Wheeler’s turn

Twix pro Jonathan Newton enjoys a beautiful sunrise with his son Mason at the EverStart Series launch on Wheeler Lake.

During 2013, the EverStart Series has set up shop on a couple of the best lakes along the TVA chain at their premium times. Back in February, the Southeast Division visited Lake Guntersville and saw a bevy of limits in the upper 20's with two bags over 30 pounds. That event was won with a three-day total of 86 pounds, 7 ounces. Just last week the Central Division stopped on the banks of Pickwick Lake and again big TVA bass were brought to the scales with multiple mid 20-pound sacks and a massive 33-pound limit that boggled a few minds. That event was won with a three-day total of 79 pounds, 11 ounces. Now it's Wheeler's turn to show off its bass stock as the Southeast Division wraps up its four-tournament schedule on the lake "in the middle." Can Wheeler Lake even hold a Snoopy rod to what its neighbors to the east and west have showcased this year in terms of big catches? With fishing conditions again at a premium this week, Wheeler is going to have a chance to show out as well, and many anglers think Wheeler will not disappoint either. "The water is at full pool, the water temperature is 65 degrees, there is a lot of current in the system - yeah they're biting," said Twix pro Jonathan Newton of nearby Rogersville, Ala. "This lake is really going to shine today. A 30-pound bag might be a stretch, but this lake is definitely capable of some mid 20's right now and I think we'll see one or two of those kinds of bags today." Massive amounts of water continue to roll through the TVA system in the wake of several weeks of heavy rainfall. Guntersville is high and Pickwick is out of the banks, but Newton says Wheeler is right at full pool as of this morning. "It looks higher farther up the river, especially Decatur and above because it pinches the water off up there and it backs up a foot or two higher," he explained. "But down here at the dam, it's pool level." "The water temperatures are still low and the current is strong - those two factors combined will help the bite tremendously this week," Newton continued. "That current just stacks these fish up in such Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury is leading the Southeast Division points race.predictable locations - just like it did at Pickwick last week - and we'll see that here, too. Everyone is going to catch a bunch of bass, no doubt." Chasing Canterbury Also at stake this week is a ticket to the Forrest Wood Cup via being the EverStart Series Southeastern Division points leader. Currently leading the race is Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury with 564 points. Just six points behind him is Tony Davis of Williston, Fla. followed by Barry Wilson of Birmingham, Ala., who is 17 points off the lead. Both Davis and Wilson owned up to having great practices and will be ready to pounce should Canterbury stumble. "I feel good about getting into the teens weight wise today," Davis said. "I'm a shallow-water fisherman from Florida so conditions are in my favor compared to what they would be if the water was low. The water has come up and the fish came up with it. There is a new moon which should help keep them up for a few more days." "I've got a few places I'm pretty excited about getting to this morning," Davis said nervously. "The fish are there I'm just worried about other boats getting there first. I've got a late boat draw and these are small areas - a couple of boats in each spot could hurt them." Tony Davis, who is second in the Southeast Division points race, gives a thumbs up before day one. "The other thing that worries me is the lake has the potential to kick out some 25-pound limits right now," he added. "And if Scott is on that kind of fish, or one of the guys behind me is on that kind of fish, then I don't know how it will shake out. I like my chances but things would have to go really well for me to have that kind of weight today." Wilson also likes what he has found this week. "I had a couple of strong 20-pound plus days in practice," he said. "I've caught good fish both shallow and deep. Conditions are prime up and down the lake for big bags. The water is still cold for this time of year and the current is running hard. The fish are wadded up in tight groups and once an angler gets on one of those type places he can accumulate a lot of weight in a hurry." The buzz among the early-morning dock talk was mostly about anglers who are willing to take a gamble to make a long run of some 60 miles to the Guntersville dam to work the heavy currents in the tailrace. A similar pattern was responsible for some top finishes at the Pickwick event last week when pros locked into Wilson and fished the Wheeler dam tailrace. Locking is not allowed in this event, however, a long run up the Tennessee River to the next dam is certainly in play and will probably be attempted today.Barry Wilson will be chasing an EverStart Series Southeast Division points title with a Strike King 10XD today. Word is a high 20-pound bag is possible up there but there is only enough room for about four or five boats on the premium stuff. Making a 60-mile run only to find a dozen other boats already crammed into the juice could be a disaster. Logistics Anglers will take off from Joe Wheeler State Park at 4601 McLean Drive in Rogersville, Ala., at 6 a.m. each day. Weigh-in will be held at the takeoff location on Thursday and Friday beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 3100 Hough Road in Florence, Ala. beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup. The EverStart Series tournament on Wheeler Lake is being hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau. Thursday's conditions Temperature at takeoff: 58 degrees Expected high temperature: 85 degrees Water temperature: 65 degrees Wind: South 5 to 10 mph Day's outlook: calm and warm

Tags: morning-story 

/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 »

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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 »

/news/2015-03-19-guntersville-grab-bag

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 »

/news/2015-03-06-toho-midday-report-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-03-05-boom-or-bust-at-toho

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 »

/news/2015-02-11-mighty-amistad-issues-a-challenge

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 »

/news/2015-01-22-here-they-come

Here They Come

Big things are coming on Lake Okeechobee – big bass, big weights and the biggest tournament field in Rayovac FLW Series history. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-30-grinding-wheel-er

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 »

/news/2014-10-09-a-clear-challenge

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 »

/news/2014-10-02-rayburn-returns

Rayburn Returns

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

/news/2014-09-18-the-mississippi-mix-up

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

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Fair weather and a fishery flush with bassin’ options fueled contagious optimism among the 142 competitors squaring off in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. READ MORE »

/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 »

/news/2014-06-04-pick-a-number-at-pickwick

Pick a number at Pickwick

FLORENCE, Ala. – To listen to some of the pros gathered here for the Walmart FLW Tour on Pickwick Lake presented by StraightTalk, here’s the scenario that will play out for the next couple of days: Each morning anglers will depart the takeoff area and proceed to their first stop where, depending on their draw, they will be required to wait in line until it’s their turn to fish. Once they’ve caught a keeper, they will move on to the next community hole, where they will again repeat the process. And so the tournament will proceed until Sunday evening when the champion will be crowned. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Veterans and newcomers alike agree that Pickwick will fish much smaller than it really is in this, the fifth 2014 Tour stop that’s hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau. Because fish-finding electronics have become so precise, most of the locations that consistently hold bass in early summer on Pickwick seem to have found their way into the waypoint logs of just about every angler entered. As veteran Texas pro Tommy Martin puts it, “either we’re going to have to play nice and share places and get along, or go find six or eight spots that nobody knows about. Good luck with that; I plan to play nice.” READ MORE »

/news/2014-05-29-kentucky-lake-slugfest-begins

Kentucky Lake slugfest begins

There are no secrets on Kentucky Lake this week. If you want to catch a winning stringer, you’d better be ledge fishing. Rayovac FLW Series anglers launched out of Kenlake State Resort Park this morning to near-perfect ledge-fishing conditions for the start of the second Central Division event of the season. READ MORE »

/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 »