UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Change is good

Jason Ober fished schools of bass that were following yellow perch and found the winning limit.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - In a dramatic see-saw battle against a formidable opponent, Jason Ober of Johnstown, Pa., made a critical adjustment and secured his victory in the Stren Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. Locked in a close contest with Chris Baumgardner - the Snickers pro from Gastonia, N.C. - Ober took Baumgardner's day-one lead in the second round, but gave it back on day three. Entering the final round in second place, Ober caught a limit weighing 17 pounds, 4 ounces and tallied a tournament total of 74-5. Prevailing against not only Baumgardner, but an entire field of accomplished anglers was very meaningful to Ober. "I'm overwhelmed - this is the highlight of my life," he said. "To fish against (pros such as) Chris Baumgardner, Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek is unbelievable." Ober spent the entire tournament working waypoints where he had marked large groups of smallmouth After relying on crankbaits and topwaters for most of the tournament, top pro Jason Ober fished a dropshot in the final round.bass. In open water depths of 12 to 14 feet, the smallies were following dense pods of yellow perch, so locating the food meant locating the predators. Crankbaits and topwater plugs had delivered the majority of his bites during the first three days of competition, but when the hard baits' productivity declined, Ober took an essential cue from his co-angler, Thomas Shafer, who also won his division. Shafer was using a green-pumpkin candy Chigger Craw on a drop-shot, and when the bait hit paydirt, Ober knew what he had to do. "My co-angler is the reason I won today," Ober said. "I was saving one little honeyhole for today, and I went there at the end of the day. My co-angler caught a great big one, and then he caught another great big one. Finally, I said, `Look, I am hard-headed, but I'm not that hard-headed - show me the deal.' "I tied up (with Shafer's bait), and we caught them on every cast from then until it was time to go. I caught two of my weight fish (with that bait) that I'm sure made the difference for me. "I went from throwing topwater plugs, to cranking to drop-shotting to seal this deal. Drop-shotting is what just won me this (tournament)." Second-place Baumgardner let down by lay-downs Heavy rains the night before the final round shut down Chris BaumgardnerRunning 25 miles from the launch site, Baumgardner started out throwing a 1/2-ounce black/blue ChatterBait with a Zoom Speed Craw around lay-downs in creek bends. For the past three days, targeting suspended fish in 3 to 5 feet of water had consistently produced big stringers, including his top effort: a 20-pound, 10-ounce bag on day three. However, Baumgardner said his creek pattern produced only two keepers - probably due in some part to the heavy rains that fell the night before. Dingy water pushing through the lake's arteries affected visibility, while swift current hindered fish and fisherman. "With all the rain we had, my spot got trashed," he said. "The current was twice as strong (as the day before)." Baumgardner said he worked his creeks until about 11 a.m. and put two keepers in the well. He then moved to a "community hole" where he finished out his limit by drop-shotting for smallmouths. "I fished the creek until my trolling wouldn't go anymore; the current was that strong," Baumgardner said. "I tried to go with the current, but it was just to fast. You couldn't fish it." Baumgardner weighed 16 pounds, 3 ounces on day four and ended with 73-15. Voyles feeling froggy in third Entering the final round in fifth place, John Voyles of Petersburg, Ind., ran south to the fertile grass beds Snapping a frog on a slack line led John Voyles to a third-place finish.of Ticonderoga. Green-and-black Spro frogs fished over matted vegetation in 3 to 4 feet produced his 16-pound, 7-ounce stringer (63-11 total) and some of the most exhilarating strikes he'd ever seen. "When those bass came up and hit that frog, it's like watching and alligator coming out of the water," Voyles said. "It's phenomenal." The key to working the frog, Voyles said, was maximum action with minimal forward progress. "I was snapping it on a slack line. I was really trying to make it pop on that mat." When John Voyles ran out of the Spro frogs he was using in practice, a friend in Indiana overnighted a fresh supply for the tournament.Working an area overrun with hungry bass, Voyles said he could have abandoned his technique and still caught fish. "There was such a good school of fish underneath (the mat), I really didn't need to pop the frog. I mean they were fighting over it." Voyles said he discovered the hot frog action during practice, but the intense bite wore down all but one of his frogs. He had to make that lone amphibian imposter suffice for the first day of the event, but fortunately a friend back home in Indiana was able to overnight reinforcements to Plattsburgh so Voyles could continue his pattern. Seal sticks it out, takes fourth Starting day four in seventh place, Gregg Seal of Eldred, Pa., rose three places with a limit catch of Despite a first-round stumble, Gregg Seal stuck with his game plan and turned in a fourth-place finish.15 pounds, 15 ounces, which gave him a 62-14 total. Starting his campaign with a 38th-place effort on day one was not favorable to his confidence, but Seal persevered. "I dropped the ball a little bit the first day, and I thought I was done, but I just stuck with it," he said. "I'm proud of the adjustments I made." Seal used dropshot tubes earlier in the tournament, but eventually discovered a good topwater pattern that produced several of his weight fish. Lakey finds his fish (again) for fifth He temporarily lost his school of fish on day three, but fifth-place pro Scott Lakey found them again in the final round.Entering the final round in ninth place, Scott Lakey of Augusta, Mich., caught 15 pounds, 11 ounces for a total of 62-3. He fished a 1/2-ounce football -head jig in peanut butter-and-jelly color. Like most, Lakey was keying on areas with large schools of yellow perch and the smallmouths that were gorging on this forage. He turned in two bags of 16-plus pounds on days one and two, but stumbled on day three with just 13-8. "I was on a big wad of fish this week," he said. "I lost them yesterday, but I found them again today." Best of the rest Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the Stren Series Lake Champlain event: 6th: Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., 60-11 7th: Brian Gates of Mendon, Vt., 60-9 8th: Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., 60-1 9th: Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J., 59-7 10th: Atsushi Nakahigashi of Chester, Va., 58-11

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/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-hicks-tops-co-angler-field-on-erie

Hicks Tops Co-angler Field on Erie

At 8:30 a.m., Justin Hicks turned to the camera boat following him and Jared Rhode – who split the day-two lead with Dave Lefebre – and said: “I sure would like to win this.” Eight hours later, the young man from Roanoke, Va., lifted the first place trophy at the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. 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 »

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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 »