FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
Rod lockers require extra tugging to loosen frosty grips, and your shadow swells with the layers of fleece and hooded sweatshirts. Nevertheless, bass will still bite when frosty air nips at your nose. Walmart pro Wesley Strader knows that despite the shivering conditions, this time of year is ripe with big-bass potential.
David A. Brown
FLW, the world’s largest bass fishing tournament organization, has announced a sponsorship agreement with Navionics, a leader in electronic navigation charts and systems for marine and outdoor sporting use.
Most anglers, pros included, look for any little edge to increase their catch, and that includes even the knots they tie to attach lures to their lines. With that in mind, picking the best knot to use with all of today’s lines can be a challenge.
Bass Pro Group announced today an agreement to acquire Fishing Holdings, LLC, a manufacturer of fishing boats that include Ranger Boats and the Stratos and Triton boat brands from Platinum Equity.
Brush Pile Basics
December and January are the two months when anglers really start preparing for the coming season, whether it’s firming up sponsorships, planning tournament schedules or restocking baits and equipment. This is also the time of year when a lot of anglers plant cover in the lake or the lakes where they fish so they’ll be productive the following year.
It’s no secret that one of the best baits you can throw at lethargic bass in chilly water is a suspending jerkbait. Just in time for this year’s prespawn brawl, here is a new twist on the darting, diving minnow imitator that’s sure to put a twinkle in the bass’ eye without putting a big dent in your tackle budget.
FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, has announced a multiyear sponsorship renewal with Strike King Lure Company, an industry-leading manufacturer of lures, baits and fishing apparel.
The colder and nastier winter gets, the more any vertical cover such as bluff banks and standing timber comes into play.
The late fall-early winter period finds Walmart FLW Tour pro Jonathon Newton snooping around the creeks of Pickwick Lake and other Tennessee River impoundments in search of bass rounding up remaining shad.
David A. Brown
The umbrella rig sort of follows its own script on Lake of the Ozarks and some other highland reservoirs. While it’s a good producer on other lakes in warm weather, we don’t catch bass on umbrella rigs around here in the summer. Instead, the bass will get on them starting in late fall and continue on until the spawn next spring.
FLW and Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, a leading manufacturer of premium fishing tackle, have announced a sponsorship agreement for the 2015 season. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
With the magnum crankbait craze spreading in 2014, it makes sense that rod companies would start building rods specifically for fishing jumbo plugs. We analyzed three tournament-worthy rods built for launching crankbaits ranging from standard deep-divers such as the Strike King 6XD up to today’s true jumbo plugs like the Strike King 10XD. Here’s how they fared.
For a lot of FLW anglers, it’s crunch time in regards to sewing up sponsorships for 2015. Whether you’re fishing at the high school or college level, in BFLs, the Rayovac FLW Series or on the Walmart FLW Tour, gaining some form of sponsorship is critical to enabling you to make a profit from competitive fishing.
Two legendary names in fishing, Lew’s and longtime FLW friend Hank Parker, have teamed in a promotional agreement for 2015.
A strong, gusting wind can really have a negative effect on fishing. If you’re sight-fishing, fishing drop-shots or fishing targets in clear water that you need to see, wind definitely works against you. It affects the action of a lure, your ability to feel the bait and how you present it.
We spent an afternoon with Walmart pro Mark Rose on Kentucky Lake this Fall. Rose discusses fall fishing tactics, his career, and his Outdoor Ministry.
With Billy McDonald
Strike King pro Billy McDonald explains how to use the new Strike King Slither Rig.
For some reason, this time of year smallmouths like to hang around objects in the water, whether it’s just a small feature or something as big as a car. They’ll still move around, but it’s like they move from rock pile to rock pile – or whatever – instead of just swimming around aimlessly. So you’re target-casting at objects that are likely to be holding fish.
I jumped on the big-spoon bandwagon and got some just in time to be in on the tail end of the prime-time season for them. It seems to me that it’s another one of those typical niche-type deals where it’s a heck of a bait when they’re on it, but not so much at other times.
Another year gone, and another off-season flying by. I’m still trying to catch up on all the stuff around the house that I let go during the season. Chores like painting the garage or little fix-it-up jobs around the house and yard seem to never end. By the way, I am currently fighting it out with fire ants, and even though they seem to have won most of the battles so far, I guarantee they will not win the war.
Today’s Lowrance sonar/GPS combos are so powerful, even the entry-level units are waaaay more advanced than what was available just a few years ago before we had GPS, SideScan or DownScan.
With Jason Johnson
In late summer, one fishing pattern is to flip and pitch jigs or soft plastics, or to fish frogs, in matted grass where bass are hunting for bluegills and minnows to eat. When does this pattern stop?
With Adrian Avena
In Episode 50, hosts Joe Opager and Jody White talk with FLW Tour pro Adrian Avena about fishing his way up from college, his practice for the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake and his 2015 goals. Then they review the FLW action on Clear Lake, break down the Northern Conference Invitational on the Potomac River, look ahead to the weekend’s slate of tournaments, and give the BFL Weekly Update.
Fall weather can provide some of the best fishing of the year. Lakes are usually not as crowded because the water gets too cool for some water sports, and a lot of guys give up fishing temporarily for deer hunting.
Take a in depth look at Frog Fishing with Ish Monroe.
First, I slide the keeper down the shank and away from the eye about 1/8 inch from its original position. Then I place the hook in a fly-tying vice and use either black or red thread to lash around the base of the keeper.
Nav Module is the Navionics solution for advanced route planning now available on Android in addition to iPhone and iPad!
Castrol pros David Dudley and Philip Jarabeck will be on hand to sign autographs and answer fishing questions Saturday, Oct. 4 and 18 at Eager Beaver Car Wash and Castrol Premium Lube Express located at 4935 Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station, NY.
Right now a lot of tournament fishermen are trying to land sponsor deals for 2015. Consequently, I guess it’s pretty accurate to say that the No. 1 question any long-term pro angler gets asked this time of year is, “How do I get sponsors?”
Fishermen are starting to catch on to the importance of profile when using buzzbaits, especially in the fall when the fish are more particular. When you’re fishing a buzzbait and the fish either miss it or just swirl at it, usually it’s a speed thing or the profile in the water isn’t right. They’re keying on something, and you’ve got to figure it out.
Tournament season is a busy time for professional anglers. For the wives they leave behind at home, life is busy too, especially if the wives are also moms. For our family, the 2014 season was one full of trials.
To begin my ridiculously long off-season, I’ll reflect on my 2014 tournament season. The Walmart FLW Tour was hard on me. Of course, it started with that mechanical disaster en route to the first-day weigh-in at Okeechobee (the season-opener) and concluded with my first whiff on the Forrest Wood Cup in 13 years. I’ve erased it completely already, so I can’t reflect on any of it. It was atrocious!
We’re still not done with summer yet, but the season is changing and putting the fish closer to the bank again. My three go-to baits for this time of year are a Brian’s Bee, a small Yamamoto buzzbait rigged with a Zoom Horny Toad instead of a skirt and a Yamamoto Chikara 100 square-bill.
For the fourth year, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts pro Greg Bohannan will don the hat of Tournament Director for the Everett Chevrolet Big Bass Contest on Beaver Lake.
I knew I was going to fish the Forrest Wood Cup on March 8, 2014, when my University of Minnesota teammate Austin Felix and I won the FLW College Fishing National Championship and earned a spot in the biggest tournament of the year. The Cup is a tournament every angler dreams of fishing, but I had no idea what the implications of a berth in this legendary tournament would bring.
Bass fishing: the sport that we all love so much. It has been a huge part of my life for many years. In fact, it’s been a huge part of my life for almost all of my years.
This past week, Bryan fished his eighth Forrest Wood Cup. Wylie and I joined him in Lexington for the entire week, practice included. We normally just come the Wednesday before a tournament starts, but this one was close to home, and with so much to do in nearby Columbia, we thought it would be a great idea to go early.
Time really flies in professional fishing. It seems like yesterday that all of us were launching our boats on Okeechobee, with dreams of competing in the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup that begins this week on Lake Murray near Columbia, S.C.
Summer is in full bloom. I just got home after a short family vacation in the Florida Keys where we enjoyed some saltwater fishing. I also spent a few hot days on Lake Murray doing some scouting for the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup, which is just a week away. I’m excited about this event and can’t wait to compete as I try to win a second Forrest Wood Cup, which would be really awesome.
A lot of anglers equate smallmouths with rock and gravel bottoms in the summer, but they shouldn’t overlook weeds. Depending on the time of year and available forage, smallmouths will feed in vegetation just as heavily as largemouths.
As I sit here in Detroit taking time out from a family visit, I look back on the past season and try to find any positives. The things that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong, and I think that a lot of times, I wasn’t experienced enough or good enough to adjust to the circumstances. Bottom line: I didn’t make the Forrest Wood Cup.
Walmart FLW Tour pro Jim Dillard has announced a raffle to win his 2014 BassCat Puma FTD with a Yamaha 250 SHO outboard, Minn Kota Fortrex 112 Trolling Motor, two 12-foot Minn Kota Talons and electronics. Raffle tickets can be purchased online for $20 per ticket and contestants may purchase as many tickets as they would like. Majority of the proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Mia Moo Fund to help raise awareness and fund research and treatments of cleft lip/palate.
“I couldn’t be happier to have Lance on board as a marketing partner,” says Hite. “As a professional who relies on my equipment to earn my living, I only partner with the top quality products and companies that build the best. Lance is a perfect example of that.”
With a name like DieZel, I expected the MinnowZ from Z-Man to be one rough customer. What I didn’t expect was something tough enough to catch several dozen bass and still not need replacing. Then I remembered the nifty 4-inch swimbait is manufactured using ElaZtech, a super-soft, yet incredibly strong material that has made a name for itself as one of the most pliable and durable soft plastics used in the fresh- and saltwater fishing industries.
First, if the school you’ve marked in a certain place – say, a long underwater bar or stretch of vertical ledge – isn’t there next time, the fish are likely to be somewhere in the range of maybe 50 yards in any direction from where you waypointed them in the first place. You idle around using your StructureScan until you relocate them, then make a few casts and try to get them fired up.
Well, it actually happened. For the first time in eight years, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines at the Forrest Wood Cup. As I sit here and drink in the intoxicatingly sour flavor that this revelation has left in my mouth, somehow I find myself savoring the flavor. Perhaps that’s because it’s the flavor of something that I will never taste again. At least that’s how I feel, anyway; that’s how I’m taking it. Never again.
As I noted previously, Bryan and I were able to find a free weekend between tournaments to actually have a wedding. It was a miracle, I tell you. After our wedding on July 21, 2007, we headed to Edisto Island in South Carolina for our honeymoon. We had a great time, but it was a very rushed trip. After all, Bryan had to be back quickly so he could head to Hot Springs, Ark., to practice for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. It was his first ever and he was psyched.
It’s July, and time to deal with some of the hottest weather of the year. Whenever surface temperatures start bumping the upper 80s, it can make fishing tough. Unless I’m fishing a lake where ledge fishing is about the only game in town, I look for the thickest cover I can find, wherever I can find it.
My recap of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake has less to do with this particular event than it does a feat I consider to be one of the most amazing in modern-day tournament fishing – but I’ll get to that later.
Scott Martin talks to us from the water of Kentucky Lake about his practice for the final two events of the season.
Castrol pro angler David Dudley, the career leader in FLW Tour earnings and three time FLW Tour Angler of the Year, will be signing autographs and answering consumer questions Tuesday, July 1 at Gipson's Tire Pros located at 3079 Highway 14 in Millbrook, AL.
Lots of story lines will be going down this coming week as the Walmart FLW Tour closes out its regular season with the 2014 finale on Kentucky Lake. In addition to the 35 Forrest Wood Cup qualifiers to be determined, also on the line are the $10,000 checks awarded to each of the top 60 anglers.
Following a fairly successful career as a college angler, I decided to keep progressing up the tournament ladder. The year after graduating from the University of Florida, I fished what was then the Rayovac FLW Series as a professional angler. While I enjoyed some success in my first two tournaments, I quickly realized I had a lot to learn as I got farther away from my home waters.
Poor Lake Barkley. It’s as spectacular as the Grand Tetons and nearly as vast and full of wildlife in and around it. With its 58,000 acres of ledges and shoreline cover packed with bass, Barkley would be the top tournament destination in most any other state.
There’s a topwater bite all summer somewhere on the lake you fish; it’s just a matter of finding it. There might not be enough topwater fish to win a tournament, but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re just out fishing for the heck of it. Topwater fishing in the summer is all about the baitfish.
Of the approximately 170 anglers who’ll be competing, a relative few of them will be vying for one of the 35 Forrest Wood Cup slots available for the August championship. A few weeks later, the last Tour event of the season, at Kentucky Lake, will settle matters for good.
Finding the right angle for ledge bass
The best part of the ledge-fishing season is when bass first move out in late spring and early summer. The fish aren’t pressured too much yet so they’re not hugging the bottom and they’re more aggressive. When I find fish on a ledge, the first thing I’ll do is move to the outside and cast a crankbait in over the fish.
May has been a busy month. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the water, in particular guiding on Lake Guntersville. Last November I traveled to Panama City, Fla., to get my U.S. Coast Guard captain license. I then started a guide service that sees me on Lake Guntersville in the spring and fall and on Lake St. Clair in Michigan during the summer.
Kyle Wood exposes the uses for multiple types of fishing line.
Go shallow for drop-shot bass
Drop-shot rigs are popular for when bass are holding in deep cover or suspended offshore, but I have found they will work very well in shallow water too. I like to fish them around grass or boat docks, or anywhere there are fish from the prespawn to the postspawn time.
Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae
My name is Allison Thrift, and I’m the wife of Walmart FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift. I’m excited to be writing this blog for FLW, and going forward I hope you enjoy our stories from the road – and of life off the road as well. For now, I wanted to share with you the story of how Bryan and I got together, and my first reaction to all the craziness that is the world of professional fishing.
This past week was a whirlwind. We just returned home from the Texas Bass Classic in Quittman, Texas, on Lake Fork. This event is hosted every year by the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) and includes the top 15 anglers from the Walmart FLW Tour, Bassmaster Elite Serieas and PAA. It really is an honor just to be invited. This was Stetson’s third time to compete, and it was, like always, an amazing event.
Sizing up shad spawns
The shad spawn is going on in a lot of lakes now, probably later than usual because of the cold winter and cooler spring. Typically, the shad spawn occurs during or just after the bass spawn, when the water temperature rises into the low 70s. Because a shad spawn is a bass magnet, this is the time of year when you want to draw an early flight in a tournament.
Back in my band days, I was focused on playing music. I practiced every waking minute; I wanted to be the best. I breathed, ate and slept music. When I made even the slightest mistake I was extremely critical of myself and worked even harder to make sure it never happened again. There were very few things out of my control that could happen. I felt that if I worked extra hard, nothing could go wrong other than the occasional broken stick or string. I also had no distractions in those days.
with Andrew Upshaw
Lake Murray Report
The mid-week high for the first full week in May in Lake Murray Country will flirt with 90 degrees, and the 10-day forecast shows no highs of less than 80. Seemingly, the cold has finally fled, allowing the lake to get back on track from the dirty, cold water that has filled the lake thus far. Lake Murray’s current surface temperature is 72.3 degrees, up 5 degrees from a week ago, based on the USGS water data website.
Frogs are on the menu
One misconception that a lot of fishermen have about frog fishing is that it’s an early morning deal for really shallow water. Actually, it will work in water as deep as 10 feet, and it will work all day if the conditions are right.
Just when you thought the soft-plastic worm market couldn’t get any fatter, Florida-based Gambler introduces a heavyweight surface swimmer that is designed to perform significantly better than others with a paddle-tail caboose. It’s called the Burner Worm, but it does way more than the name implies. To hear Walmart FLW Tour pros JT Kenney and Jim Tutt tell it, Gambler’s newest soft plastic is perfect for buzzing on top or crawled beneath the surface without ever missing a beat.
Treat yourself like an athlete
As fishermen we are considered athletes. No less than ESPN has recognized this through its ESPY awards. There is no doubt that as we spend hours fishing, we undergo a lot of physical exertion throughout the upper part of our bodies. Truth be known, however, if a majority of fishermen was required to run a seven-minute mile I don’t think many of us could do it.
Pop the Top for Springtime Bass
Walking baits have their time and place, but I don’t think you can beat a popper at this time of the year, when the spawn is going full-bore in a lot of lakes. When bass are bedding or have just finished, working a popper over their heads is the best way to get bit. It’s a slower presentation and good for situations where you’re casting at a target such as under a dock.
Back up your waypoints for maximum performance
If you’re using your electronics to their maximum potential, it’s likely that you’re accumulating thousands of waypoints on your unit. Did you know that your Lowrance unit is similar to your computer in terms of its capacity? The more information you store on it, the more memory it takes up; consequently, the performance of your unit is slowed to a degree.
Waylaying Shoreline Bass in the Postspawn
Postspawn is one of my favorite times of the year, mainly because bass are active and aggressive. I like the fact that I can catch them on some of my favorite lures: soft stickbaits and buzzbaits.
Professional tournament fishing is normally a rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, but this season so far is nothing but downs.
Colorizing a Crankbait
One of my most important fishing tools isn’t found in the sporting goods department at Walmart; it’s in the crafts department. That’s where I find the Sharpie waterproof marker kits that I like to have with me when I’m fishing crankbaits. I keep my crankbait colors pretty basic – natural shad or chartreuse for the most part – but if I see bass chasing bluegills, or have one I caught spit up a bluegill, I’ll use a Sharpie to color the crankbait up a little to look more like a bluegill.
To Fish, Everything Old is New Again
One thing I definitely believe is that a lot of out-of-production lures will catch fish just as well as they ever did. Nowadays too many fishermen are caught up with what’s new rather than what works – and a lot of those old baits still work.
Alabama pro Steve Kennedy taught fans and fishermen at the Walmart FLW Tour stop at Sam Rayburn presented by Chevy something that another generation of anglers learned a long time ago: the Snagless Sally can catch bass.
Cast and Move With a Shaky Head
What I do differently now, though, is make more casts and drag the shaky head a lot less. I’m covering a lot more water and looking for those fish that aren’t real aggressive, but might go for a shaky head if it drops in right by them.
Matching Jigs, Trailers and Line To Water Conditions
When I’m fishing a jig, about all I ever throw is a ½-ounce War Eagle. There are times when a lighter or heavier jig works better, though. For instance, I might go to a 3/8-ounce War Eagle Heavy Finesse if I’m fishing in extremely shallow water, or when the water is very clear, or when the bass just seem to want a small mouthful.
Catching bedding bass that you can’t see
On lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure, it’s a lot easier to catch fish on bed that you can’t see. By that I mean that if you get close enough to a pressured fish to see it, it’s probably already seen you. It’s either going to move off, or not bite.
Working through the wear and tear
To be a successful fisherman, you’ve got to be casting a lot, using different types of fishing tackle and taking some pounding boat rides. Over time, you’re going to develop aches and pains from arthritis and other ailments that don’t go away.
No category of lure is as flexible as soft-plastic lures – both in action and in use. Not only do soft plastics move freely, even when deadsticked, but the range of their use is limited only by the angler’s imagination.
C. Moore, C. Niedermier, K. Jackson, R. Robertson and J. Samsel.
You can rip rattle baits through winter grass beds like everyone else, or you can offer bass something different: a swim jig. Veteran bass pro Ron Shuffield says a swim jig is one of his preferred cool-weather lures when bass set up camp on grass-line edges. It’s a lure that can be worked quickly, or dragged more slowly when conditions warrant a change-up.
What’s my line?
There are going to be times when you want to use the exact same lure on a different outfit with different line weights. Maybe you want the lure to dive deeper or shallower, or you’re fishing different type of bottom where it’s to your advantage to fish a stronger, heavier line. With experience, you can pretty much look at a rig and tell whether it’s got 6-, 8- or 12-pound-test line on it, but it’s still helpful to mark the rig somehow.
Chatterbait connoisseur Brett Hite reveals secrets of his favorite big bass technique
One lure, over $400,000 in winnings: that’s the moral of the story for FLW Tour pro Brett Hite, who continues to make bladed swim jigs pay off handsomely in his fishing career.
FLW Tour pro Tom Redington provides some tips for catching bass in cold-water conditions
In spring, cold fronts are the norm, not the exception. So instead of griping about it, top anglers adapt and still catch them well. Having to stay on bass with new customers every day while guiding on Lake Fork for the past decade, I’ve found a basic gameplan that might help you get pointed in the right direction on your lake too.
Take care of your tackle and it will take care of you
I used to not pay too much attention to keeping terminal tackle in good condition, but I’m more organized about it now. Buying new hooks every spring costs a lot of money, and in the past it’s been necessary just because I haven’t taken care of them like I should. Now I keep everything tournament-ready all the time.
If you want to win tournaments, stop fishing for limits of keepers and instead focus on catching quality fish.
A five-fish limit is the first measure of success and job one in a tournament. But it’s how you see that quintet shaping up that sets the tone for your performance. Is it an open audition where anything that measures will do, or do you want five stars that’ll rock any stage?
David A. Brown
Find the sweet spots in the timber
In a stump field, FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler said he’ll looks for some type of bottom contour. Recognizing that it’s rarely just one homogenous flat with a smattering of solid objects, he tries to pinpoint a ditch running through the area and then targets those stumps sitting along the edge of the ditch.
David A. Brown
Finding the right starting point for spring
Depending on the weather and where the lake is, bass are starting to migrate toward the shallows to spawn. As a result, your job is to find out how far the fish have moved up a creek or bay, both distance and depth-wise.
How to avoid that awkward feeling of your line going limp
How many good fish do you lose in a season of fishing, whether it’s in a tournament or just when you’re fishing for the fun of it? If it’s more than you can count on your fingers, perhaps it’s time for some constructive self-criticism. Are the fish at fault, or are you? In case it’s the latter, we offer the following advice, observations and tips from some top pros regarding how to put the odds of landing a fish successfully more in your favor.
Putting a stop to short-strikers
A lot of times in the spring, bass tend to short-strike soft plastics, and maybe even bite the tail off. Some anglers just pass these off as small fish, but that’s not always the case. Bigger fish will do it, too, especially when the spawn is going on. They’re not really feeding; they’re just aggravated.
Home in on winter bass by locating these surefire structures on a lake map
Two things stand out about winter bass fishing: The fish get a little bit pickier about where they want to be, and anglers don’t want to spend as much time running a bass boat around a frigid lake trying to find them.
Curtis Niedermier with map images courtesy of Navionics