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.

Friday, February 24, 2023

2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole Day 1: Will Davis Jr. Grabs Lead with 21-13lbs!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 32th, Gallant 37th, Chris Johnston 38th &  Gustafson 56th

Will Davis Jr. of Sylacauga, Ala., is leading after Day 1 of the 2023 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole with 21 pounds, 13 ounces. (Photo: BASS)


BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Will Davis Jr. didn’t get what he wanted, but he made the most of what he got and sacked up a Day 1 limit of 21 pounds, 13 ounces to take the lead in the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole.


Coming off a 14th-place finish in his first Elite event — last week’s SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee — the pro from Sylacauga, Ala., heads into Day 2 with a 7-ounce lead over Australian pro Carl Jocumsen.


“I’m a bigtime bed fisherman, but it just didn’t pan out well this week,” Davis said of his preferred game plan. “I went to my strength, which is power fishing in the river.”


Davis, the 2022 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation champion, said he knew the lake’s lower end was receiving a lot of pressure. Electing to fish the mouth of the Flint River proved to be a prudent call.


“I started really close working a crankbait, but I was catching only small fish, so I knew I needed to make a move,” Davis said. “I picked up a spinnerbait and fished current breaks and caught two of my biggest ones.


“The current breaks were little indentions in the bank. They had to be close to a little feeder pocket; it had to be where they’re staging.”


Davis caught his bass on a shad-colored FISHCO crankbait and the Xwire spinnerbait, both made by Davis Bait Company, which is owned by his father, Will Davis Sr. The spinnerbait had a peacock-color skirt, which comprised blue glimmer, chartreuse and pink strands and tandem willow-leaf Colorado blades.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Buzzer beater! Lane claims dramatic victory in final minute on Kissimmee Chain

Florida pro's last-minute 5-5 earns him 9-ounce win over Mark Davis

Chris Lane had no idea he was the winner of Stage One when it was time for lines out. Photo by Garrick Dixon.
Mason Prince


KISSIMMEE, Fla. – “You’re kidding me?” Chris Lane asked his official in disbelief.

“No sir, I’m not,” his official confirmed.

In one of the most memorable finishes in Bass Pro Tour history, Lane was able to leapfrog Bass Fishing Hall of Famer Mark Davis in the final minute of B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Grundéns. Lane needed a bass weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces or more to cull and catch Davis. With less than 2 minutes remaining, Lane hooked into a 5-5 largemouth, landed it with less than a minute left and was able to edge Davis by 9 ounces.

In what should have been a moment of celebration, Lane had no idea he had actually just won his first Bass Pro Tour event. Lane believed he needed more than a 7-pounder to catch Davis and thought the 5-5 was going to leave him shy. It wasn’t until time expired that Lane’s official informed him that he had, in fact, just won the event.

Of course, there was a signature ‘POW’ expressed by Lane, maybe with a little more spunk and emotion than usual. For Lane to win this event on a lake where he holds so many fond memories, it’s easy to see why the massive moment in his career moved him to tears.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Tyler Rivet Wins 2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee!

Louisiana's Tyler Rivet claims first Bassmaster Elite Series victory at Lake Okeechobee

Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., has won the 2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee with a four-day total of 86 pounds, 15 ounces. ( Photo: BASS) 


The fifth-year Elite Series pro from Raceland, La., said Thursday he had the location and game plan to win the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee — and on Sunday, his claim came to fruition as he finished with a four-day total of 86 pounds, 15 ounces to earn his first career blue trophy.


After placing third on Day 1 with 24-5, Rivet gained one spot with a second-round limit of 29-2 on Friday. A slower Saturday yielded only 14-11 and Rivet dropped back to third. But he turned in a Championship Sunday bag that went 18-13 to seal the deal and collect the $100,000 top prize.


“This is what I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” Rivet said. “I remember every day at the (Lake Cataouatche) Tank Ponds during the 2011 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, hearing boats coming through the fog and seeing all the big names and thinking ‘One day, I want to do that.’”


Rivet spent this week in the Kissimmee River, about two miles upstream from the lake. With the exception of a few local boats, he had the river all to himself.


“Nobody else was doing what I was doing and that’s the key to winning an Elite tournament — finding that one little thing off the wall,” Rivet said. “That’s how it’s won (most) of the time.


“I thought this one would be won out in the lake on one of the community holes. But when I found my spot in the river, I thought, ‘This could be something.’ But I didn’t know until that first day and I was like ‘We could win.’”

Sunday, February 19, 2023

2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee Day 2: Cobb Clobbers 32lb limit and Leads!

Canadians: Gallant 9th, Gustafson 30th, Chris Johnston 41st & Cory Johnston 91st

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., is leading after Day 2 of the 2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces. ( Photo: BASS)


OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Patience and persistence paid big dividends for Brandon Cobb, whose huge Day 2 limit of 32 pounds, 15 ounces boosted him to a two-day total of 55-8, which leads the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee.


Starting the second round in sixth place with 22-9, the Elite veteran from Greenwood, S.C., turned in the event’s heaviest bag and heads into Semifinal Saturday with a margin of 2-1 over Tyler Rivet.


Cobb, who won two Elites in 2019 — on Lake Hartwell and at Lake Fork — broke the 30-pound mark twice during the latter (37-15 and 31-11). Reaching this elusive threshold, he said, requires measured aggression.


“You can’t be like ‘I’m going to catch 20 pounds today.’ You don’t know because it’s based on big bites,” Cobb said. “There’s a lot of fish in certain areas and there’s a lot of boats in the areas where there’s a lot of fish.


“You just go fish and try to catch everything you can. It’s just a matter of whether you’re catching bucks (male bass) or females. I wish I could say there’s a real strategy, but it’s mostly just keeping yourself in the right area and hoping you run into some females.”


Friday, February 17, 2023

2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee Day 1: Bernie Schultz Leads 28-11lbs!

Canadians: Gallant 9th, Gustafson 21st, Chris Johnston 23rd  & Cory Johnston 95th

Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., is leading after Day 1 of the 2023 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee with 28 pounds, 11 ounces. (Photo: BASS)


OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Expectations did not match reality for Bernie Schultz, but the veteran Florida pro was delighted with a surprising day that yielded a five-bass limit of 28 pounds, 11 ounces, which leads Day 1 of the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee.


Hailing from Gainesville, Fla., Schultz anchored his bag with an 8-10 that leads the Phoenix Boats Big Bass standings. He heads into Day 2 with a 3-pound lead over local favorite Scott Martin.


“It was a remarkable day; I didn’t expect to catch that,” Schultz said. “I thought I’d get one — if I was lucky maybe two — big bites, but I got four big bites.”


Schultz caught his bass in two main sections of one general area that he found prior to the off-limits period. With depths of about 3 feet, the area held a mix of vegetation — a key ingredient, given the lake’s present condition.


High water has altered much of the traditional spawning areas, while herbicide treatments have dramatically reduced the hydrilla and eelgrass that once covered vast acreage. The area Schultz fished had a mix of these submerged aquatic plants, along with dollar pads, bulrush and cattails.


“I knew this area was going to be good because the vegetation is very healthy; that’s really a rare thing in this lake these days,” Schultz said. “The lake has shrunk because of habitat loss. Places that were once lush and healthy are barren right now.


“There’s not a lot of filtration in places that were historically really productive this time of year because the fish aren’t using them.”

Monday, February 13, 2023

Kevin Van Dam Retires from Tournaments in 2024!

Kevin Van Dam, possibly the best professional bass fisherman ever, will fish his final season of tournament fishing. KVD announces that he is not retiring from fishing and explains that he'll still be involved in fishing. 

Joshua Weaver Wins 2023 MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on Lake Okeechobee!

By EriK Gaffron


CLEWISTON, Fla. – Weighing over 31 pounds on Day 2 and 26 pounds, 4 ounces on Day 3, Joshua Weaver surged to the win in the inaugural Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event with a 72-9 total. For his efforts, Weaver takes home a long-sought trophy and $117,500 in prize and contingency money. Additionally, Weaver’s win qualified him for REDCREST V in March 2024.

Finishing second in Power-Pole Stop 1 Presented by Phoenix BoatsColby Schrumpf racked up 63-12. In third, Brett Hite tallied 63-1 on the week.

“Man, I’m on cloud nine,” Weaver said. “It definitely hasn’t hit me yet.”

Weaver has been close to victory in MLF events several times since his professional career began in 2016, boasting eight Top-10 finishes in that span. Finally, the Macon, Georgia, pro can add the title of “Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Champion” to the list of accomplishments he’s amassed over the last seven seasons.

“Words can’t describe this feeling,” he said. “I’ve wanted this for so long. I’ve been doing this professionally since 2016 and have come close a lot of times. The last two days have been nothing short of amazing. I was always the guy who lost the one to win or lost them on a day I should have caught them – which I thought I did the first day – but no, we got it done.”

Friday, February 10, 2023

2023 MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on Lake Okeechobee Day 2: Colby Schrumpf Leads with 47-05lbs

By EriK Gaffron


CLEWISTON, Fla. – Lake Okeechobee impressed again on Day 2 of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, with three pros catching more than 25 pounds on the day. Sacking up 25-6 to go with 21-15 from Day 1, Colby Schrumpf totaled 47-1 for the lead in Power-Pole Stop 1 Presented by Phoenix Boats. In second, Joshua Weaver tallied 31-9 on Day 2 for a 46-5 total, and “Real Deal” Michael Neal slipped into third place with 44-4. Tomorrow, the Top 50 pros will fish for the win on a truly spectacular Lake Okeechobee.

Schrumpf’s day started off strong with a pair of 5-pounders early and continued with a steady output of quality catches throughout the day.

“Probably in the first hour and a half I had two over 5 pounds in the boat and just slowly culled my way up,” he said. “Late this afternoon, I was able to catch a 5 1/2-pounder about midday. Then I caught a 4-pounder and made a nice cull with that. I left those fish so that way they’re ready to go tomorrow.”


Thursday, February 9, 2023

2023 MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on Lake Okeechobee Day 1: David Walker Smashes 28-01lbs; Gallelli 26-11lbs

By EriK Gaffron


CLEWISTON, Fla. – Day 1 of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on Lake Okeechobee was an absolute banger, with 15 pros weighing 20 pounds or more to kick off Power-Pole Stop 1 Presented by Phoenix Boats. In the lead, David Walker stacked up 28 pounds, 1 ounce to edge out Italian pro Jacopo Gallelli (26-11) in second. Behind the top two, Jason Vance and Tai Au also crossed the 25-pound mark, and 18 pounds was good for just 30th after Day 1.

Walker’s day started trending in the right direction from the jump, boating a keeper just a few casts into his morning.

“You know, it started good, but it didn’t start with big fish,” he said. “It just started with some bites. In the area I went to I was sure I could get some bites there. I’d had a few bites there in practice and just kept going through it. I caught one about a 2-something (pounder); I didn’t make two or three casts and thought ‘well, that’s good, there’s still some more fish here.” 

Not long after, Walker was able to boat a 4 1/2-pound fish that flipped the switch on his day. 

“I was really surprised because I didn’t expect that (caliber of) fish there, and little did I know I’d end up culling that fish. I mean, what a day,” he said.


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Minn Kota & Humminbird Owners Tournament June 3-4 on Pickwick Lake!

Get ready for the first Minn Kota & Humminbird Owners Tournament!

The tournament will be held at Pickwick Lake on June 3-4, 2023 and is open to anyone with at least one Minn Kota trolling motor, shallow water anchor, on-board charger or Humminbird fish finder installed on their boat.
With over $150,000 in total payouts and the grand prize for the 1st place finisher taking home $50,000 it will make for an exciting event! Anglers will also have the opportunity to win additional Minn Kota and Humminbird products, more cash, and other prizes for finishing in the top 5 overall. PLUS - The first 200 online registrants will receive a FREE Humminbird LakeMaster Southeast Premium map card!
Learn more and register here:

Monday, February 6, 2023

Kennie Steverson Wins 2023 MLF Toyoto Series on Harris Chain of Lakes!

Canadian Cory Johnston 5th

By Job Newwell 


LEESBURG, Fla. – Some anglers will tell you they are a slow fisherman. That when it comes to fishing, they can drop it down into granny gear and just creep along slower than anyone else – and that’s fine. But in bass fishing, there are two levels of slow; what everyone calls slow, and Kennie Steverson slow.

How slow does Steverson fish? He literally got passed by all the turtles on the Harris Chain of Lakes en route to winning the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southern Division event this week.

For the record, Steverson’s scorecard for the event included a Day 1 catch of 24 pounds even, a Day 2 catch of 27-11 and a closing round catch of 20-2 for a total of 71-13.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ned Rig for Smallmouth with Dave Chong


The Z-Man Ned Rig is one of the most effective finesse presentations an angler can cast. Listen to Dave Chong as he explains how he uses the Ned Rig for smallmouth. Dave Chong has won tournaments throughout the smallmouth range and knows how to make bass bite.