UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Fleetwood’s finest hour

BULL SHOALS, Ark. - With 16 top-10 finishes to his name, Tim Fleetwood is a seasoned FLW Outdoors professional angler. Fourteen of his top-10 finishes have come from the deep, clear impoundments of the Ozark region. Despite an admirable local resume, he's finished in just about every position in the top 10 except for one: first. A determined Fleetwood changed that today, and he did so amid brutal conditions that included heavy snow showers and westerly winds gusting up to 40 mph. Fishing in his first Stren Series event since 1999, Fleetwood made an ultratough Bull Shoals Lake look like child's play. This event was, to some extent, a redemption tournament for Fleetwood. At the 1999 BFL All-American, he officially finished fourth, less than 4 pounds shy of victory. What the official results don't say is that the tournament, held on the Mississippi River near Onalaska, Wis., was a no-cull event. Fleetwood had his fifth fish stuck several times, but he decided to chuck it back and fish for the win. Had he weighed a fifth fish, he would have been just ounces away from the most prestigious title in weekend angling. There were no crucial decisions like that to be made today, as Fleetwood went into Saturday's final round with nearly a 9-pound lead. With his Tim Hughes custom jerkbait leading the way, the Forsyth, Mo., pro caught five fish for 11 pounds, 9 ounces and was able to keep hard-charging Mark Rose at bay. Pro Tim Fleetwood celebrates after winning the 2006 Stren Series Central Division event on Bull Shoals Lake."I feel like I'm still out on the water," he said. "I was so focused all week, it hasn't really sunk in yet. I was always thinking about what to do to get my next bite." Fleetwood was the only pro who was able to catch a five-bass limit each of the four days of Central Division competition. Fittingly, he had to adjust today as the brutal conditions wouldn't allow him to reach his best area. Running north this morning, instinct told Fleetwood to stop and fish a small cove just south of Big Creek. The detour turned out to be a profitable one as he ended up spending the whole day there. "I felt like if I could just catch a limit, I could win this thing. When I put that fifth fish in the boat at noon, I thought I had it." In addition to dominating the bass this week, Fleetwood put a hurting on the Bull Shoals walleye population. Yesterday the pro winner caught a walleye that registered 19 pounds, 5 ounces on his digital scale. Although rare, Bull Shoals Lake is no stranger to trophy walleyes. In fact, the current world record was caught on Greers Ferry, also located in the Ozark region of Arkansas. For some perspective, Fleetwood's fish would be a record in most Midwestern states, and was only 3 pounds short of the current world record. He wanted to keep the fish at the time, but it wouldn't fit in his livewell, plus he was plenty busy with the tournament at hand. A look at Tim FleetwoodWhile he fished several areas, they were all located on the extreme north end of the lake. Day four was the first day he fished near Big Creek. At all his areas, Fleetwood focused on suspended fish located near channel swings. The specific colors of his Tim Hughes custom jerkbait were mainly red and orange. The bait, which included spots of chartreuse and flake, was actually designed by Fleetwood himself. After receiving the specifications, Hughes airbrushed and finished the bait, which was presented on 8-pound-test Stren monofilament. In all, Fleetwood's four-day total of 52 pounds, 12 ounces earned him a $25,000 cash purse and a fully loaded Ranger boat. Rose finishes runner-up Rose came after Fleetwood with guns blazing today, turning in the best catch of the day - 14 pounds, 8 ounces - but his day-one performance ultimately came back to haunt him. Rose, who is from Marion, Ark., finished second with a four-day combined weight of 46 pounds, 12 ounces worth $13,301. Marion, Ark., pro Mark Rose caught the heaviest limit of the day and finished the tournament in second place.For most of the opening round, Rose threw a brown 3/8-ounce jig in 10 to 15 feet of water. Late in the day yesterday, he discovered that he was just a few feet from the ultimate honeyhole. Accidentally backing off the bluff wall he was fishing, he suddenly saw a flurry of activity on his electronics. After changing from the finesse jig to a football-head jig, he immediately began to reap the benefits. On day four, as his snow-filled Ranger boat idled up to that same area, Rose wasn't sure if he was going to catch them again. "Once I put my line in, it was every cast for about an hour," he said. "It seemed like they were all 3-pounders though. I never really could get that big bite." Had Rose made the change earlier in the tournament, it could possibly have been enough to overcome the 6-pound difference between Fleetwood and him. Weisinger third Oklahoma angler Jerry Weisinger rebounded on day four and finished third in the Pro Division.Pro Jerry Weisinger rebounded nicely on day four with a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces. In fact, day three was the only day the Wyandotte, Okla., pro failed to bring a limit to the scale. His total weight spanning four days was 38 pounds, 7 ounces. That placed him third and earned him a check for $7,471. Weisinger's primary area was located on the Missouri side of the lake and consisted of steep, bluffy banks. His main lures this week were a chrome and blue Smithwick Rogue jerkbait, an Eakins jig and a Wiggle Wart crankbait. "I think the pockets that I was fishing were getting too cold," he said. After taking last year off to refresh and spend time with his family, Weisinger's 2007 season is off with a bang. Hutson falls to fourth Randall Hutson of Washburn, Mo., finished fourth with a four-day total of 36 pounds, 8 ounces worth $6,641. Hutson led each of the first two days of the tournament, but only caught four keeper bass over the final two days. "I knew when the wind changed I was done," said Hutson, who used a 4 1/2-inch Smithwick Rogue jerkbait and a Lucky Strike jig. "With the water being this cold, the fish wanted something real slow." The former Wal-Mart FLW Tour champion may not be a household name in professional bass fishing, but his accolades stack up against the best anglers in the sport. As proof, Hutson has accumulated over $450,000 in FLW Outdoors career earnings. His major accomplishments include an FLW Tour win on the Connecticut River in 1998, which at the time was the richest bass tournament in the history of the sport. His other major paydays have come in the Ozarks, a surprise to no one. He took second at the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake in 2002 and again in 2003. Each of those tournaments earned Hutson $100,000. Nixon fifth Pro Larry Nixon finished his first Stren Series event in fifth place.FLW Tour veteran Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., finished fifth with a combined total of 36 pounds even. Fishing in the first Stren Series event of his career, Nixon earned $5,810. He got there by improving his catch as the tournament progressed. It's a rarity when one of the best anglers to ever pick up a rod and reel sneaks up on the competition, but that's exactly what happened. After only one and a half days of practice, Nixon struggled out of the gate with only 3-4 on day one. Each of the next three days he returned to form by catching double-digit limits. Like many of the other finalists, Nixon ran nearly 50 miles from the Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock to get to his fish. He used both a green and gold Rapala Husky Jerk and a 6-inch Smithwick Rogue jerkbait to trigger his strikes. The Chevy pro said he was able to fish shallower (7 to 10 feet) than most because his water had a darker stain to it. "This morning it was so cold that I didn't really want to go fishing, but I knew I better because I was on some good fish," Nixon said. "But I had a ball at my first Stren. I just love these clear-water lakes." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Stren Series Central Division event on Bull Shoals: 6th: Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., four-day total of 35-12, $4,980 7th: Jeff Evans of Benton, Ky., 31-2, $4,566 8th: Brent Maurer of Ledbetter, Ky., 28-0, $4,150 9th: Matthew Jones of Spokane, Mo., 25-15, $3,735 10th: Ben Kurtz of Elkhorn, Wis., 25-13, $3,321 The next Stren Series event will take place March 7-10 on Lake Eufula, the third qualifier in the Southeast Division. The next Stren Series Central Division event will be held on Kentucky Lake May 2-5.

Tags: headline-story  brett-carlson 

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »