2003 EverStart Championship preview: Old Hickory Lake, Oct. 29-Nov. 1

For the first time in the history of EverStart competition, the season-ending championship will truly be a national event. With the incorporation of the new Western Division this year, the 2003 EverStart Championship now boasts a highly competitive field of anglers from all four corners of the United States - East, West, North and Central. One hundred and fifty pros and 150 co-anglers - including the top 30 anglers in the year-end standings of the Western Division as well as the top 40 anglers from each of the remaining three divisions - will compete in the four-day event on Old Hickory Lake.

Due to the growing popularity of the EverStart Series - which also saw a marked increase in the number of FLW Tour pros competing in 2003 - this year's championship boasts arguably the most competitive and diverse field ever assembled under the banner of EverStart competition. Although the competition undoubtedly will be intense, there are some early front-runners who should grab some of the early attention heading into the Old Hickory Lake event. Fujifilm pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., led the Eastern Division in points thanks in large part to three top-10 finishes. Central Division champion Jackie Davis of Willard, Mo., finished all four regular-season events with finishes no worse than 13th place. Mark Zona of Sturgis, Mich., led the Northern Division with three second-place finishes out of a total of four events. Meanwhile, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., finished the year as the first-ever Western Division points leader as a result of three consecutive third-place finishes in regular-season tournaments.

The incentives for EverStart Championship anglers are plentiful. At stake in the Pro Division is a first-place prize of up to $35,000 cash as well as a fully rigged Ranger 519VS Comanche valued at an additional $35,000. In addition, the winning co-angler is guaranteed $10,000 cash and a fully rigged Ranger boat.

Lake history/facts

Authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1946, Old Hickory Lake was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a comprehensive development plan for the Cumberland River Basin. Finally completed in June of 1954, Old Hickory Lake extends approximately 97 miles upstream to Cordell Hull Lock and Dam near Carthage, Tenn. Rising 445 feet above sea level, Old Hickory Lake boasts 22,500 acres of surface water as well as 440 miles of shoreline. The main landmark on the scenic waterway is the Old Hickory Dam, which is located at the 216.2-mile mark on the Cumberland River, approximately 25 miles upriver from Nashville, Tenn. Known for its vast recreational opportunities, Old Hickory Lake boasts healthy populations of crappies, saugers, catfish and bluegills as well as black, white, striped, smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Techniques and tactics

According to many pros who plan to attend the 2003 EverStart Championship, the primary fishing locations during the fall season on Old Hickory Lake will likely originate in the backs of creek channels where shad should be plentiful.

"Typically in the fall, bass' primary forage is shad as they try to gear up for the winter. If you can find the shad, you'll be able to find the bass," said FLW Tour pro Clark Wendlandt, who will also be competing in this year's EverStart Championship. "My guess is that you're going to find most of the shad, and the bass, in the back of the creeks. If a lot of milfoil is present - which I'm guessing it's not right now - you'll also be able to fish the grass."

FLW Tour pro Wesley Strader agrees that there probably won't be many great locations on the main lake.

"Normally in the fall on Old Hickory, there is a lot of schooling activity," said Strader. "The shad will be in the backs of the creeks and the pockets. I really don't think there is going to be a main-river deal going on. But when you do find the fish, you'll definitely know it."

So what techniques are going to be the most viable on Old Hickory Lake in the fall season?

"Fast-moving baits are going to be key," said Strader. "You're going to see a lot of crankbaits, spinner baits and Rat `L Traps being used."

However, Wendlandt argues that two techniques will most likely dominate the action.

"In the last tournament I fished there, there were two main techniques that offered a lot of success," he said. "The first way was to flip a jig toward shoreline cover or any cover for that matter. Basically, you'll probably want to stay in around 2 to 10 feet of water with a jig. The second way is to throw a small crankbait. This should work especially well this time of the year."

Pitfalls and headaches

While many tournament anglers are familiar with Old Hickory Lake, that doesn't necessarily mean that the field will have an easy time in the championship. For starters, the tremendous fishing pressure that exists on Old Hickory all year will make for a tough bite. But if the stiff competition isn't enough to hold down stringer sizes, Old Hickory's relatively new 14-inch-minimum catch regulations will place an even higher premium on catching larger fish. Throw in the quirky fall-season bite and it appears that Old Hickory is gearing up to quickly separate the contenders from the pretenders.

"Old Hickory Lake is a real popular bass-fishing area, and it gets a whole lot of fishing pressure," said Wendlandt. "The lake fishes small anyway, but with a 300-person field, it's going to fish even smaller than it normally does. I don't think the weights are going to be huge. Ten pounds a day is going to be really good. I'd be surprised if it even took 20 pounds to make the cut. I think you're going to be looking at something like 18 pounds (over two days) to advance."

Strader doesn't believe it will even take that much weight.

"I think if you can land between 8 and 9 pounds a day, you'll make the cut," said Strader. "The problem is that it was hard catching fish before on Old Hickory Lake when the minimum keeper length (permitted) was 12 inches. But about two years ago, they changed it to 14 inches. It was hard catching fish back then, but it's even going to be harder now."

Both anglers agreed that largemouth bass will dominate the competition.

"You might see a few smallmouth bass caught," said Wendlandt. "But I think it's going to take a good largemouth bite to win this tournament."

Links:

Press release
Pro field
Co-angler field

Tags: article  gary-mortenson 

/tips/2015-05-19-missed-opportunities-at-beaver-lake

Missed Opportunities at Beaver Lake

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-14-2015-flw-tv-schedule

2015 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-12-strader-maintains-lead-at-halfway-mark

Strader Maintains Lead At Halfway Mark

Midway through the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, Tennessee pro Wes Strader is in first place in the Angler of the Year race, and his prospects for winning it are as good as anyone’s. Two upcoming events, at lakes Eufaula and Chickamauga, “fish” in a way that suits his style, and he has a good track record on the Potomac River, the last Tour stop of 2015. A good finishing kick could earn the veteran his first AOY title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-10-mother-of-ramie-colson-jr-passes

Mother of Ramie Colson Jr. Passes

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-07-community-outreach-sportsmanship-award-

Community Outreach (Sportsmanship Award)

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-06-tornadoes-sweep-across-oklahoma

Tornadoes Sweep Across Oklahoma

2014 Rayovac FLW Series Champion Zack Birge, whose appears in the Central Division Tournament on Kentucky Lake was cut short by tornados at his home town in Oklahoma, characterized the damage to his house as “a near miss.” READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-05-weekend-wrap-up-may-4-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – May 4, 2015

This weekend saw history being made at the Rayovac level. Plus, it was a bush- and flipping-filled BFL Saturday and the College Fishing ranks produced some Guntersville giants. Here’s a recap of last weekend’s tournament action. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-01-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, May 2. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-30-flw-raises-88k-for-charity

FLW Raises $88K for Charity

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-29-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-26-queen-and-black-crowned-high-school-fishing-champs

Queen and Black Crowned High School Fishing Champs

Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black of the North Carolina Student Angler Federation won the 2015 SAF High School Fishing National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Queen and Black bested a field of the 10 best High School Fishing teams in the two-day competition. They caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday to make it to today’s final round of five teams in second place. Then today, the Tar Heel State’s best backed it up with 17-15 to surpass Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom, the day-one-leaders, by 4 pounds, 6 ounces with a two-day total of 35-01. Queen and Black earned a $10,000 scholarship for their win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-keenom-yates-grab-high-school-lead

Keenom, Yates Grab High School Lead

Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom sacked a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to top the leaderboard on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black are hot on their heels in second with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-a-high-school-fishing-grand-finale

A High School Fishing Grand Finale

Adrenaline and optimism were running high among the 19 young guns gathered at Wolf Creek Park as they anxiously awaited takeoff on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Set for April 25-26 on the legendary Sooner impoundment, the championship pits the nation’s top 10 two-person high school teams in an all-out bass battle for the national title and a $10,000 college scholarship. One contestant, Cameron Pappan, is fishing solo. The road to the finals began in 2014, with state and open championships leading to one of five conference finals, then ultimately to Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-weekend-wrap-up-april-21-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-the-bucket-list

The Bucket List

Gleaned from my various fishing travels over the years, here are 10 places ­– in no particular order – that I’ve fished that I believe should definitely be on your bass fishing “bucket list.” Some are fantastic winter getaways, but other will require you to wait until warmer weather arrives. READ MORE »