UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Cochran the contrarian

Wal-Mart pro George Cochran has made a lucrative fishing career by fishing shallow when bass go deep.

Editor's note: The following is an on-the-water account of George Cochran's second day of competition at the 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship on Logan Martin Lake as he fished past Larry Nixon with a day-two catch of 11 pounds, 14 ounces. Outdoor writer Rob Newell fished with Cochran that day, as Newell had qualified for the championship as a co-angler.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Given all of bass fishing's commonly accepted conventions, the one George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., likes to challenge best is the one which claims all bass go deep in the heat of summer.

In August 1996, Cochran won the Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake in Alabama by fishing an extremely shallow bay ignored by other competitors who considered it too hot and too shallow for summer conditions.

Last year at Lake Hamilton, a lake known for its deep brush piles, Cochran won the FLW Tour Championship by fishing topwaters along a shallow a bank in broiling conditions.

And those are just two examples of Cochran's contrarian ways that have allowed him a handsome living in the sport of professional bass fishing.

In fact, Larry Nixon, Cochran's good friend and round-one opponent in theGeorge Cochran championship bracket, refers to Cochran as a "mud dauber" due to his penchant for fishing shallow mud when the mercury soars into the triple digits.

"That's just my style," said Cochran, as his trolling motor slurped up Logan Martin's muddy bottom during the second day of the 2006 FLW Tour Championship. "I grew up fishing places like this on the Arkansas River in the heat of summer, and it's still in my blood."

Indeed, Cochran uses a wayward approach to catch wayward bass during the dog days of summer.

As an example of just how committed Cochran is to shallow-water fishing, consider that he does not have a GPS on his boat, nor does he hardly ever turn his front depth finder on.

"I had a GPS for about two years and never turned the thing on," he laughed. "And all the front depth finder does is blink at me, so I leave it off."

Many of Cochran's primary fishing locations during the FLW Tour Championship on Logan Martin last week were silted-in creeks, expansive shallow bays and "nothing looking" pockets, where surface temperatures hovered just above the 90-degree mark.

During the day, Cochran would occasionally ask me to read out the depth displayed on the rear depth finder. When I replied, "One-point-nine feet," he'd just smile and say, "Perfect."

At one point, I noticed a depth-finder reading of 4 feet. When I reported this to him, he responded, "Yeah, I thought we'd try my deep fish for a few minutes."

Even a small canopy of shade provides the kind of isolated cover George Cochran prefers in the heat of summer.Exactly what Cochran targets in these "nothing looking" places is any piece of isolated cover such as a single piece of brush, a single lay-down, a dock, a boat ramp, a small stretch of riprap, a culvert or even a small piece of shady water provided by a canopy of overhanging trees.

Roiling up mud with the outboard for 10 minutes just to fish a single brush top in the back of a supershallow bay is standard operating procedure for his kind of fishing.

"Most people simply aren't going to come way back here to fish something like this in August," Cochran said, as he flung a shallow-running, square-bill crankbait to a tiny twig sticking above the water.

I watched with anticipation as his crankbait wobbled over one limb and then another before being enveloped into a rod-bending muddy boil.

"Purr-fect," Cochran muttered in his soft Southern accent as he fought the fish.

Seconds later, when I scooped up a chunky 2 1/2-pound largemouth in the net, I began to understand the method to his madness.

"This fish has probably been living back here since March or April when it spawned," he said, putting his third keeper in the livewell.

"Most fish do move out to deeper water in the hotter months," he continued. "That part is true. But a few stray fish, for whatever reason, will hang around back here in the mud all summer. They'll just take up residence in a little place like that brush top and make a living on whatever swims by - like my crankbait."

Cochran also pointed out that bass are more prone to live shallow during the When itsummer in river systems.

"Many anglers consider Logan Martin and Lay to be lakes, and they fish them like reservoirs," he added. "But I see these lakes along the Coosa system as one big river with plenty of flats and shallow bays. And as long as there is decent water color and baitfish back in these places, I just pretend I'm fishing a river system instead of a reservoir."

Cochran's primary fishing tools for this kind of water are topwater poppers, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and a variety of shallow-running crankbaits.

On day two of the championship, he was using a Lucky Craft RC 1.5 crankbait on 15-pound P-line.

"When shallow cranking during the hottest part of the year, I don't like rattles in my crankbait," Cochran noted. "This particular crankbait is silent - it has no built-in rattles - so that's why I'm using it."

Throughout much of the day, Cochran kept just three rods out on his deck armed with the following: a pair of RC 1.5 crankbaits and a Texas-rigged, straight-tail worm that he occasionally pitched into places he couldn't access with the crankbaits.

The only difference in the two crankbaits he used is that one sported red Eagle Claw treble hooks. Cochran has always been a big believer in red hooks, especially in dingier water.

During the day we never saw another boat fishing the same areas as Cochran, probably because this type of fishing is hot, gritty work. Unlike the open main lake, which is blessed with a breeze every now and again, Cochran's dead-end pockets are stifling.

Also, getting hung up a lot is par for the course with his style. Even though Cochran's casts are accurate, a crankbait's nature is to find something to which it can cling. Yet, Gentleman George never gets riled each time he has to concede to a snag and retrieve his lure.

"It's all part of the process," he explained, as he patiently poked his rod tip into a brush pile to free his lure. "You have to put it in the right place to get the bite, and getting hung up is going to happen."

The fruits of George CochranAlso, this type of fishing requires constant running and gunning. Picking up the trolling motor, zipping up the life jacket and cranking the big engine for a move is as routine as making a cast.

And sometimes a 20-minute move is made just for the sake of five casts to one piece of cover.

It was one such stop late in the day that produced Cochran's best fish, a 3-pound largemouth.

"Ooh, that one is going to hurt Larry," I said, as he culled out a 12-incher.

And with that, Cochran smiled and said, "Perfect."

Tags: rob-newell  post-tournament  2006-08-02-flw-tour-championship 

/tips/2016-02-05-an-ill-wind-at-okeechobee-

An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-04-aquatic-plant-id

Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-poche-services-set

Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-time-to-shine-for-setzer

Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-01-ambassador

Ambassador

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-29-glenn-browne-s-timeout-is-over-

Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-flw-podcast-109-mike-surman

FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-john-cox-gives-himself-a-makeover

John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-austin-felix-is-ready-for-the-big-time

Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-flw-canada-sets-tournament-sites-dates

FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-26-jigging-spoons-for-winter-bass

Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-24-how-bryan-thrift-got-to-be-so-good

How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-high-school-fishing-makes-the-grade

High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-flw-mexico-at-the-starting-gate

FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-making-the-case-for-haynes-as-aoy

Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-21-flw-podcast-108-jason-lambert

FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-bfl-choo-choo-division-postponed

BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-tigerodz-aligns-with-auburn-team

TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-becoming-aware-of-your-angler-strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-18-pundits-picks-for-aoy

Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »