Denali Pro Report – Chad Morgenthaler – Toledo Bend

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Denali_rods Logo B&WWebster’s provides two definitions for the word rookie.

A first year player in a professional sport; and

A person who has just started a job or activity and has little experience.

Although the first definition may accurately describe BASS Elite angler Chad Morgenthaler, the second couldn’t be farther from the mark. Morgenthaler has been fishing tour level events for 10 plus years and has earned over $700,000 in FLW, BASS and PAA events.

Morgenthaler qualified for the Elite Series by finishing 7th in the 2013 Southern Opens points. He also qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic by winning the wild card event held on Lake Okeechobee last December.

To say that Morgenthaler has far outperformed his “rookie” moniker would be an understatement. At the halfway point in the season, he’s sits in fifth place in the AOY race and would be leading for rookie of the year points if it weren’t for the efforts of Jacob Powroznik, another FLW stud turned Elite rookie.

Ironically, it was Powroznik that snatched victory from Morgenthaler at the recent Toledo Bend elite event, but second place was a pretty nice consolation, valued at $25,000 and a bump toward an invitation to the AOY Championship later this summer.

I caught up with Chad to recap the Toledo Bend event as he was heading for a media obligation held by one of his sponsors, Plano tackle boxes.


Morgenthaler had been to the sprawling Louisiana fishery a couple times previously, but never in the spring, and never when the water levels were as high as they are this year, something he figured into his practice plan.

“I knew with all the water down there that the fish would likely still be shallow. A lot of times after they come off the bed, they leave the shallows, but with that much water up there combined with the shad spawn, the fish that were up were gonna stay up. Actually, fish that had previously moved out were actually coming back up, so shallow was a good place to be.”

His practice plan paid off immediately after he launched the first day.

“After the Table Rock event I signed a deal I’m really excited about with Denali rods, so coming down I had a bunch of new rods to try out. That first morning, I started flipping a jig right in the cove of the launch to start testing their flipping stick. I caught an eleven pounder which is my personal best, and had eight other bites in the first 45 minutes. I knew right then what I was going to do the rest of the tournament, and I guess it worked out pretty well.”

With a good primary pattern already located, Morgenthaler spent the rest of his practice expanding to similar areas, while limiting himself to about a four or five mile radius around his primary location, reasoning that it would be easy to spend too much time moving around and not enough time fishing.

“I know it can be pretty tempting to try and fish a lot more lake than you should at a place that big. I made a conscious effort to focus in on that small portion and really get to know it well.”

Day 1 – 5 Fish, 18-15

Heading into day 1, Morgenthaler was confident, but also a little unsure of the quality in his areas because he hadn’t stuck a lot of fish in practice. His concerns were assuaged fairly quickly though as he started catching fish immediately and had a limit in no time.

Once he had a limit, Morgenthaler picked up a jig and began flipping grasslines; and was rewarded in short order. “Around 10:30 I hit a flurry where I caught a four, a three and a half, and a seven in like ten minutes. At that point I started getting clued in to the timing of the whole deal, and I spent the rest of the day trying to refine it and culled up to what I had.”

Day 2 – 5 Fish, 24-13

Starting the day in 19th place, Morgenthaler used what he had learned on day one to sack a mammoth twenty four pound bag, once again on the jig, and once again in a flurry around lunchtime.

“On day two, I really made sure I was in my best stretch during the key time and caught an eight, a five, and a four all in a half hour. I’m still not exactly sure why they were keying on that specific window, but I was able to maximize the bite that day and trigger the key bites.”

Day 3 – 5 Fish, 11-12

As is typical of the giant Texas/Louisiana border on spring weekends, a fleet of other tournament boats and spectators greeted the Elite anglers as they hit the water on day three, resulting in some of the lowest catch rates of the weekend, and Morgenthaler suffered tremendously. His day-3 catch was not even half of what he brought to the scales on day-2.

“When I got to my best areas on day-3, they were all covered up by local anglers. It was something that a lot of guys had to deal with, but I had to scramble pretty hard to get the weight I ended up with. It’s public water and I’m not bitter about it at all, it was just really hard to get on any good stretches that day.”

Despite thinking the whole way back to the weigh-in that he had blown his chance at a top 12, at the conclusion of the weigh-in, he was comfortably in tenth with 55-08 for three days.

Day 4 – 5 Fish, 21-14

Going into the final day, Morgenthaler was trailing leader Dean Rojas by over seven pounds, so he was able to relax, and the traffic that affected him Saturday was essentially gone on Sunday. With the pressure off, Morgenthaler committed again to the jig, since in his eyes it was the best way to compete for the win.

“I have a lot of confidence fishing that way, and I figured that if I stuck with it and was in the right areas I could have a chance at getting some big bites. It was actually a struggle for the most part. I had like two small fish at noon before relocating them a little ways away.”

Relocate them he did, as he caught everything he weighed between noon and two, enough for a day-best 21-14.

Pattern Notes:

Morgenthaler weighed almost all his fish at Toledo Bend flipping a black and blue ¾ ounce Lunker Lure Rattleback jig tipped with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk.

He fished the jig on a 7’11” XH Denali Jadewood Flipping stick paired with either a Lews Super Duty reel or a Shimano Core spooled with 55lb Toray Bawo Braid.

The biggest key tackle-wise for Morgenthaler was the length and power of the Denali flipping stick.

“I have a lot of experience fishing the way I did down there. One of the most important things about the presentation is to have a rod with the length and power to get control over a big fish quickly no matter what position you’re in when they bite. I probably caught 150 fish over the week flipping, and I can honestly say that I only lost one, and that was due to user error. I’ve used a lot of flipping sticks, and that Denali rod was absolutely critical to my success.”

A recent addition to the Denali staff, Morgenthaler hasn’t yet had the opportunity to fish the entire lineup, but is already sold on their quality and price point.

“Another thing worth mentioning is that the rod I was using last week retails for only $129. There are a lot of guys out here on the Elites fishing with $300-$500 rods, and they’re great but this goes to show that you can still compete using reasonably priced gear. The Jadewood series from Denali has got to be the best bang for your buck rod-wise in the industry.”

AOY Outlook:

Morgenthaler has been absolutely thrilled with his performance on the tour this season so far, and after cashing checks in each Elite event is sitting in fifth place in the AOY race with four tournaments to go. Although leader Mark Davis is quickly building up a pretty insurmountable lead, Morgenthaler plans on giving everything he can to try and overtake him.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out there for the next tournament. I’m making pretty good decisions right now, and when you are doing that, good things happen to you on the water. I’d love to pick up some points on the leaders and make an appearance at the AOY Championship on Bay de Noc.”