Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Local Pro Wes Logan Gets First Bassmaster Elite Series Victory At Neely Henry Lake

GADSDEN, Ala. — Wes Logan said memories came flooding back to him throughout the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake.

That’s bound to happen when you’ve fished a place since you were 5 years old.

Logan now has countless new reasons to think fondly of his home water after claiming the tournament title here on Championship Monday. The 26-year-old from Springville, only a 30-mile drive from the Gadsden City Boat Docks, caught a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 57 pounds, 9 ounces. He capped the competition with a 14-1 limit Monday, the third-heaviest of the day.

Logan earned $100,000 for the win, his first in 26 B.A.S.S. events.

The second-year Elite Series angler charged into the lead on Day 3 with a 16-15 bag that tied for the heaviest of the tournament. That made him the last man to weigh in Monday and the only one with a chance to knock Connecticut pro Paul Mueller from the hot seat.

Logan peeked silently at the scale while his bass were weighed. When his winning total flashed on screen, he let out a victorious yell and pumped his right fist over his head. Then he hugged Mueller and hoisted his first blue trophy for his home-based fans to see.

“I started tournament fishing with my dad when I was 5,” Logan said. “We’d come here, Logan Martin and Weiss … I went into practice trying to not put pressure on myself. I wanted to fish like I’d never seen the place before. I wanted to figure out a pattern.”

Having an open mind, even on water he knows so well, was critical this week. Neely Henry was a difficult read for most of the 98 anglers who started the tournament on Friday, postponed by a day because of heavy rains earlier in the week. The storms sent the water table rising and shot sediment throughout the lake. The Elites scrambled to find stable water, many relying on junk fishing to see which lures and techniques produced the best bites.

A trio of lures worked best for Logan — a 5/8-ounce Dirty Jigs Matt Herren flipping jig (black/blue skirt) with a Zoom Big Salty sapphire blue Chunk; a Dirty Jigs No Jack swim jig with a Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer; and a frog, which he used to fill his Day 3 limit.

Logan started the tournament strongly, putting 14-1 on the board Friday, good enough for ninth place. He caught 12-8 on Day 2, climbing to eighth and surviving the cut to 48. He made his move on Day 3 with the 16-5 haul, pointing to a pair of unusual catches as the turning point.

“I caught two bass under a bridge right by the Gadsden City Boat Docks on a crankbait,” he said “I’m not a crankbait fisherman. It was about 11:30, and I only had two keepers at the time. But I caught a 2 1/2 there, and then two casts later, I caught a 5 1/4. I only got one more bite that day.

“When you get that kind of bite when you’re not supposed to, that let me know I had a chance to win. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen all the time.”

Logan didn’t divulge specifics on the crankbait, other than to say it’s specially painted, similar to a black/chartreuse combo.

“I keep that one in my hand around here,” he said. “It’s a confidence thing.”

Logan planned to fish down-lake from the start, but low water in that area made him choose otherwise. Each of the 20 bass he weighed was caught between Cove Creek and Minnesota Bend — both only a 10-minute run from the Gadsden City Boat Docks.

Mueller, meanwhile, went straight for the lower end of Neely Henry and found success. He seized the lead after Day 2 and was in second place going into Day 4, trailing Logan by just more than a pound. Mueller caught the heaviest bass of the tournament Monday, a 6-6 largemouth, but his 13-13 closing weight wasn’t enough to overtake Logan.

“My pattern went away today and I knew that would be the deal,” Mueller said. “I had to fish new water. I was able to catch some fish, and I had a good day. I’m glad at the way this turned out. As short as the morning bite was, I could have been sitting in sixth or seventh right now.”

Mueller caught his best bass, including the 6-6, on a Deps Evoke 2.0 squarebill crankbait (chartreuse/brown back). He earned an additional $2,000 for having the Phoenix Boats Big Bass on Day 4 and overall.

Alabama native Gerald Swindle caught the second-heaviest bag on Day 4 (a 15-0 limit) and finished third with 54-2 overall.

Mueller took home an additional $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and fourth-place finisher Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Logan earned $4,000 for winning while Christie claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

Minnesota pro Seth Feider finished 12th in the derby and didn’t qualify for Championship Monday, but he still left Gadsden with a commanding lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. His season total of 525 points gives him a 41-point cushion over Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., (484) with three tournaments remaining.

Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., is third with 464, followed by Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, with 462 and Christie with 457.

Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., is leading the Rookie of the Year standings with 372 points.

The City of Gadsden and the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism hosted the event.

HOTTEST NEW LURES FOR 2020

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Monster Bag Lifts Livesay To Bassmaster Elite Series Victory At Lake Fork

QUITMAN, Texas — For three days, Lee Livesay caught quality fish, but nothing close to the Lake Fork potential he intimately knows. On Championship Sunday, the third-year Elite Series pro and local guide showcased his home lake’s treasures by winning the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a phenomenal four-day total of 112 pounds, 5 ounces.

As the 32nd individual to enter the prestigious Bassmaster Century Club (a five-fish limit of 100 pounds or more), Livesay outpaced Day 1 leader Patrick Walters by a 10-pound margin. Along with his second Elite trophy — his first came last fall at Chickamauga Lake — Livesay won a first-place award of $100,000.

For Livesay, it was a monster final-day limit that weighed 42-3 and ranks as the third-heaviest, single-day weight in Bassmaster history that sealed the deal.

“I have no words right now, it’s amazing,” he said. “I’ve been around them, but I haven’t caught any big ones all week; I just survived. Everything just worked out and it never goes like that.”

Hailing from Longview, Texas, Livesay made no assumptions and fished hard until the last minute. But when the smallest bass in your five-fish limit goes 7 pounds, 6 ounces, good things are likely.

“I caught big ones everywhere I went,” he said. “I started off with big ones (a 9-2 at 7:14 a.m.) and ended with big ones (7-14 at 1:10 p.m.). It was just one of those surreal days, and it was amazing because I’ve spent a lot of time on this lake.”

Spending his tournament in Little Caney Creek, Livesay rotated among several secondary points where bass were chasing big gizzard shad. His main spot — a bar extending off a small island — allowed him to sneak into range of bass schooling on the opposite side without spooking them.

Throughout the tournament, Livesay caught fish on a mixed arsenal that included a 3:16 Lure Company line-through Rising Son swimbait, a 3:16 Lure Company Work Horse glidebait, a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait, a Carolina rig with a Netbait Little Spanky, a 6th Sense Magnum Squarebill and a bone color Heddon Saltwater Super Spook.

On Sunday, the latter produced all of his weight fish. A 7-foot medium-heavy Halo HFX cranking rod and 40-pound braided line was essential for reaching distant fish and keeping them connected.

“Those fish are wanting to feed up and they’re seeing so many swimbaits, they’re just not eating them,” he said. “I kept getting bites and I kept throwing it.

“Working that big topwater really erratic and just getting them to react was the deal. I think they really think it’s a shad.”

Livesay kept himself in the hunt all week, starting with a seventh-place bag of 25-6 on Day 1. He slipped two spots on Day 2 after catching 17-14, but put himself within striking distance on Semifinal Saturday by adding 26-14 and improving to fifth.

Overcoming the hometown curse — succumbing to the pressure of local expectations — made Livesay’s victory even sweeter.

“I’ve spent thousands of days with clients and fun fishing on this lake,” Livesay said. “I never thought I had it. I knew I was around them, but I never thought I’d catch 42 pounds.

“So, doing it in front of family and friends, and a lot of sponsors were here, too, it’s just amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Notably, Walters claimed his second Century Club belt after earning his first at last November’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with a four-day Lake Fork total of 104-12.

Hailing from Summerville, S.C., Walters started strong this week by leading Day 1 with 32-14. He slipped to third on Day 2 with a smaller limit of 15-7.

Walters got back on track Saturday with 22-13 and reached the final round in fourth place. Adding 31-3 Sunday, he tallied 102-5 and was the only competitor to break 30 pounds twice.

He did most of his work at the mouth of Little Caney where prespawners were staging on the breaks. Leveraging his forward-facing Garmin Panoptix LiveScope, he fished a mix of jerkbaits, swimbaits and topwaters.

After a slow start, Walters got rolling with a midmorning rally that produced several big topwater bites. He steadily chipped away at the lead Livesay had built for much of the morning until the leader’s midday rally put the event out of reach.

“If you’re going to get beat on Lake Fork, it has to be a 40-pound bag,” Walters said. “Big hats off to Lee, he is the man. I had a great week; I really do love this place.”

Quentin Cappo of Prairieville, La., held the second-place spot for the first three days and finished third with 99-6. He turned in daily weights of 28-15, 25-13, 19-4 and 25-6.

Cappo targeted shallow areas with shell bottom in Caney Creek looking for submerged root masses, where deflecting a Strike King KVD 4.0 squarebill triggered strikes. When bass drove gizzard shad topside, he threw a Strike King Sexy Dawg topwater.

“The topwater came into play huge today, as expected,” he said. “One to 3 o’clock has been my window. I was just pacing around, hitting as much as I could and looking for bait activity.

“When that water temperature got warm throughout the day, they would come up and get active. And when the wind pushed those shad against the bank, they showed themselves.”

HOTTEST NEW LURES FOR 2020

Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., won the $1,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award for his 9-13 largemouth. He also won $1,000 for the biggest bass of Day 2. Walters claimed Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors for Days 1 and 4 (8-14 and 9-5), while Australian pro Carl Jocumsen took the award on Day 3 with a 9-5.

Brandon Card of Salisbury, N.C., took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Chris Zaldain of Fort Worth, Texas, earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Walters earned $2,500 for being the highest-placing entrant, while Cappo claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., leads the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 436 points. Walters is in second with 432, followed by Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 387, Livesay with 385 and Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Canada, with 384.

Josh Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 333 points.

The tournament was hosted by the Sabine River Authority and Wood County Economic Development Commission. 

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Walters Takes Lead With Massive Catch At Bassmaster Elite On Lake Fork

QUITMAN, Texas — Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., took advantage of a dramatic increase in opportunity to sack up a five-bass limit of 32 pounds, 14 ounces to lead Day 1 of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork.

November saw Walters capture his first Elite title on Fork by topping the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with a four-day total of 104-12. In that fall event, Walters targeted standing timber, but today’s leading limit came from staging areas outside the spawning pockets.

“My plan this morning was to start on shallow points and catch one or two fish,” Walters said. “When I got out there, I was surprised how many fish I started to see; it was like they multiplied from practice.

“I caught my first 7-pounder (around 7 a.m.) and I said, ‘That’s the fish I was here for.’ Then, I caught my second one and I was like, ‘Whoa, this may happen.’”

From there, Walters began running points and inspecting each spot with his Garmin Panoptix LiveScope. He reported finding bass grouped in numbers far exceeding anything he’d found in practice.

“Every point I started going to, the fish quadrupled on the places I found them, whereas in practice, on my starting spot, I caught one on a glidebait and it had one with it. I went back there today and there were 15 fish sitting on that spot.

“After that, I just starting running areas like that, and I’m pretty surprised what’s showing up. They almost seem prespawn, so I don’t know if that bite is going to get even better.”

Noting that he caught one small fish in 45 minutes of bed fishing, Walters said he spent the majority of his day throwing a glidebait and multiple jerkbaits on the offshore spots.

He wants to see his fish in a particular depth zone, as this indicates an interest in feeding. Walters found that not all of the fish he spotted on LiveScope were actually ready to go.

“I’m really surprised by the fish that are showing on the majority of spots I’m fishing, but it’s just getting them to bite,” he said. “There’s a weird bite going on; you have to fish slow sometimes, but I think if we keep our foot on the gas and fish for the aggressive fish, I think we can catch some fish this week.

“Hopefully we can just ride it out and make it to the weekend. That’s the plan — just make it to Championship Sunday.”

Friday’s forecast for rainy, windy conditions could play well for Walters. Many of his competitors spent larger portions of their day sight fishing. A dimmer day will significantly limit that pursuit, but Walters is prepared to deal with any impacts on his game plan.

“You can’t control any of the variables, especially Mother Nature, so you just have to adapt and go with whatever you’re presented with,” he said. “We’re just going to go fishing tomorrow and stay on our toes, adapt as much as possible and hopefully get five good bites.”

Enjoying a quick start, Walters tallied approximately 20 pounds with four fish by about 8:20 a.m. A dry spell followed, until Bassmaster LIVE saw him come tight on a serious fish that went 8-14.

About 30 minutes later, he culled a 2-pounder with a 5-8. Hooked in the back, that fish put Walters through a nail-biting battle before rising into reach.

Quentin Cappo of Prairieville, La., is in second place with 28-15. Starting his day with an 8-3 at 7:25, Cappo did his damage on shallow, rocky bottom.

“I’m excited to go out tomorrow; I’ve found them, I know where they’re at, it’s just a timing thing,” Cappo said. “I need wind on my spots. When the wind blows, I can catch them.”

Cappo caught all of the bass he weighed on a large-body squarebill. He’s using an aggressive presentation he described as “dredging” to stir up the bottom and trigger bites.

“The fish are feeding on big gizzard shad and I’m looking for five good quality bites,” Cappo said. “Fortunately, I had 18 keepers in the 3- to 8-pound range. I stepped on the gas because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring.

“This is a heavily pressured lake and they see these baits (often), so something different gets them fired up. When I’m there at the right time, it’s fast and then I get off of them.”

Brandon Card of Salisbury, N.C., is in third place with 27-6. Bed fishing was his opening game plan and while Card sight fished a 4 1/2-pounder, he ended up catching all of his weight fish by targeting offshore hard spots from 7 to 20 feet.

“I actually found a couple more areas that had some really good spawners, but the carp had muddied them up and finally, I said, ‘Forget this, I’m going to go out there and fish offshore like I like to fish,’ and it just kind of unfolded.

“I had some offshore places that I was confident about but I didn’t know how good they were going to be. On my best spot, I thought I was going to be able to catch a few, but it was unbelievable. I probably caught 20 fish off that spot.”

Card said he caught some fish with dragging presentations but most bit reaction baits.

There were 36 bags of 20 pounds or more caught and 10 bass over 7 pounds. Walters is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 8-14 largemouth.

Walters leads the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 433 points. Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., is in second with 424, followed by Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Canada, with 382.

Josh Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 340 points.

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. CT from Sabine River Authority (SRA) — Lake Fork. The weigh-in will be held at SRA at 3 p.m.

The Top 49 anglers after Friday’s weigh-in will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.

Live coverage for the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms.  

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

B.A.S.S. Announces 2022 Bassmaster Classic Will Be Held At Lake Hartwell

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The world’s most prestigious professional bass tournament will be returning next year to the site of some of the best moments in the sport’s famed history.

B.A.S.S. officials, along with Visit Anderson and VisitGreenvilleSC, announced today that the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will be held for the fourth time at scenic Lake Hartwell, March 4-6, with takeoffs from Green Pond Landing & Event Center. Daily weigh-ins will be held at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo will take place at the Greenville Convention Center, both of which are in nearby Greenville.

B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said the organization is excited to once again visit a venue that has become the gold standard for professional bass fishing events.

“Everything about Lake Hartwell and the city of Greenville make them the perfect setting for the Super Bowl of Professional Bass Fishing,” Akin said. “The Bassmaster Classic is not only a chance for the best anglers in the world to showcase their abilities, it’s an annual celebration of the sport itself.

“Lake Hartwell provides the perfect site for amazing competition, and the city of Greenville provides the hotels, restaurants and other facilities you need for an event the size of the Classic.”

Hartwell is a 56,000-acre man-made reservoir situated between Georgia and South Carolina and encompassing portions of the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers. It features a vast array of habitat and a good population of both largemouth and spotted bass that are likely to be in the prespawn phase when the Classic competitors arrive.

The fishery has hosted three previous Classics that each provided action-packed finishes.

In 2008, Texas pro Alton Jones Sr. went into the final day with little more than a pound lead, but managed to hold off the rest of the field and claim his only Classic trophy. In 2015, when temperatures dipped as low as a frigid 9 degrees, hometown favorite Casey Ashley of South Carolina came from behind on the final day to win his only title. Then in 2018, young Alabama pro Jordan Lee jumped from sixth place on the final day to win his second-straight Classic.

The fans turned out in droves for all three visits, creating an electric atmosphere for the weigh-ins and packing the Expo all three days.

“The Upstate of South Carolina is thrilled to welcome the Bassmaster Classic back to Lake Hartwell for the fourth time since initially hosting back in 2008,” said David Montgomery, Vice President of Sales for VisitGreenvilleSC. “Not only has the Classic set attendance records each year it has returned, but it has proven to be one of our largest economic impact events for the Greenville region.”

In 2018, a then-record crowd of 143,323 fans attended all of the Classic-related events. That Classic won a Sports Destination Management Innovation in Sports Tourism award for its ability to have two destinations working together for such a large economic impact.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to host the Bassmaster Classic once again on Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, Executive Director of Visit Anderson. “The leadership of Anderson County has made a significant commitment to Green Pond Landing and the marketing efforts of Lake Hartwell, and we expect another record-breaking event with our teammates from Greenville.

“Hosting our fourth Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell is significant to our community because no other fishery will have hosted more Bassmaster Classic events. Having hosted this great event in the past, we can speak firsthand to the significant economic impact it will have on the Upstate of South Carolina and the impact of residual tourism that will be felt in Anderson County for years to come.”

Since the 2018 Classic, Hartwell has hosted several other high-level B.A.S.S. events, including a 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament that was won by South Carolina pro Brandon Cobb. Just last year, another South Carolina pro, Patrick Walters, won the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Lake Hartwell.

Most recently, Hartwell hosted a Bassmaster College Series tournament that was won by Carson-Newman University anglers Ben Cully and Hayden Gaddis with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 10 ounces. In two days, a giant field of 261 teams caught just over 4,536 pounds of bass.

The 2022 Classic will feature 55 qualifiers who will earn their berths through the Elite Series, the Opens, the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation circuit, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Bassmaster Team Championship plus the defending Bassmaster Classic champion and winner of the final Elite Series event of the 2021 season. They will compete in the no-entry fee event for their share of a whopping $1 million purse, with the champion earning $300,000.

“Since its inception, the Classic has been a tournament that changes lives,” said B.A.S.S. Chairman Chase Anderson. “The payday is great, sure. But the opportunity to refer to yourself as ‘Bassmaster Classic champion’ for the rest of your life — there’s no greater clout in our sport.”

The Bassmaster Classic is being hosted locally by Visit Anderson and VisitGreenvilleSC.

About VisitGreenvilleSC
VisitGreenvilleSC is a non-profit, economic development organization that is responsible for promoting the greater Greenville area as an attractive destination for leisure travelers, meetings, conventions, trade shows, and sporting events. As the official sales and marketing organization of the City and County of Greenville, the goal of VisitGreenvilleSC is to increase visitor-generated revenue, thereby strengthening Greenville’s economy. VisitGreenvilleSC is raising awareness of the destination through the brand “yeahTHATgreenville.” For more information go to VisitGreenvilleSC.com.

About Visit Anderson
Visit Anderson is the official destination marketing organization for Anderson, South Carolina. The mission of Visit Anderson is to grow the economy of Anderson County by fostering sustainable tourism, economic development and effectively marketing Anderson County and Lake Hartwell to increase visitation and improve the quality of life for the residents of Anderson County. For more information go to VisitAnderson.com.

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Veteran Angler Lowen Earns First Bassmaster Elite Series Victory At Pickwick

FLORENCE, Ala. — Bill Lowen turned in an impressively consistent performance at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake, but he’ll never forget the 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that buoyed his Championship Tuesday performance and delivered a winning total of 83-5.

The only competitor to break 20 pounds three of the four days, Lowen placed third on Day 1 with 21-3 and improved to second a day later by adding 23-13. He earned his final-round berth on Day 3 with a limit of 17-10 that put him in a first-place tie with Chad Pipkens.

On Tuesday, Lowen surged across the finish line with a limit of 20-11. Edging second-place Brock Mosley by 2-10, Lowen claimed his first Elite win and earned $102,000, which includes the daily and overall Phoenix Boats Big Bass awards.

Lowen’s game-changing kicker bit around 10:30 a.m., when he skipped his black and blue Signature Series 3/8-ounce Lure Parts Online jig with a chunk trailer under a dock near Kogers Island. He initially snagged a piece of submerged cover, but then his line tightened.

“I had to pitch way up in there so the bait could get down in the current and sweep it through,” Lowen said. “I felt my jig get into a limb or a piece of brush, and as I hopped the jig over I felt the bite.

“I hesitated because I wanted to be sure, but when I got big pressure, I set the hook and it was game on.”

Lowen described that emotional catch: “There were so many feelings going through my head. You could hear me screaming and hollering and that’s not me. But that’s 14 years of excitement built up for this day. It all came out.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority steadily worked the volume through the system. But with Wilson Dam dumping approximately 180,000 cubic feet per second into Pickwick, the rising water and intense current dramatically changed Lowen’s game plan.

“My main goal was to start the tournament out on the grass flat by Koger Island. When all this rain and current came through I (was concerned) because I didn’t have anything else.

“The first morning of the event I ran down there and saw what was going on, and I said, ‘These fish have to slide to the sides — whether it’s on the island where I was fishing or the docks on the other side.’ Fortunately, when I pulled up and started flipping trees I got a bite, which keyed me in.”

That pattern worked for three days, but in the final round, falling water had drained much of Lowen’s prime habitat.

“Today, my main area (shallow cover on the outskirts of Kogers) was a foot and a half low,” he said. “A lot of the wood I was catching fish on was dry, so I started running some deeper stuff. I switched from the 3/8-ounce jig to a 1/2 and caught a couple key fish.”

Earlier in the tournament, Lowen used the 3/8-ounce jig so he could float it through the shallow, current-swept cover without getting hung up. He also used a Strike King Rodent Texas-rigged on a 5/0 Hayabusa flipping hook with a 5/16-ounce Reins tungsten weight for flipping reeds.

“Anytime I’m fishing current and I can keep a flipping rod in my hand, that’s my comfort zone,” Lowen said. “I grew up on the Ohio River, which looks just like (Pickwick) when it’s flooded. I’m used to rising, muddy water; it doesn’t affect me or make me get spun out. I just went out and fished the way I’d fish at home.”

Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., finished second with 80-11. Entering the final day in sixth place, Mosley caught the day’s heaviest limit — 22-14. His previous weights were 19-9, 21-8 and 16-12.

Having cut his teeth on Pickwick, Mosley said he knew the famous Horseshoe area of the Wilson Dam tailrace held tremendous potential, but he waited until the final day to fish this area.

“I’ve been waiting all week for the current to slow down,” Mosley said. “I don’t like fishing the tailrace when it’s 120,000 CFS. I saw that it was going to slow down yesterday, but you usually give them a half day to reposition.

“I went up there this morning and threw a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willow-leaf blades. In the first 10 minutes, I hooked up with two good ones.”

After leaving the tailrace, Mosley fished a big paddletail swimbait on the bluffs across from McFarland Park. He would rotate his areas once more and pick up a 5-pound fish 15 minutes before check-in.

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Canada, entered Championship Tuesday in third place and ended in that position with 79 pounds. His daily weights were 18-9, 15-3, 25-5 and 19-15.

After focusing on main-river current breaks the previous days, Johnston realized his opportunities were dwindling in the falling water. Transitioning to docks with 8 to 10 feet of water at the ends proved to be strategic adjustment.

Johnston caught his fish on a 7/16-ounce black/blue Punisher jig with a matching chunk trailer.

Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., leads the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 264 points. Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., is in second with 246, followed by Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, with 245, Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., with 242 and Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., with 239.

New leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 239 points.

Lowen took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Hank Cherry of Lincolnton, N.C., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Lowen earned $2,500 for being the highest-placing entrant while Palaniuk claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

The tournament was hosted by Florence-Lauderdale Tourism.

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO

2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake Local Host: Florence-Lauderdale Tourism

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

There’s A Tie At The Top At Pickwick Elite

March 22, 2021

There’s A Tie At The Top At Pickwick Elite

FLORENCE, Ala. — Tomorrow, there can be only one winner, but Bill Lowen and Chad Pipkens share the Day 3 lead at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake.

Both anglers head into Championship Tuesday with 62 pounds, 10 ounces.

If a tie occurs in the tournament’s final round, the winner will be determined by a fish-off between the tied competitors.

Hailing from Brookville, Ind., Lowen improved from second place by adding 17-10 to his previous days’ limits of 21-3 and 23-13. Pipkens, who lives in Holt, Mich., moved up from sixth. His daily weights were 21-2, 18-5 and 23-3.

Since last week’s fierce storm, the Tennessee Valley Authority has been moving a tremendous volume of water through Pickwick. Lowen started his day fishing main-river current breaks on the backside of Kogers Island and continued his quest to determine how the fish are adjusting.

As the water level slowly declines, warming conditions have set the stage for a possible spawning movement.

“It just seems like every day the morning has been the deal, that first three hours,” Lowen said. “After that, I just have to beat around and try other things. I’m just trying to find out where the fish have gone.

“I feel like the current is pushing those fish off the flats. I have some areas that they should be going to. I keep checking them, but they haven’t shown up yet.”

Lowen caught his fish on his signature series 3/8-ounce Lure Parts Online jig with a chunk trailer. This bait’s weight and buoyancy allows it to sweep across shallow wood cover without snagging.

Later in the morning, Lowen started exploring other habitat features, including tall stands of flat reeds where spawners may eventually move. Signs are pointing in that direction, he said, but Lowen’s not ready to commit his final day to this uncertain stage.

“At the end of the day, I had some fish come up on a swim jig that didn’t get it,” Lowen said. “I’ve been saying it all day that it’s time for that to happen. Tomorrow, I’m going down there and starting on that same stretch. The only thing I was missing today were those big bites. Hopefully tomorrow some of those big females will move up.”

Spending his day on the backside of a small island upstream of Kogers, Pipkens focused on a grassy ditch. Receding water seems to be working in his favor.

“The first day I caught every fish I weighed up close to that island on a current seam because the water was so high,” Pipkens said. “At the end of the day I caught a couple about 100 yards back, and yesterday I caught most of them [farther] back.

“Today, I caught them all there, except for one at the end. I think they’re starting to scatter back throughout that ditch. I’m ready to move around tomorrow.”

Pipkens anchored his bag with a 5-pounder around 10:46 a.m., but a 4-pounder at 2:14 p.m. gave him a key cull that secured his first-place tie. He caught his fish on a ChatterBait with a trailer hook and a swimbait trailer. Pipkens said his bites were subtle.

“There’s so much current, they’re just sitting down there and they’re not eating until the bait comes over them,” Pipkens said.

Pipkens is hopeful that tomorrow’s forecasted rain and dim skies could trigger a more aggressive bite.

“With tomorrow’s weather, it could get right,” he said. “I’ve said if you can catch 15 to 20 fish in this area, you can weigh in 25 to 30 pounds. I was one big bite away today and I only caught six. The right ones bit today.”

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Canada, is in third place with 59-1. Moving up from 22nd place, he added the day’s heaviest bag, 25-5, to his previous weights of 18-9 and 15-3.

“I caught most of my fish offshore in the Kogers Island area on current breaks in 3 to 8 feet, and then I went looking for some other stuff,” Johnston said. “I ended up finding some stuff on the bank and caught a 5-pounder.

“Up shallow, it was wood and junk they’re sitting behind out of the current. I was just trying to expand my options, but it’s hard to say which might play tomorrow. I’ll try both.”

Johnston said he rotated through a selection of 10 reaction baits. Continuously giving the fish different looks was the key to his success.

Hank Cherry of Lincolnton, N.C., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 7-11.

Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., leads the Angler of the Year standings with 264 points. Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., is in second with 246, followed by Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, with 245, Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., with 242 and Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., with 239.

Tuesday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. CT at McFarland Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3 p.m.

Live coverage of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. 

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Bryan New Notches Victory In Bassmaster Elite Series Debut At St. Johns River

PALATKA, Fla. — Bryan New launched his rookie season in blockbuster form by topping a stout field of well-established finalists and winning the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.

Starting Championship Sunday in sixth place, New trailed Day 3 leader and rising star Patrick Walters by 5-7. Saving his best for last, New posted the event’s second-heaviest bag, 26-4, and edged Elite veteran Greg Hackney by a margin of 9-9. For his efforts, New earned $101,000.

New caught most of his fish out of lily pads, but he found a few keepers over main-river shellbars about halfway between Palatka and Dunn’s Creek, which connects to Crescent Lake. Targeting bars in about 5 to 7 feet, he fished a Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait in the bleeding shiner color with a slow yo-yoing technique.

“That wasn’t a winning-fish deal, but without those fish, I don’t win this tournament,” New said.

The pads that produced the bulk of his weight were located at the lower end of Lake George. Fishing 5-inch black and blue Zoom Zlinky worms Texas-rigged on a 5/0 Berkley Fusion hook with a 1/8- and 1/4-ounce weights, New said he focused on isolated pads.

“I fished dense pads too, but I definitely liked the sparse pads for multiple reasons,” he said. “First, on an isolated target, it’s easier to pick out where the fish are sitting and they have more light penetration. That’s important for the spawning fish I was targeting.”

The key, New said, was a meticulous presentation that maximized every aspect of his target area.

“You don’t just have one target on each cast; sometimes you’ll have 10 targets on each cast,” he said. “You can feel the sweet spots. You can feel a little rough patch on the bottom where there’s a bed or you can feel the hard spot of the root. Sometimes, you can even feel a little depression.

“I’ve always heard that slow and steady wins the race,” New said. “That’s not always my style, but I can do it.”

New caught good numbers the first three days. Day 1, which was shortened by a three-hour fog delay, yielded 12 pounds and put him in 22nd place. The second day, he added 20-3 and rose to ninth before securing his Championship Sunday berth with a Day 3 limit of 21 pounds, which pushed him up to sixth.

Following the Day 3 weigh-in, New said he’d approach Championship Sunday focused on getting the big bites. On Sunday, he caught four in the 5-pound class and another over 4.

New qualified for the Elites by winning the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year title, an accomplishment that began with a win at his first 2020 tournament — the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain.

Before the St. Johns event began, New stated that his 2021 goals included winning Bassmaster Angler of the Year — not only Rookie of the Year — and winning the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which is set for June 11-13 on Lake Ray Roberts.

New summarized his Elite debut: “I have a pretty good start!”

Hackney committed his tournament to fishing cypress trees on Lake George’s east side. He caught 12-7 on Day 1 and placed 19th and then rose to third on Day 2 by adding 22-10. He’d improve to second on Day 3 and held that final position with weights of 23-6 and 11-7.

Returning to the Elites after a two-year break, the Gonzales, La., pro caught all of his fish on a junebug-colored Strike King Rage Bug rigged on a 5/0 Hack Attack Flipping hook with a 1/4-ounce Tour Grade Tungsten weight.

“There’s not any cover left in the lake (2017’s Hurricane Irma killed the eelgrass) and this was one of the few areas that had enough depth and enough protection from the elements for those lake fish to spawn on.

“There’s only a handful of docks and cypress trees in the lake and I spent one whole day in practice fishing all the way around (Lake George). I knew this was the area of the lake where the biggest population of fish lived and I knew where they used to spawn. I just looked for anything that was close by.”

Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., finished third with 69-6. He turned in daily weights of 8-3, 18-8, 25-8 and 17-3.

Derek Hudnall of Denham Springs, La., and Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, split the event’s Phoenix Boats Big Bass award of $1,000 for their 9-pound, 8-ounce fish. Hudnall won $1,000 for the big bass of Day 1, while Palaniuk claimed the Day 2 award. Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., won the Day 3 award with his 8-8 and New won the Day 4 award with his 5-14.

2020 Bassmaster Classic champion Hank Cherry of Lincolnton, N.C., took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Late Giant Lifts Washingtons’ Smith To Victory At B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional On Havasu

February 5, 2021

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Taylor Smith caught only five bass on the final day of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Havasu, and it was the final bite that gave him the weight he needed to win the season-opener on the 2021 B.A.S.S. tournament schedule.

Smith hooked a 5-pound largemouth a few dozen yards from the Lake Havasu State Park weigh-in site with only 45 minutes of tournament time remaining on Friday. The catch rounded out his 15-pound, 13-ounce limit and added to his 18-2 limit on Day 1. Smith finished with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33-15.

The 35-year-old Valleyford, Wash., resident won $5,000 for topping the boater division. It was part of a $27,200 total purse split between the best of the 177 competitors this week on the 19,200-acre impoundment straddling the Arizona/California border.

Smith is no stranger to success in B.A.S.S. Nation events. He finished second in the Nation Championship at South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in 2019, which qualified him for the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk held on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.

Smith’s win at Lake Havasu qualified him for the 2021 Nation Championship, which will be held later this year at a location to be determined.

“I’m jacked,” he said. “It was such a fun time down here. I didn’t have very high expectations. My pre-fishing was terrible. So, I’m elated. To have another chance to fish for a berth in the Classic is unbelievable.”

Smith was in second place after Day 1 on Wednesday, trailing only California’s Matty Wong, who led with 18-8. That’s how standings remained Friday, as Thursday’s competition was canceled due to strong winds in the region. B.A.S.S. officials determined the full field would fish again on Friday, and Mother Nature cooperated with postcard-perfect weather — winds at a much tamer 10 mph, bluebird skies and temperatures in the low 70s.

Still, Smith struggled to find bites Friday. His luck changed with the 5-pounder he caught on a green pumpkin football-head jig outfitted with a blue trailer.

“I yelled so loud when I caught that fish, I’m surprised you didn’t hear me up here (at weigh-in),” Smith said of his big catch. “But other than that, it really was a grind out there today.

“A lot of people had fish follow a jerkbait or a spinnerbait (on Wednesday), but I think that just slowly went away. I couldn’t get any kind of reaction bite today.”

Smith believed Thursday’s turbulent conditions made the fishing tougher Friday.

“The wind yesterday changed things for me, so I feel lucky to catch what I did,” he said. “I didn’t think I had (as much weight as I did).”

Steve Lund, who was in fourth on Day 1, climbed to second overall with a two-day total of 32-2. The Glendale, Ariz., resident caught a 16-1 limit on Friday, which was the heaviest bag of the day. Wong finished third with 28-5.

Jake Morrison of Scottsdale, Ariz., caught six bass weighing 12-11 and won $2,500 for finishing first in the co-angler division. Tom Nokes of Riverton, Utah, led the Day 1 co-angler standings and finished second overall with 12-8. Hunter Loveless of American Fork, Utah, was third with 12-0.

The squad from Washington State handily won the team championship portion. Washington anglers caught 76 bass over two days for a total weight of 188-13, and the squad collected $5,600 with the win. Idaho finished second (62 bass, 140-1) and won $3,350, while Arizona (56 bass, 135-15) placed third and won $2,200.

Other states in team scoring included California, fourth, 132-6; Utah, fifth, 131-10; Oregon, sixth, 129-3; Montana, seventh, 128-3; Wyoming, eighth, 127-5; and Nevada, ninth, 126-1.

Jay Evans of Missoula, Mont., won the $500 Big Bass Award with a 6-pounder he caught Wednesday. Scooter Griffin of Hayden, Idaho, caught a 4-12 bass Friday to win the $250 top prize for big bass among co-anglers.

JJ Gibbs IV, who lives in Lake Havasu City, won the Garmin Tournament Rewards prize of $500. He finished fourth in the boater division with a two-day total of 26-3.

The leading angler and co-angler for each state team at the Western Regional qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Team Championship. Four other regionals will be held in 2021, including April 21-23 at Milford Lake in Junction City, Kan.; April 28-30 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C.; June 23-25 at Lake Erie/Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pa.; and Sept. 1-3 on the upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis.

COMMENT BELOW AND CONGRATULATE TAYLOR ON HIS WIN BELOW!
LET'S SHOW SOME SUPPORT!!!

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

BREAKING NEWS!!! – B.A.S.S. Announces Long-Awaited 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule

December 3, 2020

B.A.S.S. Announces Long-Awaited 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After the shortest offseason break in the trail’s 16-year history, B.A.S.S. officials announced Thursday that the Bassmaster Elite Series will open its 2021 tournament slate Feb. 11-14 on the St. Johns River in Florida.

The season-opener will begin just over three months after the final event of a 2020 schedule that was reworked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a much later finish than usual.

“We’re as excited about this schedule as any that we’ve ever put together for the Elite Series,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “It features a good mix of venues that have become fixtures for B.A.S.S. and a few we’ve been to before but haven’t visited in a while.”

The St. Johns River falls into the category of a fixture, with B.A.S.S. having visited the picturesque fishery 22 times for major events since 1973, including three times during the past five seasons.

Connecticut pro Paul Mueller won a weather-shortened event in 2020 with a three-day total of 47-6, and events in 2016 and 2019 were won by Missouri legend Rick Clunn. Each of Clunn’s victories allowed him to break his own record for the oldest angler to claim an Elite Series trophy.

Whether the St. Johns weights are eye-popping usually depends on the finicky Florida weather and which stage of the spawn the bass are in. Regardless, big largemouth will be the target.

From Florida, the season will shift north Feb. 25-28 to Knoxville, Tenn., which has played host to two fantastic major B.A.S.S. events the past four seasons, including the record-breaking 2019 Bassmaster Classic. Like that Classic, the 2021 event will take place on the Tennessee River where largemouth and smallmouth will both likely come into play.

“Knoxville was thrilled to host the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2017,” said Chad Culver, senior director of the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. “It was the first time B.A.S.S. had been here since 1981. That event led to Knoxville hosting the 2019 Bassmaster Classic – the largest in event history.

“Needless to say, we could not be more excited to welcome B.A.S.S. back to the waters of Knoxville and East Tennessee.”

Elite Series action will pause for the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which is set for March 19-21 on Lake Ray Roberts near Fort Worth, Texas. Then the schedule will resume April 8-11 on another Texas fishery, the Sabine River in Orange.

Trips to the Sabine often see anglers targeting narrow canals where largemouth are the prize. While the winning weights are sometimes small, the weigh-in crowds are some of the largest B.A.S.S. sees anywhere. The 2013 Elite on the Sabine drew 33,000 spectators — the second-largest crowd in Elite Series history.

B.A.S.S. has visited the Sabine four times for major tournaments, including the 2018 Elite Series event that was won by Louisiana pro Greg Hackney.

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“We are excited to continue our partnership with Bassmaster and are looking forward to another great event that promotes both the great sport of bass fishing as well as the great area of Orange County, Texas,” said Orange County Judge John Gothia.

Elite Series pros Brandon Cobb, Garrett Paquette and Patrick Walters each earned a Century Belt — 100 pounds in a four-day event — on Lake Fork in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and more anglers hope to join their ranks when the Elite field heads back to the fishery April 22-25.

After their stops in Texas, the Elites will embark on a midseason Alabama swing, visiting Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden May 6-9, Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro May 20-23 and Pickwick Lake in Florence June 10-13. Though all in one state, each fishery will offer vastly different scenarios.

The trip to Lake Guntersville will mark the 26th time B.A.S.S. has visited the famed fishery, making it the second most popular destination in B.A.S.S. history behind only Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas. The “Big G” has earned its place in sportfishing history, ranking No. 2 on Bassmaster Magazine’s list of Best Bass Lakes of the Decade. Guntersville hosted two B.A.S.S. events in 2020 alone, including the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which was won by North Carolina pro Hank Cherry.

“We are excited and honored to host the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series in Scottsboro. We recognize and appreciate the tremendous impact fishing has on our economy, tourism and quality of life, particularly a tournament of the stature and exposure of a Bassmaster Elite,” said Scottsboro Mayor Jim McCamy.

Pickwick is a 43,100-acre Tennessee River impoundment where a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth are often brought to the scales, while Neely Henry is an 11,200-acre Coosa River lake full of healthy spotted bass.

B.A.S.S. visited Pickwick six times for major events in the past — and just this year, the lake was the site of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in November. Neely Henry has hosted B.A.S.S. only three times for major events, including the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open that was held on the lake in October.

As warm weather takes hold across the country, the Elites will make what has become an annual swing to the north with a visit to Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vt., July 8-11, and a stop in the scenic Village of Waddington, N.Y., for a season-ending tournament on the St. Lawrence River July 15-18.

B.A.S.S. has held 13 major events on Champlain, including four of the last five seasons. Idaho veteran Brandon Palaniuk won the 2020 Elite on Champlain with just over 80 pounds.

The trip to the St. Lawrence will mark the 21st time B.A.S.S. has visited the Upstate New York smallmouth paradise, which took the top spot in 2019 on Bassmaster Magazine’s Top 100 Best Bass Lakes list.

St. Lawrence tournaments always feature big bass — Canadian pro Chris Johnston won the 2020 Elite event there with a four-day total of 97-8 — and big crowds. A 2013 visit to Waddington drew an Elite Series-record 36,200 fans.

“We here in St. Lawrence County and the Village and Town of Waddington are very excited to be part of the B.A.S.S. family,” said Janet Otto Cassada, president of North County Events. “Our area looks forward to holding our next Elite event in July 2021. Our hopes are that we have COVID behind us and can show everyone that Waddington and St. Lawrence County is where the world comes to fish.”

“There are some venues that have become regular stops for B.A.S.S. the past few years, and it’s obvious why,” Akin said. “They are known by everyone as some of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. But it’s also nice to revisit our past a little bit with trips to lakes like Pickwick and Neely Henry.

“It should all make for a fantastic season.”

For the first time in history, all nine Bassmaster Elite Series events as well as the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will feature live television coverage on the FOX Sports platforms. Visit Bassmaster.com for more details.

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule

Feb. 11-14, AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla.
Feb. 25-28, Tennessee River, Knoxville, Tenn.
March 19-21, Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, Lake Ray Roberts, Fort Worth, Texas
April 8-11, Sabine River, Orange, Texas
April 22-25, Lake Fork, Emory, Texas
May 6-9, Neely Henry Lake, Gadsden, Ala.
May 20-23, Lake Guntersville, Scottsboro, Ala.
June 10-13, Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.
July 8-11, Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vt.
July 15-18, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, N.Y.
Aug. 19-22, Make-up date

Categories
BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

South Carolina’s Walters Takes Dominant Win On Lake Fork – Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest

QUITMAN, Texas — A late-day decision turned victory into a double-dip of tournament stardom, as Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., notched a dominant win at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks & Wildlife Department with a four-day total weight of 104 pounds, 12 ounces.

Walters placed second on Day 1 with 25-14 and took over the Day 2 lead by adding 26-14. On Semifinal Saturday, his limit of 29-6 — the event’s biggest catch — sent him into Championship Sunday with a 25-pound lead.

Today’s limit of 22-10 allowed him to surge across the finish line and secure his spot in the Century Club, which recognizes an angler for catching 100 pounds of fish in a four-day event. Walters won with an all-time Bassmaster Elite record margin of 29-10.

“What a week; it doesn’t seem real,” Walters said. “Everyone wants to catch 100 pounds, and it feels good.”

While his victory was never in serious jeopardy today, Walters found himself a couple pounds shy of his second objective with time running out. A 15-minute flurry in his last hour of fishing delivered three fish that elevated him well past the century mark.

Walters attributes his closing success to a gutsy relocation. All week, he had been targeting suspended bass amid main-lake standing timber in 10 to 20 feet. When he realized his spots weren’t firing, he moved to a small pocket and caught his final three fish around stumps in less than 5 feet of water.

“On Day 2, I caught a 4- and a 5-pounder in there, but I didn’t go back in there on Day 3; I said, ‘I’m going to save it,’” Walters said. “I think it was the wind. We’ve had the same direction wind the last three days and it has blown directly into that pocket.

“All the bait is in there and every single day, it has gotten more loaded. Today, my fish in the treetops would not eat my bait. They’d chase it for 40 to 50 feet and wouldn’t commit.”

Walters’ analysis was more than speculation. All week, he relied heavily on his Garmin LiveScope to monitor fish positioning and adjust his retrieves in an effort to trigger bites.

“I could tell something was not right; they were not eating it,” Walters said. “I said, ‘I gotta leave. I gotta go shallow.’

“I knew I needed 10 pounds to safely win, but I knew I needed 18 pounds to get to the Century Club and that was the goal today; to go get that belt.”

Walters caught his fish on a trio of jerkbaits; a Rapala Shadow Rap, a Megabass Vision 110+1 and a Duo Realis bait. Varying the selection and trying different colors was essential to bite generation.

Walters said he was very particular about the standing timber he targeted. Recognizing when and where fish were positioning to feed was the cornerstone of his pattern. Realizing that the plan was starting to fizzle proved stressful today, but Walters said he focused on maintaining faith in Lake Fork’s potential.

“All year long, it’s been about staying calm and know that it can happen in five casts. Don’t spin out. Stay calm, keep your head in the game and fish 8 hours.”

Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, finished second with 75-2. A limit of 11-7 on Day 1 left him in 39th place, but Combs added 23-14 on Day 2 and rose to 11th. Catching 21-12 on Saturday, he moved up to third before finishing with 18-1 today.

Most of the week, Combs has fished big ridges with a chartreuse/blue Strike King 6XD. Today, that pattern produced three of his best fish and the other two he caught on a shad color shallow running crankbait fished over a shallow bar.

“Another angler had been starting on that shallow spot; I would start on another spot and then hit that spot second but I’d never catch them,” Combs said. “Today, he didn’t make the cut, so I went there first.”

Jay Yelas of Lincoln City, Ore., placed third with 69-14. Sticking with the pattern that has served him all week, he ran upriver and caught limits of 19-2, 19-2, 14-7 and 17-3 around shallow wood.

“I had a few different special spots; some were docks, some were stumps, one was an isolated laydown,” Yelas said. “Every day, I’d go back and fish these same targets. I cycled through them all four days.

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“Today, I started on that laydown and caught one. I came back at noon and caught one, came back at 2:30 and caught a 6-pounder. I’d caught six or seven fish off that tree the first three days.”

Noting that this spot had a large amount of shad, Yelas said he quickly realized he could leverage this feeding spot each day. He caught his fish on an MGC Tackle spinnerbait with a chartreuse/white skirt and a 3/8-ounce white/chartreuse Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with a white Yamamoto Zako trailer.

Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, won the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year title with 680 points, while David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., finished second with 677. Walters was third with 669, Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., was fourth with 669 and Jake Whitaker of Fairview, N.C., was fifth with 663.

Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, Minn., won the Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year title.

Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., won the Toyota Tundra Big Bass award of a Toyota Tundra with his 9-9.

Combs also took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Mosley earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.