UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Blowing in the wind

Day one of Rayovac FLW Series tournament action on Lake Havasu is about to commence.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - As the 152-boat field departed Lake Havasu State Park marina shortly after 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning to commence the start of the very first Rayovac FLW Series Western Division event in FLW history, anglers were gearing up for a decidedly wind-swept day on the water. With winds pouring in anywhere from 15 to 25 mph, anglers were bundled from head to toe as they set out in an effort position themselves for a grueling, and hopefully rewarding, three days of fishing on Lake Havasu. Rayovac FLW Series Western Division anglers await the start of the 2014 season on Lake Havasu.However, while extremely windy conditions aren't the first thing an angler dreams about when hitting the water for the opening round of tournament action, in this case, the field might just be all right with the change in weather. After multiple days of calm weather during practice, most anglers agreed that the bite was brutally tough. But with the arrival of strong winds today, it is the hope that the blustery weather will spur on a bite that so far has definitely been lacking. "I got here four or five days ago and that bite was pretty tough," said Rayovac FLW Series pro Mo Hassen of Alameda, Calif. "But with this wind, I think the fishing is going to be a lot better. I honestly think this wind is really going to help us out because it's going to put those fish on a nice reaction bite." Rayovac FLW Series pro Michael Lavallee of Sandy, Utah, seconded that notion. "I'm really hoping this wind helps us out because the bite up until now has been pretty tough," he said. "I've been here for four days of practice, spending anywhere from 10 to 11 hours on the water each day, and there have been days where I've only gotten one or two bites all day. So I think this weather is really going to help us." However, the caveat is that it only applies if the wind doesn't get any worse than predicted. "It's supposed to blow 15 to 25 mph today but it's already that windy this morning," said Hassen. "So I guess we'll have to see what happens." As far as the fishing is concerned, anglers said that the fish are in a predominately pre-spawn mode and that reaction baits could be the key to success today. Rayovac FLW Series anglers carefully navigate their way past Lake Havasu State Park marina."The lake is down 5 or 6 feet and that's really been throwing the fish off as far as their spawning," said Hassen. "You'll see some fish ready to spawn but most of the lake is in the pre-spawn right now. And with today's conditions, you'll be forced to fish a lot of reaction baits because it's really going to be tough to do any kind of finesse fishing." Despite the wind, Lavallee said he's going to operate under a very specific gameplan. "Basically I'm going to approach the main lake the first thing this morning because that's where I think the tournament is going to be won. I'll probably fish a little bit deep, anywhere from 20 to 35 feet. Then I'm going to run up the river, go flipping in anywhere from 3 to 5 feet and try to finish out my limit. After that I'm going to go back to the main lake and probably just get blown around in circles. The fish are definitely in the pre-spawn phase right now although in some parts of the lake the fish are just starting to move up. But like I said earlier, I think this warm, southwest wind is really going to help the bite today.' And because the lake holds plenty of both largemouth and smallmouth, no one species should dominate the competition. "I definitely see this as a mixed bag tournament," said Lavallee. "You can catch a 20-pound bag of largemouth here or a 20-pound bag of smallmouth. But that wasn't always the case. About five years ago you really needed largemouth to win. But over the years, the smallmouth bass have really blown up on this lake. So you're probably going to need some of both to win." "I think with the wind today and a reaction bite, you're definitely going to see a lot of mixed bags," Hassen added. In an effort to target those bass, anglers said there are plenty of options to choose from. "Basically in this lake, there are massive amounts of manmade structures, particularly cages," said Lavallee. "The DNR placed those cages all around this lake to create artificial habitat for the fish and I really think this tournament will be won on those cages. But you can also fish trees - there are tons of trees on the main-lake channels. There are also some fish on rocks and pea gravel flats." So what will an angler need to advance through the top-10 cut on day two and ultimately win the tournament outright? "I think it's going to take an average of 16 1/2 pounds a day to make the cut," said Lavallee and about 18 1/2 pounds a day to win." Tourney format Rayovac FLW Series boaters congregate on Lake Havasu before opening takeoff.During Rayovac FLW Series competition, pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Anglers are permitted to weigh in their best five bass each day. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. The full field competes on days one and two, with the top-10 pros and top 10 co-anglers advancing to Saturday's final round of competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Winners ultimately will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all three days. Anglers will take off from Lake Havasu State Park, located at 699 London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 7:30 a.m. daily from Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 3:30 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Pros will be competing for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C 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 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Day-one takeoff is about to commence on Lake Havasu.The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title and prize package along with a spot in the no entry fee Rayovac FLW Series Championship. The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship is being held Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala. The Rayovac FLW Series tournament on Lake Havasu is being hosted by the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Board. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing. Bass-fishing fans take note Rayovac FLW Series action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. at Lake Havasu State Park, located at 699 London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in. Vital statistics: Sunrise: 7:37 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 65 degrees Expected high temperature: 77 degrees Water temperature: 53-57 degrees Wind: From the south-southwest at 15 to 25 mph Humidity: 25 percent Day's outlook: Sunny with increasing clouds throughout the afternoon

Tags: morning-story 


Rain Raises the Bar

When the 171 pros and their co-angler equivalents roll out of Paducah, Ky., onto the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on Thursday morning they’ll have to contend with conditions that are totally different from practice. READ MORE »


A Mixed Bag at Clear Lake

Clear Lake is famous for a good reason. Not only does it hold some giants, it’s home to tremendous amounts of fish over five pounds apiece. October tournaments on Clear in the last few years have shown some of the lake’s tremendous potential, with big ones grouped up and big-time numbers caught by many. READ MORE »


Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

It’s going to be an Easter egg hunt on Lake Erie, but at least the great lake will behave a little better during the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event than it did during practice. READ MORE »


2015 Forrest Wood Cup Off and Running

If the fishing matches the weather on the opening day of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, there will be plenty of limit stringers brought to the scales in Hot Springs’ Bank of the Ozarks Arena when the weigh-in commences at 5 p.m. Up until a couple of weather forecasts ago, anglers were anticipating hot, miserable weather during all four days of this, the crowning event of the Walmart FLW Tour season, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Passing thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon brought a pleasant respite to the sultry heat, however, and now Cup contenders only have sulking bass to contend with as they vie for tournament fishing’s richest prize: a winner’s purse of $500,000. READ MORE »


Up and Down on Dardanelle

Tournament fishing inherently has its ups and downs, but Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers are getting a concentrated dose of this angling truism on Lake Dardanelle. An Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Arkansas River, Dardanelle has seen its water level fluctuate with recent rains and the Corps’ efforts to moderate this flow. Dam releases have pulled the lake down enough to reposition fish. READ MORE »


North or South on Champlain?

With waves 1 to 3 feet and thunderstorms in the offing as day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano gets under way on Lake Champlain, the anglers will have a tall task no matter which direction they run. READ MORE »


A Capital Challenge

Rivers can be rollercoasters, and the Potomac River might be about to give the anglers fishing the Walmart FLW Tour finale a tough ride. Two nasty storm systems have blown through in the last few days. According to FLW Tour pro and local Michael Hall, those could have been the two worst things to happen leading up to the tournament. “After 30 years of fishing here, I know storms impact the bass on this river,” says Hall. “Those storms have certainly done that. The wind alone would have done it this week.” READ MORE »


The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

Practice day Wednesday saw temperatures in the high 80s, with more sultry weather on tap for today. Like many others, Schroeder spent most of the day riding around and checking spots with his electronics. Though undoubtedly fish will be caught from the miles of weedbeds in the lower end of the lake below Paris Landing, he figures it will be a ledge bite that wins. READ MORE »


Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week. In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock. READ MORE »


Northern Rayovacs Kick Off on the James

Ostensibly, the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Mercury that began this morning is taking place on the James River, but much of the fishing focus will be centered on the Chickahominy River – or Chick, as it’s affectionately known locally. “This tournament is typically won out of the Chick,” says North Carolina pro Jamey Caldwell of the James River tributary. “There are some great bags coming out of the [James] river right now, but I just feel that those big fish are a little more sporadic. I’m going to hang out in the Chick and hope for the best.” READ MORE »


Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »


Shallow, Deep and in Between at Eufaula

A couple of weeks ago Eufaula was high and off-color, and the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State that begins this morning was shaping up to be a shallow-water showdown. The lake has fallen by a couple of inches since then, however, and now the odds are even that both inshore and offshore patterns will be in play. In fact, one Eufaula expert who isn’t fishing the tournament expects it will take a mixture of patterns to make it to Sunday’s championship round and claim the $100,000 that goes to the winner. READ MORE »


Anything Goes at the Cal Delta

There are 127 pros entered in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Ranger at the California Delta this week. If you asked them all what their baits or tactics are for the first day of competition today, you might get 127 different answers. At some fisheries that FLW’s tournament circuits visit, such varied and often vague responses from pros when they’re prompted for fishing info are the result of them attempting to stealthily hide their fishing patterns. That’s not exactly the case at this tournament. The fact is, the California Delta is one of the most vast and varied fisheries that hosts FLW events. It’s a collection of unique mini-fisheries all rolled into one, with dirty water, clean water, tons of vegetation and other factors tossed into the mix. It’s a tidal fishery, so the water levels and currents fluctuate throughout each day. And, of course, it’s spring in California, and because of the vastness of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and the delta system they feed, with its 1,000 miles of waterways, there are populations of bass in all stages of the spawn in their own little geographic areas. READ MORE »


In or Out on Kentucky Lake



Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »