Up for the Cup

At the final takeoff, half of the field ran up the Allegheny River, while the rest headed to the Ohio River.

PITTSBURGH - Ten of the world's top bass fishermen are hoping they CAN see the Forrest for the trees. And that is Forrest - with two R's, as in Forrest Wood, the Ranger Boats founder for whom the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup is named. The "trees" are actually the leaves, bark, branches and twigs floating down Pittsburgh's acclaimed Three Rivers - the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. Several days this week saw rain of varying intensity and when water drains into rivers it likes to pick up hitch hikers. Debris and mud have affected visibility, while rising rivers and the intuitive current have created their own challenges, in terms of where and how fish will position. Leading the field is Alpine, Calif. pro Rusty Salewske whose performance has been consistent with Top pro Rusty Salewske discusses his strategy with FLWlimits on each of the previous three days. He reached the top-10 by sacking 6 pounds, 4 ounces on day one and following with 5-3 on day two. Salewske jumped into the top spot on day three with 6-6, but he holds just a 15-ounce margin over second place pro, David Curtis of Trinity, Texas. That's not much breathing room, but Salewske said he intends to hold the high ground with a conservative game plan. "What it comes down to is that if I catch five, then (the rest of the field) has to catch them good," he said. "So that's what I'm going to concentrate on - just one at a time and hopefully get the five. It's a mental thing. When you start thinking `I have to catch five,' you start getting in a hurry, you start freaking out, backlashing. "You have to tell yourself, `It's okay to blank, I'm already leading, so let's just catch them one at a time'." Salewske has been fishing far up the Allegheny and he'll return there today. "What I like about (my spot) is the bait was big and there's a lot of it. Also, I saw a lot of keeper fish swimming around." He'll start off with a topwater plug and then spend some throwing a spinnerbait and a crankbait. He'll also keep a jig handy for probing any prominent rock or stickup he encounters. The recent mayfly hatch kept the topwater bite active throughout the day. Recent rains have washed much debris into area waters, so anglers must adjust to the visibility challenges."Several of my better fish, I watched them come up and eat a mayfly, eat a mayfly and when I threw the topwater in front of them, they ate it." Texas pro David Curtis started out strong, placing second on day one - just an ounce off the lead set by Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre (currently in seventh). With smallies slurping mayflies, he was basically sightcasting with a spinnerbait. A rainy day two squashed that deal and he dropped to fifth after a day of junk fishing. Curtis regained some consistency on day three by bouncing a Texas-rigged tube over rocks with good current. He also culled a fish on a crankbait. Curtis located a sweet spot in the Ohio River where he bagged four keepers in close proximity. Prior to takeoff, he was chomping at the bit, eager to give his water another shot. "I'm really hoping that spot will produce some more fish for me. Whether it will or won't, we'll just have to see. But catching that many keepers on one small stretch was very encouraging. It lifted my spirits and I'm excited to get back down there and try it again." In third, California pro Cody Meyer bagged limits on each of the previous three days. His heaviest Texas pro David Curtis sits less than a pound out of the lead.catch - 7 pounds, 7 ounces on day two - came under conditions similar to those of today. "On day two when it was cloudy and rainy, I had my best bag (on day two) when it was cloudy and rainy, so I'm hoping they bite a little more today. The only thing I've been lacking all week is a big one so I have to figure out how to get a big one." Meyer will fish mostly with a white, curl tail grub... "The key for me will be to fish slow and cover a lot of water. I've been fishing different water every single day. I'll fish a variety of different structures (such as) bridges, water discharges and rocky banks with mayfly hatches in the trees. The mayflies were a big factor this week. You could see them fall out of the trees and the bass would get really active." New Jersey pro Mike Iaconelli sits in fourth with 4-12. He missed his day three limit by one fish, while A small white grub will be the go-to bait for California pro Cody Meyer.his partner, Brad Roberts won the co-angler title with five fish weighing 6-4. Clearly, one more keeper would have greatly affected Ike's final round position, but he's confident that he's still in the hunt. Today he'll return to the Ohio River and remain flexible in what has proven to be a dynamic fishery. "I'm going to go back to the same pool I fished yesterday because I know the winning fish are swimming around there," Iaconelli said. "This is a game of constant adjustment. That's the one theme you're going to here when this thing's over - the guy that won was able to adjust each day with the fish. "Everyday has been different for me - I've been constantly changing. Yesterday, the fish really switched. My co-angler and I kind of figured it out about noon, which was a little too late. But if the fish start on that pattern, doing the same kind of thing in the same kind of area, I think I'm going to have a really good day. If they change again, it might take me a while to figure it out." Having junk fished most of the previous three days, Iaconelli found that yesterday's murky waters andAdjusting to the day accelerated current nullified several of his options. He ultimately settled on an unnamed bait with a large profile and lots of vibration - key traits for fishing in low visibility. Iaconelli will employ this bait again today with hopes of closing the gap. "My number one goal today is to catch a limit," he said. "If I do that, I'll put myself in contention. There are only three guys ahead of me, so if one of them slips up and I catch a big fish, things could change." Following Iaconelli by 6 ounces, 2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion and bass fishing's first instant millionaire Scott Suggs will start with a Texas-rigged green pumpkin tube. To bolster his bait's attraction in the turbid water, Suggs will spray his plastics with Gulp! Alive scent attractant. "It makes me feel good just being here," Suggs said. "To be back in this position two years after I won is Hoping to increase his baita pretty amazing thing. The ($1 million top prize) is a lot and it was a lot before, but winning again at this level would just be unbelievable." Although the vast majority of fish weighed this week have been small by most standards, the big Easter egg hunt that is the Three Rivers holds a few well hidden prize eggs upon which fortunes could change on a single cast. Lefebre's entire third day weight came from one studly smallie scaling 3 pounds, 15 ounces. A day earlier, Florida pro Scott Martin found a solid 4-pounder. No doubt, the big ones are very hard to come by, but they do exist. Logistics Final weigh-ins will be held at Mellon Arena at 66 Mario Lemieux Place in Pittsburgh beginning at 5 p.m. In conjunction with the weigh-ins, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at Fans packed the seawall as the top-10 pros readied for a final day of competition.the David L. Lawrence Convention Center located at 1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd. in Pittsburgh. The Family Fun Zone will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new special edition Three Rivers Ranger Z20 boat powered by Evinrude during the final 5 p.m. weigh-in Sunday, Aug. 2, courtesy of Froggy Radio. Admission is free, and you must be present to win. The total purse for the Pittsburgh Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol is $2 million, including $10,000 through 40th place in the Pro Division. Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol, hosted by VisitPittsburgh, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated "FLW Outdoors," will air Nov. 8 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. On the web For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Forrest Wood Cup. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the FLW Outdoors, Bass and FLW Tour home pages. Sunday's conditions Sunrise: 6:18 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 67 degrees Expected high temperature: 75 degrees Water temperature: 74-77 degrees Wind: SW at 6-8 mph Maximum humidity: 84 percent

Tags: morning-story  david-a-brown 

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tricky-transition-at-beaver

Tricky Transition at Beaver

Though Beaver Lake is an annual stop for the Walmart FLW Tour, that doesn’t mean it is an easy lake to decipher. This year’s event, which is presented by Rayovac, is later into the spring than usual and is causing some major head scratching among the 154 pros in the field. There’s no doubt that some fish can be found on beds, however, they are mostly small. The consensus is that a lot of fish are stuck in limbo between the spawn and prespawn phase on this White River impoundment. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-spawn-looming-at-beaver-lake

Spawn Looming at Beaver Lake

As the pros who fish the Walmart FLW Tour begin practice on Beaver Lake, this jewel of northwestern Arkansas could be setting up for another spring spawn showdown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-weather-woes-greet-college-anglers

Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

It was supposed to be a shallow-water bassfest, with largemouths and spots roaming Lake Murray’s shoreline to feast on spawning blueback herring. That still might happen as the FLW College Fishing National Championship plays out the next three days here, but the fishing is more likely to be ad lib than follow any script. The dreary, damp weather that settled over the region Wednesday during the last day of practice is the culprit. Not only did it hamper the efforts of contestants looking for the last bedding fish of the season, but also those depending on a consistent blueback herring bite to gin up the action. Still, the consensus of opinion is that one pattern or the other will prevail, and settle the question of college bragging rights for the next year as well as send the winning team to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in August. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-13-top-10-patterns-from-sam-rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

With heavy rainfall swelling Sam Rayburn Reservoir, this Angelina River impoundment had risen 5 feet above normal level by the start of the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament. This gave fish and fishermen access to miles of shoreline forest and brush that normally stand in mere inches of water – if not on dry ground. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-12-top-10-baits-from-sam-rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

With Sam Rayburn swollen to 5 feet above its normal water level, the top 10 pros broke out various flipping and punching rigs to pick apart newly flooded cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hanselman-wins-back-to-back

Hanselman Wins Back-to-Back

Once you get Ray Hanselman going, just get out of his way. The Del Rio, Texas, pro is riding an incredible high right now after sewing up his second consecutive Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division win. Hanselman won the opener on Lake Amistad in February, then backed it up this week with a win on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in an event presented by Mercury. For his final-day limit, Hanselman plowed deep into Rayburn’s flooded cover to track down a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 10 ounces, raising his three-day total to 60-08 for a win by more than 7 pounds. For his efforts, Hanselman earned a cool $35,815 check and another trophy to add to his mantle. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-wilson-tops-co-anglers-on-rayburn

Wilson Tops Co-anglers on Rayburn

Dan Wilson caught one of only three co-angler limits on the final day of competition to come back from fourth place and win the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Consistency was key for Wilson, who weighed in 11 pounds, 1 ounce on day one, then followed with 13-04 and 14-15 on days two and three, respectively. His three-day total of 39-04 bested day-two leader Bryan New of North Carolina by 3 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-rayburn-day-3-midday-update

Rayburn Day 3 Midday Update

A chilly morning greeted the top 10 pros and co-anglers for the final day of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, but a warm sunrise filtered by scattered clouds bespoke the gorgeous conditions forthcoming. Winds have dropped off to barely a breeze, main-lake running is easy, and the coves and creeks where most anglers are fishing are glassy smooth. Fish surely pulled tighter to cover with the sunny conditions, but that probably makes little difference, as the majority of anglers have been flipping close to trees and into dense buck brush since day one. The heavy, tangled spots with vines seem to be the prime targets again today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-hanselmania-returns

Hanselmania Returns

He’s back at it again. Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, won the season-opening Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Amistad, and today he weighed in 23 pounds, 5 ounces on the second day of competition at stop No. 2 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Hanselman vaulted into the tournament lead with a two-day total of 43-14. “Hanselmania” leads by 5 pounds, 6 ounces over Denny Brauer, also of Del Rio, who is in second place for the second consecutive day. The leader’s stringer is even more impressive considering that Hanselman lost three 5-pounders this morning and caught 23-5 on a day when only one other pro weighed more than 20 pounds, and only three others weighed more than 18 pounds. Day-one leader Joe Don Setina weighed in only four keepers for 11 pounds today. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-10-rayburn-day-2-midday-update

Rayburn Day 2 Midday Update

With only one fish in the livewell at 10:30, Joe Don Setina was probably hoping for a repeat of day one – at least the part where he sacks ’em up in the second half. We found the leading pro fishing the Black Forrest area that he worked the first day, and he’s sticking with the same routine of flipping heavy cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-setina-overcomes-slow-start

Setina Overcomes Slow Start

Pittsburg, Texas, pro Joe Don Setina is off to a hot start in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division this season. After a top-10 finish at the opener on Lake Amistad, Setina jumped out to the day-one lead on Sam Rayburn today. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Setina, however. He says nothing went right for him this morning, when he lost fish, snagged trees and finally had to sit down and collect himself before continuing on. After refocusing, Setina caught his first keeper at about 11 a.m. and proceeded to sack up 23 pounds, 6 ounces for a slim 8-ounce lead over second-place pro Denny Brauer, who also finished in the top 10 at the Amistad opener. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 1

Overcoming a tough start, Joe Don Setina rallied to take the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event presented by Mercury on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He’s fishing flooded trees and bushes like most of the field and weighed in 23 pounds, 6 ounces. With the lake at a 15-year high thanks to recent rains, Rayburn’s bass are scattered, often in areas that are difficult to reach. Some pros are muscling their way through the thick stuff to search for bedding fish, while others opt for working the perimeter of the flooded zone for postspawn bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-anglers-brace-for-rough-weather

Anglers Brace for Rough Weather

At the morning takeoff, Texas pro Jim Tutt joked about putting on his rainsuit in the warm, dry sanctuary of the cove where the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn would soon commence. However, upon leaving the protected waters just east of the Sam Rayburn Dam, anglers soon found a very different mood that’s likely to worsen as the day progresses. Cloudy morning skies generally foretell some type of weather system coming or going, but this afternoon and evening will see some pretty fierce meteorological mayhem making its way across the Midwest and Mississippi Valley regions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-swollen-rayburn-challenges-anglers

Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level. Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-front-and-center

Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »