UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Combs climbs atop Rayburn

Local pro Keith Combs gave the shallow bite another look today but ended up securing his weight offshore.

LUFKIN, Texas - Keith Combs wasn't completely convinced that his shallow bite was off, but today it took him less time to decide than yesterday. The decision proved crucial, as he put together another solid limit that lifted him to the lead position at the FLW Tour Open on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

"Yesterday, I had a deep deal going and a shallow deal going," Combs said. "The shallow deal didn't pan out yesterday and I spent about half my day doing it. Today, I spent maybe 30 minutes doing it."

Combs said he's been frustrated because the shallow action that was red-hot just a few days ago in practice has so far proven unproductive during the tournament. Monday and Tuesday found him shaking off big fish with amazing regularity, but with that action presently absent, he's had to make his weight over offshore wood and brush in 12-25 feet.Keith Combs said the key to finding fish was hitting a lot of spots and not camping on any of them.

"I had a tremendous day the last day of practice," Combs said. "I could have had a 25-pound day shallow. That just keeps me going back and checking a few key things. And I'll check a few things tomorrow because if it turns on, I think that's my best chance to really whack 'em. To win doing what I'm doing now (offshore), I'm just going to have to get fortunate."

Combs based that opinion on the slow, arduous fishing he's experienced the past two days.

"It was a grind for a long time," he said. "I was catching like one fish per spot. I caught my first one about 9:30 and had a limit by 11. I caught a good one around noon and knew I was going to make (the top-20 cut for day 3). I was a little bit more comfortable so I tried some different spots and ran a lot of new water."

Keith Combs said the key to finding fish was hitting a lot of spots and not camping on any of them.Working in Combs' favor is mathematical consistency. His day-one weight of 16-12 landed him in fourth-place, but with others above him having a tougher day two, his second-round limit of 16-11 was sufficient to move him up three spots with the top weight of 33-7 and a leading margin of 2-1.

The Strike King 6XD that produced for him on day one yielded a single keeper today. Combs caught his other four on a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Recon Worm. Color was important, so Combs kept that under wraps. He did say that his success hinged on staying mobile and resisting the temptation to camp out on any one spot.

"I'm just trying to hit as many spots as I can," he said. "I don't stay around and catch them. I'm a two to five casts kinda guy and I run to something else. Sometimes, if it's really slow, I may miss them, but by the end of the day, I've got something."

Big comeback for second-place Castledine

A slow day one yielded a small limit that weighed 11-10 for Todd Castledine, but the Texas pro roared back on day two with the biggest catch of the event - 19-12 - and gained 22 spots with a second-place total of 31-6.

Calling Rayburn his home lake, Castledine said he thought he had formulated a solid game plan during practice, but when day-one showed him otherwise, he knew he couldn't depend on the creek mouth pattern he had intended to fish. The recent rains that raised the water level a foot or so were likely to blame.

"I was on them before the tournament," Castledine said. "When it rained, I thought that might mess it After sacking up the heaviest limit of the first two days, Todd Castledine gained 22 spots to take second place.up and I went and checked it out in practice. I thought everything was going to be alright but I knew it wasn't going to be good yesterday about halfway through the day.

"Today, I tried to go make it happen again. I thought that with the low weights yesterday they just didn't bite. When I catch one (where I was fishing) it's a good one but I can't catch a limit up there. I only had four at 2:30 today and two of them would have been embarrassing to weight in."

Realizing he had to do something quick before his time expired, Castledine moved to an offshore spot he had identified toward the end of day one and quickly caught a 3-pounder. With another promising spot 50 yards away, he made a final move and caught two of his best fish - including a 7-pound 2-ounce beauty that nearly gave him the slip. With a legitimate day-changer on the line, Castledine was a step away from taking drastic action when fate smiled and cut him a break.

"I set the hook and she had me wrapped up and we went tug-of-war for at least two minutes," he said. "Then she stopped moving. I pulled on her and pulled on her and nothing. I knew how big she was so I said 'Man, I'm going to pull this whole brush pile up.'

"I put the rod down on the deck, got a rope and I was going to get an anchor and pull the whole pile up. It took about three or four minutes to do all that with the rod still on the deck. I went back to the front of the boat, picked up the rod. She pulled, I pulled back on her and she swam out."

Castledine finished out his day on a third offshore spot where he bagged his second biggest bass just before he had to head back. On his shallow spot, he used a new Kicker Fish prototype swimbait on a swim jig. Offshore, he used Texas-rigged Kicker Fish High Tail Worm (redbug).

Marks holds at third

When his deep bite fizzled  Phil Marks went shallow and held on to his third-place position.Contrary to some of his competitors, Strike King pro Phil Marks fared better by fishing shallow today. That stood in stark contrast to his full commitment to offshore spots a day earlier, but when his deep spots shut off, Marks moved shoreward and caught a limit of 14-2 that increased his total to 31-3 and kept him in the third-place spot he acquired on day one.

"It's a pattern I'm running out deep and I went to my first four or five spots and never saw a ball of shad, I didn't see any fish," Marks said. "I caught one little 14-incher but he just kind of fell in from the sky. About 10:30 I pulled up the trolling motor and went to Plan B. I had some shallow fish and I went there and caught a limit pretty quick. I was going to run back out deep, but then I decided I was going to sit there and practice and figure out where they're all at. I culled a few times, but I just a bunch of 2 ¾-pounders today and just tried to stay as high as I could."

Marks caught four of his fish on a Strike King KVD 1.0 squarebill crankbait in summer sexy shad and the fifth bit a chartreuse/white Strike King spinnerbait.

"I was targeting clumps of grass with sand around them," he said. "I think it would have been better if we had more wind. There wasn't a lot of wind, so I have a lot of short bites on the spinnerbait. I probably caught 25 keepers in that last two hours and I feel like I have them pretty well pegged if I need to go back there again."

Kenney scrambles, slips to fourth

Day-one leader J.T. Kenney returned to the offshore spots that produced his 19-pound, 6-ounce bag,Day-one leader  JT Kenney struggled on the second day and slipped to fourth place. but found them practically barren. He switched gears and went to a shallow pattern that produced 11-7. With a two-day total of 30-13, he slipped three spots to fourth.

"I fished deep until like 10:30 and never had a bite but I almost knew I wasn't going to because I got out there on those spots and there was no bait on those spots anymore," Kenney said. "I went to the bank and caught three flipping. I fished another two hours and never had another bite so I went back deep and the fish were there, the bait was there and I caught quite a few in the afternoon so it must be a timing deal."

Kenney caught his shallow fish on a Texas-rigged plastics anchored by a 1 1/2-ounce Reins tungsten weight. Offshore, he used a mix of moving baits and plastics.

Herren improves to fifth

 Catching a few early fish gave fifth-place Matt Herren the confidence to expand outward during his day.Matt Herren, of Trussville, Ala., placed sixth on day one with 14-13 and gained one spot to fifth with a second-day limit of 15-11, which boosted his total to 30-8. Herren caught most of his fish shallow and getting things rolling quickly enabled him to expand outward.

"I'm dialing in a little better every day," he said. "I'm able to catch a few fish early and that's freeing me up to run the pattern and look for more stuff. I added a little more to my arsenal today. I'm having a good time and fishing like I like to fish."

Herren caught his fish in 8-12 feet of water. He said he used a mix of moving baits and plastics, but bait choice was not the key factor.

"It's not what I'm throwing, it's where I'm throwing it," he said. "It's kind of a combination of three or four things. It's the right depth, the right cover, the right area. It all adds up and when you find it, they're This 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth gave Lamonte Lloyd the day-two Big Bass honors.there."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir:

6th: Mike Surman, of Boca Raton, Fla., 29-15
7th: Jacob Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., 29-12
8th: Jason Wells, of Center, Texas, 29-2
9th: John Cox, of Debary, Fla., 28-4
10th: Darrel Davis, of Dover, Fla., 27-14

Lamonte Lloyd earned Big Bass honors for his 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth

Farris drops key fish but retains co-angler lead

Despite a big decline in productivity, Clint Farris managed to hold on to the co-angler lead.Clint Farris had "one of those days" yesterday and today, but he'd probably rather forget the day-two version. After posting a day-one limit of 16-2, which included an 8-11 that stands as the event's largest fish so far, the Joshua, Texas co-angler found just four keepers for 6-1. Fortunately, his strong opening effort put him far enough ahead that he maintained his lead with a total weight of 22-3.

"It was really slow and I didn't catch my first keeper until around 10 o'clock," Farris said. "I struggled, broke off two fish, jumped one off and didn't execute. If you don't execute, that's why everybody catches up to you. At least I'm blessed enough to get another day to try and execute tomorrow."

Farris caught his day-two bass on a Texas-rigged worm fished amid lily pads and moss. Tangling with the vegetation is what robbed him of several key fish.

Darrel Denton, of Georgetown, Texas took second with 20-8, while Jeff Gengler, of Fort Collins, Co. went to third with 19-11. Ben Todd, of Pierson, Fla. placed fourth with 19-11 and Alfred Williams, of Jackson, Miss., was fifth with 19-5.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir:

6th: Wilson Burton, of Groves, Texas, 19-2
7th: Tommy Mendoza, of Lake Charles, La., 18-15
8th: Scott Darragh, of Midlothian, Texas, 16-14
9th: Gregg Swindle, of Katy, Texas, 16-14
10th: Corbett Ross, of Port Neches, Texas, 16-1

Day three of the FLW Tour Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir continues at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. (Central) at Cassels-Boykin County Park located at FM Road 3123 (Off State Hwy 147) in Zavalla, Texas.

Tags: david-a-brown  headline-story  2012-10-11-sam-rayburn-reservoir 

/news/2016-02-12-top-10-photos-from-lake-okeechobee-

Top 10 Photos from Lake Okeechobee

FLW’s coverage crew was all over the place during the Walmart FLW Tour kickoff presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. The following photos are some of the best taken during a week of wild weather swings and big bass. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-dudley-links-up-with-livingston-lures

Dudley Links Up with Livingston Lures

Livingston Lures has added three-time Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year David Dudley to its pro-staff. The Virginia pro joins two-time FLW AOY Andy Morgan and former FLW Rookie of the Year Stetson Blaylock on the Team Livingston roster. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-power-pole-extends-partnership-with-flw

Power-Pole Extends Partnership with FLW

FLW announced yesterday that JL Marine Systems, manufacturer of Power-Pole shallow-water anchor systems, has signed a sponsorship extension for the 2016 season. This will be the sixth consecutive season that the two organizations have partnered. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-flw-college-fishing-western-conference-opens-season-on-shasta-lake

FLW College Fishing Western Conference Opens Season on Shasta Lake

REDDING, Calif. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 20 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Western Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-lake-shasta-set-to-host-costa-flw-series-opener-presented-by-minn-kota

Lake Shasta Set to Host Costa FLW Series Opener Presented by Minn Kota

REDDING, Calif. – The Costa FLW Series is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 18-20 for a tournament presented by Minn Kota when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the first stop of 2016 in the Western Division. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-montgomery-targets-prespawn-bass-for-win

Montgomery Targets Prespawn Bass for Win

Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, Ala., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-top-10-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee

Oklahoma’s Bradley Hallman sewed up his first Walmart FLW Tour victory at the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats by pitching and punching reed heads in the South Bay area with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. Hallman stuck with his program despite up-and-down air temperatures, high winds and all the curveballs Mother Nature could throw at him. Here's how the rest of the top 10 got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-08-top-10-baits-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Lake Okeechobee

The Walmart FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee went from a tight race to a runaway in a hurry when Bradley Hallman just wouldn’t stop catching the big ones. As for the lures he used, and those put to work by the rest of the top 10, some Okeechobee staples were applied as well as a few oddball baits. If you’re thinking of heading down to the Big O or anywhere else in Florida soon, you might want to acquire a few of the lures they fished. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-hallman-wins-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Wins Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought just two bass to the scale Sunday totaling 6 pounds, 8 ounces, but it was still enough to earn the win at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s four-day cumulative total of 16 bass weighing 71 pounds, 2 ounces earned him the win by an impressive 14-pound, 14-ounce margin over second-place pro Alex Davis of Albertville, Alabama, and $100,000 in the tournament that featured 169 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing in the first FLW Tour event of the regular season. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-big-hall-man-on-okeechobee

Big (Hall)Man on Okeechobee

It was the Bradley Hallman show all week long at Lake Okeechobee at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. Though, the Norman, Okla., pro struggled on day four and brought in only two fish for 6 pounds, 8 ounces, he pulled off the wire-to-wire victory in his first event on Tour. The 13-pound, 9-ounce lead that Hallman built up through the first three days of competition was enough that he didn't actually have to weigh his fish today. Hallman's tournament total of 71 pounds, 2 ounces far exceeded the 56-04 caught by runner-up Alex Davis. For the win, Hallman earned $100,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-lake-okeechobee-day-4-coverage

Lake Okeechobee Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 3

Across the board, weights fell off on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. No one in the top 20 crossed the 20-pound mark. Cloud cover, which prevented the water temperature from rising much above 65 degrees, and low water clarity might both have slowed the replenishment of bass moving into spawn. Tournament leader Bradley Hallman experienced a bit of a stall in the action as well, bringing just four fish to the scales, but he still managed to increase his lead to 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-hallman-extends-lead-on-day-three-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Extends Lead On Day Three At Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Anchored by an 8-pound, 10-ounce kicker, pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought four bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces to extend his lead to more than 13½ pounds heading in to the final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s... READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-can-anyone-catch-hallman-

Can Anyone Catch Hallman?

Despite catching only four keepers on day three, Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman extended his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. With a day-three weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces and a tournament total of 64-10, his margin over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-montgomery-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-bulldog-division-opener-on-lake-eufaula

Montgomery Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division Opener on Lake Eufaula

EUFAULA, Ala. – Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »