of the event.

“All of the fish I’m catching are prespawn fish and that’s what I was targeting,” Connell said. “I don’t feel like I’m a good sight fisherman, so I didn’t even want to try it. I 100% don’t think this event will be won with spawning fish. The weather isn’t set up for it, so I chose to target those prespawn fish.”

The areas and places Connell is fishing remind him of his home waters on the Coosa River Chain, and he immediately felt comfortable when he arrived in North Carolina for practice.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Power-Pole introduces The MOVE Brushless Trolling Motor

New release advances electric propulsion with the most advanced trolling motor on the market.

Tampa, Fla. – March 3, 2023 – Since the inception of the Shallow Water Anchor more than 20 years ago, the name Power-Pole has become synonymous with innovation and durability. In keeping with those tenants, Power-Pole introduces a new movement in Total Boat Control with the Power-Pole MOVE Brushless Trolling Motor, the strongest and most advanced trolling motor ever created.

Nearly a decade in the making, the Power-Pole MOVE Brushless Trolling Motor was concepted and constructed from the ground up with a focus on not just improving upon existing offerings but exceeding them in every way. The result is not only the most powerful electric motor available, but also the quietest and most durable trolling motor sportfishing has seen.

Our founder, John Oliverio and the Power-Pole team began by looking at the technology and materials available and decided that to bear the name Power-Pole, they needed to begin from scratch. To have the power and stealth we desired, we needed to produce our own brushless motor and steering components to achieve our goals. Our research and development produced technology that have never been used in marine application.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Ebare Wins 2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals at Clark Hill Lake!

Sean Ostruszka

MLF Press Release

APPLING, Ga. – A little more than a month ago, Dakota Ebare’s story was how close he’d been to winning so many times and how it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he finally hoisted a trophy.

Now, it’s how many times he might lift a trophy this year, thanks to two wins in five weeks.

After finally getting the monkey off his back by winning the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats event at the end of January on his home waters of Sam Rayburn, Ebare once again hoisted a MLF trophy this week. And, he did it in dominant-yet-dramatic fashion, going wire-to-wire to win the Toyota Stop 2 Presented by Lowrance event on Clarks Hill Lake. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Clark Hill Lake Day 2: Ebare Continues to Lead!

Sean Ostruszka

MLF Press Release

APPLING, Ga. – Fifty boats will be taking off for Day 3 of Toyota Stop 2 Presented by Lowrance on Clarks Hill. In reality, most eyes will be on just one of them.

Dakota Ebare has absolutely dominated the second event of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals through two days. After weighing in the biggest bag of the event yesterday – 23 pounds, 13 ounces – he brought in another 18-6 today to be the only angler to cross the 40-pound threshold (42-3 to be exact).

In a tournament where weights are stacked together, his 5-5 lead going into the final day is quite the cushion. Yet, as positive as today looked, he may need all of that cushion come tomorrow if things continue as they do.

You see, a day ago Ebare was beyond excited about a deep and shallow one-two punch he’d executed to near perfection on Day 1. Day 2 was an entirely different story.

“It was a struggle,” Ebare said. “I know I could’ve went and caught some spotted bass, but I wasn’t really fishing for that. And I knew the largemouth weren’t really biting good, but I said if I’m going to grind out a couple bites I’m going to try for a big bite. Well, that didn’t work out either.”

A big reason, Ebare thinks, is the weather and pressure had the fish completely turned off. He said his areas were just “dead,” as he could watch fish on his forward-facing electronics not budge or even acknowledge his offerings. He compared it to hunting in the woods and not hearing a single sound or seeing anything moving.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Clark Hill Lake Day 1: Ebare Sacks 23-13 for Lead!

Dakota Ebare stayed red-hot on Day 1 at Clarks Hill. Photo by Charles Waldorf.

Sean Ostruszka

MLF Press Release

APPLING, Ga. – Everyone thought Clarks Hill would surprise people this week. It didn’t disappoint, in more ways than one.

Talking to dozens of pros after Day 1 of Toyota Stop 2 Presented by Lowrance meant getting dozens of contrasting perspectives on what all is happening at the second event of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals. Is the water rising or falling? Yes. Is the water warming or cooling? Yes. Is it better to fish deep or shallow? Yes. Anglers are truly that confused and all over the map about what they think is happening on the fishery.

It seems the only things anyone can agree on are that the fish do want to move up and spawn in short order and that Dakota Ebare is fishing at a different level than everyone else in this event. Continuing his torrid streak over the last year, Ebare sacked up 23 pounds, 13 ounces to take the lead by more than 5 pounds over Travis Harriman. To put that in perspective, Miles Howe sits 5 pounds back of Harriman and he’s in 35th place.

Top 10 BELOW

Monday, February 27, 2023

Joey Cifuentes III Wins 2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole!

Cory Johnston 8th

Joey Cifuentes III of Clinton, Ark., has won the 2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole with a four-day total of 85 pounds, 2 ounces.(Photo: BASS)


BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Despite enduring several painful losses, Arkansas rookie Joey Cifuentes III held on to sack up a final-round limit of 18 pounds, 7 ounces and win the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole with a four-day total of 85-2.


After placing sixth on Day 1 with 19-13, Cifuentes took over the top spot with a Day 2 limit of 26-1 — the tournament’s heaviest bag. He added 20-13 on Saturday and entered Championship Sunday with a lead of 4-1 over Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La.


In the final round, Cifuentes held off a serious charge by fellow rookie Kyoya Fujita of Minamitsuru, Yamanashi, Japan, who caught 19-15 on Championship Sunday and ultimately finished second with 76-6.


Along with his first blue trophy, Cifuentes collected the top prize of $100,000.


“I can’t believe this,” a visibly relieved Cifuentes said. “Today was so wild; you have to expect (pressure) when you have Tyler Rivet behind you.


“I knew I had a cushion, but I didn’t think it was going to take that much weight to do it.”


Cifuentes entered the final round with slightly more than a 4-pound advantage over the red-hot Rivet, who won last week's season opener at Lake Okeechobee.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole Day 3: Cifuentes Continues to Lead!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 5th, Chris Johnston 17th & Gallant 46th

Joey Cifuentes III of Clinton, Ark., is leading after Day 3 of the 2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole with a three-day total of 66 pounds, 11 ounces. (Photo: BASS)


BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — On Semifinal Saturday, Joey Cifuentes III stuck with his game plan, tallied a three-day total of 66 pounds, 11 ounces, and retained his lead in the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole.


The rookie from Clinton, Ark., placed sixth on Day 1 with 19-13 before taking the top spot with a Day 2 limit of 26-1 — the tournament’s heaviest bag. Cifuentes added 20-13 on Saturday and heads into Championship Sunday with a lead of 4-1 over Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La.


“I’m not going to say I can do 20 again tomorrow, but I feel like it’s there,” Cifuentes said. “I saw some really good fish today.”


Cifuentes committed his time Saturday to Spring Creek, where he fished standing timber in about 20 to 22 feet. Targeting groups of trees and large cypress stumps proved the most productive.


When his Day 2 bite slowed around noon, Cifuentes moved shallow to flip vegetation before finishing his day in the offshore timber. Today, it was all about the wood.


“I stayed in my area and my goal was to get 20 pounds; I got it and I left,” Cifuentes said. “I kinda weaseled back close and ended up catching a couple good bass, then I left around 10:30.


“I found another spot where I saw some good fish swimming around the bottom. I may hit it up tomorrow, but I’m going to start on my primary area and I’m going to try and get another 20 pounds.”


Describing his main spot and the new area, Cifuentes said he’s targeting deep timber on the edge of a spawning flat. Using his forward-facing sonar to watch for specific fish, he’s making short pitches with a drop shot.


Cifuentes is using a 1/4-ounce weight and a 6-inch hand-poured finesse worm. For snag avoidance amid the timber, he’s Texas rigging his worm on a 1/0 hook.


“I like that little hook because it’s less visible,” Cifuentes said. “I think that’s helping me get bites. I didn’t lose any fish today, I fished clean.”


Cifuentes said he feels confident his spots hold the potential winning fish. He specifically chose Spring Creek because it had the right mix of clear water, timber and spawning habitat.


He’s hopeful that his chosen spots will allow him to continue intercepting bass on their way to and from the spawning grounds.


“Today, all my fish were postspawn; yesterday, they were all prespawn,” Cifuentes said. “I think I have fish coming to me also. I learned that today, so that’s exciting.”


Rivet is in second place with 62-10. His daily weights were 17-4, 19-11 and 25-11.


Coming off his first Elite win at last week’s event at Lake Okeechobee, Rivet spent his day in the Flint River where he caught bass on a popping frog and an Xcite Baits Xtreme Stix (stickbait), which he fished Texas rigged and wacky style.


“I caught one fish on the frog — on my third cast,” Rivet said. “I threw the frog for a while, but it has to be the right scenario. It has to be a little dirty and shallow. The one I caught was on a bed, so she came out and ate it.”


Rivet said all of his bass were on beds. Turbid water prevented him from actually sight fishing, but reading the clues guided his presentations.


“I know they’re there by the way they’re acting; I can see them swirling around and chasing stuff,” he said. “It’s all about throwing in there at the right time. If you see one swell, you've got to put your bait in that swell.


“When they’re trying to eat something and (the bait) is in their face, they eat it.”


Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., is in third with 61-9. After an opening limit of 14-5 put him in 44th place, Hackney caught the second-heaviest bag of Day 2 — 24-7 — and rose to third place. Adding 22-13 on Saturday, he’ll start Championship Sunday in the third-place position.


“I fished totally different today from yesterday — I had to fish a lot slower,” Hackney said. “I power fished yesterday and today I finesse fished. Yesterday, I caught them winding, today I was grinding.


“Same area, but totally different. They wouldn’t chase. I don’t know why; it was perfect weather. They never got aggressive like they did yesterday.”


Hackney caught his fish on a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Bug in green pumpkin. He said he’s eager to take one more shot at Seminole.


“I look forward to going out there again,” he said. “It’s been fun the last couple of days. I really struggled the first day of the tournament; one got off. Other than that, I fished really clean the last couple of days.”


Kyoya Fujita of Minamitsuru, Yamanashi, Japan, earned the $1,000 daily bonus for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day with an 8-6 largemouth. That fish also leads the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament, which is good for a $2,000 bonus.