UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Old Hickory Lake

Docks that rock

Western pro Luke Clausen used a precise dock-fishing strategy to take top honors and a $500,000 cash first prize at the 2004 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship.

No matter how you slice it, Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., dominated the Aug. 11-14 FLW Tour Championship on Logan Martin Lake. While a 7-ounce margin over Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., does not sound like a "domination," consider that Clausen bested the 14-pound mark three of the four competition days (there were only five limits over 14 pounds weighed in during the entire event), and Clausen's cumulative weight for four days was 55 pounds even, 7 pounds better than Martin's cumulative weight of 47 pounds, 12 ounces. Indeed, Clausen dialed into to a productive pattern at Logan Martin during the dog days of summer when fish have a reputation for being scattered, finicky and generally uncooperative. The basics of Clausen's pattern centered on skipping finesse baits under docks. But instead of fishing a hundred different docks a day, he cherry-picked only the best docks and fished them repeatedly during the tournament. "I think the key for me was spending more time on single, productive docks rather than just fishing down long stretches of docks," said the Western pro. Clausen spent six days practicing for the 2004 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship. During the first three days, he fished upriver where he found a few shallow fish, but nothing that would amount to more than 10 pounds per day. When he switched to the lower end of the lake, he struck pay dirt. "I found better quality fish down the lake from about the park (Pell City Lakeside Park) to the dam," he said. "I had a couple of 17-pound days, and the fishing down there really fit me better than what I was doing upriver." As Clausen practiced fishing along dozens of docks catching one fish here and one fish there, he discovered that certain docks had entire schools of fish under them. Pro Luke Clausen's infallible patience was needed to battle fish like these from beneath craggy docks on 6-pound-test line."On several occasions, I'd catch a fish from a dock and there would be five or six with it," Clausen explained. "And I could get multiple bites off those docks." It didn't take him long to draw upon the similarities of the docks that harbored the schools. The similarities had little to do with the physical characteristics of the docks in terms of size, shape or age, but rather the bottom contour along the docks. "A lot of the docks were on flat, featureless banks," he said. "Most of them would end in 6 to 8 feet of water. But there would be one or two docks along the stretch that had a small, defined lead (ditch or drain) coming from the main lake up against the pilings making it a foot or two deeper, which apparently made a difference because those were the docks that held numbers of fish." During the tournament, Clausen would fish his best docks in the morning and then go searching for new docks to add to his milk run. "That was the only time I'd fish long stretches of docks in the tournament," he said. "I'd dedicate a few hours of each tournament day to fishing new stretches of docks that looked just right, hoping to uncover another school. I discovered some additional docks that way during the tournament. By Saturday, I probably had a total of 30 different docks around the lake that I would visit repeatedly." Another key to Clausen's dock-fishing efficiency was matching his fishing pace with the activity level of the fish. "The fish were definitely a lot more aggressive in the morning," he said. "They would be on the back corner pilings, and they bit the bait on the initial fall. But after nine o' clock, I really had to be patient and start picking the docks apart. " As a result, Clausen would begin every day of the tournament fishing fast and covering his best docks quickly. As the sun got higher in the sky, he would slow down and become more methodical with his presentation. Clausen used this 4-inch prototype worm from Reaction Innovations, called the Flirt, to win the FLW Tour Championship on Logan Martin Lake.His primary bait during the event was a prototype finesse worm made by Reaction Innovations. The finesse worm features a fatter head and egg-sack area that keeps the hook weedless, a skinny midsection and a large, bulbous tail designed to wag in the water. Clausen rigged the green-pumpkin-colored worms weedless on 1/16- and 1/8-ounce jigheads. He fished the jighead worm on 6- and 8-pound-test Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line. He used G-Loomis 821 and 822 DSR (drop-shot rod) spinning rods, which were 6 feet, 9 inches in length. "One is a medium action and the other one is a medium-light action," he said. "I used the medium-light-action rod for the 1/16-ounce head, so I could really load up the rod to skip it far under the docks." In the mornings when he was covering water quickly, he used the 1/8-ounce head on the 8-pound-test line. Later in the afternoon, when fishing conditions demanded an accurate presentation to the darkest part of the shade under the docks, the 1/16-ounce head tied to 6-pound-test line became his weapon. Afternoon boat traffic and wind brought boat wakes and ripple - brutal conditions for skipping docks. However, Clausen put on a dock-skipping clinic that demonstrated his meticulous patience and fishing ability. Boat position was a critical element of his strategy. He always took the time to position the boat so the craft acted as a blockade against wind ripple, creating a slick spot on the water on which he could skip his bait. Even though this tactic reduced the ripple, he could not control the bigger boat wakes. Many of the boat docks on Logan Martin are built low to the water. As a set of boat wakes travels under a dock, it raises and lowers the water line on the dock, making dock skipping a precise timing game. FLW Tour pro Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., lands a fish during the 2004 FLW Tour Championship on Logan Martin Lake, which he ultimately won."I had to get my skip casts in sync with the boat wakes," Clausen explained. "It was to my advantage to time my cast so that the bait was skipping under the dock at the exact second a trough was passing under a dock, because it opened up a bigger gap between the water line and dock. Sometimes I had to try two or three times before I got it where I wanted it." Those who know Clausen are familiar with his laid-back demeanor and ability to remain unfrazzled amid chaos. The constant hang-ups and breakoffs that come with skipping docks were a testament to his infallible patience. "I was breaking off and retying about 25 times per day," he said. "I would fill my reel spools with new line every night, and by the end of the day, I hardly had any line left on them - that's just part of it." Even more amazing were his nerves of steel while wrestling 3-pound spotted bass from beneath craggy docks on 6-pound-test line. With $500,000 on the line during the final round on Saturday, Clausen admitted that his cool-as-a-cucumber composure cracked a bit. "First thing that morning I was pretty stressed out," Clausen recalled. "Larry Nixon and the camera crew showed up, and I was a little shaken up by it - having Nixon watch you skip docks for $500,000 is pretty unnerving. But once the camera boats and some of the spectators left, I settled back down, got in my groove and caught them pretty good."

Tags: post-tournament  rob-newell 

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

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 »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

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 »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

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 »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-17-top-10-patterns-from-lake-dardanelle

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong, who won the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event on Lake Dardanelle, devoted most of his time to fishing reed lines with a mix of chatterbaits, frogs and Texas-rigged worms. He also caught fish by dragging a Texas-rigged 10-inch worm past brush piles in 6-8 feet. Lieblong amassed a three-day total of 46 pound, 3 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-16-top-10-baits-from-lake-dardanelle

Top 10 Baits from Lake Dardanelle

The top 10 at the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake Dardanelle used primarily a mixture of frogs, shallow crankbaits and soft plastics to get it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-04-top-10-patterns-from-lake-champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Glenn Browne basically lapped the field last week in the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain by fishing a jig on the bank down by Ticonderoga. He won by almost a 10-pound margin over second place. The rest of the top 10 caught fish from Missisquoi to Ti – or far north to far south – and sampled about every kind of fishing that Champlain has to offer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-03-top-10-baits-from-champlain

Top 10 Baits from Champlain

READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-03-top-10-photos-from-potomac-river

Top 10 Photos from Potomac River

As a result of the varied scenery on the Potomac, which includes the all-natural and the metropolitan, FLW’s media team was able to capture quite an interesting collection of photos at the finale. The crew even managed to make it out without raising suspicions from any government agencies pulling security details along the upper stretches of the Potomac near Washington, D.C. At least, we’re not on any watch lists that we know of. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-30-top-10-baits-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt earned the win with a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin-colored 4x4 flipping jig and a white Z-Man ChatterBait with a Lake Fork Tackle Live Magic Shad as the trailer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-22-top-10-baits-from-the-all-american

Top 10 Baits From the All-American

Curtis Richardson earned the win by throwing a Nichols Lures Magnum Spoon on the first two days and a 1/2-ounce drop-shot with a red bug-colored Zoom Magnum Trick Worm on the final day when the current slowed down. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-21-top-10-patterns-from-the-all-american

Top 10 Patterns From The All-American

Giant spoons and drop-shot rigs were out in force during the All-American, as it strictly was a ledge tournament, but they weren’t the only tools that the All-American anglers worked with in the three-day event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-17-shallow-patterns-from-chickamauga

Shallow Patterns from Chickamauga

While Michael Wooley was patching together an offshore pattern that ultimately gained him the win, Dudley and Davis climbed into the top 10 by fishing shallow water almost exclusively. Their results are worth a second look. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-15-top-10-patterns-from-lake-chickamauga

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 »

/news/2015-06-15-top-10-baits-from-lake-chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Lake Chickamauga

Michael Wooley locked up his first Walmart FLW Tour win on Lake Chickamauga with a green pumpkin Zoom Magnum Trick Worm on a 1/2-ounce shaky head. He also mixed in a 3/4-ounce green pumpkin craw-colored Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-15-mammoth-win-for-wooley

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 »

/news/2015-06-14-chickamauga-aoy-update

Chickamauga AOY Update

On the heels of his third consecutive Walmart FLW Tour top-10 finish, Shelby, N.C., pro and 2010 Angler of the Year Bryan Thrift moves into the lead in the 2015 AOY race going into the final event on the Potomac River in LaPlata, Md., June 25-28. Thrift won the Tour’s fourth stop on Lake Eufaula back in May and followed it up with a ninth-place finish this week on Lake Chickamauga. His AOY point total through five of six events is 945. READ MORE »