With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing.
Here’s a recap of last weekend’s tournament action.
Hallman Provides A Blueprint On Grand
Everyone fishing the Rayovac on Grand Lake was in awe of it. The sheer numbers of fish (many of them good quality) that were hitting the banks to spawn was simply outstanding. You could pull into any pocket on the lake and find multiple bedding bass. Naturally, bed-fishing dominated the event, but Bradley Hallman outdueled the rest of the field and the weather by employing a Heddon One Knocker Spook to devastating success.
Most of the experienced sight-fishermen in the top 10 acknowledged that it was difficult to win a multi-day event just by looking. Though the weather undoubtedly helped Hallman and hurt his competitors, he may have provided a blueprint for winning a spawning event – perhaps even this week’s Walmart FLW Tour stop at Beaver Lake. The Oklahoma pro’s ability to trigger big females that weren’t locked on beds was critical on the last two days. It might not always be a Spook, but if sight-fishing is the deal on Beaver then figuring out a way to catch kickers that are off the beds might be the way to go.
And Your National Champions Are…
At a barn burner of a tournament on Lake Murray, Patrick Walters and Gettys Brannon caught 53 pounds, 2 ounces over three days to bring the University of South Carolina a National Championship. Interestingly, it was the first time the local favorite has actually won the National Championship (though there hasn’t always been a clearly local team in past fields). This time, Brannon and Walters made good use of their history on Murray and tapped the blueback herring spawn with an impressive degree of consistency.
I know some might prefer to see non-locals win, but I love the extra emotion at weigh-in when the hometown favorites claim victory. Hallman had plenty of fans on hand at the Rayovac, USC had a huge rooting section and when Andy Morgan won the 2013 Angler of the Year title at Lake Chickamauga the crowd was electric. A local winner often gives you some extra insight to the lake as well. Because they have a history there, they can give you a bit more perspective than someone who just figured the lake out that week (though that can be mighty impressive too).
30-Pound Limits Aplenty At BFL Level
This weekend of BFL competition featured three limits over 30 pounds in the BFL ranks. The first was Joshua Morfis’ Gator Division win on Okeechobee – he caught about 30 fish throughout the day and enough big ones to weight a stunning 34-14. Okeechobee is known for big fish, but breaking 30 pounds is always an incredible achievement there and it has got to be a special way to earn your first BFL win.
The other two limits over 30 pounds came from the Choo Choo Division event on Lake Guntersville. Benjie Allen weighed 31-6 and took second, and Ryan Salzman brought 31-13 to the scale for the W. In other news, Guntersville remains a simply astounding fishery.
The Week Ahead
This week is a busy one. With stop No. 3 of the FLW Tour on Beaver Lake and the TBF National Championship set for Grand Lake, the stakes are high in northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.
And of course, BFL action will continue to roll along with six events taking place:
Cowboy Division – Red River
Hoosier Division – Lake Monroe
Mississippi Division – Pickwick Lake
Mountain Division – Dale Hollow Lake
Savannah River Division – Lake Hartwell
Shenandoah Division – Kerr Lake