Hoernke Wins National Guard Open, $150,000 on Lake Norman - Major League Fishing

Hoernke Wins National Guard Open, $150,000 on Lake Norman

April 27, 2008 • MLF • Archives

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sean Hoernke of Magnolia, Texas, pocketed $150,000 Sunday in the National Guard Open on Lake Norman with a final-round, two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds. He earned the hard-fought victory with over 4 pounds to spare over runner-up BP pro Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., who earned $50,000 with 10 bass weighing 22-9.

“The tournament has really been a grind,” said Hoernke, a Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League standout who moved up to the Stren Series in 2001 and the FLW Tour in 2004. “Every single day I woke up with literally no place to start fishing. The bass were just so scattered, I would put the trolling motor on high and just burn the batteries looking for fish with some size.”

Hoernke opened the tournament Thursday with a 15-pound limit that put him in second place. He added five more bass weighing 12-11 to his catch Friday to advance to the final round in first place with a two-day, opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 27-11. On Saturday he caught five bass weighing 13-5 to retain his lead heading in to the final day of competition, where he caught five bass weighing 13-11.

To catch his bass on opening day, Hoernke relied on a white jig that he swam around a dock suspended over a river channel. Early in the morning he was catching bass feeding on spawning shad.

“When we have warm nights like we’ve had, the shad move up and spawn on the banks, on docks and just anywhere their eggs will stick to some algae,” he said. “The spawn goes on all night, so the bass feed all night long, and it lasts a couple of hours into the morning. That allowed me to put some key fish in the boat early on opening day and then go sight-fishing.”

The shad-spawn bite died off on day two, however, and only produced a few fish the rest of the week. Fortunately, Hoernke’s sight-fishing pattern held up. He used a shaky-head worm to catch the majority of his sight fish until Sunday, when he switched to a wacky worm in watermelon candy color.

“The cloud cover we had today really loosened the bass up, and the wacky worm seemed to work a lot better than the shaky head,” Hoernke said.

Rounding out the top 10 pros were Scott Canterbury of Odenville, Ala. (10 bass, 22-5, $40,000); Snickers pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (10 bass, 22-0, $35,000); Berkley pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla. (10 bass, 20-6, $30,000); National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (10 bass, 19-11, $28,000); Bud Pruitt of Houston, Texas (10 bass, 18-4, $26,000); Castrol pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. (10 bass, 17-10, $24,000); Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich. (10 bass, 17-9, $22,000); and Snickers pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C. (eight bass, 12-14, $20,000).

Overall there were 50 bass weighing 99 pounds, 15 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.

Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. The National Guard Open is the third stop of the year for the most lucrative fantasy sports league in history, FLW Fantasy Fishing, which offers total awards of $7.3 million, including $100,000 cash guaranteed to the top Fantasy Fishing player following every FLW Tour stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. To play FLW Fantasy Fishing, simply log on to www.fantasyfishing.com and pick a team of 10 anglers for the next FLW Tour stop. Fans can even become a virtual pro with access to exclusive insider information and tips by signing up for Player’s Advantage, which could help them earn a record $1 million as the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Player’s Advantage members also receive a complimentary $15 Wal-Mart gift card.

On Saturday, veteran co-angler David Hudson of Jasper, Ala., claimed his first FLW Tour victory after qualifying for the top-10 a record 15 times. Prior to Saturday’s win, courtesy of a five-bass catch weighing 8-2, Hudson had finished in every top-10 position except for first. He earned $40,000 for the win and boosted his career earnings to $141,260 – an FLW Tour co-angler record.

Hudson opened the tournament in fourth place Thursday with five bass weighing 10-10 while fishing with pro Steve Redding of Plano, Texas. He then added five more bass weighing 8-12 Friday after fishing with BP pro J.T. Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla., to advance to the final round in fourth place with 10 bass weighing 19-6. He wrapped up his win Saturday while fishing with Baumgardner.

“This has been a long time coming. I’ve been close a lot of times, but I’ve never actually closed the deal, and today was real close,” Hudson said. “I’ve had some great coaches. I’m giving credit to Jay (Yelas), Mark Davis and guys like that. I’ve roomed with them and practiced with them, and that stuff rubs off on you.”

Hudson caught his fish Saturday on a green-pumpkin and purple 4-inch Yum Dinger that he wacky-rigged on a 1/16-ounce jig head.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Mark Swink of Shelby, N.C. (five bass, 8-1, $10,000); Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich. (four bass, 7-12, $9,000); Deirdre Davison of Tega Cay, S.C. (five bass, 6-15, $8,000); Andrew Lemle of Perrysburg, Ohio (four bass, 6-14, $7,000); Beecher Strunk of Somerset, Ky. (four bass, 6-7, $6,000); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (three bass, 6-2, $5,000); Shane Lehew of Charlotte (three bass, 4-13, $4,000); Butch Zadlo of Boone, N.C. (three bass, 3-11, $3,000); and Dirk Davenport of Delaware, Ohio (one bass, 1-11, $2,000).

Lehew is the reigning TBF Junior World Champion. This was his first FLW Tour event.

The 200 pros and 200 co-anglers representing 37 states and four countries this week caught 3,181 bass in the two-day opening round, which ended Friday. The impressive catch illustrates the quality of the Lake Norman fishery, which now ranks as the third most productive fishery in the history of the FLW Tour. Only Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., produced more fish in an FLW Tour event.

Coverage of the National Guard Open hosted by the Charlotte Sports Commission, Visit Lake Norman and Visit Charlottewill be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television programs airing June 15 and June 22. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.

The next $1.5 million FLW Tour stop, the Wal-Mart Open, will be held on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., May 15-18.

FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit www.flwoutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit www.fantasyfishing.com.