How Tyler Morgan fished the All American
Committed to the frog bite, Columbus’ Young Gun finished in fifth place, winning $13,000 and lots of respect
He’s been a tournament fisherman for 12 years–and he’s only 21.
Tyler Morgan, in his second consecutive T-H Marine BFL All American as a boater, felt great about his chances at Louisiana’s Cross Lake, where the prestigious tournament was being held.
“I went to practice with my Dad for three days and we were catching 18 pound sacks on a frog,” said Tyler. “I told my Dad if I ever had a shot of winning one, this might be it, because I’m a shallow water fisherman.”
Tyler said he had a lot of confidence going into the tournament–which he said most of the competitors felt that 18 pound sacks would be what it would take to have a chance. “I took my co-angler around on our one official practice day, and I did catch a 4 1/2 pounder, but we had the boat back on the trailer by 1 p.m.,” he continued.
“I needed for it to be sunny with no wind for my frog bite, but it was windy every day,” said the Columbus, Ga. pro. “The first day I had 8 to 9 pounds by 11:30 and then the wind stopped and the sun came out and in the next 45 minutes I had 22 pounds in the boat.”
The wind was blowing 15-20 mph that day around sea walls and the frog bite was just not there–so he took advantage when the conditions changed.
“I was catching some two pounders on spinner baits but nothing larger. When the sun came out, I told my co (angler) that we were going back to a stretch we had just fished,” added Tyler.
“They were smoking the frog,” said Tyler, who won $13,000 for his fifth place finish. Tyler had limits all three days at the All American–finishing with 50 pounds and 14 ounces.
While many of the fishermen were squirreled away in the heavy cypress trees at one end of the lake, he knew he could find fish elsewhere. Tyler said he wasn’t crowded by the other finalists on that third day. “It seems like everyone else was in the cypress tree forest the last day and I pretty much had the main lake to myself.”
“While there were fewer targets where I was at because I wasn’t in the forest, I knew when and where I could get bit,” said the personable young pro. He also had a unique observation about why his pattern was working so well.
“When the sun was up high and there wasn’t any wind those cypress trees and the seawalls make hard, straight lines, and you’ll see a little 10 foot by 10 foot shade spot, which makes it very precise,” said Tyler. “You could go down the bank and you know just where to put it. And when I did that, that’s where the big ones were, between three and seven pounds.”
The bait he was using was one he has great confidence in: the Spro Poppin frog in black and yellow, occasionally mixing in a Killer Gill color.
Tyler said after weighing in 22 pounds on Day 1 and coming in fourth place, “no one could see that kind of weight happening.”
“I knew after the first day that I was fishing for a Top 5 because those two locals were just catching them too good,” said Tyler. “It’s their back yard so it’s understandable. I actually talked to the guy who won the tournament (local Louisiana pro Nick Lebrun) after Day 2 and he said ‘man, I fish this lake every weekend and 17-18 pounds wins about everything’. He told me he had never weighed a 26-pound bag on this lake…and he was just as surprised as everyone else.”
Tyler, just like many others in the Top 10, said the fish were extremely shallow. He said he had three stretches that were about 150 yards apiece and he just kept working them all day.
“Most of my fish were in a foot of water or less. I had one that went about six pounds and I saw her come down the seawall to eat that frog–that was in about six inches of water!”
The young pro said he’s been fishing tournaments with his Dad since he was nine years old–so he’s got a world of experience at 21. He’s a confident young angler–and someone who studies the details, becoming a prodigy on the water.
“I’ve often fished four or five tournaments a week, so I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned to every lake I’ve been to.” Tyler has also won on Lake Lanier, a lake known for its spotted bass, but you wouldn’t find him drop-shotting over a 35-foot brush pile on the South end.
“When I won at Lanier [last February] I went up the river and fished for largemouth,” said Tyler. “I had 17 pounds of largemouth on chatter baits. I figured I needed low twenties to win it–but the bottom side of the lake was just off that day–and something had turned on the river fish, and all were very shallow.”
Several years ago, Tyler finished in the Top 10 standings in both the Bama and Bulldog Divisions, an impressive feat for any pro. “Eufaula is sort of my ‘home’ lake. But [at] the Bulldog Division lakes I can usually figure out a bite.”
When the FLW cameraman got in his boat at the All American last week, Tyler had about seven pounds. The young pro laughed and told him, “Man, you don’t want to get in the boat with me!”. But the cameraman said “I just want to see how you’re fishing.” He told the cameraman he was going to run one stretch on the other side of the lake to show him how he was fishing the frog. “We pulled up over there and I showed him how I was fishing and I caught a four-and-a-half pounder right away.”
When asked about the Tennessee River lakes, Tyler said the lakes are very good, but he’s most comfortable close to the bank. “I only have a front graph on my boat,” he said. “I am strictly a cover fisherman.”
He had confidence going into Pickwick at last year’s All American, saying he was catching close to 20 pounds a day. “But I knew the fish were leaving me, as the water temperature was climbing and I knew those fish were going to be pulling off the banks and heading to the ledges. There were 2 1/2 pounders left on the bank but the big females had already left,” said Tyler. “I knew I was going to get my butt-whipped off shore.”
The Columbus angler will finish the FLW year out by fishing the two-day on Lanier in September and then the regional at Patlaka, Florida on the St. Johns River. When asked if he would be tying on an ounce-and-a-half weight and punching those ‘cabbages’ along the river banks, he said he would stay with his strengths.
“That lake for me fishes for me a lot like Eufaula when I run up the river. I almost always go up the river. Palatka will be no different, regardless of what the rest of the field is doing. The fish will set up on the same types of cover in specific situations, particularly around current. I know that if I get the right five bites, I will have a good bag.”
Tyler generously gives credits to his family and friends–and say they were with him all the way at the All American.
“I got so much support at the All American. It was great. My parents have always been there for me, helping me to make it happen. And my girl friend, Megan, is super supportive and she doesn’t mind me fishing,” he said with a smile. “She’s up with me at 4 a.m. rooting me on.”
Get used to hearing this young pro’s name–as he is the real thing. Like all the Georgia Big Sticks, he has those intangibles that go well-beyond technical skills. He’s confident but not cocky. He listens to others but decides what works best for him. He has humility (a must for any tournament angler, since they lose many more than they win) but is always ready for the next day. His love for the sport can be heard in his voice. He is a yes-sir, no-sir kid who is on target to make an even bigger mark in tournament fishing.
Thanks to his Dad, Tyler Morgan learned the tournament game at a very young age. Now, at 21, he’s a veteran who goes out to win every time. Don’t bet against him at Lanier or even at Palatka. He’ll be in the hunt.
Editor’s Note: This is the first of several articles where we’ll look at how the Georgia pros fished Cross Lake, as four of our Georgia Big Sticks made the Top 10 and fished the final day. In addition, two of Georgia’s co-anglers made the Top 10, so the Peach State had great representation in one of bass fishing’s most prestigious tournaments. Next week, we’ll report on Heath Pack of Ellijay, who caught 39 pounds and finished ninth at the All American.