UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Stren Series Championship preview: Wheeler Lake

For most, autumn means a refreshing change in weather temperatures and a chance to marvel at nature's beauty when the leaves turn to orange and brown. But for Stren Series competitors, cooler weather brings the Stren Series Championship, returning for 2006 in its typical post-Halloween time slot. While trick-or-treaters are scouring the neighborhoods for Snickers bars and other candies, 400 championship contenders will be gearing up for top pro and co-angler awards of $140,000 and $70,000, respectively. The playing field this year is Alabama's Wheeler Lake, with the tournament going out from the host city of Decatur. The Alabama Fab Four - lakes Wheeler, Pickwick, Wilson and Guntersville - are often favorite tournament destinations because the impoundments are simply loaded with bass. But for this event, fishing will be limited to Wheeler Lake - no locking through to Guntersville or other fisheries in the Tennessee River chain. Pro William DavisPro William Davis hails from north Alabama, and the one tournament win on his resume came on Wheeler Lake in Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competition in 2005. Davis will compete in the championship by virtue of his eighth-place ranking in the Stren Midwest Division, and he says Wheeler Lake does house a significant bass population. And while Davis expects good numbers of fish to be caught during the event, weights, however, will be another story. "It will be tough," Davis said. "There will be a lot of fish caught, but it will be tough. A 20-pound bag is very capable of being caught, but I look for 10 to 12 pounds a day to be good. I think 11 to 14 pounds a day could win it." Weather a big factor Making the competition challenging is quite simply the time of year. In Alabama in early November, it's not yet cold, but it's not hot, either. The in-between makes the fish a little harder to figure out. Mother Nature could create conditions more favorable to fish-catching, though, if she just dumps a little rain on the area. "If we have some rain, it would help," Davis said. "It would be clearer. But it's usually tough." Temperature also plays a role, with Davis explaining that the colder it gets, the hotter the fishing. Fog delayed competition for about 30 minutes on day two.Competitors can also expect a fog delay, practically a given when visiting lakes in the Tennessee River chain. Davis said typical temperatures in northern Alabama in early November reach into the 60s and 70s for a high and down into the 40s for a low. The Flats are back One advantage Wheeler will provide, though, is a lot of water for 400 competitors to fish. Davis expects the lake to fish big, though the fabled Decatur Flats are likely to draw a crowd. Those who go there, though, better look out - it will be a rough ride. Falling water levels this time of year on Wheeler Lake make navigation difficult. "Especially on the Decatur Flats and upriver in the creeks, you will definitely need to watch what you're doing," Davis warns. "On the lower end, it's not so much of a factor, but from midlake up, it's a big factor. On the Decatur Flats, you don't want to run anywhere in that area because there are stumps everywhere up there." But you can bet a lot of anglers will be stump-dodging, because according to Davis, the Decatur Flats still provide the best chance to catch hefty bass on Wheeler Lake. Note the word hefty - the bass can be caught all over the lake, but the big ones are often found around the Decatur Flats. Anglers make their way toward the open waters of Wheeler Lake.And as for the bass, Davis says that while the lake does have a decent population of smallmouth bass, he expects the largemouths to dominate the tournament. "Someone could weigh in a good sack of smallmouth, but it will most likely be won with largemouth," Davis said. And whether you like to fish shallow or deep, Wheeler has it all. Davis said the hotter bite will probably be shallow, but he predicts a competitor or two could come in with a good sack caught deep. Fall patterns predominate As expected, the bass will be well into their typical fall pattern, and while Davis couldn't say for sure what he thought they might respond to, he made a few educated guesses. "It could be won on a top-water, it could be won flipping a jig, or it could be won cranking," Davis said. "I'd say those three things and a spinnerbait, though a lot of people throw a Shaky Head." Anglers cruise past sailboats moored at Joe Wheeler State Park.And when the Wheeler bass are in their fall pattern, Davis says they can typically be found in one type of place. "It should be a back-of-the-creek, typical fall pattern," he said. "They will more than likely be caught in the creeks, but there will be a bite on the river, too." As for structure, Davis expects the Wheeler bass to be found on bluffs or wood, although the grass - like what is found in the prolific Decatur Flats - is good too. Whether they're shallow or deep, in the grass or in the creeks, at the end of the day, Wheeler Lake is a good place to fish because of its diversity. With such a diverse slate of competitors - the top 40 pros and 40 co-anglers from five nationwide divisions - the competition certainly fits the playing field. "Wheeler is big enough to accommodate that many boats," Davis said. "People can fish their strengths and do what they want to do, whether it's fish deep or fish the grass. They can fish up the river, below Guntersville Dam - they can do whatever they want to do on that lake and catch fish." The four-day tournament begins Nov. 1 in Decatur.

Tags: pre-tournament  jennifer-simmons 

/news/2015-08-01-a-country-music-festival-at-the-cup-

A Country Music Festival at the Cup

It’ll be quite the country music festival atmosphere, complete with an extensive hunting and fishing expo featuring the top tackle and outdoor brands in the country, plus the second annual Bass & BBQ Festival, where fans can sample the wares of the world’s finest low-and-slow cookers. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-flw-anticipating-largest-expo-of-all-time

FLW Anticipating Largest Expo of All Time

Bass fishing history and Arkansas walk hand-in-hand it seems. The Natural State was home to the first bass tournament. It’s where Ranger Boats was founded. And it’s hosted some of FLW’s most noteworthy events. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-28-previewing-champlain-

Previewing Champlain

Year in, year out, Lake Champlain presents a challenge that is almost totally unique. When the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division competition gets under way on Champlain later this week, competitors will have about 100 miles of water to choose from. The win could come from anywhere, and limits will be plentiful. The event, which is presented by Plano, is likely to be an exciting one to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-27-fishing-the-cup-for-a-cure

Fishing the Cup for a Cure

n his first year fishing the Walmart FLW Tour, Jason Meninger placed 41st in the standings, earned more than $30,000 and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup. Oh, yeah, he also found out he had cancer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-22-college-fishing-rolls-to-the-mighty-miss

College Fishing Rolls to the Mighty Miss

FLW College Fishing is headed to the Mississippi River July 25 for the third and final regular-season tournament in the Central Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Central Conference Championship tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-21-shane-lehew-gets-his-chance

Shane Lehew Gets His Chance

In 2014, Lehew began his Tour pro career by capturing 24th place in the first event of the year on Lake Okeechobee. His performances on the Big O last year and at Lake Toho this spring reflect his preference for fishing shallow water with mixed cover. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-09-ohio-river-event-rescheduled-for-august

Ohio River Event Rescheduled for August

The Walmart BFL tournament on the Ohio River at Tanner’s Creek slated for July 11 has been rescheduled to August 29 due to extremely high water levels. All takeoff and weigh-in locations and times will remain the same. Anglers will takeoff and weigh-in at the Lawrenceburg City Ramp, located at Tanner’s Creek Drive in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-08-2015-forrest-wood-cup-co-angler-qualifiers

2015 Forrest Wood Cup Co-Angler Qualifiers

Along with their pro colleagues, 50 of the best co-anglers in the country will take to the waters of Lake Ouachita Aug. 20-23 for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup. Here’s the official list of qualifiers, in alphabetical order and by source of qualification. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-02-things-to-do-at-the-2015-cup

Things to do at the 2015 Cup

When 50 of the world’s best bass anglers arrive in Hot Springs, Ark., for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup next month, they’ll be competing for the biggest honor in bass fishing – Forrest Wood Cup champion – and the biggest winning payday in bass fishing – $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-30-2015-forrest-wood-cup-field-announced

2015 Forrest Wood Cup Field Announced

READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-24-practice-with-alex-davis

Practice with Alex Davis

The final stop of the Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River is a homecoming of sorts for pro Alex Davis. Though Davis now spends his time guiding on Lake Guntersville, his early years were spent about 45 miles west of the Potomac in Strasburg, Va., where he learned to bass fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-24-historical-potomac-river-tour

Historical Potomac River Tour

While the field for the Walmart FLW Tour event was out looking for bass on the Potomac River we decided to see the sights as well. Launching at Smallwood State Park, we rolled out for a self-guided tour of the area in a Ranger Z520c. Below is a sampling of what we saw. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-23-practice-with-adrian-avena

Practice with Adrian Avena

Adrian Avena might not have the years on the water that some of the other locals have, but he’s currently sitting eighth in the AOY race and calculates that he only needs to catch one keeper to make the Forrest Wood Cup. I was happy to jump in the boat with him and co-angler Ian Renfrew for a few hours on the final day of practice for the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-17-anglers-to-watch-in-the-all-american

Anglers to Watch in the All-American

Clearly, there’s no such thing as home-lake advantage in the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American. Consider the five most recent winners: Troy Morrow of Georgia in 2010 on DeGrey Lake in Arkansas, Jacob Wheeler of Indiana in 2011 on Cross Lake in Louisiana, Brian Maloney of Missouri on the Potomac River in 2012, Kerry Milner of Arkansas on Lake Nickajack in Tennessee in 2013 and Marcus Sykora of Missouri on Wilson Lake in Alabama in 2014. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-09-practice-with-casey-martin

Practice with Casey Martin

Last time the Walmart FLW Tour stopped at Lake Chickamauga, then-rookie Casey Martin sacked over 100 pounds and won the event. As well as being a tremendous win for a rookie, the entire experience was documented on Circuit Breaker for an inside look at the entire process of winning a tournament. Now that we’re back on the scene of Martin’s greatest triumph, I jumped at the chance join him for a few hours the last morning of official practice to see how he approached the lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-09-dark-horse-patterns-at-chick

Dark Horse Patterns at Chick

Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga has caught the attention of bass anglers everywhere over the past few years due to the giant stringers of largemouth bass being taken from the Tennessee River reservoir. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-02-bfl-okie-division-tournament-moved-

BFL Okie Division tournament moved

Due to unsafe water conditions, the Walmart BFL tournament at Fort Gibson Lake slated for June 6 has been moved and anglers will now compete on Skiatook Lake. Anglers will takeoff and weigh-in at Black Dog Park, located on Highway 20 in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-20-mdj-fitzgerald-battle-for-aoy

MDJ, Fitzgerald Battle for AOY

The Southeast Division of the Rayovac FLW Series will wrap up this week on Lake Seminole after what has been an action-packed season complete with record fields and 30-pound stringers. On top of battling for the $40,000 top prize for winning the event, anglers will also be competing to claim the Strike King Angler of the Year award and its $2,000 prize package, which includes deposits into the 2016 FLW Series. The AOY finale is likely to be a two-man race between Mark Daniels Jr. and Trevor Fitzgerald, but several other pros are within range of stealing away the title. Here’s how it breaks down. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-12-shad-spawn-grass-could-be-a-factor

Shad Spawn, Grass Could be a Factor

While the offshore specialists have discounted the ability to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula on a shallow pattern, their quickness to count out the shallows might be premature. Eufaula’s shallow bite is nearly always strong, and it has only gotten better in recent years. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-12-practice-with-clayton-batts-

Practice with Clayton Batts

Of the locals in the field for the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula, sophomore pro Clayton Batts is about as local as they come. He has roots all around Eufaula and has about as much experience as anyone on the lake. Typically he competes out of a Ranger wrapped by Mid-State RV Center, but motor troubles had forced him to miss some practice time and borrow a boat from FLW Tour co-angler Josh Weaver. Luckily, he is well-equipped will local knowledge to make up for lost time. I joined him for a few hours the last morning of official practice to see how he approached the lake. READ MORE »