UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Wind, clouds and spawning bass at Sam Rayburn

Anglers at Cassels-Boykin County Park await takeoff for day one of the Walmart FLW Tour presented by Chevy event at Sam Rayburn.

LUFKIN, Texas - It's more of the same for the pros on the Walmart FLW Tour - more of the same challenging weather conditions, that is.

In the wake of the Lake Hartwell stop of the Walmart FLW Tour, where pros dealt with rain, temperatures in the 30s and high winds, the forecast at the Sam Rayburn FLW Tour event presented by Chevy is for afternoon rains, thunderstorms and high winds for the first two days.

Talk about a tough break. Depending which pro you ask, Rayburn's bass are either on the cusp of the spawn or right in the thick of it. Sunshine and calm winds would have made this a slugfest, with sight-fishing a prominent factor. However, the lingering effects of winter 2013-2014 have the water temperature running a few degrees behind normal. And Thursday morning at the Cassels-Boykin County Park takeoff site broke with gusty winds expected to blow 10 to 20 mph and fast-moving clouds rolling through on the leading edge of a front that should soak the Lufkin and Nacogdoches area by midday.

Translation: Sight-fishing is tough to impossible in some areas.

Local favorite Jim Tutt runs a systems check on his Lowrance electronics prior to takeoff. "Like everywhere else, this area has been really cold this season," said Kellogg's Rice Krispies pro Jim Tutt, a local favorite at Rayburn. "And it's windy, so the lake has been really dirty. There's usually 2 feet of visibility, but visibility is negligible right now. There's no doubt fish will be caught on beds, but with these conditions, good ones are going to be hard to see."

Tutt's take on catching quality keepers was echoed by a half-dozen other pros this morning, yet most agree that just getting bit and catching small keepers won't be a difficult challenge. Bites were easy to come by in practice. It should still take at least 20 pounds per day to stay in the hunt, but the rest of the field could be jockeying for checks by a few ounces here or there.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are 176 limits caught today," Tutt said.

Some pros will likely scour spawning flats with slow-sinking soft plastics, hoping to drop a cast around a big female bass on a bed. That technique has worked in the past in major multi-day tournaments held on Rayburn in early spring. Other pros, such as David Dudley of the Castrol team and Fred Roumbanis, believe the wind and overcast conditions favor a reaction bite, at least in the morning.

"I've read what everyone is predicting, but I think the weights are going to be higher," Dudley said. "This wind is going to have them nibbling."

"With the water being unstable, the fish are shifting every hour," Roumbanis added. "The key for me is not wasting too much time trying to get fish to bite in one area. The guy who can make adjustments from shallow to deep is going to dominate, unless someone finds a deep school that's not as affected by the weather."

Castrol pro David Dudley is rigging up reaction baits for day one at Sam Rayburn.The deep pattern is a wild card this week. If someone has found them offshore, that pro isn't talking to the media about it yet. And unless the school is in a creek or protected area, boat control will be extremely difficult in today's chop.

A final factor that could influence the outcome at Rayburn is the likelihood of heavy boat traffic in the areas that historically hold the lake's biggest fish. Rayburn has been an "area lake" in the past, rather than a "pattern lake," meaning what works for big fish in the best spots doesn't necessarily produce the same results across the lake. As a result, pros might camp in one section of the reservoir for several hours, adjusting until they can dial in the bite. Some of those big-fish areas are well-known community holes; others are known only by the locals.

Adding to the crowd is a lack of hydrilla this season, resulting from winter weather that Tutt says has included a few air-temperature dips down into the teens. What's left of the green stuff makes for productive fishing water, but there isn't much of it.

If that sounds like a lot of factors to consider this week, it is. To win this one on Rayburn, a pro needs a rock-solid strategy that accounts for rough boat rides, transitioning fish and a post-front, clear-sky warm-up that's expected to arrive by Saturday. Of course, it's possible to have a strong finish with simple, old-fashioned shallow tactics.

This is Texas, after all, where the big ones swim, and where a couple big bites could be worth thousands of dollars when the scale settles.

Fred Roumbanis arrived late to practice at Sam Rayburn but expects to focus his search in the mid-lake area on day one.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 7:15 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees

Expected high temperature: low 70s

Water temperature: 60 degrees

Wind: south at 10 to 20 mph

Today's outlook: windy all day, with a 60 percent chance of rain developing midday and the possibility of thunderstorms

Extended forecast: rain and wind Friday; sunny, calm and warm Saturday and Sunday

Moon phase: new moon on March 28

Competition format

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in, and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

For more coverage

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.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the "On the Water" banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages.

Walmart FLW Tour event information

Takeoff

Location: Cassels-Boykin County Park, FM Road 3123 (off State Hwy 147), Zavalla, Texas

Time: 7 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; 7:30 a.m. Sunday

Weigh-in

Days 1 and 2 location: Cassels-Boykin County Park, FM Road 3123 (off State Hwy 147), Zavalla, Texas

Days 3 and 4 location: Lufkin Walmart, 2500 Daniel McCall Drive, Lufkin, Texas

Time: 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

FLW Expo

Date: Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30

Location: Lufkin Walmart, 2500 Daniel McCall Drive, Lufkin, Texas

Time: noon-4 p.m.

Admission: FREE

Free Concert: See Michael Ray perform live Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m.

Activities: Fans are welcome to join FLW for the FLW Expo at the Lufkin Walmart. Come meet Walmart FLW Tour pros, who'll be on hand signing autographs. Families can enjoy interactive games, receive free samples, drive a Ranger Boat simulator and have a chance to win a $250 Walmart gift card.

Tags: curtis-niedermier  morning-story  2014-03-27-sam-rayburn-reservoir 

/news/2016-07-29-two-for-one

Two for One

The sibling partnership has done that with staggering ability. The two have a practice system in place that, while simple, has generated success north to south. That system, and the teamwork that makes it possible, is about to get its greatest test this week at Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-28-early-reports-from-wheeler

Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-celebs-seminars-on-deck-for-the-cup

Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bass-and-bbq-festival-set-for-forrest-wood-cup-expo

Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bk-s-year-as-the-champ

BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »