Category Archives: FLW Tour

Iacnonelli & Walker set the pace

Couple notes from Day 1 on both major tournament tours.

Ike bags giant donkey of a bass, that weighed almost 13lbs to take the lead at Amistad, he also had a fish around 8lbs.  Those two fish anchored his 27-09 lb bag.  The weights were off as Amistad goes, but still 9 bags over 20lbs.  Don’t think anyone will reach a 100lbs this week, but you never know.  My fantasy team is middle of the pack, but my lowest guy (Bill Lowen) is in 60th, so I got a good shot of my whole team fishing Day 3 which really helps.  Could be doing better if Velvick would have boated fish #5.

Photo from

Here is a brief update from the guys at and the anglers they got updates from on the water.
Weights from the Water on Day 2 as of 12:30 CDT.  I know Fralick had a few fish as well.

Evers – 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.00 
Snowden – 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.00 
Bobby Lane – 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.00 
Morizo – 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.00 
Tak – 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.00
Kriet – 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.00

David Walker set the bar high on a very cold day 1 at Table Rock.  His first keeper of the day was a 7lb 7oz toad largemouth which paved the way to a 26-11 creel.  Walker is well on his way to following up his Top 10 finish at Guntersville.  Other then walker, Fukae is my only other angler in Top after day 1 but a couple guys are lingering and could make a move today.
You may have noticed I have updated my Blog layout and colors, mainly to fix a problem I had with my posts dropping to the bottom of the page sometimes.  Hopefully this is a long term fix!

Hope to see some of you at the Northwest Sport Show this weekend, I will be walking around on Saturday. 
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Hackney dominates at Falcon Lake!

Last week FLW held their FLW Series fish-off at Falcon Lake in Texas.  The Fish-off format is interesting in the fact that it seed anglers from the FLW East & West series in a head to head format to make the Forest Wood Cup, but there is a overall winner as well and Greg Hackney put up a sick 3 day weight of 109-06.  He was just a few ounces from breaking the FLW 4 day record in a 3 day event.  So that is 15 fish for over 109lbs, quick math gives him a 7.3lb per fish average.

Greg caught most of his fish on the new Strike King Anaconda 10″ worm, fishing pretty deep along an old road on a bluff edge.  You can find a lot of good info and detail in this story.  One thing that is somewhat strange, is while Hackney was off the charts, man anglers struggled to put 5 fish in the well every day.  That may be because guys were going for big fish, knowing they needed 5 big fish a day just to keep pace.

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Rob Newell

Also, welcome email subscribers #79, 80 & 81!!! 

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Interesting Bass Fishing Videos

Ran across a few video news stories that I though were kind of cool, so I though I would share.

This first one is an interview with FLW champion Michael Bennet

The next one is an interview with $1million Fantasy Fishing Champ Michael Thompson

Feel free to grab & embed these videos for your website or blog if you would like!!

Also, we have finally hit 75 email subscribers, thanks to all of you.  Tomorrow morningI head to Wabasha to start practicing for the MN State Tournament of Champions on the river, should be fun.  I hope to find some blog time in the evenings next week!

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Falcon does not dissapoint

Yesterday, Falcon Lake near Zapata, TX debuted in its first semi big time tournament as the FLW Stren Series visited this border reservoir.  Locals and pundits predicted that this one could break all the records, much like Amistad did when tournaments starting visiting there.  Turns out, they were right.

After catching 27 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday, Jeremy Guidry finished the event with 110 pounds, 2 ounces. That’s the heaviest four-day cumulative tournament weight in the history of both the Stren Series and FLW Outdoors as a whole. Guidry’s catch shattered the previous record of 105 pounds, 8 ounces set by David Mauldin of Tomball, Texas, during the 2006 Stren Series tournament on Lake Amistad. In fact, the top three finishers on Falcon all surpassed the previous record.

On top of this, it took over 62lbs for 3 days, just to sniff the money in this event.  Imagine catching 20lbs a day for 3 days in a row and head home without even a check….  Pretty crazy!  Big bass of the tournament was 12lbs 13oz, and several other 10lb+ bass were weighed on both boater and co-angler sides.  Unlike some tournament when only the boaters really catch them, it took over 96lbs for the co-angler title.

Read the FLW story and standings.  Moral of the story, is add this to your fishing destination list and keep an eye on future tournaments on Falcon.  Should be exciting when the Elite Series fishes Falcon in early April!

Last but not least, couple photos from sprinkled in!
Tommy Martin with a Day 1 Sow                        Winner Jeremy Guidry on Day 4

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Focus on the Winners

First an Apology for no entries of late, I could give you lots of good excuses but I will not bore you.

Clarks Hills a.k.a J. Strom Thurmond Lake
Winner – Mike McClelland
Here is how he did it:

McClelland said he fished “extremely shallow” water. “I never caught a good fish in water deeper than 4 feet. They were all very shallow places, but they did have deep water close to them. They were all clay points with scattered rock mixed in. That was the key.”

He added that “99% of them were post-spawn fish, but they weren’t in an area they should be in. The points they were on were very susceptible to wind and weather. They were waiting on the blueback to show up. “I think that’s the reason the jig worked so well. They weren’t schooling yet on the blueback. They were up there trying to find something to eat, and that 1/2-ounce football jig was the perfect morsel.”

Technique Notes
A football-head jig, by design, is meant to catch on rocks. About how he worked his jig, McClelland said: “I did it a number of different ways, but probably the most consistent bite was dragging the jig on bottom until it hit a rock. Then I’d almost try to shake it in place. I’d just raise my rod up high, shake it as much in one place as I could, then snap it off the rock.”  Most of his bites came on the shake, but plenty also came as he snapped it off the rock.

Photo: ESPN Outdoors

One part of McClelland’s success was he let his fish rest and reposition.

Winning Gear Notes
He used two different rods – a 7′ heavy-action Falcon Expert and a 7’3″ medium-heavy Falcon Mike McClelland signature series. “You had to have that long rod to make a pretty aggressive hookset,” he said. “Typically, when you’re fishing deeper and dragging the jig more, you can get away with a more sweeping hookset. But these fish weren’t eating the jig good. They’d suck it in quick, and if you didn’t hit them then, you’d miss them. When they’re shallow, they do that.”

 He used a Quantum Tour Edition casting reel with a 6.3:1 gear ratio. He noted that the 7:1 Quantum “Burner” would have probably been better, but he hadn’t fished with it yet and was more comfortable with the 6.3:1. The high gear speed was important, he added, because a lot of times the fish ate the jig and swam toward him, and he needed to take up line quickly before the hookset.  He spooled up with 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon.

> His primary jig was the same one he used to win at Grand – a 1/2-ounce Jewel Heavy Cover Finesse football jig in peanut butter and jelly, tipped with a green-pumpkin/purple Zoom Super Chunk.

 He also threw a 3/8 oz. Jewel finesse jig on occasion.

 He used the stock finesse-style skirt that comes with the 1/2-ounce football, but often removed it and went with a bulkier skirt. Notable is that Hite won last year with an oversized skirt on a Mop jig.

 About the bigger skirt, McClelland said: “The gentleman I fished with the first day was a local, and he got the first bite on a jig. He was using the Mop jig. And I actually caught my first 6-pounder on the finesse skirt, but he was getting a few more bites than I was, so I bulked up and it made a difference. I caught fish on the finesse-style skirt all week – probably five or six that I weighed – but the bigger, bulkier jig was the key to getting quality bites.”

Lake Norman – FLW Tour
Winner – Larry Nixon
Here is how he did it:

Everybody knew the Norman FLW Tour would be an event predicated on razor-thin margins & just about everybody fishes docks. They’re everywhere on Norman’s highly developed shoreline, and fish in all stages of the spawn utilize them at this time of year.

It took an angler with the savvy of Arkansas legend Larry Nixon to come up with something a little bit different. He primarily stayed away from the docks – and the crowds of anglers that gathered around them – and caught quality fish off isolated pieces of structure.

Nixon went to Norman with an idea to target spawning bass, but not the ones that could easily be seen by other competitors.

He looked for isolated stumps and made long casts to them with light line, a 1/16oz. jighead and a Berkley PowerBait Wacky Crawler. If he got closer than 20 feet, the spooky fish would usually swim away, and would in all cases refuse to bite.  Accuracy was paramount, and the pattern was much more effective if the sun was shining and he could clearly see his targets.

All 4 tournament days unfolded pretty much the same way for Nixon. He fished a swimbait in the mornings until the sun got on the stumps, and then he went about culling everything he’d caught to that point.

“I went to the same area and did the same thing every day,” he said. “I never really changed up anything.  He was in 32nd place after day 1, and then jumped 22 spots on day 2 despite catching just one more ounce. He got into the cut with 3 ounces to spare.

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Rob Newell

A 4 1/2-pounder he caught on the final day was Nixon’s biggest fish of the tournament.

He vaulted to the top of the leaderboard on day 3, and then formulated a specific strategy for the final day – he wouldn’t go near his best stuff until about 10:00, when the sun was high enough for him to see beneath the surface.

“I tried everything I knew to keep from going in there early. I knew I’d get discouraged if I didn’t get a bite for a couple hours, and I didn’t want to do that. I just stayed away and fished some other areas until the time was right.”

His stumps weren’t productive on that last day, so he caught his fish from adjacent logs and pieces of brush. A 4 1/2-pounder – his biggest fish of the tournament – was his fifth keeper, and he improved his bag with a couple of afternoon culls.

Pattern Notes 
 He prefers a straight-tailed worm for fishing beds due to its vertical fall.   He caught a few key fish on a Texas-rigged worm, but has more confidence in one rigged on a jighead when targeting spawners. “They’re notorious for missing baits, and you get a higher percentage of hookups on a jighead.”

Winning Gear Notes 
 Jighead worm gear: 6’6″ medium-fast Fenwick Techna AV Spinning rod, Abu Garcia Cardinal 804 spinning reel, 8-pound prototype Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line, 1/16- or 1/32-ounce Japanese-made jighead, Berkley PowerBait Wacky Crawler (green-pumpkin).

 Texas-rigged worm gear: Same rod, Abu Garcia Revo casting reel, 14-pound prototype Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon, 1/8 oz Tru-Tungsten colored sinker (green-pumpkin), 2/0 Gamakatsu worm hook, 7-inch Berkley PowerBait Shaky Worm (green-pumpkin).

 He threw a 6″ Basstrix Fat Minnow swimbait (blueback herring) in the mornings.

Main factor in his success – “Spotting some things that maybe other people missed, and staying far enough away to where I could catch those fish.”

Performance edge – “My Solar Bat sunglasses. If I couldn’t see what I was throwing at, I wouldn’t have been able to catch them.”

Guntersville a.k.a “Big G”
Winner – KVD – Kevin VanDam
Here is how he did it:

VanDam started day 2 with a spinnerbait on the shad-spawn bite, but there were a number of boats on his starting area.   

He said: “It just wasn’t happening, so I just kept moving. After a little while, I hit a spot and was able to catch three or four decent ones on a spinnerbait, and ended up with a limit.”
After that, it was upgrade time. He visited a few of his crankbait spots (but not the one he was saving). One that he “sort of snuck into” produced seven fish in seven casts. He then exited quickly and quietly.  

VanDam started day 3 with a spinnerbait again, out on a ledge, and never got a bite. Then he moved to another piece of structure and didn’t get bit where he expected to.

“They’d moved a couple hundred yards,” he said. After he contacted them again, he and his partner caught a “handful, and lost a few, and moved around to a couple of other places and just kind of scrounged them out.”

He noted: “One of the things that I think really helped me was my Biosonix. I was running it with an active shad pattern up into the day, and it seemed I could keep them on my spinnerbait all day long. The other guys said their shad were done at 10:00 or whatever, so I think the Biosonix was a big plus here.”

That was pretty much his day 3. He caught 19-10 – which put him 4th again, but just 1-11 behind Butcher – and his co-angler, Bryan Talmadge, won the amateur division.

Day 4 delivered a drastic change in conditions. Gone were the clouds and wind, and most of the field struggled with the morning bite. The sun and dead-still conditions ended the shad-spawn party almost before it started.

VanDam started slow too. He didn’t get bit on his first stop, then lost a few on his second stop. “They weren’t biting the bait real good,” he noted.  That’s when he picked up and headed to his cranking spot that he’d been saving.

Pattern Notes
VanDam caught all his fish on two baits – a 1/2-ounce 1/2-ounce Strike King Kevin VanDam Tournament Series spinnerbait, and a Series 5 Pro Model crankbait.

About his areas, he said: “I was fishing main-river ledges, main-lake points, and humps near the main lake. A lot of the water I was in was on the main river channel. The fish had spawned and pulled out to there. The areas had a mix of hydrilla and milfoil – the two together.

“I also fished some at the mouths of creeks. One of my best places was at the mouth of a creek where the fish were coming out to after spawning. That’s where the shad are, and that’s where the bass want to be – closer to the current.”

Technique Notes
About how he worked the spinnerbait, VanDam said: “I’d pretty much throw it up top (on the hump, ledge or point) and slow-roll it off the edge. When it got caught in the grass, I’d kind of rip it free. And I’d kind of have to shake the spinnerbait a little to get them to eat it. The main thing was to get it (ticking) the tops of the grass.”

With the crank, he took more of a quartering approach to the grass, meaning, if his boat was parallel to the grass, he’d cast ahead of the boat (toward the grass) at a 45-degree angle.

Photo: Strike King/Bass Pro Shops

VanDam’s crankbait was the Strike King Series 5 Tour Grade, which is a regular Series 5 with a high-test paint job (color not shown).

“I’d try to get it just in the (deep) edge of the grass and rip it free,” he said. “The Series 5 really runs about 10 to 12 feet (deep), but I was throwing it on 17-pound fluorocarbon to help rip it out of the grass, and make it run a little shallower.”

He added that most of his crankbait bites came in the 5- to 12-foot zone, and that the bite got a lot better when it was flat-calm and bright. Still, he switched between the two baits all 3 days.

“You could get them to react to that better (in those conditions), but I alternated both baits. I’d come across a school with a spinnerbait and throw it until I got no more bites, then I’d throw the crank and catch a few more.”

Winning Gear Notes 
 Spinnerbait gear: 6’10” medium-heavy Quantum Kevin VanDam spinnerbait rod, Quantum PT Tour Edition 1160 casting reel (6.2:1), 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS monofilament, 1/2-ounce Strike King Kevin VanDam Tournament Series spinnerbait (blue shad, double willow-leafs in various combinations of gold and silver).

 The spinnerbait is made by Strike King, but is available exclusively through It comes with a Perfect Skirt and pre-rigged Mustad trailer hook – upgrades not found on the traditional KVD Pro Model spinnerbait.

This is a picture of the actual 1/2 ounce spinnerbait that KVD used during the final day of his victory.

 On why he threw the spinnerbait on mono, he said: “With fluorocarbon, there’s too much sensitivity for me, and the rod is so sensitive, that I end up not letting the fish get the bait as well. Mono also has a little more give, and I like a little bit of stretch there.”

 Crankbait gear: 7′ medium-heavy Quantum Tour Edition fiberglass cranking rod, Quantum Energy PT 750 casting reel (5.1:1), 17-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon, Strike King Series 5 crankbait (shad color).

 He swapped out the stock hooks on the crank for No. 2 Mustad Extra Strong Ultra Point trebles.

 Performance edge – “It would be between my Biosonix unit and having a GPS that’s accurate. The Biosonix unit was a big key in keeping the shad active to where I could catch them all day long. I just have a lot of confidence in it. And the places they were on were so precise – to be able to go back to an area after you fish it, without a doubt, that was (critical). I’m not sponsored by Lowrance, but those units are very good. Pair that with a Biosonix and a good spinnerbait, and it’s pretty hard to beat.” 


Felt good to do a little blogging, thanks for the recent subscribers (up to 32), they had not got much for their subscription to this point, but that should end because I intend to get on the water this weekend

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What does it take to win in Bass Fishing?

I found this article on the web today and just had to share it all with you.  I could not agree more, you need to develop your own strengths and confidence techniques to take yourself to the next level.

Winning involves more than a secret spot or a magic lure
By Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., L.P. – 08.Dec.2006

“The difference between good and great is very small, but it is made up of many things.”

Readers of this column know I don’t quote people very often. Telling you what Larry Nixon thinks or what Jim Moynagh says flies in the face of one of my most important performance-psychology principles: Learn to think for yourself.

However, these words provide the best answer I know to the question asked in the title of this month’s column. I’m not sure if this an original quote, but since I heard it first from Rick Clunn, he gets the credit.

Fishing vs. competing vs. winning

If you have been on the tournament-fishing scene for some time, you are probably familiar with the different stages competitive anglers go through on the way to being successful. When the competitive bug first bites, the novice angler is filled with a combination of awe, wonder and panic. You think it might be fun to fish a tournament, but it seems like a scary proposition. Nevertheless, you eventually decided to sign up and give it a go.

In the beginning, you most likely felt out of place, though at another level, it was great fun being around good, competitive fishermen. I’m sure you remember your initial nervous energy at registration dinners and pretournament meetings. There you were, finally, sitting at the same table with well-known competitors, guys with their names and sponsor logos on their shirts!

Then, on tournament day, there was the excitement in the misty morning air, the rocketship ride up the lake and finally your first cast a tournament fisherman. And whether or not you caught anything, the real thrill came later in the day when the bags were brought to the scales. Look at those fish!

In these first competitions, it was enough just to be in a real tournament. Certainly, you wanted to do well, but you knew you were not in the same league as the big boys; your expectations were small. If you got lucky and caught a few fish, you had something to be happy about. Typically, however, you are a spectator rather than a participant at the weigh-ins.

Even touring pros fondly recall that “happy to be here” stage. However, for the true competitor, that stage does not last very long. Watching other people hold up big fish gets old fast. At some point, you decided you not only wanted to have a fancy shirt and a cool boat, you wanted to consistently catch fish.


You probably remember the internal conversations you had at that point. Maybe you began by telling yourself how stupid it was to fish where you did because that’s not where the tournament winners fished. Remembering how Dad or Grandpa talked about scoping out secret fishing holes, you started paying attention to where the top finishers spent their day. You were very sure it must be the spot. After all, they caught their fish on spinnerbaits, and you have a spinnerbait, right?

I’m sure you smiled as you read that last sentence. Ever since our Neanderthal relatives began jerking fish from the water using a piece of meat impaled on a bone hook, anglers have been seeking “The Secret Spot.” In retrospect, the simplistic attitude you demonstrated then was comical. The old saying “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” comes to mind, eh? But at least you were paying attention to one important part of the complex equation that successful competitors use.

However, it didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t just the spot, because, well, “the spot” on which tournaments were won seemed to move around from month to month and from year to year. As you participated in more tournaments, you found that the lures, the locations and the people who won changed quite a lot, actually, from one competition to the next. You began to consider that the formula for success might be more complex than you had originally imagined.

You also began to notice that some anglers consistently finished high in the standings, leading to the obvious conclusion that tournament success was more than just luck. It took a little longer, but you also eventually figured out that imitating tournament winners was a losing proposition. Fishing this tournament the way the last tournament was won turned out to be a lot like a dog chasing its own tail.


It didn’t happen right away, but eventually you began to develop confidence in a few baits, and you also formed a tentative sense of where the fish were likely to be on different waters at different times of the year. You still made a lot of mistakes, and while you may have cashed a check now and then, winning was still an elusive concept. If you are highly competitive, and I suspect you are, you remember how difficult it was to turn in one mediocre performance after another.

At this juncture, many people give up, or they reach a plateau beyond which they struggle to progress. Continued improvement now, you may recall, required as much courage, fortitude and tenacity as anything else.

Which brings us to back to the opening quote. As for other top professionals, your door to winning swung open the day you came to appreciate that while there are a lot of individual little things that can lose a tournament for you, there is no one thing that creates a winner.

Winning, as opposed to placing high, is not principally related to a secret spot or a magic lure. Instead, winning involves many things, all of which matter. That’s an important psychological concept to appreciate, so let me say it again: Winning involves many things, all of which matter.

It includes practical dimensions like having reliable equipment and mastering fundamental fishing skills, and it requires knowledge of things like fish behavior and the effect of weather on the location and movement of baitfish. Winning also is related to hard work, long hours of practice, the ability to learn from your mistakes and a host of other psychological variables such as confidence, poise under pressure and resilience in the face of adversity.

And one of the most fascinating things of all is that the specific list of things it takes to win varies, sometimes significantly, from one angler to the next. Jim Moynagh doesn’t fish just like Larry Nixon, and he doesn’t fish exactly like Dion Hibdon, or anyone else for that matter. While those guys have a lot in common with each other and with other top pros, they have each figured out a unique set of fishing skills that has allowed them to be winners. On your way to becoming a winner, you will probably end up doing the same.
Jay T. McNamara – For Full article

So did you like this article???  I think it is very solid and makes a ton of sense.

Don’t get me wrong, its not that you cannot learn from another angler or emulate portions of strategies or techniques, but you must make them your own.  I feel like you can make them your own through practice and building confidence as well as tweaking to fit your style.

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Top Patterns for FLW Series Finale on Lewis Smith Lake

Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake is bass fishing’s equivalent of a U.S. Open golf course. Overgrown rough, narrowed fairways and rock-hard greens make it all but impossible for any golfer to break par for 4 straight days at an Open venue, and a dearth of 15-inchers make four consecutive limits at Smith just as unlikely.

Days 1 & 2
When Hoernke realized the forecast for rain on day 1 would prove correct, he hearkened back to the Bassmaster Tour event at Smith in 2004. Most of the top finishers focused on run-ins at the back of coves where new water was entering the lake.

He went as far as he could into the pockets and quickly learned that the largemouths were by then amenable to the power-fishing tactics that he prefers. He used a Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS Series 1 and his own Hoern Toad Tackle Brokeback Buzzer buzzbait to catch a four-fish, 9-06 bag that landed him in 9th place.

He thought he’d catch his best sack of the tournament on day 2, and he was right. Instead of a deluge, the precipitation was more of a drizzle, but the big key was that the sun remained absent.

He employed the same tactics as on day 1. The only differences were the pockets held more fish, and he switched to a fire/tiger-colored Lucky Craft BDS to accommodate the dirtier water.  He caught 10 or 11 keepers en route to the 13-10 limit that put him in the lead to stay. His advantage would have been huge had he not lost a pair of 5-pounders.

Day 3
The return of the sun had Hoernke concerned about whether he could maintain his advantage, which was 2 1/2 pounds when day 3 dawned.

“The rain had stopped and the front had passed, and we had typical bluebird, post-frontal conditions,” he said. “I knew the run-in thing was over, and in order to win I’d have to do something different over the next 2 days.”

He tried to catch his largemouths with shakey-head worms, to no avail.  “I moved around and pretty much cost myself the whole morning doing that. At about noon I said something’s got to give, and I started flipping a jig to laydowns or any form of shade.

“It was weird, but when it got colder, they wanted the jig. I couldn’t get bit on the worm. I went back through the same stretch and got four bites and caught two, and that salvaged the day.”  His 4-12 bag kept him in the lead, but the margin was reduced to less than a pound and a half.

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Rob Newell

Sean Hoernke used his own Hoern Toad Tackle Porky’s Revenge jighead and a Zoom Finesse Worm to catch a limit on day 4.

Day 4
Hoernke figured he needed to catch 10 pounds on day 4 to nail down the win, and doubted he could get it done with largemouths.

He pulled out the shakey-head gear he’d abandoned in practice and headed for the lower end of the lake.

Hoernke fished every piece of wood he could find in 5 to 20 feet of water.

He caught a keeper on his third cast of the day, then went about 4 hours without a bite. But things picked up when noon rolled around – he caught five or six keepers in a 45-minute span.

“I fished super-slow because I could just barely feel the bites. I actually lost several because I pulled it out of their mouth, the bite was so soft.”

The action shut down again before 1:00, but his work was done. He culled once in the final hour, but all that did was slightly boost his victory margin.

Winning Gear Notes
> Crankbait gear – 6’6″ medium-heavy Setyr CKN176MH rod, Shimano Chronarch casting reel (5:1 gear ratio), 15-pound P-Line copolymer, Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS Series 1 (root beer or fire/tiger).

> Buzzbait gear – 7′ medium-heavy Setyr CLS184MH rod, Shimano Chronarch reel (6:1 ratio), 20-pound P-Line copolymer, 1/4-ounce Hoern Toad Tackle Brokeback Buzzer (white with gold blade).

> Shakey-head gear – 7’2″ medium-heavy Setyr DSF184MH rod, Daiwa Carpricorn spinning reel, 8-pound P-Line Fluoroclear, 1/8oz Hoern Toad Tackle Porky’s Revenge jighead, 4-inch Zoom Finesse Worm (green-pumpkin).

> Flipping gear – 7’10” medium-heavy Setyr FNS194MH flipping stick, Shimano Castaic  casting reel (6:1 ratio), 20-pound P-Line copolymer, 3/8oz Hoern Toad Tackle jig (black/blue), Zoom Super Chunk trailer (blue sapphire).

The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – “The key word was adaptation. I basically caught them three different ways over 4 days, and that seems to be the way Smith wants to be fished. There’s not a wad of them sitting anywhere to camp out on.”

> Performance edge – “On the last day it was my Porky’s Revenge jighead. It saved the day when things got tough.”

Deep or shallow. Spotted bass or largemouths. No matter an angler’s preference, crankbaits and jigs were the way to go for keeper bass at the Lewis Smith FLW Series in Alabama.

2nd: Jeff Shelton
Local firefighter Jeff Shelton, who fished the first four Series events as a co-angler, created a real-life, local-boy-makes-good story with his runner-up finish. There was also a rags-to-riches aspect to it, considering he was in 101st place after storm-plagued day 1.

He had home-field advantage, and he used it. “What I basically did before the tournament started was write down a list of 115 holes where I’d caught 3-pound or bigger fish,” he said. “Some of them I’d already fished (in recent team tournaments), and I put a mark by those if I knew fish were there.

“That left 65 other holes I wanted to check, and I checked them all. Some had fish, but most didn’t. That narrowed it down to about 25 places.”

He caught weigh-in fish on several different jigs, and also on shakey-head worms. The vast majority came from depths of 10 to 20 feet.

His best locales all had one thing in common.  They all had red clay.

> Jig gear: 7′ medium-heavy Bass Pro Shops Extreme rod, Quantum Energy casting reel (6.3:1 gear ratio), 15-pound P-Line CXX (moss green), 5/16 or 3/8oz homemade jig (pumpkin/green glitter), Zoom Fat Albert Twin-Tail (brown/green-pumpkin), Zoom Super Chunk (green-pumpkin) or Arkie Salty Crawlin’ Grub (watermelon red) trailer.

> Shakey-head gear: 6’6″ medium heavy BPS  Extreme rod, same reel, 12-pound P-Line CXX, 1/4-ounce homemade jighead, 4″ Zoom Finesse Worm (green-pumpkin).

> Main factor in his success – “Sticking with my game plan. I was determined to fish a jig every day, and the majority of my fish came on the jig.”

> Performance edge — “My Lowrance X125. I caught some fish that were pivotal that I never would have caught if I hadn’t seen them on the graph.”

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Rob Newell

Gerald Swindle

3rd: Gerald Swindle
Gerald Swindle, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from nearby Warrior, was another local who stormed back with a vengeance after struggling on day 1.

“I started out trying to catch deep fish (in practice),” he said. “Then we had all that rain and I stayed deep the first day. I only caught one, and I had to go up on the bank to get that one.

“I threw that deep stuff out the window the second day and went to shallow power-fishing (with a crankbait, a spinnerbait and a jig). I found a couple of creeks that had shad in the back of them and I started to get dialed in.”

As the lake level continued to rise, he caught fish from shallower and shallower depths.  “My last fish on the last day, I was sitting in 2 feet of water and caught it out of 10 inches on a Lucky Craft Gunfish 115. That place was bone-dry in practice. You could’ve walked up and kicked a soccer ball across it.”

> Crankbait gear: 7′ medium-heavy Quantum Cabo rod, Quantum PT Series casting reel (6.3:1 gear ratio), 15-pound Spiderwire G-String line, Lucky Craft BDS 3 (fire/tiger).

> The Cabo rod, designed for saltwater applications, features a light tip.

> Spinnerbait gear: 6’6″ medium-heavy Quantum PT Series rod, same reel and line, 1/2-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait (white/yellow with No. 3 Colorado and No. 4 Indiana blades).

> Jig gear: 7’4″ Quantum PT Series flipping stick, same reel, 20-pound G-String, 3/8oz Arkie jig (black/brown), Zoom Super Chunk trailer (green-pumpkin).

> The shallow topwater fish he caught on day 4 was enticed by a Lucky Craft Gunfish 115 (American Shad).

> Main factor in his success – “Throwing away what I did in practice and starting over. Also, I was able to keep moving with the fish – the more the water rose, the farther they moved in.”

> Performance edge – “The Lowrance 111. I would’ve never been able to find the shad without it.”

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Rob Newell

David Fritts

4th: David Fritts
Crankbait guru David Fritts of North Carolina didn’t have a great practice, so he stuck with areas that were at least somewhat productive in the days leading up to the tournament.

He caught six keepers in 4 days of practice, but one was about 6 pounds, so that’s where heended up fishing. He alsovgot one good bite in another particular area, and out of those two places, Iis where he concentrated.  He caught good bags on the odd-numbered tournament days (1 and 3), but struggled on days 2 and 4.

His fish were relating to points. Some were tight to brush and others were suspended over creek channels or small ditches.

> Crankbait gear: 7′ medium-heavy American Rodsmiths David Fritts Signature Series cranking rod, Bass Pro Shops casting reel (4.7:1 gear ratio), 10-pound Rapala cranking line, Rapala DT 6 crankbait.

> Main factor in his success – “I just relied on my knowledge of crankbaits – the right colors and right actions. When most of the fish are related to the bottom, everything has to be just right.”

> Performance edge – “Probably my 7-foot rod. I needed the extra length to make a really long cast and keep the bait down about a foot deeper than it normally runs.”

5th: Rusty Salewske
California’s Rusty Salewske also had a feast-or-famine tournament, but his trend ran opposite to Fritts’ – he caught his best bags on days 2 and 4. His day-2 stringer was the best of the tournament.

He targeted deep spotted bass the first 3 days, but switched up and caught a limit comprised entirely of largemouths on day 4.  Whether he was shallow or deep, he had a jig tied to the end of his line. Run-ins at the backs of coves were the key to his final-day bag.

“The best ones had little mats that had formed out of pine needles and garbage and stuff,” he said. “(The fish) were right up tight against them.  “I think I could’ve caught them with a frog, but I stayed with the jig because you can catch nine out of 10 bites. Those frogs are risky business.”

> Jig gear: 7′ medium-heavy G.Loomis 843 rod, Shimano Chronarch 100 casting reel (6.3:1 gear ratio), 14-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line, 3/8oz homemade football-head jig (green-pumpkin), Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver trailer (green-pumpkin).

> Main factor in his success – “Being able to adjust on the last day. My downfall on the third day was not adjusting after I’d caught the 16-pound bag. I kept trying to make it happen again.”

> Performance edge – “My Lowrance26C HD. For finding brushpiles and stuff, it was crucial.”

Lewis Smith proved to be a tough nut to crack for most of the field, but these Pros were the best at catching 16″+ fish this past week.

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Couple of Important Late Season Tournaments

You may not have realized, but there are two very important pro level tournaments in-progress this week. 

#1 – BASS Wildcard Tournament – Harris Chain – This tournament will fill out the remaining 10 anglers to fish the 2007 Elite Series.  There are quite a few pros who did not automatically requalify from last year, fishing this tournament.  Day 1 leader is Bryan Hudgins from Orange Park, FL.  Should be exciting to see how this unfolds in the next two days.

#2 – Final 2006 FLW Series tournament on Smith Lake in AL.  Anglers here are trying to stay or move into the Top 30 in the points race, as this is the final stop to qualify for 2007 Forrest Wood Cup.

I will try to do a summary of these events that wrap up this weekend!

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FLW Tour Champioship Top 5 Patterns

Practice for the recent FLW Tour Championship (FLWTC) at Alabama’s Lake Logan Martin left more than a few anglers scratching their heads. The water was dropping – which killed the grass bite – and dreams of a current-driven deep bite never materialized.

Most anglers went into the event with plans to fish a mix of deep and shallow, but as the tournament progressed, docks grew to dominate.  Day 3 was the pivotal day. That’s when Anthony Gagliardi’s deeper bite fizzled, and Jay Yelas and Brent Ehrler rose toward the top.

On the final day, it was all Ehrler. He followed up his 13-04, day-3 bag with 15-01 and edged Ray Scheide by 11 ounces.  Most surprising was that Ehrler’s plan fell apart the first 2 days, but he used two clues from practice to find the winning fish.

Here’s how the 29-year-old Redlands, Calif. angler won the FLWTC.


Ehrler arrived at Logan Martin on the weekend before competition, which gave him 3 full days to practice.  “I started the first day by throwing a buzzbait in the morning,” he said. “Then, in the afternoon, I was throwing jigs and finesse worms around docks. I was also looking for humps, points and rockpiles. But I wasn’t catching them very good.”

He explored the river for the first few days, then decided to move downlake and launched at Lakeside. That morning, he again went out and threw topwater.  Almost instantly, he caught a 12-pound limit, they quit eating the buzzbait, but Brett was catching them real good on a Lucky Craft G-Splash & Gunfish. This was all between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning.”

What he didn’t realize yet was that he’d found the winning stretch of docks. As he noted, he wasn’t catching them very well off docks, but in two spots, he caught a 2-pound fish that brought chasers to the boat with it.   So as practice ended, he had the two areas where he saw chasers, some scattered deep stuff, and his topwater bite. His plan was to start on topwater, probe offshore, then work the docks.  As it turned out, his topwater bite would be worthless. He assumed the field would launch at 6:30 a.m., but at the Championship, blast-off’s at 7:00.

Days 1 & 2
> Day 1: 5, 10-12
> Day 2: 5, 9-15 (10, 20-11)

Ehrler faced Cliff Pirch in the first round.   He launched and immediately tried his topwater bite, but it was done long before he came off pad.

He went out and started fishing docks, and he caught a 1 1/2- and a 2-pounder from his first stretch of docks – where he saw the chasers – and caught a 2-pounder from his second chaser-area.  He didn’t think much of those two areas yet.

Then he ran out to try a deep area, caught another keeper, and returned to the docks. He caught a few more 2-pound fish to cull up to 10 1/2 pounds.  He caught his first three fish on a shakey-head rigged with a trick worm, which he fished on braid.

On day 2, he started on topwater but didn’t stick with it long. He quickly switched over to docks, and also tried some deep areas.  His 20-11, 2-day total was enough to advance past Pirch by 5-07.

Days 3 & 4
> Day 3: 5, 13-04
> Day 4: 5, 15-01

Weighs were zeroed for day 3 and Ehrler faced Ramie Colson Jr.  By this time, Ehrler knew his topwater bite was a bust, so he went immediately to one of his two chase-areas.  He caught two 3-pounders close by in that same area, and then caught one 2-pounder offshore – fishing a point.

“Then I ran to my other spot (the second chase-area) and caught two more good ones. I left after that because I didn’t want to beat it up.”  Day 3 was the toughest fishing by far – many anglers struggled to catch even 8 pounds – and Ehrler’s 13-04 was the second-best weight that day.  He easily dispatched Colson by a 5-10 margin.

By the time the day 3 weigh-in ended, Ehrler knew exactly what he’d do on day 4. He said at the time: “It’s up to the fish at this point. I really don’t think I can make any different decisions tomorrow. I know exactly where I want to go. It’s completely up to them.”

He went right to his best stretch of docks – the chase-area where he caught twin 3-pounders the morning before.  “I spent 4 hours there and at 11:00 I came out with three fish,” he said. “I left and came back and caught two more. I caught them all in the same area.”  That was it. That single quarter-mile stretch of docks delivered 15 pounds on the final day, which was 11 ounces better than runner-up Ray Scheide’s limit.

Winning Pattern Notes
Here’s what Ehrler said about the winning area.  “It was a stretch of docks about a quarter-mile long. It had maybe eight or 10 docks. It was in the mid-lake area of the main lake.

“The area was the inside bend of the river channel,” he added. “The only thing I can guess about why it was so good was there was kind of a point on one side. Maybe they run from the channel up that point and start running the docks.  “I really have no clue though. I don’t know why they were pulling up though there.”

Photo: Tru-Tungsten

Ehrler threw a NetBait Finesse worm on two different jigheads – a Tru-Tungsten Ikey Head (shown)

Winning Gear Notes
Ehrler dumped his trick worm on day 2 and started fishing a Roboworm and NetBait Finesse worm on shakey-heads.

On day 4, he caught all his winning fish on the NetBait worm.

He noted that during practice, Geoff Walker of Mark’s Outdoors – an area retailer – gave him a pack of the worms in a special ‘Bama bug color. The color is exclusive to Mark’s and is a killer on Logan Martin fish.

After the worm started working on day 2, Ehrler had Walker rush him over a supply for days 3 and 4.

He pitched the shakey-head/worm combo under and around docks. In-between docks, he cranked a Lucky Craft RC 1.5.

> Shakey-head gear: 7′ heavy-action prototype Lucky Craft rod, Daiwa TD Sol 3000 spinning reel, 8-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line, 1/8oz Tru-Tungsten Ikey Head Ball Buster Jig and Reaction Innovations Screwed-Up Jig Head (both green-pumpkin), 6″ Roboworm FX Sculpin (green/yellow/pumpkin) and NetBait T-MAC Worm (‘Bama bug).

> Ehrler said the ‘Bama bug color is a dual color. One side is junebug, then it fades into green-pumpkin on the other.

> Crankbait gear: 7′ medium-heavy Lucky Craft cranking rod, Shimano Chronarch reel, 10-pound Sunline fluorocarbon, Lucky Craft RC 1.5 (copper/green shad).

> Main factor in his success – “I just think that on the second day I started to click and got on something a little more. I had a little more confidence in the areas I had. I finally told myself, ‘Why even try deep?’ I spent time where I thought there was fish – where I saw those chasers.”
> Ehrler never weighed a largemouth all week – only spotted bass. 

> Ehrler won the 2004 EverStart (now Stren) Series Championship in his second year in that Series. He won this FLWTC in his second year on the Tour.

The rest of the Top 5 – Ray Scheide, Clark Wendlandt, Shinichi Fukae and Jay Yelas – also focused largely on shallow water. What follows is a breakdown of their main patterns.

2nd: Ray Scheide
> Day 1: 5, 15-01
> Day 2: 5, 8-14 (10, 23-15)
> Day 3: 5, 10-15
> Day 4: 5, 14-06

Scheide nearly won the whole darn thing. He weighed a 5-pound-plus fish the final day, and lost one he couldn’t turn, but ultimately fell 11 ounces short.  He worked two separate patterns. When the current wasn’t running – which was more often than not – he ran to the backs of creeks and fished structure and cover just off the bank.  He noted concrete structures, rockpiles and a few brushpiles held his fish. His primary shallow bait was a Berkley Power Worm, but he also cranked a Lucky Craft RC 1.5.

When the current was moving, he went to the main river and primarily cranked the ledges and drops with a Norman Deep Little N. He also threw a Terminator Football jig and Reaction Innovations Screwed-Up Jig Head out deep. 
> Worm gear: 7′ medium-action G. Loomis rod, Shimano Curado casting reel, 16-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, 4/0 Gamakatsu Superline hook, 1/4-ounce weight (unpegged), 8″ Berkley Power Worm (curlytail, black).

> He cranked the Lucky Craft RC 1.5 on the same reel and line, but used a G. Loomis CBR cranking rod.

> Deep-cranking gear: 7′ G. Loomis CBR Crankbait Rod, same reel, 12-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon, Norman Deep Little N (lavender shad).

> Main factor in his success – “Putting myself in the right places at the right time, according to what the current was doing.”

3rd: Clark Wendlandt
> Day 1: 5, 10-13
> Day 2: 5, 8-10 (10, 19-07)
> Day 3: 5, 10-05
> Day 4: 5, 13-09

Wendlandt focused on docks, but after a few days refined his pattern to favor floating docks. He left his very best area for day 4 – he never even went near it the first 3 days – but when he pulled in the morning of day 4, he discovered it was also Ray Scheide’s best spot. It still produced 13 1/2 pounds though.

“I really liked the floating docks the best,” he said. “I don’t think very many people were keying on those.  “The fish were suspended underneath them and were very difficult to catch. They wouldn’t hit a moving bait, so you had to throw light line on spinning tackle.”

He added: “I was skipping the worm up under the docks and getting my bites either on the initial fall or after they followed it to the bottom.”

> Dock gear: 6’6″ medium-action Falcon LowRider rod, Pflueger Supreme spinning reel, 10-pound Ande line, 1/8oz Giggy Head jighead, 5″ Gambler Icicle worm (green-pumpkin).

> Main factor in his success – “The main factor in me finishing 3rd was saving a spot for the last day – gambling on that and still getting through the brackets.”

4th: Shinichi Fukae
likewise fished docks, but his had to have a brushpile to the side or right in front.  His docks were both in creeks and in the main lake, and he targeted depths from 3 to 13 feet.

> Dock gear: 6’6″ medium-action St. Croix Legend Elite rod, Shimano Stella 3000 Spinning Reel, 8-pound Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon, 3/32-ounce Mayukyu Skip in the Shade jighead, 5″ Yamamoto Kut-Tail worm and Yamamoto Shad Shaped worm (both green-pumpkin).

> He noted the Skip in the Shade is a shakey-head designed by Norio Tanabe.

> Main factor in his success – “Timing. I spent 10 minutes in a place at the most. It was run-and-gun.”

5th: Jay Yelas
> Day 1: 5, 13-01
> Day 2: 5, 13-14 (10, 26-15)
> Day 3: 5, 14-03
> Day 4: 5, 13-02

Yelas caught over 13 pounds each day and weighed more in total than any other competitor. He caught 19 his 20 fish on a Berkley Power Shaky worm. The other came on a jig.

“I was fishing (the worm) a couple of different ways,” he said. “I was fishing it with 10-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon, but sometimes 15-pound, depending on how heavy the cover was.

“I had three rods all rigged with the same worm, but on different (jigheads) – 1/8-, 3/16- and 1/4-ounce. The 1/8oz jighead, with a smaller hook, was from Provider tackle. The other two were homemade with a big, 5/0 hook.”

He noted his primary targets were main-lake docks near main-lake points. “One of the keys also was that they were large docks,” he added. “They’d extend out over a shallow flat that was maybe 3 feet deep, then out over the dropoff that broke to 15 to 17 feet on the outside edge.”

The fish were both deep and shallow along the docks – he caught some up to 20 feet deep on the outside poles. But his biggest fish on day 4 came from where the dock met a retaining wall in about a foot of water.

> Heavy dock gear: 6’6″ heavy-action Team Daiwa TV-S rod, Daiwa Viento casting reel (left-handed), 15-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon, 3/16- and 1/4-ounce homemade jigheads, Berkley Power Shaky worm (green-pumpkin).

> Light dock gear: 6’3″ Team Daiwa Light & Tough rod, Daiwa TD Sol spinning reel, 10-pound Vanish, 1/8oz Provider jighead, Berkley Power Shaky worm (green-pumpkin).

> Main factor in his success – “I think it was that worm. I fished a jig hard for 5 days in practice, but they just did not want the jig this week.”

This was a great tournament, and another breakout event for a young angler.  Luke Clausen, Dave Wolak and now Brent Ehrler, all youg guys winning big time tournaments.


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Stren Series Fish Kill

In a recent tournament held out of La Crosse, WI on the Mississippi River, there was an unusually large delayed mortality from the tournament fish.  It is unclear from the stories that I have read on excatly how the fish were handled and if there were any other factors that could have magnified the problem.

See Full Article.

The main thing, is not to jump to conlcusions until we get all the facts.  A similar study was conducted last year and the way the fish were held for the study was thought to have created eronious results.  My early thoughts is that these largemouth bass, many of them probably carrying the LMBV, were over stressed in combination of the tournament proccess and the holding of them in areas with improper current flow.


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