A sight to behold

The Blue Ridge Mountains set the backdrop to start the EverStart Northern Division on Smith Mountain Lake.

HUDDLESTON, Va. - After what has seemed like a series of winter-like starts to the FLW tournament season, spring has finally decided to make an appearance. With blooming flowers, pollen filling the air and bass laying on beds there is no better way to start the EverStart Series Northern Division season on Smith Mountain Lake. Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is where you will find Smith Mountain - an impoundment created by damming the Roanoke and Blackwater rivers. While relatively small in size - around 20,000 acres - it features plenty of little coves and creeks that make up the 500-plus miles of shoreline on Smith Mountain. It is in these coves where anglers will set their sights this week in hopes of finding some big bass on bed. The spawn this year has been delayed due to several cold snaps that have hit the area. But with the recent warm, sunny days, the full moon occurring tonight and the gin clear water of Smith Mountain it has set the stage for a sight-fishing bonanza. Brandon Coulter launches his boat for his first tournament ever on Smith Mountain Lake. "This is about what you could ask for in a sight-fishing tournament," said FLW Tour pro Brandon Coulter. "This lake is full of fish. I have never been here before and I am amazed at how many 2 1/2-pound fish you see swimming around. With us sitting on the right moon and the last three days of sun it seems like more and more fish are moving to the bank every day. "A lot of the fish I have seen shallow are the bucks (males). There are still prespawn fish to catch and I think that is where you might see the A-rig come into play, especially this morning with the clouds and wind." Day one of any tournament when sight-fishing plays a roll tends to bring the best weights. However, each day after that tends to get harder and harder because a lot of the known bedded fish have already been plucked off. That is when an angler needs to have something in their back pocket to take advantage of. Having grown up just down the road from Smith Mountain, Castrol pro Philip Jarabeck knows he will need to do something different to have a chance to win. Castrol pro Philip Jarabeck hopes to pluck a few bass of beds with his shaky head. "There are fish spawning everywhere you go out here," said Jarabeck, who is fishing his rookie season on the FLW Tour. "Without a doubt sight-fishing will play a big role but I think whoever wins is going to catch them doing something other than just sight-fishing. "A few weeks ago there were cruising fish all over, but now most of them are on beds. You can find some cruisers sitting under docks and I think getting some of those fish to eat will be key. It's not a problem to find those fish, but getting them to eat is a different story. There are shad spawning all over the place right now as well and those prespawn fish will be targeting that pattern. Getting a big bite other than sight-fishing will go a long way this week." It seemed apparent that most anglers plan to work the bank in search of spawning bass on the first day of competition. But with a good number of fish waiting to move up to the bank and shad spawning does this mean the Alabama rig will make an appearance? "There is no doubt guys will throw the rig this week and will probably catch them good on it," said Coulter, who utilized the A-rig to finish in the top 10 at the last FLW Tour stop on Beaver Lake. "I'm going sight-fishing this week so I'm thankful I don't have to throw the A-rig. I'm worn out from tossing that thing around." Smith Mountain boasts a great population of largemouth and even a fair amount of smallmouth as well. And with plenty of bass in the 2 1/2- to 3-pound range there should be some good bags of fish brought to the scales this week. "I think 15 to 16 pounds a day will be about right to get in the top 10," said Jarabeck. "There is definitely potential for a big stringer though, all winter there were 20- to 23-pound bags brought in during local tournaments. Again, it comes back to getting that extra big bite from those prespawn fish." Logistics Anglers gather in the cove waiting for their time to blast off. Anglers will take off from Parkway Marina located at 16817 Smith Mountain Lake Parkway in Huddleston, Va., at 7 a.m. each day. Weigh-in will be held at the takeoff location on Thursday and Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 1126 E. Lynchburg Salem Turnpike in Bedford, Va., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. 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. Thursday's conditions Sunrise: 6:30 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 42 degrees Expected high temperature: 65 degrees Water temperature: 56-66 degrees Wind: NW 5-10 mph Maximum humidity: 46 percent Day's outlook: Partly cloudy then clearing off

Tags: morning-story 

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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 »

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Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »

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Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »

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Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

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Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

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Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-05-heating-up-on-havasu

Heating Up on Havasu

Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – Warming weather could provide the spark that is needed to ignite a big-time bite on Lake Havasu this week for the first event of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Western Division, which is presented by Mercury. Past FLW events on Havasu have been plagued by lower temperatures and strong winds that slowed the bite – fishing was good, but the anglers didn’t experience the lake’s full potential. The last few days on the Colorado River impoundment, however, have seen temperatures near 80 degrees with nearly no wind. As it stands now, the forecast for competition days is calling for more of the same, and many of the 152 pros in this tournament feel like that could open things up. READ MORE »

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Here They Come

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Grinding Wheel-er

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – The story was much the same among the 141 pro and co-anglers that launched out of Joe Wheeler State Park this morning for the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. Fishing on the Tennessee River in the fall can be hit or miss and right now anglers are experiencing the latter. READ MORE »

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A Clear Challenge

Challenging conditions including low water, abundant baitfish and a late-season algae bloom set the stage for an epic bass battle among the 212 pros and co-anglers vying for top honors Oct. 9-11 in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division Clear Lake tournament, which kicked off this morning at 7:30 a.m. PT. Presented by Evinrude, the three-day event promises plenty of drama. Anglers are competing for lucrative paybacks, including $32,448 in cash for first place on the pro side, plus a fully rigged Ranger Z518C with 200-hp Evinrude outboard if the winner is Ranger Cup compliant, for a total purse worth more than $80,000. On the co-angler side, the victor claims a fully rigged Ranger Z117 with 90-hp Evinrude, plus $5,000 in Ranger Cup cash if entered in that contingency program. READ MORE »

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Rayburn Returns

ZAVALLA, Texas – If Sam Rayburn Reservoir were a stock on Wall Street, now would be the time to buy. READ MORE »

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The Mississippi Mix-Up

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Things are much different since the last time the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division launched from the Clinton Street Landing back in 2012. Cooler temperatures, higher water levels and scattered fish will make things interesting for the 119 pros and co-anglers this week on the Mississippi River. READ MORE »

/news/2014-08-21-james-river-jam

James River Jam

RICHMOND, Va. – On tidal fisheries like the James River, optimism and opportunity are inextricably linked to water level. For anglers competing in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division, today’s tide schedule will present a brief period of opportunity, followed by a long grind the rest of the day. READ MORE »

/news/2014-07-17-hopes-high-on-champlain

Hopes High on Champlain

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/news/2014-06-26-kentucky-lake-the-pressure-is-palpable

Kentucky Lake: The pressure is palpable

PARIS LANDING, Tenn. – If the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude needed a theme song, David Bowie’s rendition of “Under Pressure” would be as good as it gets. The entire field will be under more pressure than usual as the four-day competition opens this morning. There’s the pressure to win or at least take advantage of a final opportunity to take home a good check this season, the pressure to pull out all the stops and make up ground in the Angler of the Year standings and gain entry into the Forrest Wood Cup, the pressure to not take chances and lose a shot at the Cup – and so it goes. READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-05-the-task-of-timing

The Task of Timing

FLORENCE, Ala. – Fishing tournaments inherently rely on timed competition – get as much weight as you can within the allotted time frame. However, as the country's top 49 boaters and co-anglers take to Wilson Lake for the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy timing will greatly impact outcomes. READ MORE »

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Pick a number at Pickwick

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Kentucky Lake slugfest begins

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/news/2014-05-15-high-tide-on-the-delta

High tide on the Delta

BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – or, at least, a challenging thing. Gotta have water to fish and current generally stimulates fish, but this week’s tide schedule may prove perplexing for Rayovac FLW Series Western Division anglers on the California Delta. READ MORE »

/news/2014-04-24-guntersville-s-great-mystery

Guntersville’s great mystery

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Largemouth bass in Lake Guntersville just might be some of the most prolific bass in the world. How one fishery continues to pump out so many bass under the duress of so much fishing pressure is a mystery that many bass pros have pondered. READ MORE »