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Duane Inglin in studio 4-3 on NW Wild Country
The West Coast's most successful swimbait fisherman checks in for THREE EXCLUSIVE WILDCAST interviews on the science of the swimbait in Pacific Northwest Waters

X KEVIN VANDAM - The world's greatest bass fisherman checks in LIVE after his 2010 Bassmaster Classic victory!

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NWWC Pro Cam: An exclusive Q&A with Forrest Wood Cup champ Scott Suggs
FLW Million Dollar Man Scott Suggs chats it up!

POSTED Oct. 1, 2
3 / 5:33 p.m.

- Bags packed, check. Camera batteries charged, check. Itinerary from Seattle to San Antonio to Houston to Conroe, TX to Nashville to Paris Landing, TN: check, check and check.

This week will find me on the road, in bass-nomad mode. First at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, which brings together a true All-Star lineup of FLW, B.A.S.S. and P.A.A. anglers to Lake Conroe. I follow up with a three-day topwater binge on Kentucky Lake with Kevin VanDam, Mark Rose and a badass crew of Strike King pros.

I'm in a bassy state of mind. And so was FLW Million Dollar Man Scott Suggs when I caught up with him while shooting for BassFIRST this summer.


Mike Iaconelli checks in LIVE with NW Wild Country for an exclusive Q&A
Mike Iaconelli as only Wild Country can get him!

UPDATED Oct. 1, 2
3 / 9:46 a.m.

- He's long been one of our best guests on NW Wild Country, but I've recently had the good fortune of witnessing Mike Iaconelli at his genuine best as I travel the country with the bass nomads of the Elite Series and FLW Tour.

Up until about two weeks ago, Ike had (by his own admission) a disappointing season, failing to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic through Angler of the Year points. But that all changed when he pulled out a last-second win at the final Northern Open of the year on Lake Erie.

LISTEN IN AS IACOELLI CHATS ABOUT NORTHERN-TIER SMALLMOUTH and chats with the Crue about his win on Lake Erie. ONLY on Wild Country, folks!

Luke Clausen on NW Wild Country
Clausen preps for a day of ... salmon trolling? Yes!
UPDATED March 29, 2
3 / 2:13 p.m.

- "I'm just going to hope for the best."

Whenever I hear words like that from one of the 10 most successful anglers of all time, I don't feel so bad about my sometimes-lame days on the water. If Luke Clausen can go into a day with a "hope for the best" attitude, then I'm okay on those occasional "wing and a prayer" days, too.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LUKE CLAUSEN GOES SALMON FISHING? Check out Coolhand's plan for a day on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Bradon Palaniuk joins NW Wild Country this Saturday, March 2 to talk about his 2012 Bassmaster Classic
Palaniuk's narrow miss at the Bassmaster Classic
UPDATED March 29, 2
3 / 1:43 p.m.

- A three-year average finish of 18th place in the Bassmaster Classic sounds pretty impressive, right? Especially if you're a 25-year-old Elite Series third-year pro. Throw out the 2012 Classic, though - when he finished 48th - and you'll get a better idea of just how dangerous Brandon Palaniuk is at the world's biggest professional bass tournament.

Palaniuk was a scant 3 pounds away from hoisting the giant trophy at the recent Classic in Tulsa, finishing second to G-Loomis//Shimao pro Cliff Pace. Add that to his fourth-place finish in his rookie Classic in 2011 and you begin to understand that it's only a matter of time before BP's name is engraved on that trophy.

LISTEN IN ON OUR RECENT CHAT WITH BRANDON PALANIUK as he talks about his near-miss at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

Kevin VanDam on NW Wild Country with fall transition tips
KVD in a NW Wild Country exclusive!
POSTED Oct. 25, 2012 / 10:30 a.m.

- Kevin from Kalamazoo, for you Wild Country faithful, is a favorite guest of mine. Yessir, good ol' Kevin - he always calls in with good fishing advice. Especially for a travelling shoe salesman.

Okay, so maybe the kid from Kalamazoo does more than sell shoes. Maybe he's really the greatest bass angler who ever lived. You got me: Kevin from Kalamazoo just might be Kevin VanDam.

And he dropped in on the Wild Country for a little visit recently.

XLISTEN IN AS THE FOUR-TIME BASSMASTER CLASSIC CHAMPION serves up advice on fishing for smallmouth during the fall transition.

Brandon Palaniuk settls into third place on Day 1 of the Elite Series tournament at Toledo Bend
WILD BLOG: Palaniuk third in Toledo Bend after "surprising" 21-pound bag
POSTED June 7, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.

- If you're surprised to pull up the Bassmaster.com leaderboard for the Elite Series Toledo Bend Battle and see a second-year pro from Rathdrum, Idaho right up on the heels of a born-and-bread Southern boy and an honest-to-God bass-fishing legend - on one of the most hallowed bass fisheries in the Southern tournament trail, to boot - you're not alone.

The guy sporting the 208 area code and 10 total days of experience on this impoundment of the Sabine River on the Texas/Louisiana border - one Brandon Palaniuk of Kootenai County, Idaho - has one word to describe his 21-pound, 2-ounce bag Thursday on Toledo Bend: "Shocking."

Back the truck up, BP. What?!? SHOCKING?!?

8READ THE REST OF THE STORY ABOUT PALANIUK'S DAY 1 at the Elite Series Toledo Bend Battle.

NW Wild Country visits with recent Elite Series winner Brandon Palaniuk
NWWC WILDCAST: Catching up with Mr. Palaniuk, the Wild Country Q & A
POSTED May 14, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.

- Perhaps it's fitting that the "Bass Gypsy" comes home for a visit just in time to fish a tournament. Despite the $100,000 check in his pocket from his first career win on the Elite Series, Rathdrum, Idaho's Brandon Palaniuk was on his way to prefish for a tournament on his home lake in Idaho.

The payout might be a li'l bit smaller when Palaniuk fishes the Northwest Bass qualifier next Saturday on Lake Coeur d'Alene then it was two weeks ago on Bull Shoals Lake when he dominated the Trokar Quest, but, no matter: a tournament is a tournament, a fish is a fish, and BP is BP.

XLISTEN IN AS NW WILD COUNTRY CATCHES UP WITH BRANDON PALANIUK to cht about his recent win, and how the world of big-time bass fishing is treating him.

Brandon Palaniuk wins Trokar Quest Elite Series event at Bull Shoals
WILD BLOG: Palaniuk makes his first official footprint on Elite Series history
POSTED April 22, 2012 / 10:30 p.m.

- I've decided that I'm officially rooting for Coeur d'Alene Outlaw Brandon Palaniuk to blow the doors off the 2012 Elite Series. I'd like him to win a couple of tournaments, challenge for Angler of the Year honors, and be seen on the cover of every bass magazine across the country.

I'm a fan of style, you see, and, Sweet Georgia Brown, the kid from Rathdrum, Idaho certainly seems to have it.

8CHECK OUT MY BLOG ON THE "STYLE POINTS" THAT PALANIUK is racking up as he begins to make his mark on the Elite Series landcape.

Northwest Bass Tournament Central, Exclusively on NWWildCountry.com
NW Bass announced its 2012 tournament season
BASS NATION NEWS: New Idaho wrinkle added to NW Bass Challenge Circuit

POSTED April 3, 2
2 / 11:26 a.m.

- If it's good enough for Field & Stream to name it one of the "Best Fishing Spots in the West", it's good enough for the Pacific Northwest's best tournament bass anglers. Welcome to the party, Lake Coeur d'Alene.

A quick peek at the schedule for the Northwest Bass 2012 Challenge Circuit will get your juices flowing if you're a fan of diversity: in addition to the arrival of Northwest Bass on CDA in mid-May, the heavy hitters of the Washington, Oregon and Idaho bass scene will get a shot at Lake Roosevelt in August, in addition to the usual schedule of Banks Lake, Potholes Reservoir, Lake Washington and the Columbia River.

And we're going to be right in the middle of it all.

8CHECK THE WILD COUNTRY FACEBOOK PAGE FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS of some new bass bloggers we've added to the Wild Country team!

Brandon and Brianna Palaniuk's wild ride in the 2011 Elite Series comes full circle, Part 1 of 2
WILD COUNTRY BLOG: Looking back at the year with Idaho's bass nomads

POSTED March 8, 2
2 / 7:26 a.m.

- It seems fitting, considering the gypsy-nomad lifestyle of a professional bass fisherman, that Brandon Palaniuk describes his family tree as “more like a tumbleweed than a tree”. Trees, after all, anchor in one place when they’re seeded, and that’s where they stay. Forever.

Tumbleweeds, though? Not so much. They’re the drifters of the plant world. They cover some miles, see some country, blow wherever the wind takes them.

Much like the white Subaru Legacy with Idaho plates, and the wrapped blue Toyota Tundra that pulled the Federation Nation Skeeter throughout all of Creation – or, at least, the nine Southern states scattered along the BASS Elite Series trail – in 2011.

8READ PART 1 OF MY FEATURE "THE BASS GYPSIES" AT OUTDOOR LIFE as Brandon and Brianna Palaniuk, from Rathdrum, Idaho, depart on the road trip of a lifetime!

8READ PART 2 OF MY FEATURE "THE BASS GYPSIES" AT OUTDOOR LIFE as the Palaniuks complete their walkabout through the Elite Series trail.

Chris Lane, 2012 Bassmaster Classic champ, LIVE and exclusive on NW Wild Country
Chris Lane brings his Classic win to Wild Country

POSTED March 3, 2
2 / 7:32 p.m.

- There are two things that happen like clockwork when the Bassmaster Classic crowns its champion every year: 1). That champion is buried under a hail of confetti as he hoists the championship trophy; 2). That same champion has a date the following Saturday with Northwest Wild Country.

It started back in 2003 with Mike Iaconelli and it's been a tradition 9 years in the making as the kings of the bass world - names like Luke Clausen, Skeet Reese, Boyd Duckett, Alton Jones and Kevin VanDam - spend their Saturday mornings after the Classic explaining to the Wild Country faithful how they won the biggest fishing event in the world.

This year is no different as newly crowned Classic champ Chris Lane joined us on the air on Saturday.

XLISTEN TO THE PODCAST AS CLASSIC CHAMP CHRIS LANE DESCRIBES what it was like hoisting the Classic trophy on the Red River last weekend!

Idaho angler Brandon Palaniuk grabs attention at 2012 Bassmaster Classic practice
National media seizes on Palaniuk as Classic story

POSTED Feb. 19, 2012 / 6:40 p.m.

- Interesting to watch this week as the kid from Kootenai County, Idaho shares the Bassmaster Classic spotlight with Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli.

I just hope that Brandon Palaniuk is wearing a Rathdrum High School Hawks T-shirt under his Skeeter tournament jersey next week on the Red River as he competes in the 2012 Classic. It would only be fitting.

Read what some of the national media is saying about Idaho's own as he prepares for the Feb. 24-26 Classic:




8ELITE GYPSIES: PALANIUK'S LIFE ON THE ROAD as an Elite Series competitor.

8WILL PALANIUK STRIKE TWICE ON THE RED RIVER? Classic preview on FinsNTales.com.

Mike Iaconelli on NW Wild Country, talking about Major League Fishing
Ike previews the first Major League Fishing event

POSTED Feb. 2, 2012 / 6:30 p.m.

- As a member of a very small, fortunate group of writers who get to cover BASS and FLW events, I've been privy to the behind-the-scenes mechanics of bass fishing at its highest level. Thanks to Major League Fishing, though, the whole world will be allowed behind the scenes as 24 of the best anglers in the world participate in a first-of-its-kind event that could redefine televised fishing events forever.

One of those 24 anglers, former Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli, joined the Wild Country Crew this Saturday to chat about brave new world in competitive bass fishing.


Kevin VanDam talks fall transition fishing on NW Wild Country
KVD in a NW Wild Country exclusive!
POSTED Oct. 23, 2011 / 10:30 p.m.

- Confession time: I rolled into the NW Wild Country studios on Saturday with a very fractured plan. As in, no plan at all.

I believe the technical term for it is "winging it". Herzog, Big D. and Petosa were all out of town, leaving yours truly and Leeper to knock out the latest version of America's No. 1 outdoors radio show.

Thank goodness for sources like Kevin VanDam.

XLISTEN IN AS THE FOUR-TIME BASSMASTER CLASSIC CHAMPION serves up advice on fishing for smallmouth during the fall transition.

Vance and Vance 9th at Potholes NWB

NW Bass tournament on Potholes Reservoir - Exclusive NW Wild Country coverage
LYNCH, TRIPP bag 22.56 for win
- It wasn't quite the bombs-away slugfest I predicted it would be, but Saturday's Northwest Bass Challenge Circuit Qualifier on Potholes Reservoir more than lived up to expectations.

Thirteen teams weighed in 19 pounds or better - more than any tournament at Potholes in years - led by Jeremy Tripp and Charlie Lynch's 22.56 bag, which pushed them over the top on a fishery that they've been painfully close to dominating. Tripp and Lynch finished fifth at the Potholes qualifier in 2010 and had back-to-back second-place finishes in 2007 and 2008.

8CHECK BACK LATER for the full story and photos!


NW Bass latest results on NW Wild Country
1. Jeremy Tripp/Charlie Lynch 22.56
2. Andrew Gemmill/Steve McMannis 21.28
3. Ray Young/David Lewis 20.26
4. Courtney Conklin/Dennis Ohl 20.22
5. Dana Steiner/Steve Lacey 20.22
8CLICK HERE for complete tournament results

NW Bass Anglers of the Year standings on NW Wild Country
1. Dana Steiner/Steve Lacey 334
2. Ron Hobbs, Jr./Mike Wolsky 324
3. Shawn McConville/Rick Innocenti 313
4. Andrew Gemmill/Steve McMannis 309
5. Larry Vance/David Vance 303
8Click here for complete Anglers of the Year standings

National, regional bass results at NW Wild Country
n CLAUSEN takes Potomac FLW event
It was a five-year wait in between victories for Luke Clausen, but the Spokane native added a cool $125,000 to his bank account Sunday with a win in the FLW Tour Open on the Potomac River.

8Click here for the story on FLWOutdoors.com

Northwest Bass Tournament Central, Exclusively on NWWildCountry.com

NW Bass Potholes Tournament Preview

NWWC's Joel Shangle previews the Northwest Bass Qualifier on Potholes Reservoir
Warming trend = snappy largemouth! - Mother Nature is apparently in the mood for a good old-fashioned slugfest. The National Weather Service says "70 degrees Friday, 79 degrees Saturday" in Othello. I say "Ding ding, ring the bell", because Saturday's Northwest Bass Qualifier on Potholes Reservoir is going to be a heavyweight brawl, thanks to Ma Nature's sudden warming trend.


NW Bass Exclusive Podcasts at NWWildCountry.com
XThe Junior Rules for Lake WA
Ron Hobbs' rules for Lake WA, how he and partner Mike Wolsky won the NW Bass tournament, and what to expect from Potholes Reservoir
POSTED June 3, 2011 / 10:30 a.m.
If someone put a gun to my head and said "Catch a fish in Lake Washington or you're dead, Shangle," I'd make one call: to Ron Hobbs, Jr. Listen to the podcast as Hobbs explains how he and partner Mike Wolsky won the recent Northwest Bass Challenge tournament on Lake Washington, and offers advice on how to catch 'em in June.

NW Wild Country PM Briefing
Nichole Brady Day 3 at Western Divisionals
No-fish day is okay as Day 3 partner wins Idaho state title

POSTED May 13, 2011 / 8:30 p.m.

Nichole Brady blog mug - Final day. I drew a very nice guy from Idaho named Josh Polfer. He was around the same age as me so I figured we would have a blast. He told me he had some fish that he caught during practice way up the Colorado Arm, which was about 30 miles upriver. He hadn't gone back to that place yet 'cause he wanted to save it for the last day. 

He was in first place for his team and fourth overall and told me that he wanted to make it to Nationals so bad, so I thought to myself "If that was me I would want my non-boater to help me out a little." So I told him "I'm just gonna fish behind you and I'll let you  go wherever you want."  

8SEE HOW NICHOLE BRADY and the Washington Federation finished out Bass Federation Nation Western Divisionals.

BASS REPORT: Lippincott, Treffrey bag 21.58 to win Nixon's Invitational
POSTED May 8, 2011 / 4:20 p.m.

- Kent Brown of Ultimate Bass Radio might've said it best when we chatted with him yesterday on the show, live from Day 1 of the Nixon's Marine Invitational Tournament on Moses Lake.

Rob Hobbs and Mike Wolsky score an 8-pound kicker on Day 1 of the Nixon's Invitational on Moses Lake"This lake reminds me of Clear Lake," Brown said about Moses Lake, high praise from a guy who knows a thing or two about California's best trophy largemouth lake.

Judging by what happened this weekend at the Nixon's Invitational, it's clear that KB wasn't blowing smoke. Starting with Ron Hobbs' 8-plus pounder (right) and finishing with four 20-plus-pound bags on Day 2, Moses performed like a "mini Clear Lake".

Marc Lippincott and Chris Treffrey cashed a check for $10,500 with 21.58 pounds to edge out Hobbs and Mike Wolsky (20.36), Dave Marlow and Steve McMannis (20.28), and Paul Hall and Jarrid Turner (20.10). More info on Monday.


Nichole Brady reports from pre-fish on Lake Navajo
Lake Navajo getting even tougher as wind starts to blow

POSTED May 7, 2011 / 9:30 p.m.

- Fishing was really really tough today. It got windy, and there is nothing worse than fishing in the wind.

Nichole Brady blog mugTony and I started on some new water and decided we were going to fish something different than we did yesterday, just to see if we could pattern something out. Right away I got a nice bite on a Rat-L-Trap, but it turned out to be another pike ... darn things. Those things are fiesty" They twist and roll  and sometimes slice your bait off, and then you're screwed.

8FOLLOW ALONG AS NICHOLE BRADY represents the Washington Federation in the 2011 Federation Nation Western Divisionals on Navajo Lake in New Mexico.

Washington Federation team member Nichole Brady blogs from the road
"This opportunity that I have ... is so surreal to me."

POSTED May 5, 2011 / 12:30 a.m.

Nichole Brady blog mug - Today I started my journey to New Mexico with 11 other great anglers from Washington. Destination: Navajo Lake and the Federation Nation Western Divisionals.

This opportunity that I have to go down and fish representing the first woman to make the Washington State team competing in the divisionals is so surreal to me. Words cannot even express how I am feeling.

8FOLLOW ALONG AS NICHOLE BRADY represents the Washington Federation in the 2011 Federation Nation Western Divisionals on Navajo Lake in New Mexico.

Kevin VanDam appeared LIVE on NW Wild Country after his 2011 Bassmaster Classic win
VanDam checks in live from New York after Classic victory!

UPDATED March 30, 2011 / 4:10 p.m.

- I cover the Bassmaster tour as part of my far-flung fishing/hunting portfolio, so I've had more than a few conversations with Kevin VanDam. That said, it's always extra-special to catch up to the new Bassmaster Classic champion right after he's hoisted the champion's tropy. This interview was no exception.

KVD joined the NWWC crew LIVE the weekend after his history-making Classic victory in New Orleans, sharing some inside information about his game-changing bait switch, and the decision he made early in the tournament that made his $5.29 crankbait worth more than all the high-dollar radars everybody else was blathering about combined.

XKEVIN VANDAM JOINS THE NWWC CREW the weekend after his historic fourth win in the Bassmaster Classic.

Luke Clausen on NW Wild Country analyzing the 2011 Bassmaster Classic
Luke Clausen handicaps Day 2 of Bassmaster Classic

UPDATED March 30, 2011 / 4:10 p.m.

- It didn't take me long to decide who to bring on the air on Feb. 19 to handicap the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, which was going on in the Louisiana Delta in New Orleans. Who better to break this tournament down than THE GUY WHO WON IT ALL in 2006?

XLISTEN IN AS LUKE CLAUSEN ANALYAZES THE CLASSIC in a NW Wild Country exclusive Q&A with one of Bass's "Million Dollar Men".

Awaiting final weigh-in at the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup
Awaiting weigh-in at Forrest Wood Cup final

POSTED Aug. 8, 2010 / 11:40 a.m.

- I've covered world title fights, NCAA bowl games, the Bigger Dance and the NBA in my former life as a sports writer, but, I'll flat-out admit that I'm looking forward to the final weigh-in at the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup more than any event I've ever worked.

It's all Hobbs' fault.

Speaking of Junior, I'm sitting in front of the stage at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia, watching the four giant (and I mean G-I-A-N-T) screens behind the stage as the FLW production crew runs through the graphics package for today's weigh-in. It's pretty darn cool, as you can see from the photo above.

More later.


NWWC follows Ron Hobbs, Jr. as he fishes Day 4 of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup

Ron Hobbs, Jr. makes it into the final day of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup
2010 FORREST WOOD CUP: Hobbs advances to final day of 2010 FWC
POSTED Aug. 7, 2010 / 11:40 p.m.

David Johnson WildBlog- Finally, after four days of practice, three days of competition in the 95-plus-degree Georgia heat and a nerve-wracking Day 3 weigh-in, Ron Hobbs, Jr. will get his ride in a Blackhawk helicopter.

That's the prize Hobbs and five other anglers - Brent Ehrler, Cody Meyer, Larry Nixon, Kevin Hawk and Troy Morrow - will get for making it to the final day of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier. That, and a shot at $500,000, and a revered place in the history of bass fishing.

To get there, though, Hobbs had to endure a gut-wrenching weigh-in and a last-minute charge by two local Lanier veterans.

8CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW RON HOBBS QUALIFIED for the final day of the "world championship of bass fishing", and how he expects things to play out on Lake Lanier on Sunday.

Ron Hobbs, Jr. makes a jump on day 2 of the Forrest Wood Cup
Hobbs climbs into Top 10 on Day 2 of FWC

POSTED Aug. 6, 2010 / 4:10 p.m.

David Johnson WildBlogDULUTH, Georgia - Ron Hobbs, Jr., it turns out, isn't very good at estimating the weight of five fish in the live well of a Triton. Fortunately for Hobbs, though, he's an UNDER-estimator.

Hobbs weighed in just over 13 pounds today on Day 2 of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, climbing from 12th place to 7th and putting himself in position to compete for a $500,000 payday in the "world championship of bass fishing."

"I don't know, I think I had about the same as yesterday - maybe 10 pounds," Hobbs said as he hung out in the parking lot of the Gwinnett Center, waiting to weigh in. "But, then, yesterday I thought I had about 7."

And, just like on Day 1 and 2, Hobbs plans to continue his largemouth assault on Day 3.

8CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT HOBBS' DAY 2 CLIMB and how his largemouth plans shape up for Saturday.

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 - Ron Hobbs Jr.'s "Magic Tree"
Hobbs hits Day 2 "Magic Tree" at 2010 FWC

POSTED Aug. 6, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.

David Johnson WildBlogDULUTH, Georgia - Exactly one week ago, I asked Ron Hobbs, Jr. on Northwest Wild Country whether his plans for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup included: 1). Largemouth; 2). Fishing in the expansive creek system of Georgia’s Lake Lanier.

His answers: “No” and “no”.

So where does Junior find himself fishing today on Day 2 of the $500,000 “world championship of bass fishing”? In the back of a creek.

And what does Junior find himself fishing for? Largemouth.

Oh how quickly things can change. And, in Hobbs’ case, change for the better.

8CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE DETAILS OF HOBBS' magic tree and how he plans to fish it throughout the week.

NWWC LIVE from Day 1 of 2010 Forrest Wood Cup - Ron Hobbs, Jr. settles in to 12th
Hobbs hanging hopes on largemouth spot

POSTED Aug. 5, 2010 / 8:40 p.m.

David Johnson WildBlogDULUTH, Georgia - Lake Lanier’s Kentucky-strain spotted bass played the leading role on Day 1 of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup Thursday, as expected. But if Ron Hobbs, Jr. has anything to say about it, the lake’s less prolific largemouth population might play a bigger role on Day 2.

Hobbs settled into 12th place on the strength of two largemouth that boosted his five-fish Day 1 weight to 10 pounds, 14 ounce, leaving him just one good fish behind Day 1 leader Kevin Hawk (14-12) and exactly 1 pound out of the top 10 heading into Day 2. That one good fish – or, rather, three of them – is/are right where Hobbs left it/them: on a honey-hole that the Orting native will count on tomorrow to boost him into the Top 10, past the crucial Day 2 cut, and possibly into Day 3 and Day 4.

8CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT HOBBS' DAY 1 'HONEY HOLE' and how one solitary largemouth spot could carry him through Day 2 and beyond.

NWWC at 2010 Forrest Wood Cup - West Coast anglers make their mark on Day 1

Western anglers in the thick of it on Day 1

POSTED Aug. 5, 2010 / 7:10 p.m.

David Johnson WildBlogDULUTH, Georgia - Turns out that spotted bass in 90-degree Georgia bathwater behave a lot like bass in Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta, Lake Hodges, Lake Washington, and any other deep, clear West Coast fishery. At least, that’s the impression you’d get after Day 1 of the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup.  

Ramona, Calif. native Kevin Hawk leads a decidedly West Coast-heavy top 15 after the first day of competition at the $500,000 Cup on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, weighing in 14 pounds, 12 ounces to set the benchmark for a tournament that’s quickly shaping up to be a donnybrook where West Coast names like Cody Meyer, Rusty Salewske and Brent Ehrler are among the heavy hitters.

8CLICK HERE FOR MY EXCLUSIVE DAY 1 REPORT from the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier.

Ron Hobbs, Jr. Pursuit ofthe Forrest Wood Cup
Junior takes shot at $500,000 payday at Forrest Wood Cup
NEW July 26, 2010 / 6:30 p.m

ATLANTA - Barely 10 days away from competing for a $500,000 payday, Ron Hobbs, Jr. is most excited about signing a liability waiver.

David Johnson WildBlogA half-million dollars and bass-fishing immortality can wait. Right now, Junior wants to talk about Blackhawk helicopters.

"Dude, I had to sign a waiver in case I make the top 6 and get to ride in a Blackhawk helicopter - how cool is that?!?" Hobbs says the week before departing for Atlanta and Lake Lanier, where 78 of the FLW's top anglers will compete for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup and the biggest paycheck in professional bass fishing. "I just want to make the top six so I can fly in a helicopter."

8CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT RON HOBBS' PREPARATION for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Georgia's Lake Lanier.

From Kramer Gone Fishing: Grubbin' Around with the Old Favorites
GUEST BLOG: Kramer spends some time with West Coast bass basics
UPDATED June 23, 2010 / 11:40 a.m.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - "Do you know the best single tail grub ever made? That’s an easy question. The best grub is the one they’re biting."

So says George Kramer. Or, as I like to call him "The Sage of Lake Elsinore". I've had the pleasure of working with George for going on 13 years now, first with F&H News and these days with California Sportsman. If you're a West Coast basser - be you from Electric City or Lake Havasu City - you've benefitted from George's writing sometime, somewhere.

8CHECK OUT GEORGE KRAMER'S "GRUB-OLOGY 101" and the review of a new tool in the West Coast basser's arsenal, the Kalin 4-inch grub.

Joel Shangle in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com

NWWC's Joel Shangle reports on Byron Velvick's Clear Lake Elite Series win from Clear Lake
Clear Lake bite goes swimbaitingly for winner Velvick
POSTED March 23, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugLAKEPORT, Calif. - On Day Two of the 2010 Golden State Shootout last week, BASS emcee Keith Alan glanced at the deck of California pro Jared Lintner's boat as it headed out onto Clear Lake's big-bass grounds.

"Look at the size of the swimbaits on that deck," Alan barked into the microphone. "Jared Lintner, are you kidding me?"

Lintner just smiled a little and kept driving.

8READ THE REST OF MY BASSMASTER.COM FEATURE STORY on the Clear Lake swimbait bite, and how Byron Velvick turned his big-bait talents into a $100,000 paycheck.

Joel Shangle in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.comNWWC's Joel Shangle reports on Byron Velvick's Clear Lake Elite Series win from Clear Lake
Velvick outlasts field in Clear Lake, claims first Elite victory
POSTED March 22, 2010 / 6:10 a.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugLAKEPORT, Calif. - Once all was said and done, the 2010 Golden State Shootout was Byron Velvick's to win or lose. And on a fishery where he introduced the bass masses to the most West Coast of bass baits, swimbait master Velvick chunked, chunked and chunked some more en route to a wire-to-wire victory.

For Velvick, it was perhaps the sweetest victory in a career that's taken him from top, to bottom and everywhere in between.

8CHECK OUT THE BASSMASTER/ESPN OUTDOORS TEAM'S coverage of Byron Velvick and his victory in the second stop in the 2010 Elite Series in Clear Lake, and stay tuned later today for my exclusive feature on Velvick's swimbait technque, and the bait's influence on the Elite tour. You can keep track of it all on Bassmaster.com.

Joel Shangle in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.comJoel Shangle in Clear Lake with Bassmaster.com, covering the 2010 Golden Gate Shootout Final Day
Field of 12 pursues NWWC guest Byron Velvick in Clear Lake
POSTED March 21, 2010 / 10:10 a.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugLAKEPORT, Calif. - Day Four of the 2010 Golden State Shootout has come down to this: It's the last lap of a race that appears to be running on three different tracks.

On one track is Byron Velvick, who has led this tournament since virtually the first hour, building a three-day total of 75 pounds, 8 ounces by steadfastly throwing swimbait after swimbait after swimbait across a broad, shallow, grassy flat. On another track are Bill Lowen (69-9) and Guy Eaker (68-4), who have tag-teamed a shallow, grassy slough for three days with jigs, lipless crankbaits, swim jigs and chatterbaits.

And finally, there are Randy Howell, Bradley Roy, Terry Butcher, Jared Lintner and the rest of an 11-man pursuit team chasing Velvick as he looks to claim his first Elite Series victory on a fishery where he already owns a BASS record.

8CHECK OUT THE REST OF MY DAY-FOUR BLAST-OFF REPORT as Wild Country guest Byron Velvick tries to hold off the rest of the Final 12 at the second stop in the 2010 Elite Series in Clear Lake. You can keep track of it all on Bassmaster.com, and check back often for updates here at NW Wild Country and at WaFish.com s I file my final reports from tournament HQ.


Team F24's latest video diary on the NW Wild Country Video Wall
Team F24 begins bass pursuit with Long Long attack
POSTED March 21, 2010 / 11:10 a.m.

TACOMA - When I named Glen & Gami Bayer two of the founding members of the NW Wild Country Crash Test Crew last year, the first few items I got in their hands included a grab-bag of bass goodies from my friends at Booyah! Team F24 has a bass itch, and they have it bad.

Check out the video to the right, the latest in a growing list of videos by the husband-and-wife fishing team who has become such a cornerstone of the chat forum over at Gamefishin.com. Since I'm down in Clear Lake covering the Elite Series this week, this comes along at just the right time.

Keep 'em coming, F24!


Joel Shangle in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.comDay Two on the Golden State Shootout, Day One Leader Byron Velvick heads out
Golden State Shootout field in search of "the big bite"
POSTED March 19, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugLAKEPORT, Calif. - His last walk across the weigh-in stage at the TroKar Duel in the Delta in Stockton last week gave California native Byron Velvick time to crack a joke about his anticipation of the Golden State Shootout on Clear Lake: "I'm going to go to Clear Lake, sit on the shore and meditate," Velvick said after weighing in just three fish for 8 pounds, 12 ounces and an 82nd-place finish on the Delta.

Turns out that whatever form of tai-chi or yoga Velvick practices works on Clear Lake. For one day anyway.

Leaving the Liberty Park dock in 33-degree temperatures this morning for Day Two of the Golden State Shootout, Velvick is the leader of "Swimbait Nation," with 29 pounds, one good-sized largemouth ahead of fellow Californian Jared Lintner (23-4), Randy Howell (23-3), Bill Lowen (22-14) and Guy Eaker (21-14).

Velvick's kicker fish, a 10-11, is exactly what the 93 Elite pros are hunting for today.

"I didn't get a big bite yesterday, and I have to figure out how to change that," said Florida pro Shaw Grigsby, who weighed in five fish that averaged a hair better than 3 pounds on Thursday. "First thing I'm going to do early today is try to catch a big fish on a swimbait."

8READ THE REST OF MY DAY TWO BLAST-OFF REPORT as the Elite Series Golden State Shootout continues on a rapidly warming Clear Lake. You can keep track of it all on Bassmaster.com, and check back often for updates as NW Wild Country as I file exclusive reports from tournament HQ.


Joel Shangle in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com
Elite Series anglers open tomorrow on "sleeping giant"
POSTED March 17, 2010 / 6:00 p.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugLAKEPORT, Calif. - The Bassmaster Elite Series is tickling the nose of a sleeping giant.

After two practice sessions Monday and Tuesday that Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam described as “so brutal I can’t believe it,” most of the 93 anglers leaving the Willow Point Park launch on Clear Lake, Ca., Wednesday for the final day of practice for the 2010 Golden State Shootout sound like they’ve been snake-bitten. It’s been that tough.

“I think most of us would rather be back on the Delta,” Denny Brauer joked Tuesday after practice. “I’ve thrown that swimbait 1,000 miles and don’t have a thing to show for it.”

Or, as VanDam put it: “It can’t get any tougher than this.”

Oh, but how quickly that could change.

8READ THE REST OF MY CLEAR LAKE ELITE SERIES PREVIEW as the country's best bass anglers tackle one of the West Coast's best laregmouth fishery. Keep track of it all on Bassmaster.com, and check back often for updates as NW Wild Country as I file exclusive reports from the Golden State Shootout.


NW Wild Country host Joel Shangle covers the 2010 Duel On The Delta Bassmaster Elite Series event
Elite Series road warriors tackle practice at Delta Duel
POSTED March 9, 2010 / 6:00 a.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugSTOCKTON, Calif. - The last bits of confetti had barely been cleared off the 2010 Bassmaster Classic trophy before Kevin VanDam was on the road, boat in tow, for a 3-day marathon behind the wheel.

Distance from his home in Kalamazoo, Mich., to Stockton, Calif., site of the 2010 TroKar™ Duel in the Delta, the first stop in the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series: Just over 2,300 miles.

There are similar stories for Greg Hackney (2,245 miles from his home in Gonzalez, La.), and the majority of the Southern- and Eastern-based field fishing the first stop in the 2010 Elite Series.

8READ THE REST OF THE STORY ON DAY 1 PRACTICE over at Bassmaster.com, and check back often for updates as NW Wild Country host Joel Shangle checks in from the Delta.

Don Hogue's "My Bassmaster Classic experience" blog on WAFish
BASS REPORT: Pasco's Don Hogue blogs on the 2010 Bassmaster Classic
POSTED Feb. 28, 2010 / 9:55 a.m.

Don Hogue blog mugFROM WAFISH.COM - A blog on my classic experience won't do it justice, but then again I'm not sure what would or could.

In short, it was the single greatest fishing experience of my life. Really, beyond what words can express. So let me just try to recap as best I can what went down. This will probably be long, but trust me, if I were to write about everything, I could fill a book.

8CHECK OUT DON HOGUE'S CLASSIC BLOG HERE and find out what it's like for a kid from Tri-Cities to compete on bass fishing's biggest stage.

Kevin VanDam on NW Wild Country podcast
WILDCAST HIGHLIGHT: King Kevin spends some time around the Wild Fire
UPDATED Feb. 28, 2010 / 9:45 a.m.

Buzz Column MugSEATTLE - "We have Kevin from Kalamazoo on the phone now. Kevin from Kalamazoo ... have you caught any fish lately?"

Kevin from Kalamazoo's response: "Heh, heh, heh. Well, not in the last week or so, but , last week was pretty good for me."

Indeed it was. To the tune of $500,000.

You might know Kevin better by his initials: K-V-D. As in Kevin VanDam, the newly crowned 2010 Bassmaster Classic champion, and the most successful bass fisherman in history. KVD took time away from his uber-frenetic schedule this Saturday to check in (live from Manhatten!) with the Wild Country crew.

8HEAR THE REST OF OUR CONVERSATION WITH KVD and find out how a kid from the Steelhead Latitudes of Michigan became the greatest bass fisherman of all time.

NW Wild Country Don Hogue at Bassmaster Classic
BASS TRENDS: Day 1 finds Hogue in contention for big fish at 2010 Classic
POSTED Feb. 19, 2009 / 7:45 p.m.

Joel Shangle Blog MugBIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Faithful followers of the Bassmaster Classic on ESPN Outdoors - great blogging, by the way, by my boys back there - might've been surprised to see two photos atop the leader board from Lay Lake: Kevin Van Dam. Don Hogue.

Don WHO?

H-O-G-U-E. As in, Don Hogue from Tri-Cities, the Pacific Northwest's proud representative at the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.

Tri-Cities angler Don Hogue at Bassmaster ClassicHogue finished the day in 28th place in this fishery south of Birmingham, Alabama, but for the majority of the day, he owned the big fish award for Day 1.

Hogue weighed in two fish for 7-1, but his big fish was a fat 6-01, which held big-fish honors until Mike Iaconelli weighed in a 6-10 at the end of the day to nudge Hogue out of big-fish honors.

Still, for the humble history teacher and high-school football coach from Tri-Cities, sharing the same web page with KVD for most of the day is reward enough.

LIVE FROM BIRMINGHAM: We'll be hooking up with the G-Man, Gary Stiles of NW Bass, who's LIVE back in Birmingham!!!!! You want local flavor in the world's biggest bass-fishing event? You got it. Tune in at 6:30 a.m tomorrow as we chat with Stiles about the Evergreen State's proud representation at the biggest fishing event on the planet.



nCATCH IT STREAMING ONLINE at www.950kjr.com!


Clausen Ask The Experts on NWWC
ASK THE EXPERTS: Clausen serves up fall-transition advice, tips
NEW Oct. 24, 2009 / 3:10 p.m

SEATTLE - Our Northwest Wild Country listeners are very familiar with Million Dollar Club member "Coolhand" Luke Clausen, and his exploits on the big-time national bass tours. Clausen - a former Forrest Wood Cup and Bassmaster Classic winner - served up exclusive advice on how to pick apart a new fishery when he joined our "Ask The Experts" panel this Saturday.

8CLICK HERE for the "Ask The Experts" podcast

Small Lakes DIY
DIY bass in small lakes
NEW Aug. 11, 2009 / 3:45 p.m. EST

SEATTLE, Wash. - An escape from the woes of terminal bass fisheries is what small lake bassin’ is all about.

8CLICK HERE to find out how our resident Road Coug, Chris Gregersen, tackles the Westside small-lake scene.

NWWC Bass Calendar

MARCH, 2010
20 Capital City Bass Club open tourney @ Silver Lake
27 Puyallup Hawg Hunters Sammamish Open
27 ABA @ Banks Lake
APRIL, 2010

3 Columbia River Bassmasters open tourney @ Columbia River
10 Northwest Bass @ Banks Lake
24-25 ABA @ Potholes Reservoir
24 Tri-Cities River Runners open tourney @ Lake Wallula
24 Mt. St. Helens Bassmasters open tourney @ Silver Lake

BASS REPORT FLASH: FLW won't be back to Columbia River in 2010
NEW Aug. 1, 2009 / 6:30 p.m. EST

Bass ReportPITTSBURGH, Penn. - It’s been part of the Pacific Northwest bass-fishing gossip hotline since FLW Outdoors packed their bags and left Umatilla in late June following the WalMart FLW Series National Guard Western Division event on the Columbia River.

It’s no longer gossip: FLW won’t be back to the Pacific Northwest in 2010.

“For next year, we probably won’t be back to the Columbia River,” FLW Outdoors’ Charlie Evans confirmed today before the Day 3 weigh-in at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh, Penn. “That said, we have every intention of returning to the Northwest. We love it up there. The people treated us great, and the fishing is, of course, phenomenal. It’s just a reaction to the economic conditions of our country.”

8CLICK HERE to read the rest of our exclusive Bass Report news flash.

BASS REPORT: Largemouth hotshots Salewske, Curtis lead FWC on Day 3
NEW Aug. 1, 2009 / 8:30 p.m. EST

NWWC at FWCPITTSBURGH, Penn. - Ironic, isn’t it, that the two anglers sitting at the top of the leader board heading into the final day of the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup are largemouth anglers from Southern California and Texas?

Check that: the true irony is that the fishery they’re competing on – the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh, PA – is almost exclusively a smallmouth fishery that prompted one angler to say “I doubt there’s seven largemouth in that whole system.”

But like it or not, smallie fans, when the guys sitting in places 3 through 10 blast off tomorrow for the penultimate day of the $2 million FWC, they’ll be chasing Alpine, California’s Rusty Salewske and Trinity, Texas’ David Curtis, a pair of lifelong largemouth anglers from two of the sport’s green-fish Meccas.

8CLICK HERE to read the complete story from Day 3 of the Forrest Wood Cup.

Latest Wild Blog Sponsored
Goldston finds himself living the angler's dream at FWC
NEW Aug. 1, 2009 / 10:30 a.m. EST

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - “Starstruck” might be a strong word, but as Tommie Goldston stands on the floor of Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Penn., site of the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, that’s the only word the Gardnerville, NV angler can come up with.

Joel Blog MugAbsolutely starstruck,” Goldston repeats. “I can’t believe I’m here, I can’t believe I’m doing what I’m doing … I just can’t believe any of this.”

“This”, for those of you who don’t follow professional bass fishing, is the World Series, Tour de France and US Open of the fishing world, all rolled into one dazzling display of lights, smoke, sound, and Jumbotron video. A total prize pool of $2 million is on the line. Thousands of people from western Pennsylvania – and, for that matter, throughout the country – will file into the same arena where the Stanley Cup currently resides, where, on Saturday and Sunday, they’ll boisterously cheer the weighing of fish.

And Goldston, a quiet, unassuming roofing contractor from west-central Nevada, will be right in the middle of it all, alongside the mega-superstars of the bass-fishing world.

8CLICK HERE to read about Tommie Goldston's road to the Cup, and his awe-inspiring encounters with two legends of the sport.

Scott Suggs Day 2 FWC
Hackney takes a chance, vaults into top spot at FWC Day 2
NEW July 31, 2009 / 9:35 p.m EST

PITTSBURGH, Penn - Finally, after two days of competition and four days of practice, the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh showed us a glimpse of what lies beneath her rain-muddied waters.

Louisiana pro Greg Hackney put in an early-morning run that would make some Columbia River anglers proud, locking way, way, way up the Allegheny River on Day 2 of the Forrest Wood Cup in search of a bag of smallmouth that would pull him out of 36th place and into the Top 10.

Mission accomplished, and then some.

8CLICK HERE to read the full NWWC report on Day 2 at the Forrest Wood Cup.

BASS REPORT: Live from Mellon Arena: Meyers surges to the top
NEW July 31, 2009 / 5:35 p.m EST

NWWC at FWCPITTSBURGH, Penn. - Your 5:35 update:

Meyer hanging in
California's Cody Meyer is still hanging in first with 13-10 total as more anglers weigh in. Meyer fished drop-shots and Jackall jerkbaits today.

Nixon falls back
Larry Nixon didn't find the fish like he did yesterday, weighing in 4 fish for 3-9. He currently sits in second.

"I’m scared, but that (weight) could make it," Nixon said. "I sure want to fish tomorrow. The way the current swirls here, the further you are from the bank the worse you are. I never got a bite for 2 hours, locked up into that Pittsburgh pool, hit 7-8 spots before I caught a fish. Smallmouth don’t like cloudy days as much as largemouth. They’re down deep, it’s hard for them to see."


BASS REPORT: Live from Mellon Arena: "The Lefebre Gang" out in force
NEW July 31, 2009 / 5:30 p.m EST

NWWC at FWCPITTSBURGH, Penn. - Good afternoon, everybody. Coming at you right now from Mellon Arena, where Day 2 weigh-in for the Forrest Wood Cup begins in about 20 minutes.

Here are a few quick casts as we get ready for the anglers to start hitting the stage:

The Lefebre Gang is out in force
A good portion of the first two rows behind me on press row at Mellon Arena is occupied by “The Lefebre Gang”, all wearing their bright yellow and red Keebler t-shirts in support of Day 1 leader Dave Lefebre. Lefebre’s wife, Ann, and daughter Macy, are in the seats directly behind me, and their pride in the Union City, PA angler’s accomplishments shows in the smiles and nervous-excited conversations going on between family members.

“We’re all just so proud of him,” Ann said. “It was so hard for him to qualify through the tour, he’s just really happy to be here.”

Exceptionally nice, sweet people. Little Macy is well armed with her favorite blanket, a sippy cup, and a sign that says “Hail Hail, the Lefebre Gang’s All Here”.

I’ll post a photo of them shortly.

Houston says "50 anglers are still in this thing"
Bass-fishing icon Jimmy Houston swears that most of the field of 77 is still in the competition. Even the guys sitting near the bottom with 2 pounds.

"Probably about 50 or 60 of these guys still have a chance at that $1 million," Houston just told the crowd here at Mellon. "Some of those guys down in 50th can go out and catch 8 or 9 pounds today, they'll have a chance."

Any 3 Doors Down fans here?
The video for "Citizen Soldiers" by 3 Doors Down is playing on the five gigantic Jumbotron screens here in the arena, behind the main stage. Lights are out, volume is cranked. I dig 3 Doors Down anyway, but in this particular setting - the National Guard is about to present the flag for the National Anthem - it gives a guy chills. Pretty cool.

Anglers lining up now

The first group of anglers are at the holding tanks behind the stage. More in a bit.


BASS REPORT: Day 2 at the FWC: notes and quotes from the Three Rivers
NEW July 31, 2009 / 12:45 p.m. PST

Forrest Wood Cup on locationPITTSBURGH, Penn. - You want to talk about a home-field advantage?

That's exactly what 76 anglers are battling today as Day 2 of the Forrest Wood Cup winds down toward the 5 p.m. EST weigh-in (you can catch it all live at FLW Live). That 77th angler in the field - Day 1 leader Dave Lefebre - is out there on the Ohio River, fishing waters that he knows as well as his own living room.

Lefebre hails from nearby Union City, Penn., which is roughly 2 hours away. He's fished the Three Rivers area since he was a kid, and, as he continues his assault on the smallies below a certain un-named dam on the Ohio, the rest of the field knows that - even if that spot dries up for Lefebre - he has dozens upon hundreds of others to draw from.

"(Lefebre) has more spots on these rivers to fish than any other guy out there," said Jimmy Houston. "It's going to be hard for the rest of these guys to overcome that."

Covering the Cup: Northwest Wild Country will be on-site at Mellon Arena from first cast to final weigh-in as 77 professional anglers compete for the $1 million paycheck and the title as FLW's Big Dawg. TUNE IN to Sportradio 950 KJR for updates on Thursday and Friday, and join us live from the Cup on Saturday and Sunday.

Ike FWC Day 1
Lefebre beats muddy water to lead FWC Day 1; Ike hovers
NEW July 30, 2009 / 8:30 p.m EST

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - Surprise surprise. And, as it turns out, no surprise at all.

Changing conditions dominated the day today on the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh as the 77 professional anglers competing in the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup blasted off into the muddy waters of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in pursuit of bass fishing's biggest tournament payout.

Once they got to their spots? Surprise, surprise.

But the leader after Day 1? No surprise there.

Almost to a man, the FLW's best anglers were sent into full-on scramble mode early this morning when they arrived at their first spots of the day to find that heavy rains early in the week had turned many fishable spots to mud. It brought a whole new favorite catch-phrase to the weigh-in stage at Mellon Arena Thursday afternoon.

8CLICK HERE to read the full NWWC report on Day 1 at the Forrest Wood Cup.

BASS REPORT: Ehrler: "I've slept better this week than in a long time."
NEW July 27, 2009 / 7:30 p.m PST

Brent Ehrler FLW PracticePITTSBURGH, Penn. - What do you do when you’re 2 days away from the biggest bass tournament of your life and it feels like there are no bass within two time zones of the spots you’ve been fishing?

If you’re Brent Ehrler, you sleep like a baby.

Day 3 of practice for the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup on the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh finds the Redlands, CA pro scraping and clawing and scratching his head, trying to find bass – ANY bass – in the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where the richest professional bass tournament in the world will kick off competition on Thursday.

Ehrler, like most of the 77 pros preparing to compete in the Cup, has found the bite to be difficult bordering on non-existent in three full practice days.

8CLICK HERE to follow Ehrler through Day 3 of practice is the Forrest Wood Cup prepares to kick off on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

BASS REPORT: Clausen weighs in on Three Rivers fishery for 2009 FWC
NEW July 25, 2009 / 7:30 p.m

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - Here's the definition of a championship tournament: put 77 of the best anglers in the world on one of the most challenging fisheries in the country, and let them slug it out.

Luke Clausen on BassFanFor Spokane's Luke Clausen, that's what it all comes down to on Thursday when the Forrest Wood Cup gets underway.

Clausen was matter-of-fact in the days leading up to practice week at the 2009 Cup on the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh, Penn. The former Banks Lake behemoth - who cashed a check for $500,000 when he won the Cup as a rookie in 2004 - says that the fishing on the Three Rivers is among the most difficult he and the 76 other pros will tackle the entire season.

That's what a $1 million tournament should be, though, right?

8CLICK HERE as our exclusive coverage of the '09 Forrest Wood Cup kicks off.

BASS REPORT: Packing for the FWC
NEW July 23, 2009 / 9:45 p.m
Forrest Wood Cup on location
ARLINGTON, Wash. - Exactly one week from tonight, one fortuitous angler will have taken the first step toward a $1 million payday. And 76 other anglers will have taken their first stop toward "also competed ..."

I'm a list-minute packer, so I'd be lying if I told you that I was prepped and ready to take off early next Wednesday to cover the Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh, Penn. Truth be told, come Tuesday night, I'll throw a bunch of Ex-Officio pants and shorts, some T-shirts and exactly two collared shirts into a bag and call it good.

Check that. That's not quite honest, either. I'll also load up 30 pounds of remote broadcast gear, the handy-dandy laptop, an MDR and a couple of sets of headphones and mics ... the equipment necessary to broadcast next Saturday, Aug. 1 and Sunday Aug. 2 from the weigh-in site of the richest fishing event in the U.S.

Covering the Cup: Northwest Wild Country will be on-site at Mellon Arena from first cast to final weigh-in as 77 professional anglers compete for the $1 million paycheck and the title as FLW's Big Dawg. TUNE IN to Sportradio 950 KJR for updates on Thursday and Friday, and join us live from the Cup on Saturday and Sunday.

NWWC Bass Calendar

JULY, 2009
25 Anglers Choice tournament @ Banks Lake
25 Anglers Choice tournament @ Banks Lake
25-26 Northend Bass Club open tournament @ Banks Lake
25-26 Lewis Co. Bass Club members
tournament @ Duck Lake
25-26 Coastal Bassmaster Club tourney @ Riffe Lake
25-26 Castmaters club tourney @ Riffe Lake
25-26 Okanogan Valley Bass Club tourney @ Whitestone Lake
25-26 Washington Bass Assoc.
tourney @ Lake Goodwin

AUGUST, 2009
8-9 ABA West @ Lake Washington
11 Northwest Bass @ Potholes Reservoir
18-19 ABA East @ Columbia River
25-26 Northend Bass Club Jack & Jill Open @ Banks Lake

Neil Russell wins Columbia River FLW
Russell takes home winner's check at Umatilla FLW
NEW June 27, 2009 / 10:05 p.m

UMATILLA, Ore. - Fair warning: If Neil Russell ever challenges you to a friendly bass-fishing wager on the Columbia River, just hand him your wallet.

Joel Blog MugThe Nampa, Idaho-based Ranger pro added $105,000 to his bank account Saturday afternoon after weighing 10 pounds, 09 ounces of smallmouth in the final day of the WalMart FLW Series Western Division tournament in Umatilla, Ore. Russell’s five-fish limit pushed him to 47-10 overall for the tournament, just ahead of Oregon’s Cody King (47-05) for the championship of the richest bass event ever held in Oregon.

Cashing checks on the Columbia is becoming old hat for Russell: he finished third in both 2007 and 2008 at the Western Division events held in Tri-Cities, bringing his FLW Series earnings to $165,558 in the three events held on the big Oregon/Washington border river.

"Yeah, I guess I should maybe look for a few more tournaments to fish (on the Columbia)," Russell joked.

Russell's roadbed: Russell fished downriver from the Umatilla launch throughout the tournament, opting for precious hours of fishing time while several of the field’s toughest competitors – including locals Ron Mace (3rd overall with 36-07) and Ron Hobbs, Jr. (6th with 44-09) – swung for the fences with time-burning, 75- to 100-mile one-way runs upriver to the Hanford Reach, in search of 4- and 5-pound bedding fish. Russell's money spot turned out to be a shallow roadbed he'd discovered during a fall Federation tournament, a spot on the Washington side across from Irrigon that the rest of the field didn't seem to have on their radars.

"There's an old roadbed that runs alongside a big mud flat that doesn't show on the Navionics," Russell said. "I don't think anybody else knew it was in there. I never say anybody fish it the entire tournament."

His first spot on Day 1, roughly 10-11 miled further downriver near Crow Butte, didn't pan out quite like he thought it would, and, as the tournament wore on, Russell spent more and more time working his 1/8-mile roadbed, cycling through a surprising number of 2 1/2- to 3-pound fish.

"After I fished down by Crow Butte the first day and didn't find the quality of fish I wanted, I ended up fishing that roadbed more and more each day," Russell said. "I didn't know that spot was as strong as it ended up being."

Russell bagged a pair of 3-pounders off the roadbed on Day 1, added a couple more 3-pounders on Day 2 and Day 3, and hung onto his Day 3 lead with just enough 2- to 2 1/2-pounders in the final.

"I didn't realize I was going to find big ones in there every day," he said. "I felt like I could go catch fish, but I didn't realize how many good bass there were in there."

Matching the hatch: Russell's two go-to baits were a Dry Creek Old Ugly tube and 3 1/2-inch Kamakazee Treat bluegill-pattern swimbait.

"I think they were seeing that swimbait as salmon smolt," he said. "I saw one bass spit up a salmon smolt and noticed another smolt that was injured. I think I was matching the hatch. I was getting them to eat it really well - usually they'll just pop a swimbait, but these fish were really eating it.

King almost rules: King weighed in the heaviest bag of the day at 13-03, but it wasn’t quite enough to hold onto the lead as Russell, the last angler to weigh in his fish, squeaked past the eastern Oregon pro by a scant 5 ounces. King stayed below McNary Dam the first three days of the tournament, but on Saturday locked through McNary into some familiar territory around Casey’s Pond that he’s fished since he was 5 years old.

King hooked four smallies on Super Flukes and one kicker largemouth on a Lake Fork Craw Tube.

“I caught my largemouth in a backwater area in about 45 minutes and then spot-hopped my way back to the dam,” King said. “I caught my last smallmouth and did one last cull right before I got back down to the dam. Everything worked out just about like I wanted it to today. The fish were just a little smaller than I expected.”

Mace makes the run: Ron Mace exercised his gas card as much as his casting arm this week, running his 21-foot Skeeter upwards of 200 miles round-trip per day up into the upper end of Hanford Reach, where he fished 4-inch Sniper Snubs over bedding fish.

Lippincott mixes things up: Just before departing on Saturday’s final blast-off, Spokane’s Marc Lippincott told a Northwest Wild Country live audience that he hadn’t really found a consistent go-to pattern or location, and planned to play it safe throughout the day.  Lippincott stayed true to his word, weighing in 10-13, catching most of his final-day fish on spinnerbaits.

Caporuscio’s Columbia Point cruise: Southern Californian Joseph Caporuscio spent his fourth day in a row Saturday working the water inside the Columbia Point Marina in Kennewick, which is where the last two FLW Western Division tournaments have been held.

Hobbs falls one short: Hobbs’ pre-blast-off attitude was the exact opposite of Lippincott’s. When asked if he planned to play it safe Saturday as well, Hobbs chuckled and told the NWWC audience: “You guys know me. I’m not going to play it safe. I’m going up there to catch BIG ones.”

Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the last fish he needed to fill a five-fish limit out of the Reach, the third day in a row he weighed in a short bag of smallies.

“I saw 4- and 5-pounders all day up there, but I just couldn’t get them to bite,” Hobbs said. “I weighed in three fish on Thursday, four fish Friday and four fish again today. Any one of those days if I catch one more fish, I probably win it.”

Neil Russell 47-10
Cody King 47-05
Ron Mace 46-07
Marc Lippincott 45-07
Joseph Caporuscio 45-06
Hobbs Jr. 44-09
Ken Wick 44-04
Cody Meyer 38-14
Randy McAbee Jr. 36-10

Neil Russel FLW Day 3 Hot Bite
Russell vaults into lead as FLW heads into battle royale
NEW June 26, 2009 / 9:05 p.m

UMATILLA, Ore. - From runaway to photo finish.

If we’ve learned anything the past 48 hours at the WalMart FLW Series Western Division tournament in Umatilla, it’s the following: 1). The Columbia River doesn’t give a damn area code you come from, and; 2). Almost every single angler fishing Saturday’s final round is a threat to walk away with a $100,000 first-place check.

Nampa, Idaho angler Neil Russell dropped 14 pounds,13 ounces of smallmouth onto the scales at Umatilla Marina Thursday afternoon – the second-heaviest bag of the tournament so far - to bring his three-day total to 37-01, pushing him up six places and into the lead heading into the final day of the largest professional bass-fishing competition ever held in the Beaver State.

“This thing is going to be a drag-race,” Jeff Priester of Nixon’s Marine cracked early Friday afternoon, before the weigh-in had even started.

Little did Priester know how accurate that statement would turn out to be.

Joel Blog MugHeading into the last day of competition, seven of the 10 anglers in the finals are within 3-07 of each other. SoCal wild card Joseph Caporuscio of Cota de Caza, who stuck with the same small stretch of Columbia Point water for a third day in a row, weighed in enough smallies (10-14) to keep him within a breath of the lead at 36-08.  The “Nixon’s Marine All-Star Team” of Ron Hobbs, Jr., (35-15), Ron Mace (35-11), Marc Lippincott (34-10) and Cody King (34-02) – along with 2008 Western Division Angler of the Year Ken Wick - complete a Top 7 that are all within a kicker fish of the championship.

The big battle: Day 4 shapes up a like an old-time WWF battle royale.

After three days of gusty weather, the middle Columbia Basin should see little to no wind, flat-glass water, and 90-degree sunshine, which means hundreds of miles of wide-open access from the upper end of Hanford Reach to the lower end of Blalock Canyon below Arlington. For Hobbs, Mace, Lippincott and King – all of whom have been reserving some of their best big-fish spots for the final – it’ll be a matter of capitalizing on bites, especially on the kind of 4-plus-pound kicker fish that might spell the difference between $100,000 for first place, and $32,000 for second.

“I’m just trying to catch big, gigantic ones,” joked Hobbs, who’s final-day water is the same water Ron Mace will likely fish. “I’m seeing some big, big fish. I saw 20 pounds today on one brush pile. I guess it’s a matter of getting them to bite.”

King, who’s spent the first three days fishing below McNary Dam, will make his first lock-through upriver into water around Tri-Cities that he’s been fishing since he was 5 years old.

“The wind will determine how I fish, but I’m going to try to catch largemouth first,” said King, who caught hist first four fish (smallmouth) Thursday on spinnerbaits before dropping a jig onto a 5-plus-pound largemouth to finish the day. “I have a few spots with some big fish I saw in practice that I haven’t fished yet, and I have a memory bank of fish I’ve caught in the past. I’ll try a topwater and a fluke if the water is slick, but I’m going to spend some time flippin’ for largemouth.”

Saturday on NWWC: Tune in tomorrow morning from 6 to 6:30 as the NWWC crew checks in LIVE with the finalists for Oregon's richest bass purse ever. We'l connect with Nixon's Marine owner Jeff Priester pre-blast off, and get on the water with one of the finalists as they prepare to blast off in pursuit of a six figure paycheck!

Continued coverage: Log on to FLW Live at 2:30 p.m. PST Saturday for the live weigh-in, and stay tuned to the NWWC Bass Report for exclusive coverage of the final day of the Columbia River FLW Series tournament.


Ron Hobbs Jr. FLW Day 2
Hobbs leads Northwest charge at Umatilla FLW event
NEW June 25, 2009 / 9:00 p.m

UMATILLA, Ore. - Casual observers of the top 5 professional anglers after Day 2 of the WalMart FLW Series National Guard Western Division event on the Columbia River might think they'd mistakenly stumbled into a Northwest Bass Challenge Circuit tournament.

Joel Blog MugNorthwest Bass regulars Ron Hobbs, Jr. of Orting, Ron Mace of Kennewick and Spokan’s Marc Lippincott settled into three of the top 5 spots Thursday afternoon in Umatilla as the Columbia River gave the 85 competing boats a taste of how cantankerous the old girl can be. After a gentle first day of angler-friendly breezes, the Columbia Gorge’s westerly wind-siphon brought 30-mile-per-hour gusts, kidney-jarring chop and 3-foot rollers into play, sending the field into full-on scramble mode to find quality fish in areas most of them hadn’t pre-fished at all.

“Oh, man, the wind blew a lot this morning,” said Lippincott, who, instead of chancing a long, tooth-rattling upriver run, fished downriver from Umatilla in areas he hadn’t even looked at since the 2008 season. “The wind kept people from getting where they wanted to go today. You couldn’t really got downriver toward Arlington today, but I knew it’d be a huge gamble to try to run upriver. I really wanted to go up there, but, man, it would’ve been tough to go up there and not catch a limit.”

Caution paid off for Lippincott, who caught 10-11 on Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and occasional plastics to settle into fourth place, well within striking distance of Hobbs and Coto de Caza’s Joseph Caporuscio, who enter Day 3 locked in a first-placed tie at 25-10.

Locked out: Perhaps more than anyone, Hobbs served as a prime example of the capriciousness of the Columbia River’s ever-changing currents, water levels and dam schedule. After weighing in a whopping 17-11 on Day 1 for a 3-15 lead, Hobbs got hung up below McNary Dam waiting for a barge to lock through in the morning, and ended up losing 45 minutes of his already-limited fishing time at Hanford Reach. With less than two hours to fish and the Reach’s smallies hunkered down in lockjaw mode, every bite counted … and two of those bites didn’t connect.

“I missed about a 2 ½-pounder and caught a 16 ¾-inch largemouth that had a couple of 5-pound chasers,” said Hobbs, who weighed in three fish for 7-15, the 31st-heaviest bag of the day. “I saw a ton of fish today, I just couldn’t get them to bite.”

Big mover Mace: The day’s big mover was Tri-Cities’ Ron Mace, who vaulted from 11th place on Day 1 to third overall (25-00), with the heaviest bag of the day. Mace weighed in 12-14 after putting in one of the longest runs of the tournament, nearly 100 miles upriver.  

Cali representin’: Overshadowed by the Local Yokel Hit Squad’s success, Southern Californian Joseph Caporuscio hung tough with 11-14 pounds Thursday to deadlock with Hobbs for first place at 25-10. Caporuscio, who’s only previous experience on the Columbia River was the week’s practice sessions, has stuck to the same area near Tri-Cities, where he’s steadily bagged 2- to 2 ½-pounders throughout the day.

Laying back down: The National Weather Service calls for calm winds again Friday, with occasional gusts to 15 miles per hour. That’ll bring the pressure back upriver, according to Hobbs, who plans on making the same run to the three spots he’s fished the first two days.

“A lot of those boats couldn’t make it upriver today, but they’ll be back up there tomorrow,” he said.

Continued coverage: Log on to FLW Live at 2:30 p.m. PST for the live weigh-in, and stay tuned to the NWWC Bass Report for exclusive coverage of Day 3 of the Columbia River FLW Series tournament.

Saturday on NWWC: Tune in Saturday as the NWWC crew checks in LIVE from Umatilla with final-day coverage of the richest tournament ever held in Oregon.


Ron Hobbs FLW Day 1
Hobbs cruises to 4-pound lead in FLW Day 1 at Umatilla
NEW June 24, 2009 / 10:00 p.m

UMATILLA, Ore. - If you compete in a big-dollar bass tournament in the Pacific Northwest, you WILL eventually have to deal with Ron Hobbs, Jr.

That’s been a fact of life for the past 10 years for Washington anglers competing on the Northwest Bass and American Bass Association circuits. And, for the next three days, it’s the reality for 84 pros competing for a $100,000 pay check at the National Guard WalMart FLW Series event in Umatilla, Ore.

Joel Blog MugHobbs, who many local bassers consider the most talented young angler in the Pacific Northwest, weighed in 17 pounds, 11 ounces Wednesday to lead Day 1 of the FLW event on the sprawling Columbia River by nearly 4 pounds.

“I actually kinda wigged out a little,” Hobbs joked. “I caught a bunch of fish in about a half hour and wigged out: ‘We gotta go, we gotta go!’ There was so much more I wanted to fish, but I was thinking to myself ‘I have two hours to get back through the locks, I have to get gas, oh man, what am I gonna do?’. I think I only fished about two hours.”

Hobbs ran upriver 75 miles from the Umatilla launch to the Hanford Reach, fishing water close to Spokane’s Marc Lippincott (3rd with 13-11), Kennewick’s Ron Mace (11th with 12-02) and Gene Batey from Pasco (20th with 10-06). Hobbs caught almost all of his fish sight-fishing witha 4-inch Sniper Snub drop-shot in shallow water (6 feet or less), eventually weighing in four smallmouth and a 4.8-pound largemouth kicker.

“I just threw whatever I had in my hand,” Hobbs said. “I’d see a fish and throw to it. I caught seven fish total today: five on a Snub, two on a Senko.”   

Hobbs’ 3 ½-pound average was a major departure from the rest of the 85-main field, all of whom scratched and scraped to find big fish in a Columbia River fishery where fish are fresh off the spawn and scattered. The first six anglers trailing Hobbs averaged just over 2 ½ pounds per fish, and only 21 of the 85 competing pros managed to crack the 10-pound mark as the field divided into the upriver water of the Wallula Pool and above, and downstream to Paterson and Crow Butte.

Top 5: Columbia River first-timer Joseph Caporuscio of Cota de Caza, Calif. Weighed in 13-12 for second place, followed by Lippincott (13-11), Cody King (13-08) and Cody Meyer and Star, Idaho hotshot Ken Wick (13-05). Full results available HERE at FLW Outdoors.

Day 2: The Columbia River’s famously gnarly winds didn’t come into play in Day 1, but they could play a bigger role on Day 2, when the National Weather Service calls for sustained winds 14 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts up to 30.

“Man, there are so many different things (that will determine) where I go tomorrow,” Hobbs said. “I’m going to try to start up (in the Reach), but I don’t want to go any further than I went today. The wind lengthens your run by a long time: instead of running 75 mph, you can only go 35. It changes everything.”

Continued coverage: Log on to FLW Live at 2:30 p.m. PST for the live weigh-in, and stay tuned to the NWWC Bass Report for exclusive coverage of Day 2 of the Columbia River FLW Series tournament.

Saturday on NWWC: Tune in Saturday as the NWWC crew checks in LIVE from Umatilla with some of the best pro anglers on the West Coast.


NWWC Bass Trends Graphic

JUNE 18, 2009

DOCK TALK: Easy target zones on Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish this week: docks.

"Some of the fish are still spawning on Lake Washington," says G-Loomis pro Ron Hobbs, Jr. "They're just on the docks everywhere, period. On Sammamish, especially, you can go to just about any dock and find fish. They're shallow: 10-12 feet up to 5 feet. It'll change about mid-July, when they'll start transitioning toward deeper water, but right now, they're all over the docks."

BAIT TRENDS: Drop-shot rigs are the shizzle this week: 1/8-ounce, with Sniper Snubs and similar small drop-shot baits.

"You don't need to get fancy," Hobbs says. "A 1/8-ounce drop-shot with any snub bait will work."

OTHER OPTIONS: Spinnerbaits, topwaters.

"Spooks and other walking baits, poppers," Hobbs suggests. "I prefer walking baits because you can cover more water. They're eating a ton of young-of-the-year perch, so, white is good for topwater and spinnerbaits. I don't fish smaller than 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits. There's really no need to fish anything smaller."

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POST-SPAWNERS: One of the most challenging bass-fishing times in the calender over the next 2-3 weeks in the Columbia Basin, according to multi-time Northwest Bass/ABA/Bass West Angler of the Year Paul Hall.

"It's gonna be flat tough on places like Potholes - total post-spawn, a lot of rats," Hall says. "First off, I'm going to try to find some residual spawners, because there are still some around. In general, I'd go after areas that have spawned earlier. I'd target fish that have been through the spawn and have started to recover."

BAIT TRENDS: Post-spawn potpourri of baits, including crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, Senkos and similar fat-profile plastics.

"I'd go 1/4-ounce Hot Lips, 3/8- to 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits, and black/blue jigs," Hall advises.

HOT SOURCE: Mar Don Resort

Booyah Bass Trends

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PRE-SUMMER LULL: Take a lot of rods rigged for multiple techinques the next two weeks in the North Sound.

"It's a time where there are still a few fish spawning, but the majority are going into a post-spawn lull where they're recuperating," says Tag Watson, the North Sound's most recognized trophy hunter. "The early summer bite hasn't kcked on yet."

BAIT TRENDS: "Kitchen sink" fishing at its finest: bring everything from finesse plastics to slashbaits to topwaters, because they'll all work in the right conditions.

"I like to junk fish this time of year," Watson says. "Ill take a lot of rods out, with no pre-conceived ideas about where the fish are going to be. You could try to sight fish a little still, maybe see some up on beds. You get a little cloud cover, you could try some reaction baits or a little topwater. This time of year, I'm going to start throwing a lot of frogs, some buzzbaits, maybe some wake baits. I'm just basically fishing the conditions."

LOAD UP ON: Lucky Craft Gunfish, Zara Spooks, Lucky Craft Sammys, 5- to 7-inch KGM TW swimbaits (a bait that Watson developed with KGM Plastics), Triple Trout 7-inch swimbaits, 3:16 Real Deal swimbaits.

Wazzy Oroville Hot BitesBASS REPORT: Cougs take title at Oroville FLW College Fishing tourney
NEW May 18, 2009 / 5:20 p.m

Seems like a long ways to travel to find a Hot Bite, but for the Road Cougs of Washington State, Oroville, California was E-X-A-C-T-L-Y as far as they needed to go to find the hottest bite of the weekend.

Competing in only their second event in the FLW National Guard College Fishing qualifier on Lake Oroville, the Washington State team of Ryan Bernsen (Burbank) and Kyle Wright (Pasco) bagged 10 pounds, 9 ounces of spotted bass to earn the $10,000 check for first place in the FLW's new collegiate bass-fishing circuit.

8 CLICK HERE for the official results, and check the NW Wild Country Bass Report later this week for the full story.

BASS FLASH: Solo angler Gimmell bags 22.48 to take Lake WA title
NEW May 18, 2009 / 8:00 a.m

Bass ReportRENTON, Wash - Partner off the water thanks to his sister's wedding? No problem.

Fishing a lake that's clear across the lake from home? No problem.

High sun, a potentially explosive day of personal-watercraft traffic on the Seattle metro area's biggest lake, and a field of 92 other teams?

No problem ... if you're a young man named Andy Gimmell of Spokane.

Fishing as a solo angler in the two-man-team format of the Northwest Bass Lake Washington qualifier Saturday on Lake Washington, Gimmell weighed in 22.48 pounds of largemouth to squeeeeeak by multi-time Angler of the Year Paul Hall and Jared Turner (22.38 pounds) in one of the largest single-day tournaments ever held on Seattle's massive metro lake.

8 CLICK HERE to read the full story.

BASS FLASH: Echternkamp, Kromm bag $13,500 at Nixon's Moses event
NEW May 3, 2009 / 4:00 p.m

Bass ReportMOSES LAKE, Wash. - Pulling a 180 midway through a race doesn’t seem like a good idea, but for Aaron Echternkamp and David Kromm, a final-lap change of direction translated into a $13,500 payday.

Ditching their Day 1 largemouth spots mid-morning and focusing on offshore smallmouth for most of the day, Echternkamp and Kromm cashed the winners’ check this afternoon at the Nixon’s Marine Moses Lake Invitational in Moses Lake, Wash., weighing in 19.59 pounds of smallies to ease past the other 9 teams competing in Day 2 of Washington's richest spring bass tournament.

Aaron Echternkamp“We hit a couple of shorelines today that I thought would still be good for largies, but we only got two largemouth that were 2 pounds,” Echternkamp said. “There was one little section that I saved from the first day that I thought would still be on, but after that we pulled off and went to this one little offshore spot that I was pretty confident would have some smallmouth.”

Turns out that Echternkamp’s confidence was valid: on the first three casts, he and Kromm boated a 4-pounder followed by a 3-pounder and another 4, all on jerkbaits.

“We caught, like, 15 fish on that one spot,” Echternkamp said.

The smallmouth binge was maybe not as surprising as the stinginess of the largemouth bite throughout the two-day event. The second-place team of Mark Diaz and James Hollingshead weighed in 17.04 pounds of largemouth, but, almost to a man, teams had to work all day to fill their five-fish limits with bucketmouths.

David Kromm“A lot of those guys, the fish they weighed in today were all the bites they got all day,” said Jeff Priester of Nixon’s Marine, the sponsor of the event.

The largemouth shutdown may have been best represented by Roy Van Slyke and Rob Jacobs, who weighed in the heaviest bag on Day 1 with 25.26 pounds but only caught two fish during the finals. Granted, they were big fish - they weighed in 12.66 pounds - but the largemouth fishery on Moses seems to be showing signs of its burgeoning popularity.

"Yeah, I think it's been fished out a little," said Echternkamp, a Moses Lake resident.

Cash breakdown: Echternkamp and Kromm won $10,000 for first place, and also collected $2,500 in Triton Gold money for fishing out of a Triton, and $1,000 in Nixon's Advantage money.

8 CLICK HERE for a complete list of results, including a breakdown of how all 70 boats fared in the two-day event.

8 CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast of our interview with Aaron Echternkamp the week after the Moses Lake event.

BASS FLASH: Top 10 teams back out on Moses Lake for Nixon's Invitational
NEW May 3, 2009 / 10:00 a.m

Bass ReportMOSES LAKE, Wash. - Sixty other teams have packed up and gone home. But for the 10 teams who made the final cut at the Nixon's Marine Moses Lake Open, six hours of Sunday bass fishing could translate into a payday between $10,000 and $18,000.

Eastside anglers Roy Van Slyke and Marc Jacobs weighed the heaviest five-fish limit in yesterday's qualifying round, finishing with 25.26 pounds, but they had to maximize every bite they got on a day when the eastern Washington spring cranked up the wind and threw a series of showers at the 70-boat field.

"Van Slyke and Jacobs got six bites all day," said tournament organizer Gary Stiles. "Nobody's out there catching 30, 40, 50 fish a day. They're getting good bites, but not many of them."

Weights zero out today, so the final 10 teams are all on even ground as the 1 p.m. cutoff approaches.

Prize Pool: The final 10 teams are competing for a minimum cash prize of $10,000, but eight of the final 10 are running either Triton or Skeeter boats, a handful are running Mercury motors, and several are fishing out of boats purchased at Nixon's Marine. If all of those conditions line up for the winning team, the grand prize raises to as much as $18,000.

"There's definitely some boat and motor money available to a lot of these guys," Stiles said.

CHECK BACK HERE LATER TODAY for the final results, and firsthand info from the top teams.

Nixon's Marine Day 1 Top 10
Roy Van Slyke & Mark Jacobs - 25.26
Jim Hollingshead & Mark Diaz - 22.72
Curtis Kimbell & Steve Loreng - 20.10
Aaron Echternkamp & David Kromm - 19.54
Ray Lehrman & Don Hogue - 19.12
Ron Hobbs, Jr. & Mike Wolsky - 19.10
Paul Hall & Jared Turner - 18.86
Howard Summers & Bill Smith - 18.58
Mark Shugdinis & Tony LoFranco - 18.22
Ryan Brown & Bill Brown - 18.04

BASS REPORT: 126 teams blast off for Northwest Bass opener
NEW April 12, 2009 / 6:00 p.m.

Bass ReportCOULEE CITY, Ore. - With a record 126 teams blasting out of the Coulee Playland launch this weekend, the West Coast's fastest-growing tournament circuit served notice that bass fishing is a bull market in the Pacific Northwest.

Banks Lake was in a productive mode, too, with over 845 pounds of fish weighed in, and a $4,300 payday for the winning team.

8 CLICK HERE for the final results, and check back to the Bass Report tomorrow for an exclusive rundown of the first event in the 2009 NW Bass circuit.

BASS REPORT: NW Bass kicks off 2009 season at Banks Lake
NEW April 6, 2009 / 8:40 a.m.

Bass ReportCOULEE CITY, Ore. - Signs of spring: daffodils are blooming and 250-horsepower motors are throwing rooster-tails behind fiberglas bass rockets.

The 2009 bass-tournament season is about to blast off (literally!) in Coulee City this coming weekend, when over 100 teams take to Banks Lake for the first event of the Northwest Bass circuit.

8 CLICK HERE for information on the Northwest's biggest bass circuit

WILD BLOG: Sight fishing from an anti-sight-fisherman's perspective
UPDATED April, 2009

He’s the anti-sight-fisherman. The Bizarro of the West Coast shallow-water fishing world.

WildBlog graphicWhile the rest of the Washington, Oregon and northern California bass mafia titters with glee in anticipation of the oncoming shallow-water sight bite, $2 Milllion Man Gary Dobyns groans when I tell him that I’m going to make him talk about sight fishing.

Joel blog mug“Dude,” Dobyns rumbles, “I’m the world’s worst sight fisherman. Don’t make me talk about sight fishing. Seriously. I don’t have the patience for it. I go out there, see a fish on a bed, make one cast, and if it doesn’t bite, I’m done. It drives me freakin’ crazy to think that there could be another fish somewhere down the bank that wants to bite.”

Who am I to argue with a man who’s cashed over $2 million in tournament winnings in his career and won 39 bass boats to boot?

NWWC Sighting In GraphicDobyns is easily one of the most successful tournament fisherman in the history of the sport, and a guy whose attacking, go-for-broke style drastically changed the style of tournament fishing on the West Coast. Back in the 1980s, when Dobyns’ tournament rampage began, the tournament mindset was this: fish for as many bites as possible, catch 30 fish in a day, and cull like a sonofabitch.

Then along came Dobyns, with a bold, attacking style that better suited a big-game hunter than a bass fisherman. While the rest of the tournament fields plinked and plunked for 2-pounders, Dobyns ripped, cranked and slashed for five or six fish a day … and they were inevitably BIG fish. If the 5- and 6-pounders weren’t biting in Slough A, Dobyns yanked up the trolling motor and roared off to Slough B.

So maybe sight-fishing isn’t Big G’s cup of tea.

8 CLICK HERE to see how Dobyns tackles shallow-water fish.

Skeet Show Review

SHOW REVIEW: Skeet on the Classic: "I'm finally earning the respect ..."
NEW Feb. 28, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.

SEATTLE, Wash. - You could hear it in Skeet Reese's voice the second he answered his first question on his Feb. 28 visit to the Northwest Wild Country: pride mixed with wonder, with a little bit of exhaustion thrown in.

Such is the life of the new Bassmaster Classic champion.

X CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast of our exclusive interview with the new king of bass fishing

WILD BLOG: Reese's Classic win just another sign of changing tides
NEW Feb. 24, 3009 / 10:30 a.m.

SHREVEPORT, La. - To even the most disinterested Pacific Northwest salmon junkie, Skeet Reese's recent victory in the 39th Bassmaster Classic was a thing of beauty.

WildBlog graphicAmong a field of 51 competitors that leaned heavily toward the "Bass States" (88 percent of the 2009 field hails from east of the Rockies) the outspoken Californian became the second West Coast angler to win the Super Bowl of bass fishing in four years, duplicating Luke Clausen's 2006 Classic title run.

Joel blog mugIt's part of a tide change that's slowly - but undeniably - changing the face of professional bass fishing. After 30-plus years of Southern dominance, that tide is flowing hard to the West.

"It was about time ...": "Seeing how we’ve had 39 of these things, I’d say it was about time someone out there started making a showing ..."

8 CLICK HERE as I lay out the argument that the professional bass-fishing tide has shifted.

Iaconelli Feb. 7 podcast

WILDCAST HIGHLIGHT: Iaconelli does City Limits Fishing, Seattle style
NEW Feb. 7, 2009 / 1:30 p.m.

SEATTLE, Wash. - We don't see too many funnel clouds rising from Puget Sound. As luck would have it, that was one of the weather anomolies that greeted Mike Iaconelli and the City Limits Fishing film crew when he fished Elliott Bay and Lake Washington late last summer.

Ike told the story this morning on Northwest Wild Country.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast.


Jimmy Houston Wildcast Highlight

PODCAST HIGHLIGHT: Jimmy Houston joins the Wild Country crew
Aug. 9, 2008

We knew that Jimmy Houston was our kinda dude when he asked us to pull out the binoculars to spy on the boats fishing for salmon out our back window in Elliott Bay.

Listen HERE as we talk to a bass-fishing legend.

WILD BLOG: Bassin' best in the West? No ... best IS the West
Summer Archive, 2008

I have a running joke with Steve Bowman, managing editor of ESPN Outdoors’ website. Every now and then, I’ll cruise through the standings of the latest BASS Elite Series tournament, take note of a handful of names on the leader board, and give Big Steve a call back in Arkansas.

WildBlog graphicIt usually goes something like this:

Bowman (deep Razorback drawl): “This is Steve.”

Joel blog mugShangle (no drawl): “Steve, Shangle here. You notice the Elite standings?”

Bowman: “Yessir, I did …” (Steve’s Southern politeness forces him to say “Yessir” instead of “Yeah, dumbass, I’m the guy who POSTED the standings. It's what I do for a living, remember?”)

Shangle: “Looks like the West Coast guys are going pretty good, huh?”

Bowman: “Shangle, don’t start this crap again …” (Steve loves when I call!)

8 CLICK HERE for the rest of the conversation.

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