UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Hopkins’ handiwork

DENISON, Texas - Ronnie Hopkins Jr. - the pro leader for three days at the Stren Series event on Lake Texoma - didn't just seal the deal Saturday, he slammed the door, nailed it shut and wrapped it in duct tape. Needing just 3 pounds and 13 ounces to unseat Douglas Jones of Fort Gibson, Okla., who had just bumped Denison, Texas, pro Ryan Lovelace from the hot seat, Hopkins took the stage, heaving a bag that wiggled way too much to be bluffing with water. Reaching the victory mark after just three fish, Hopkins yanked out a pair of chunky largemouths that completed a limit of 13-11 (55-15 total) and delivered a winning margin of nearly 10 pounds along with $25,000. Throughout the tournament, Hopkins' strategy hinged on later bites along rocky shorelines where stiff winds had congregated baitfish. That said, his daily weights track clearly with the week's meteorological record. Day one saw lots of wind, and Hopkins bagged a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit. Day two was more of the same, and Hopkins weighed a 15-8 limit. Day three saw the wind fall flat, and Hopkins caught four fish at 8-14. "Fishing shallow rocks in the wind was the key," he said. "They bit late and I hadPro winner Ronnie Hopkins, Jr. used a handmade crankbait for his big win. to stay with it. A lot of days I'd only get one bite by 11, and then between 11 and 3, I'd catch a lot of fish. The first day I had a late flight, and I caught my two biggest fish in the last hour." Hopkins did most of his damage with a square-bill crankbait. On day one, he lost his bait of choice to a trotline, and fellow angler Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, gave him a replacement. The new lure was handmade by Hartsell's road partner and FLW pro Kenta Kimura, also of Livingston. Each day, Hopkins started out fishing in the Washita River and started working his way southwest back to Hiport Marina by 11 a.m. He picked up many of his fish within two miles of the marina. "I was surprised that I did so well," Hopkins said. "I only prefished one day for about six hours. I figured it would be like it is in the spring where you catch (bass) around boat docks, but I couldn't get bit around boat docks. I had to change up, and it was a day-to-day deal." The winning pattern became apparent during Hopkins' lone practice day: "I pulled up on this one stretch of bank and got five bites in 45 minutes, and they were all 3-pounders. So I went with that the rest of the week." Jones hides out, holds on for second While the majority of the field spent a lot of time running from spot to spot, second-place pro Doug Jones of Doug Jones fished inside a creek the entire tournament and pulled out a second-place finish.Fort Gibson, Okla., bucked the trend and fished the entire tournament tucked way back in the cozy confines of Briar Creek. There he boated a limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces for a four-day total of 46 even. "Very rarely do you practice and have a plan come together like it did this week" Jones said. "I went up the creek ditch about as far as you could float a boat." Fishing green-pumpkin jigs and Brush Hogs around submerged structure in 2 to 5 feet, Jones stuck with familiar tactics and maximized a pattern that he confirmed during practice. "I went to my strengths. I like to flip and fish in creeks with shallow wood and lay-downs and things like that, so when I came down to practice, that's what I looked for. When I went up there and found the fish, I felt at home, so I pretty much stayed at them the entire tournament." While many others struggled to hold their position and make effective presentations in blustery conditions, Jones gave only cursory consideration to daily weather reports: "The only thing I looked at was how rough the ride was going to be getting there. Other than that, I really didn't care." Jones landed in a three-way tie for first on day one with 13-5, moved into second on day two with nearly a mirror effort of 13-3 and held on to the No. 2 spot on day three with 10-12. Lovelace takes third despite culling error Local pro Ryan Lovelace of Denison, Texas, fished in Little Mineral Arm and threw shallow-diving crankbaits around chunk rock. Aggressively bouncing his bait off the rocks producedLocal pro Ryan Lovelace bagged a limit in the final round and finished fourth. a limit of 11 pounds, 3 ounces. His final total was 42-5. "The fish were moving up to feed, and if you could get a windy bank, you could catch them." Lovelace said. "Also, the fish were grouped up. If you could find the fish and stay with them, you could give them 15 minutes (between catches) to settle down and then go back and catch some more." Lovelace said the final-round weather favored his game plan: "The wind didn't blow yesterday, but I knew it was going to blow today, and that's what I needed for my fish to bite. Once the wind started blowing, I got back on my pattern and they were there." Sadly, Lovelace inadvertently liberated a couple of fish that may have enabled him to close the gap of 3 pounds, 11 ounces between second and third. "I had two cull rings on my two smallest fish," he explained. "It was really rough, and evidently on the way across the lake, one of the cull rings came off. I pulled up on a spot and started catching fish really fast and got excited. I just didn't see the other fish in there, and I threw three good fish back. I didn't realize that I had one little fish in the well until we got back to the marina." Combs finishes ounces back in fourth Keith Combs Covering water and relying on local knowledge led Keith Combs to a fourth-place finish.of Temple, Texas, entered the final round in fourth place and finished in the same spot with a limit catch of 9-1 that gave him a four-day total of 42-2. For Combs, consistency hinged on mobility and local knowledge. "I covered a lot of water," he said. "Fishing new water every day helped me a lot. The second thing is that I've seen this lake low a couple of times in the spring, so I knew where some key brush piles and lay-downs were." Combs fished crankbaits in the morning, and when that bite slowed, he turned to an 1/8-ounce shaky-head worm in green-pumpkin. The latter was an unfamiliar tactic for Combs, however; he said it gave him a viable option for when the crankbait bite diminished. "This is the first time I've had a spinning rod on my deck, but I was able to scratch out a limit," he said. Hatchel's heartbreak yields fifth Craig Hatchel of Whitesboro, Texas, caught a limit weighing 8-15 and ended up withCraig Hatchel found his fish on windy banks with lots of chunk rock habitat. 41-2 - a total he felt should have been higher. "I lost a 5-pounder right at the net today," he said. "That hurt." Hatchel ran down the Red River and pitched Penetrator Jigs made by Weedless Lures around chunk-rock shorelines in depths "from 6 inches to 5 feet." The day's windy conditions created a situation that facilitated his tactics. "The water was muddy, so the fish felt secure in the shallow water," Hatchel noted. "When it's clear, you can't get them that shallow. It had to be windy. Wind and big chunk rock - that's what I looked for." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the Stren Series event on Lake Texoma: 6th: Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, 40-6 7th: Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., 39-13 8th: Lendell Martin Jr. of Nacagdoches, Texas, 39-12 9th: Ben Matsubu of Hemphill, Texas, 39-10 10th: Robert McFarlane of San Antonio, Texas, 35-1

Tags: headline-story  david-a-brown 

/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/2015-08-27-hunting-erie-s-brown-fish

Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

It’s going to be an Easter egg hunt on Lake Erie, but at least the great lake will behave a little better during the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event than it did during practice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-26-smallmouth-slugfest-on-tap-at-erie-

Smallmouth Slugfest on Tap at Erie

Florida pro Glenn Browne leads the race with 492 points, largely due to his win at the previous divisional event on Lake Champlain. Following well within striking distance are Canadian pro Cory Johnston (484 points) and Louisianan Gerald Spohrer (483), who found his way into the Northern Division quite incidentally. 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 »

/news/2015-08-17-elkins-looked-deep-on-erie

Elkins Looked Deep on Erie

Matt Elkins of Spencerville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament on the Detroit River. For his victory, Elkins earned $5,337. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-17-manson-targets-shad

Manson Targets Shad

Scott Manson of Covington, Ohio, weighed four bass totaling 8 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Manson earned $5,205. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-17-top-10-patterns-from-lake-dardanelle

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong, who won the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event on Lake Dardanelle, devoted most of his time to fishing reed lines with a mix of chatterbaits, frogs and Texas-rigged worms. He also caught fish by dragging a Texas-rigged 10-inch worm past brush piles in 6-8 feet. Lieblong amassed a three-day total of 46 pound, 3 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-15-lieblong-dominates-dardanelle-rayovac

Lieblong Dominates Dardanelle Rayovac

Having lead the event for two days, the pro from Conway, Ark., carried a 14-ounce lead into the final round. After weighing a limit of 12 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Lieblong closed the door with a tournament total of 46-3 and a 2-pound, 2-ounce margin of victory. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-15-smith-takes-co-angler-title-at-dardanelle

Smith Takes Co-Angler Title At Dardanelle

READ MORE »