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 

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-10-top-10-patterns-from-toho

Top 10 Patterns from Toho

At the halfway point of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho on Friday afternoon, it looked as if the event would be a JT Kenney runaway win. Kenney’s “red-dot” bedding program appeared to be unstoppable. But then things changed drastically: The warm-up ended, the full moon began to wane, heavy clouds took up residence over central Florida and the fairy tale of scripted plans in a multiple-day tournament came to a screeching halt. By the end of the event, several other patterns on Lake Toho quickly closed up Kenney’s seemingly insurmountable lead (12-10 after two days and 12-8 after three). When the final weigh-in came to an end, the top three places were only separated by 1 pound, 5 ounces. Patterns that involved current, shell beds and even docks helped close the gap. Here’s a look at some of the other top 10 patterns from the week. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-08-kenney-connects-the-dots

Kenney Connects the Dots

Mercury pro JT Kenney was as confident as he could be early in the week at the Walmart FLW Tour season-opener on Lake Toho. He had an incredibly refined plan built on a series of precisely placed waypoints. The waypoints marked isolated spawning areas within beds of lily pads. In the first two days of competition, Kenney looked unstoppable with limits weighing 29-14 and 22-9, respectively, to build a lead of 12-10. On day three, Kenney looked human. His limit of 14-5 could have left the door open – but after weigh-in Kenney’s lead shrank by only 2 ounces. And today, it looked as if the king, despite a massive lead, was about to give up his crown. Kenney weighed in only 9 pounds, 4 ounces. But that was enough. The Florida pro squeezed through by an 11-ounce winning margin to win the first Tour event of 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-kenney-on-cruise-control

Kenney on Cruise Control

For those who don’t believe that professional fishing is a game of offense and defense like any other sport, consider JT Kenney’s strategy for the last three days of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury. The first two days, Kenney ran pure “offensive plays” on key, precise bedding areas to run up the score. Today, he ran more “defensive plays” to protect his lead. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 3

When the Walmart FLW Tour event started at Lake Toho on Thursday, the story lines were all about spawning fish and catching bedding bass by working soft-plastic baits around isolated pad clumps. Today, the buzzwords changed to current, shell beds and reaction baits such as spinnerbaits and lipless rattlers. The change in vernacular is associated primarily with the weather. While a warm, balmy day one allowed leading pros to score big by blind bed-fishing, today’s lower temperatures, nippy northeast winds and dull gray skies caused a significant shift in productive tactics that led to a shakeup on the leaderboard. As already revealed, leader JT Kenney had to resort to a spinnerbait to adapt. Others in the top 10 have found consistency in the currents of the Kissimmee River or have adapted with new baits. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-kenney-crushing-the-field

Kenney Crushing the Field

Day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury on Lake Toho saw JT Kenney extend his lead to 12 pounds, 10 ounces over second-place pro Stacey King with a 22-9 limit. Kenney has lived near Toho for some time and prepared meticulously for this event – it appears to be paying off. Fishing in Kissimmee all day, he managed another strong bag on a day when weather changes caused many in the top of the ranks to stumble. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 2

At halftime in the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury, it’s looking like it could be a runaway by tournament leader JT Kenney. Of course, it’s bass fishing and anything can happen, but the latest frontal system rolling through Florida seems to have certainly stymied the bed-fish bonanza that many expected. As a result, the most productive areas from the last two days have been beat down by fishing pressure and are not recovering or replenishing very well. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top finishers managed to overcome challenging conditions on day two to stay at least within striking range of the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-jt-tees-off

JT Tees Off

There was fuel, and there was flame. The fuel was in the form of a delayed largemouth bass spawn on Lake Toho that had been pushed back for several weeks due to low water temperatures and high water flows through the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The biological clocks of Toho’s bass have been ticking, so to speak. The flame was in the form of a fast warm-up over the last three days, a full moon occurring right now and water temperatures rising nearly 10 degrees in the last 72 hours. At the day-one takeoff of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury this morning, everyone held his breath for the combustion that was about to occur. And when fuel met flame there were a few fiery flare-ups, but not of the size that many expected. In all, the 20-pound mark was reached by seven anglers on a warm, balmy day that had five-alarmer written all over it. Exactly why the bite was not as good as expected is still in question. Many pros reported a vanishing act of bedding bass that had just started to show up during practice, but have now disappeared despite highly favorable conditions At the top of the standings are Florida ace JT Kenney and Missouri veteran Stacey King, who checked in with 29-14 and 28-1, respectively. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 1

Lake Kissimmee produced the bulk of the top-10 catches on the first day of competition, but not all of them. Still, it seems that anglers believe the time lost to traveling through the lock from Toho to eventually get to Kissimmee is worth the gamble. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-01-toho-s-mojo

Toho’s Mojo

Rob Newell breaks down the Kissimmee Chain lake by lake for a complete preview of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-04-cifuentes-wins-co-angler-title

Cifuentes wins Co-angler Title

ZAVALLA, Texas – Imagine traveling FLW Outdoor’s fishing circuits as a co-angler with legendary pro Larry Nixon…practicing with him…rooming with him…and just talking bass fishing 24-7 with one of the most decorated bass fishing pros in the modern world. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-04-collins-collects-rayburn-title

Collins Collects Rayburn Title

ZAVALLA, Texas – When Tournament Director Ron Lappin asked pro Albert Collins what it takes to win a Rayovac FLW Series event on Rayburn Reservoir, Collins immediately responded, “Weighing in 17 pounds a day.” READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-29-reeltime-report-kentucky-lake-day-4

Reeltime Report: Kentucky Lake, Day 4

Skip Johnson wins and Rookie of the Year Jason Lambert takes second. READ MORE »

/news/2014-04-26-acree-wins-co-angler-division

Acree wins Co-angler Division

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – What’s the fastest way to learn the most about bass fishing? Become a co-angler in FLW Outdoors events. READ MORE »

/news/2014-02-10-reeltime-report-lake-okeechobee-day-4

Reeltime Report: Lake Okeechobee, Day 4

Brett Hite wins on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2014-01-11-jaeger-wins-co-angler-division-of-rayovac-flw-series

Jaeger wins Co-angler Division of Rayovac FLW Series

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – For the last two years, Rex Jaeger of Hamilton, Ohio has been plugging away in Rayovac FLW Series events hoping to make a top 10. READ MORE »

/news/2013-10-05-rayburn-redemption-for-wells

Rayburn redemption for Wells

JASPER, Texas – Jason Wells of Center, Texas, remembers vividly fishing the FLW Tour Open on his home lake of Sam Rayburn last October. READ MORE »

/tips/2013-07-16-icast-trends

ICAST trends

Indeed ICAST is a bewildering show, a fishing spectacle like no other. In truth, it would take several weeks to scour every exhibitor’s booth and truly digest the form and function of all the products displayed there. READ MORE »

/news/2013-06-30-reeltime-report-day-4-at-lake-chickamauga

Reeltime Report, Day 4 at Lake Chickamauga

Rookie pro Casey Martin wins at Lake Chickamauga with 103-3 pounds. READ MORE »