Calling upon a powerful bass fishing technique called “flippin’,” Mesa pro Ken Howden dominated the FLW Evertsart Tournament field boating 56 pounds, 10 ounces of fish — a whopping 17 pounds, 15 ounces heavier than the runner-up.
The tournament was held Feb. 17 to 19 at Roosevelt Lake.
Flippin’, which is most often done in heavy cover, begins with a slow overhead cast bringing the rod to a 45-degree angle. Then, the angler pulls 3-4 feet of line off the casting reel with one hand while thumbing the spool.
With thumb pressure on the line, the angler quickly dips the rod tip toward the water’s surface and lifts the rod tip back to the 45-degree angle while releasing the line.
The object is to keep the lure moving as close to the water’s surface as possible to keep its entry into the water quiet.
Howden said most of his flippin’ was done in the Salt River arm of the lake.
His best baits included Texas-rigged Strike King tubes and Tiki Swimbugs
Howden’s opening day weight of 14 pounds, 4 ounces put him in second place. On the second day, he weighed in a limit of 20 pounds, 2 ounces. His 22-pound-4-ounce bag on Saturday, the final day, nailed down the win and $32,913 in prize money.
While the first two days of the tournament were conducted in decent weather, the final day was plagued by pounding rain and wind.
Goodyear pro Clay Lippincott, finished a distant second with his three weights of 10 pounds, 15 ounces, 13 pounds, 7 ounces and 14 pounds, 5 ounces for a total of 38 pounds, 11 ounces.
The best showing from a Rim Country competitor was turned in by Mark Kyle who finished third with 37 pounds 15 ounces. Kile’s catches included weights of 10 pounds, 11 ounces, 15 pounds, 7 ounces and 11 pounds, 13 ounces.
At the end of the first day, Kile was 24th in the 137-angler field. On the second day, he jumped to second, but fell one spot on the final day.
Kile, who lives in a rural ranch home near Rye and fishes Roosevelt often, is a familiar face on the local angling scene frequently teaching parks and recreation-sponsored fishing seminars to local youths.
During his years as a pro on the East Coast tournament fishing circuit, he appeared on ESPN broadcasts, was a rookie of the year and was one of the Super Six qualifiers on the prestigious Citgo Bass Masters’ Tournament trail.
Kile remembers his outdoor interests being nurtured as a 4-year-old while fishing with his father in a reservoir near his hometown of Picacho.
After graduation from Casa Grande High School, he enrolled at Central Arizona College with an eye on majoring in wildlife management.
“At CAC, I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to be able to fish for a living,” Kile said.
A few years ago he stepped away from pro fishing to spend more time with his family.
Also representing Payson in the Everstart professional field were Clifford Pirch and Buddy Randall.
Pirch, a member of the National Guard fishing team, finished 21st with catches of 9 pounds 13 ounces and 11 pounds 4 ounces for a two-day total of 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
With 16 pounds, 13 ounces of bass, Randall was 68th overall.
In the co-angler field from Payson, Keith Hunsinger was 25th at 16 pounds 15 ounces and Chris Perkes took 85th with 10 pounds, 6 ounces.
Tracy Purtee was 113th and Art Fisher wrapped up in 133rd place.
The Everstart event was the second to be held at Roosevelt Lake in the past two weeks.
Western Outdoor News (WON) hosted a similar tournament one week earlier that was won by Phoenix pro John Murray. He also took fourth in the FLW Everstart tournament.
The next Everstart Series Western Division tournament will be May 5-7 at the California Delta in Stockton, Calif. and will be hosted by the Stockton Sports Commission.