UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

The importance of the pre-tournament meeting

Whether it is the FLW Tour Championship or a BFL divisional tournament, every FLW Outdoors event begins with a mandatory meeting where contestants are briefed about rules and pros are paired with co-anglers. The pre-tournament meeting also provides information that is critical for co-anglers such as reports on off-limit areas, legal size limits and flight times.

Co-anglers must understand that tournament rules apply to them as well as pros. Just because a co-angler has no boat control does not give him a "I-did-not-know-about-that" immunity clause to avoid disqualification.

More than once, I have witnessed co-anglers who were disqualified along with their pros because they were late. The pro misunderstood his flight time and the co-angler never corrected him because he/she did not know any better.

At the same rate, I know of two co-anglers who saved their own catch (consequently, their pro's catch, too) by bringing their flight schedule with them and pointing out the correct check-in time to their partner.

I would recommend that co-anglers, especially new ones, get to the meeting site early. Most FLW Outdoors events allow a window of three hours to register; therefore, it is not uncommon for many anglers to show up early.

Always carry a pen and a small notepad or index card to record flight times and your partner's contact information. During the meeting, the key pieces of information all contestants need to record are the tournament director's phone number (in case of emergency), the check-out time, the tournament flight times, boat number (assigned at the time of the pairings) and partner's name.

Meeting your partner

Once a co-angler has been paired with a pro, a customary discussion between the two anglers follows to develop a plan for the next day's fishing events. A word of caution here: One thing that puts a pro on guard immediately is to initiate the discussion with an inquiry such as, "Where are you fishing?" or "Hey, I am on a bunch of fish, can we go there?"

A better approach is to begin the discussion with a handshake and a clarification of your pro's name, the boat number and the flight time that BOTH of you are due in. Before discussing anything about fishing, I would recommend writing down your partner's name, accommodations, cell phone number and description of his boat and truck.

Next, agree upon a meeting place. After many pro-am experiences, I have discovered that meeting a pro somewhere before going to the ramp is easier than meeting at the ramp. The best option is to meet your partner at his hotel or have him pick you up at your hotel if it is on his way. Another option is to meet at a nearby restaurant or convenience store.

Either way, this allows the co-angler to get his or his gear settled into the boat without all of the hectic distraction that invariably occurs at the ramp. Once I load my stuff into the boat, I usually follow my partner to the launch site, quickly park my vehicle, and hop into his vehicle. This way I have a vehicle at the weigh-in site. If my partner or I make the finals and have to attend a meeting, neither one of us is stuck there waiting on the other person.

As a side note, if your partner does not show up at the agreed upon meeting place the next morning, do not panic. Occasionally, a misunderstanding or mishap occurs and partners are not able to meet at the designated time and location.

If this happens, simply proceed to the launch ramp, go to the check-out dock and inform tournament officials of your situation. A co-angler can always catch his partner at the check-out dock at the last minute.

With this in mind, it is very risky to have a friend or roommate drop you off at a gas station or restaurant where you are suppose to meet your pro partner. If your partner does not show, you have no transportation to the launch site. If you are going to hitch a ride with someone other than your partner for the day, just meet your partner at the launch site.

After a definitive meeting time and location has been established, a co-angler should get a few details about his/her pro's fishing plans.

Most importantly, a co-angler needs to find out how far his partner is planning to run. This gives a co-angler an indication on how to dress and how much tackle to bring. Long runs often mean going heavy on the clothing and light on the amount of tackle packed.

Other pertinent and reasonable questions include what kind of cover the pro is fishing, the expected depth of the water that you'll be fishing in, and what lures your pro plans on using.

Remember, the more information you can get about your impending fishing day, the more efficient you can be about packing gear and tackle.

In the next installment of The Co-angler's Clinic, readers will learn packing tips as well as the importance of bringing a manageable amount of tackle for a day of fishing.

Rob Newell is a freelance outdoor writer from Tallahassee, Fla. He has competed in over 30 Operation Bass events as a co-angler on all levels - BFL, Everstart and FLW. He won an FLW as a co-angler in 1999 at Lake Okeechobee. He finds the Co-angler Division to be one of the most enjoyable and enriching opportunities available to FLW Outdoors members who want to become more involved in competitive angling.

Related links:
The Co-angler's Clinic: Arriving at the tournament site
The Co-angler's Clinic: Analyzing the amateur experience
The Co-angler's Clinic: Packing for a fishing tournament means careful planning

Tags: co-angler-clinic  rob-newell 

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Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

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Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

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Wheeler Hunting History

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

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Mammoth Win for Wooley

One spot plus two lures plus 92 pounds, 4 ounces of Lake Chickamauga bass equals a $125,000 Walmart FLW Tour win for Michael Wooley. Wooley, a second-year pro on the FLW Tour who hails from Collierville, Tenn., spends most of his fishing time somewhere on the Tennessee River, mostly on either Pickwick or Kentucky Lake. Despite his deep knowledge of Tennessee River bass, Wooley’s win on Lake Chickamauga was about as straightforward as it gets. There were no big flashy spoons, secret hair jigs or new must-have crankbaits involved in his victory. There were no mega-schools or timing of tricky rotations. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 3

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Wooley Takes the Lead

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Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 2

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Billy Mac Smacks 29

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Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 1

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