Pro fishing’s popular patriarch pockets second FLW Series title

By Rob Newell – 04.Apr.2009

EUFAULA, Ala. – The saying goes, You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And that’s because sometimes old dogs are pretty darn happy with their old tricks.

Just ask legendary fishing pro Guido Hibdon: At 62 years young, Hibdon won his second Walmart FLW Series event, this one on Lake Eufaula, on Saturday to pocket $125,000.

Hibdon’s last Series win was in the fall of 2007 at Lake Champlain. And in similar fashion to his Champlain win, the BP pro saved the best for last at Eufaula, weighing in his heaviest stringer of the BP Eastern Division event – 24 pounds, 1 ounce – on the last day to take the victory. His four-day winning total came to a whopping 83 pounds, 9 ounces.

And as Hibdon accepted his win onstage, the ears of many young pups (Hibdon’s affectionate term for his competition) hinged on his every word when it came time to learn some of his old tricks.

“This was a classic case of an old man slowing down and fishing real slow,” Hibdon told the crowd. “And trust me, I do that very, very well.

“I had to be patient and make the same cast to the same rock 40 times before one of those big 5- or 6-pounders would eat it. A lot of guys might not have spent the time to do that, but you know me; I just kept badgering the fish until they surrendered.”

Hibdon got on the beginnings of a shad spawn pattern on the first day of the event. The shad were spawning around rock in extremely shallow, muddy water on the lower end of the lake and postspawn bass were taking advantage of the buffet.

Hibdon mimicked those shad with a Lucky Craft RC 2.5 crankbait, a Carolina-rigged Luck E Strike Bass Magic Shaky Tail worm and a jig teamed with a Guido Bug.

“Most of the bigger bass came on the crankbait,” Hibdon said. “I fished it on 17-pound line around bank rock. Two of my best places were in front of seawalls. Whenever they put seawalls in on lakes, a lot of times they dig out the rock and just dump it right there out in front of the walls. I found several isolated rocks in front of those walls that were key.”

By the way, that would probably qualify as one of those old tricks that an old dog is pretty happy with.

Hibdon’s pattern was so strong that he told his son Dion about it after day one, and Dion sacked up enough weight over the next two days to make it into the top 10 as well.

Incidentally, Dion ended up 10th and collected $15,000 for his finish, bringing the Hibdons’ winnings for the week to $140,000. With that kind of pay, who needs new tricks anyway?

Before the venerable Hibdon descended from the stage, he left the crowd with one final thought: “And by the way, the craziest thing I ever get asked is, ‘Guido, when are you going to retire?’

“Are you kidding me?” he gasped. “I retired 37 years ago when I started fishing for a living, and I’ve been having fun ever since!”

Mann second

Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., finished second with a four-day total of 78 pounds, 8 ounces worth $50,000.

Mann, too, saved his best effort for the last day – 20 pounds, 7 ounces – but it was not enough to threaten Hibdon’s heroics.

Mann spent the week fishing submerged hydrilla in a creek on the lower end of the lake.

“I had about a 500-yard stretch of pretty, green hydrilla that grew out into 3 to 5 feet of water,” Mann said. “It was a perfect staging area, positioned between a couple of spawning bays, but what really made it good was that the old creek channel bumped up alongside the grass line.”

Mann relied on two spinnerbaits: a ½-ounce Terminator and a ¾-ounce Mann’s Classic teamed with Yamamoto grub trailers for much of the week. Today he added a dark-colored ChatterBait with a Yamamoto craw to the mix to give the fish a different look, and it produced two big bass.

“I used the ½-ounce spinnerbait when I moved up shallow and went to the ¾-ounce when I fished the deeper stuff,” Mann said. “The spinnerbaits worked good because I think there was a little bit of a shad spawn starting to happen in that grass.”

Mann actually found the fish in prepractice when the water was clear, but continued to fish them even when the mud came in during the tournament.

“Even with all the mud, I figured they would still be in that grass, because where else were they going to go?” Mann said. “They were still there, I just had to slow way down with that spinnerbait to get the fish to eat it.”

Browne third

Day-three leader Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., finished third with a four-day total of 76 pounds, 5 ounces for $40,000.

Browne had no problem catching fish today, but his quality dried up.

“I did all I could do,” the Team Berkley pro said of trying to hold on to his lead. “I caught everything that bit, and that’s all I can ask of myself.”

Browne’s pattern focused on grass and trees in a major creek on the lower end of the lake. He used ½-ounce Hildebrandt Okeechobee Special spinnerbaits, jigs and Berkley chigger craws (black neon) with a 3/8-ounce weight.

His spinnerbaits were tied to Trilene 100% fluorocarbon, and he used 65-pound-test Fireline braid on the jigs and Chigger Craws.

Wilbanks fourth

The biggest limit of day four belonged to Matthew Wilbanks of Gainesville, Ga., who brought in 26
His four-day total of 75 pounds, 15 ounces put him in fourth place, worth $30,000.

Wilbanks might have walked away with the event if he had not gotten off to such a slow start on day one with just 6 pounds, 3 ounces.

“My primary area died, and I did not go to my secondary area until it was too late on day one,” Wilbanks said. “The secondary area is where I needed to be from the start as my second-day weight showed.”

On day two Wilbanks sacked 26 pounds, on day three 17-5 and 26-7 today.

The productive water was located in a creek on the south end of the lake. He targeted grass with a swim jig.

“The best grass was surrounded by water on all sides,” he said. “A lot of that grass down there grows in a solid mat off the bank. But if you could find grass islands with water all the way around it, that was the ticket.”

Wilbanks also credited his day-one co-angler – Chris Hults, who won the Co-angler Division – for the swim-jig bite.

“He gave me a lot of confidence in that bait,” he said. “I did catch some on a spinnerbait and a worm, but that 3/8-ounce black-and-blue swimming jig did most of the damage.”

Lefebre fifth

Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., moved up into fifth place today with a 20-15 catch that gave him a four-day total of 70 pounds, 1 ounce, worth $20,000.

Lefebre created a unique one-two punch by using a big 1-ounce spinnerbait with a giant willow blade to find balls of spawning shad. Then he would quickly change up to a smaller ¼-ounce spinnerbait with smaller blades or a 5/32-ounce Tabu jig to actually catch the bass that were around the spawning shad.

“I used the big spinnerbait primarily as a search tool,” Lefebre said. “I could cast it a mile and cover a ton of water with it. Pods of spawning shad were attracted to that big blade, and they would swarm on it all the way back to the boat. Whenever that would happen, I’d stop and fish that same area with a smaller spinnerbait and the jig to get the bass to bite.”

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the FLW Series on Lake Eufaula:

6th: J.T. Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., four-day total of 69-12, $19,000
7th: Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., four-day total of 66-11, $18,000
8th: Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., four-day total of 63-8, $17,000
9th: Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., four-day total of 63-1, $16,000
10th: Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., four-day total of 53-15, $15,000

Coming up

The next event in the Walmart FLW Series BP Eastern Division will be on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark., Aug. 12-15.