Final push for Nickajack glory

BFL All-American finalists chat with family and friends prior to the final takeoff.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The buoys in front of Ross' Landing were leaning a little more and chase boats drifted a little faster while awaiting the final takeoff for the Walmart BFL All-American on Nickajack Lake. These indications of strong current flow should bode well for the top 10 boaters and co-anglers seeking their limits of Tennessee River bass. Current does two good things for bass fishermen: It stimulates feeding and positions fish in predictable locations. Bass like to use rocks, logs and other bottom features to ambush passing At the day-three takeoff, a few boats headed upriver, while most went downriver.prey, so periods of good current flow generally deliver a high degree of opportunity. In the boater division, Chris Wilkinson, of Farmersburg, Ind., has led the field for the past two days. His primary baits have been a Hawgback Lures tube and an 11 1/2-inch ribbontail worm from Bauer Custom Baits. Wilkinson said the worm has been his top producer around the laydowns and logs he's fishing. The worm's custom color - green pumpkin blue fleck - has proven essential to his success. "If you get up close to the stuff I'm fishing, you'll notice there's some real little (baitfish) fry," Wilkinson said. "With that blue fleck, I think that when that worm goes by them, they see that blue fleck and they think it's a ball of fry and they're eating it." Top boater Chris Wilkinson has caught most of his fish on a custom ribbontail worm.Wilkinson also had a couple of topwaters on his deck this morning. Under the cloudy skies of day one, he nabbed a couple of limit fish early on surface baits. Day two brought mostly sunny conditions, so the topwater game went away, but with a mix of clouds and sun on tap for day three, he'll look for occasional topside opportunities. At the morning takeoff, the majority of boats headed downriver, but Wilkinson headed upriver toward the Chickamauga dam, as did second-place boater Kerry Milner who has found his fish along current seams in the tailrace. Milner will fish a homemade ¾-ounce football head with a Zoom Fat Albert Twin Tail and a Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog. These current fish grow big and strong, he said, but they're also picky about authentic presentations. That's why he'll be paying close attention to water direction. "Those seams are tricky but you just have to position your boat so you can present your bait in the Kerry Milner will fish the Chickamauga Tailrace with a football head jig.direction the fish are facing," Milner said. "The strong current is obviously coming from upstream, but it's making eddies and back currents. A lot of times, I'm fishing right beside that current going downstream but I'm actually pulling my baits in the direction of an eddy, in that secondary current." "I think this area is going to keep replenishing, so I'm just going to grind it out and hope for five big bites." Starting in third-place, local favorite Corey Bradley is hoping to have another fast start like he enjoyed on day two. The difference, he said, will be an all-out maximization effort. Local angler Kerry Bradley hopes to find the fish he needs over deep structure.On day two Bradley found himself looking at a good limit before 8 a.m., so he backed off his fish to save the potential for today's final round. Bradley has been catching his fish by stroking ¾- and 1-ounce Choo Choo Lures football head jigs with NetBait Paca Chunk trailers in about 20 feet. Fourth-place boater Shawn Gordon started days one and two by cranking a Bomber Fat Free Shad to catch his limit and then flipping a jig with a curly tail grub trailer to upgrade. Yesterday, however, the jig produced all of weight fish, so he'll devote his entire final day to this pursuit. David G. Williams starts in fifth place in the boater division and he said he'll be running new water Flipping a jig will be the dominant tactic for fourth-place boater Shawn Gordon.again as he did yesterday. Williams said the good thing about a river system is that he can just run the likely banks and look for the type of cover and depth where he likes to throw Rico poppers, Shooter Jigs and Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog and Speed Craws. Leading the co-angler division, Nick Angiulo will fish a dropshot baited with a Bitters Mini Wand in watermelon candy. He said that the finesse rig's lighter presentation should give him the right contrast to the larger baits his boater, Wilkinson, will be throwing. Logistics Today's final weigh-ins will be at the Walmart located at 3034 Rhea County Highway in Dayton, Tenn., beginning at 5:30 p.m. Top co-angler Nick Angiulo plans to fish a dropshot with a Bitters Mini Wand worm.Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart in Dayton on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. which includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Coverage of the BFL All-American will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs Aug. 18 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter In the third-place boat, Corey Bradley and Eddie Cook set out for day three.atTwitter.com/FLWFishing. Saturday's conditions: Sunrise: 6:30 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 72 degrees Expected high temperature: 86 degrees Wind: West 5-10 Humidity: 60 percent Day's outlook: Partly sunny

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

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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 »

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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

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

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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

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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »