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

Anglers set to unlock Beaver Lake puzzle

A Beaver Lake sunrise

ROGERS, Ark. - A difference of five degrees in water temperature might not seem like much, but at Beaver Lake in April, it often spells the difference between fishing success and failure. And that, in turn, is cause for concern among the 173 pros and their co-angler partners competing in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac that got underway this morning. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, a high of 75 degrees and a southwest wind between 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph. Usually by this time of year Beaver Lake bass are beginning to spawn or are moving toward the banks in preparation for the bedding season. That's when the water temperature is hovering in the high 50s or low 60s and fish are more predictable as far as where they'll be. A cooler-than-usual spring this year has put the fish back by a week or so, however. The water temperature ranges between 50 and 55 degrees, and consequently the pros expecting some sort of shallow bite with the usual mix of soft plastics are hedging their bets. Some bank-cruisers will likely be there, but many contestants will also have jerkbaits, crankbaits, drop-shots and jigs rigged up and ready on the casting deck for transitioning fish that are staging in deeper water off main-lake points and along feeder creek drop-offs. Patterns will emerge by Saturday's cut, but right now it's anybody's guess what they might be. Today's opening-round weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. at Prairie Creek Park. "The fishing is pretty tough overall," says Arkansas pro Rob Kilby. "In practice I caught a number of fish a lot of different ways. If I can do that during the tournament, I'll be all right, but when there's a tournament on this lake, you wind up fishing behind people and that can hurt you if you're all doing the same thing." At Sam Rayburn Reservoir a couple of weeks ago, Z-Man Original ChatterBaits and a variety of soft plastics dominated the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Chevy that was won by Bryant Thrift. This time around, dock talk hasn't indicated what sorts of lures are likely to produce good bags of the largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass that share the lake. "I had a pretty decent practice on jerkbaits, and where I'm fishing there's a lot of largemouths. Still, I believe things are going to change big time between practice and the tournament," notes Tour rookie Troy Gibson of Eufaula, Ala. "I think the jerkbait bite will hold up where I'm at, but to catch fish it will be more `fast snap' to the presentation than `slow drag,' which is the way it was for me in practice." Florida pro Scott Martin, who also experienced a "decent" practice, says he threw 13 years of Beaver Lake experience out the window and fished what was for him new water. "I didn't upload any old waypoints," notes Martin. "I went to new areas and started from scratch. From what I found, I think flipping, casting jigs and drop-shotting are going to be some of your big players this week." Defending Angler of the Year Andy Morgan echoes that the fishing, like the bass, is in a state of flux as the weather and the water continue to warm. The weekend likely will see the best stringers of fish. The trick is to make it into Saturday's semifinal round. "Starting out it's going to be like the old Beaver Lake where you appreciate every 2-pounder you can get in the boat," reflects the Dayton, Tenn., pro. "The fishing is really random, and fish are anywhere from 4 to 40 feet deep. It will get better. Warm and windy is a pretty good recipe for a clear Ozark lake." Thursday's conditions Sunrise: 6:50 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 57 degrees Expected high temperature: 75 degrees Water temperature: low to mid-50s Wind: SSW up to 22 mph Day's outlook: Warm, partly cloudy and breezy, with only a slight chance of rain Extended forecast: Highs in the mid- to upper 70s with partly cloudy skies through Saturday, with a chance for morning showers Friday; cooler with an 80 percent chance of rain and the possibility of severe thunderstorms Sunday Moon phase: two days after a first-quarter moon Competition format In Walmart 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: Prairie Creek Park, 9300 North Park Road, Rogers, Ark. Time: 7 a.m. Weigh-in Thursday and Friday location: Prairie Creek Park, 9300 North Park Road, Rogers, Ark. Time: 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday Saturday and Sunday location: John Q. Hammons Center, 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers, Ark. Time: 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday FLW Expo Date: Saturday and Sunday, April 12-13 Location: John Q. Hammons Center, 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers, Ark. Time: noon to 4 p.m. Admission: FREE Free Concert: See country star Rodney Atkins live in concert Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is free. Activities: Fans are welcome to join FLW for the FLW Expo at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. Come meet Walmart FLW Tour pros, who'll be on hand signing autographs. Families can enjoy interactive games, explore the Walmart Kids Zone, receive free samples, drive a Ranger Boat simulator and have a chance to win a $500 Walmart gift card.

Tags: morning-story 


Rain Raises the Bar

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A Mixed Bag at Clear Lake

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Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

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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

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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 »


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 »