UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

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: morning-story 

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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 »

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The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

/news/2015-05-14-shallow-deep-and-in-between-at-eufaula

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 »

/news/2015-05-07-anything-goes-at-the-cal-delta

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 »

/news/2015-05-07-in-or-out-on-kentucky-lake

In or Out on Kentucky Lake

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/news/2015-04-30-texoma-tough-but-stabilizing

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-tricky-transition-at-beaver

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 »

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

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 »

/news/2015-04-16-weather-woes-greet-college-anglers

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 »

/news/2015-04-09-swollen-rayburn-challenges-anglers

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 »

/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 »