UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Lake Sinclair

Co-angler practice in depth

When FLW Outdoors laid the foundation for its pro-am formats, officials intentionally chose the title "co-angler" to describe the angler who fishes from the back deck rather than traditional monikers like "no-boater" or "amateur." FLW Outdoors realized that many "amateurs" were not only boat owners, but also good anglers who wanted more visibility in the sport. With that, the role of the co-angler has evolved. For example, it used to be that pros practiced and "amateurs" showed up just to fish the tournament. These days, however, more and more co-anglers are also putting in practice time to get a feel for what the fish are doing. Should co-anglers tow their own boats to tournaments or practice with a pro? How can co-anglers who do not own a boat get hooked up with a pro to practice? These will be the topics of the next two installments of the Co-angler's Clinic. For co-anglers who own boats, deciding whether or not to take your rig to a tournament largely depends on the type of FLW Outdoors event you are fishing, number of days you can practice, the tournament venue and its distance from home. The answer to this question starts with identifying your goals as a co-angler. If you want to learn about specific techniques and find alternative tactics for catching fish in "used" water, then practicing with a pro is your best bet. If you are trying to find fish in hopes of convincing a pro to go to them during the tournament, then you will be better off taking your own boat. Co-anglers who get into FLW Outdoors events near their home usually opt for practicing on their own. Being native to the area offers many advantages, including inherent knowledge of the lake and its fishing patterns. Also, the chances of a pro entertaining a co-angler's fishing suggestions increase if the co-angler is a local. Checking a few sweet spots before the tournament could pay off if a pro is open to suggestions. However, if you are a co-angler headed to foreign waters, then you might let the particular circuit dictate your decision as to whether you want tow your boat for practice. The Wal-Mart FLW Tour, for example, is made up mostly of touring pros. They usually spend somewhere between three to 10 days practicing for an FLW event. By the time the tournament starts, they usually know exactly how and where they want to fish. Even if a co-angler brings a boat and finds the honey hole of lifetime, the chances of convincing an FLW Tour pro of going to it are slim. In this case you will probably learn more about what's going on and, more importantly, what you need to be prepared for by practicing with a pro. BFL events are quite different. BFL boaters are often faced with a limited amount of practice time. A BFL boater that gets one day of scouting on an unfamiliar lake will likely be all ears for suggestions if his co-angler has practiced a day or two. Somewhere in between are the EverStart and TTT events, which can be evaluated case by case based on a few other conditions. Distance from home and the number of days you can practice are legitimate concerns. Towing a boat 500 miles for one day of practice on a lake you know absolutely nothing about may be arbitrary. Also, the venue and your accommodations should be considerations. If you are in a 200-boat tournament and staying in one of only three motels in town, parking your rig is likely going to be a nightmare. Conversely, if the tournament is being held in a city with a myriad of motels or you have a cabin out by the lake with plenty of room, then taking your own boat becomes a more viable option. If you do plan on practicing from your boat in hopes of swaying a pro to your fishing areas, here are a few suggestions: • Practice near the put-in. The closer your areas are to weigh-in, the better your chances of sampling them during the tournament. Occasionally, pros will come in a few minutes early and fish near the check-in. If you have a productive place or two nearby, the pro might be willing to give it a shot. Trying to convince a pro to go to fish that are 30 miles out of the way is much more difficult to do. • Know your spots well. If a pro should agree to try one of your places during the day, be able to put him right on the spot. Your credibility begins to diminish by the minute if a pro takes you to your spot and there is a lot of: "Well, I think it's over here ... or maybe it's over there. ... I'm not really sure." Be direct about how to get there and exactly where to start. • Be prepared to make a deal. Don't be surprised if your pro agrees to go to your fish under the condition that he can return to them the next day should the area pan out. • Some pros are automatically resistant to trying a co-angler's spot for a variety of reasons. When you meet your pro at the pairing, avoid introducing yourself with stories of the big ones you caught in practice. Wait until the appropriate time in the conversation and simply tell him you practiced on your own and you have some places in mind if he is interested and leave it at that. • Don't exaggerate your catch in an effort to influence your pro. Most pros can see right through this and it ruins any chances of going to your area. • Don't badger a pro with your recommendations all day long. Again, it's perfectly fine to make a suggestion or two, but leave it at that. The pro is going to be more likely to try your place if you have been patient and helpful. • Shake fish off in practice. Practice as if you were going to fish the tournament yourself. Of course you will want to check a couple for size but "sore-mouthing" 15 keepers from one spot the day before the tournament can be counterproductive and it's not necessarily a good selling point with your pro. Remember, a pro has complete control of the boat. If a pro does not want to sample your areas, don't get frustrated. He or she paid the higher entry for that right and you must respect that.

Tags: co-angler-clinic  rob-newell 


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 »


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 »


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 »


Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »


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 »


Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »


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 »


Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Considering the complexity of catching summertime bass on highly pressured Tennessee River impoundments, Michael Wooley’s winning baits at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga were pretty simplistic. His win came on a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm fished on a 1/2-ounce hand-poured shaky head with a 5/0 hook as well as a 3/4-ounce Strike King football jig teamed with a Rage Lobster. Both lures were fished on 17-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon. Wooley dragged his baits on a shell bed in about 13 feet of water that dropped off to a channel some 20 feet deep. Here is a look at some of the other patterns that were working at Lake Chickamauga. READ MORE »


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 »


Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 3

While Michael Wooley has tapped a single hot spot for the tournament lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers at Lake Chickamauga, his competition has had to hustle both deep and shallow just to have a shot at catching him. His lead is now more than 6 pounds ahead of second-place pro Stetson Blaylock. The patterns working at Chickamauga right now are all over the map. Shallow grass, bream beds, middepth bars in bays, river ledges and even some long-lining are all represented in the top 10. Here are the details for the top five. READ MORE »


Wooley Takes the Lead

The last time the Walmart FLW Tour visited Lake Chickamauga in June 2013, the term “mega-school” was thrown around a lot. At this year’s Chickamauga event, which is presented by Igloo Coolers, you will hardly hear that term at all at the weigh-in. Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tenn., knows the difference between mega-schools and the “regular” kind. After sacking 26 pounds, 2 ounces on day one and 23-05 on day two to take the tournament lead with 49-07, Wooley says his fish are certainly not swimming in a mega-school. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 2

Two days into the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga, one thing is for sure: The ledge bite along the main Tennessee River drag has not been much of a factor among the top 10. When interviewing the top anglers, the words “back in a creek,” or “back in a bay,” or “back inside” or “up shallow” have been used a lot more than the words “on the main river.” That goes for tournament leader Michael Wooley and most of the pros chasing him into the weekend. For whatever reason, the main Tennessee River flow is not the headliner at Chickamauga this week, especially when compared to postspawn tournaments on other lakes in the chain, such as Kentucky Lake and Pickwick. READ MORE »


Billy Mac Smacks 29

A combo strategy of running deep and shallow patterns helped Bill McDonald put together a whopping 29-pound, 12-ounce limit in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga. McDonald took the day-one lead by 3 pounds, 10 ounces over Tennessean Michael Wooley, who brought in 26-02. While many pros say the Chick is fishing tougher than its reputation usually suggests, 15 pros still cracked the 20-pound mark. And 67 pros caught at least 15 pounds. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 1

The story on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga was not dominated by the mega-school juggernaut that occurred the last time the Tour visited “Chick” in 2013. Bill McDonald’s leading limit of 29 pounds, 12 ounces had nothing to do with a mega-school. In fact, two of his bigger bass – in the 7- to 8-pound class – came from shallow grass. This time around it seems as if the boats are spread out a little more compared to last time, when four- to six-angler clusters tried to share big ledge schools. Some pros say that’s because the current didn’t run until later in the day today, which had the main-river community holes off the pace of last time. Others believe a delayed spawn still has fish scattered from the bays to the river. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Clint Brown won the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole by targeting late spawners and obscure stretches of bank that received little pressure during the week. Here is a look at how the rest of the top 10 competitors fared. READ MORE »


Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »


Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »


Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »


Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »