UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

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 


River Showdown Looms

The 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Oct. 29-31 will be a true test of fishing skill rather than a rehash of past experiences, as it will be decided on a fishery with which few of the contestants are familiar. Though the lower Ohio River has flown under the radar screen of most FLW anglers, competitors in the Walmart Bass Fishing League’s Buckeye, Illini and Hoosier divisions have proved time and again that the river can provide hefty limits of bass. Typically, it’s a question of fashioning three days of milk runs where several patterns and presentations might come into play. READ MORE »


Who's the Best in the West?

They say it’ll be a tough one, by Clear Lake standards anyway, which should make for a fantastic season-finale showdown. But that’s not all that’s at stake Thursday when the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division finale kicks off in California. Someone is going to walk away with a Strike King Angler of the Year prize package, plus the top 40 pros and co-anglers in the season-long standings will earn a place in the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship, which is being held on the Ohio River in Paducah, Ky., at month’s end. With the addition of the Western Division contingent, the Championship field will be complete at 200 pros and 200 co-anglers. READ MORE »


Southeastern Conference Championship set for Pickwick

“I know that Pickwick is traditionally known as a ledge fishery, but that is just not the case right now,” says Walmart FLW Tour pro Jason Lambert. “There is so much grass and hydrilla in this lake right now – the most that I have ever seen. The grass bite is going to be very strong in this tournament." READ MORE »


3 Keys To The Next Cup

It’s almost always too early to preview a fishing tournament. Even this year at the Forrest Wood Cup, Brad Knight probably wouldn’t have told you that he knew the winning spot on Lake Ouachita once practice was over. Fishing is just too hard to predict. READ MORE »


Knight Breaks Foot, But Plans To Fish

The Tennessee pro broke his right foot Thursday evening as he was preparing to fix a flat tire on his boat trailer in preparation for practicing on the lake Friday morning. The rear tire of the tandem rig was flat, and Knight was holding a chunk of wood in place ahead of the front tire when the accident happened. His wife Becky was driving his truck with trailer attached and Knight asked her to pull up so that the front tire would climb the chunk and the flat rear tied would be suspended. The front tire fell off the chunk, however, and onto Knight’s foot. READ MORE »


Smallmouth Slugfest on Tap at Erie

Florida pro Glenn Browne leads the race with 492 points, largely due to his win at the previous divisional event on Lake Champlain. Following well within striking distance are Canadian pro Cory Johnston (484 points) and Louisianan Gerald Spohrer (483), who found his way into the Northern Division quite incidentally. READ MORE »


Boat Tour of Lake Ouachita

The FLW media staff brought a few Rangers over to Lake Ouachita for this week’s festivities, so we decided to take one for a drive around the lake to get a feel for what the anglers will be facing this week. Here is what we found. READ MORE »


Scouting with Stetson

“I don’t know where or how to win it yet, but I know this lake as good as anyone,” says Stetson Blaylock. “I might not be due, but nobody wants to win this as bad as I do.” READ MORE »


Practice with Zack Birge

Zack Birge qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup twice – first by winning the Rayovac FLW Series Championship in the fall of 2014 and subsequently by crushing it in his rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour. Regardless of how he got here, Birge figures to be a threat on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »


Cup Practice Begins

Welcome to Hot Springs, Ark., and the Forrest Wood Cup. Today, Sunday, marks the start of the official three-day practice period for the 2015 Cup. Right now is when pros start to piece together the puzzle that is summertime fishing on Lake Ouachita. To find out how the pros are preparing for this championship event, I head down to Brady Mountain Resort way too early in the morning to pester a few of them before they back their boats into the lake. I find out that for some pros, this morning is the first time they’ve launched a boat in Lake Ouachita this season – or ever. For others that made pre-practice trips, it’s the first time they’ve seen the lake since it went off limits earlier this month. READ MORE »


Central Division AOY Race Concludes on Dardanelle

Currently, Quaker State pro Matt Arey is in the driver’s seat, but the field behind him is close and pretty stacked. READ MORE »


Ouachita Pre-Practice Report

Lake Ouachita officially went off-limits to all Forrest Wood Cup competitors on Monday, Aug. 3. That means that from now until the official three-day practice period opens on Aug. 16, no Cup competitor can be on the lake and competitors may only gather information about Ouachita from publicly available resources and fellow qualifiers. READ MORE »


FLW to Participate in Benefit Tournament for Servicemen Killed in Terrorist Attack

FLW has partnered with the Chattanooga Bass Association, Fish Dayton and the Hydrilla Hawgs bass club to host the #NoogaStrong Memorial Bass Tournament on Lake Chickamauga out of Dayton, Tenn. All proceeds from the Sept. 12 event will benefit families of the five servicemen who were killed in the Chattanooga Naval Reserve terrorist attacks that occurred in July. READ MORE »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »