Tuesday Tour Update: Rowland keeps on rollin’

Zell Rowland yanks one from the flooded willows.

With a lifetime of 335 combined tournaments between BASS and FLW, 16 Bassmaster Classic appearances from 1980 through 2007 and five major tournament victories already to his credit, Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas, remains one of the most recognizable names in the sport of professional bass fishing. Affectionately known as the "King of Topwater Fishing," Rowland also boasts 34 years of major professional tournament fishing experience and more than $1.35 million in combined winning s between the two major circuits. Oh, and by the way, Rowland fished his first-ever tournament when he was just 13 years old. But while his track record is legendary, Rowland also shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the Texan just so happened to have one of his best-ever FLW Tour seasons this year at the ripe old age of 56. With two top-10 finishes on the FLW Tour in 2013 (a sixth-place finish at Lewis Smith Lake in March and an eighth-place finish on Grand Lake in June), Rowland parlayed the ups and downs of a truly rollercoaster-like season into the second Forrest Wood Cup berth of his career. Texas pro Zell Rowland shows off his catch. "I had a couple of good tournaments this year and some not so good ones. But I really wanted to finish this year a lot better than I did," said Rowland. "I felt pretty good going into (Lake Chickamauga - the sixth and final regular season event) but when I didn't catch them on the first day, I knew that I needed to have a pretty good second day. But I really didn't catch them on day two either. After that, I was so unhappy with myself that I drove back to Texas nonstop. You know you've had a tough tournament any time your wife doesn't call you the entire trip home." Rowland wound up finishing the Chickamauga event in 76th place. But ultimately, it didn't cost him. Although the Chickamauga tourney dropped Rowland to 39th place overall in the final FLW Tour standings for the year, Rowland managed to secure the very last qualifying spot in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup - by the skin of his teeth. "It's been a grind all year for me and the Forrest Wood Cup is going to be a grind as well," said Rowland, who last qualified for the Cup in 2005. "But I'm very excited about having the opportunity to fish the Cup. I'm pretty pumped up to be going to the Red River. If I had to go there tomorrow I'd be ready." But Rowland - who has spent nearly his entire adult life navigating waterways almost too numerous to count and fighting through virtually every weather condition imaginable - knows all too well that the challenges of fishing this year's Forrest Wood Cup will not be for the faint of heart. Especially in late summer ... in Louisiana ... on the Red River. Zell Rowland carefully checks his tackle before takeoff."You better bring your shorts and bring your sunscreen - and don't bring one case of water, bring two," Rowland said of predicted fishing conditions which should bring heavy doses of insane heat and humidity throughout the four-day contest. "It's going to be tough fishing. In the winter and late spring you can catch 15- and 16-pound bags. But in the summer, it's a lot harder. You can still catch a ton of fish. Everyone is going to catch a limit, but getting those bigger 3-, 4- and 5-pound bites is really going to be difficult. Heck, even catching those 2-pounders won't be easy during this time of the year. I've said it before, if you do catch a 5-pounder on the Red River, especially in August, it's like finding a $100 bill lying on the ground." It also appears that predictions of difficult fishing conditions at this year's Cup are not the exclusive domain of Rowland either. "All of us guys who know each other, Jimmy Houston, Larry Nixon and those guys, we all talk from time to time," said Rowland. "And (the consensus) is that if it stays like it is right now, it wouldn't surprise me to see the winning weight come in at 44 pounds (an 11-pound per day average). Now, that's on the low end of things. But on the higher end, I don't think you're going to see much more than 48 pounds (a 12-pound per day average). "All of those fish in that river system live shallow," Rowland continued. "There is a lot of vegetation in that body of water - hydrilla, lily pads, coon tails and a lot dead timber. When I was down there last, the river looked like my backyard. There was just vegetation everywhere. It's a great fishery and a great place to catch lots of fish. But like I said, getting those big bites is going to be tough. I think the smarter guys in the field are going to be fishing for one or two big bites early and then trying to round out their limit the rest of the day." Zell Rowland weighs in his catch during the 2005 Forrest Wood Cup.The Texan also believes that this year's Cup competition will be more strategic than most. For starters, anglers are going to have to figure out which area of the river system they are going to attack on a daily basis - Pool 3, Pool 4 or Pool 5. Then, on top of that, the field is going to have to successfully navigate the Red River itself, which is filled with plenty of dangerous submerged timber, hard-to-reach lower-water backwater areas, snakes, alligators and other assorted critters. "I'm going to be doing as much pre-fishing on the Red River as I can - not so much to catch fish but to learn how to navigate that body of water," said Rowland. "You might find a place you want to fish but then you'll find out that you have to idle 15 to 20 minutes just to get back into that one spot. And that's almost an hour roundtrip right there. So on that first day, if you go into the backwaters, you're going to have to be completely dedicated to that spot. So there's going to be a lot of strategy involved." Rowland said it's going to be especially important to break down the river in practice. "I'd like to spend at least one practice day in each of the pools - Pool 5, Pool 4 and Pool 3. That way I'd be able to narrow down my decision on where to fish," he said. "If you decide to go to Pool 3, you're not going to have a lot of time to fish - maybe three hours at the most - so you're really going to have to know what you're doing and where you're fishing. "This isn't going to be like a regular tournament," Rowland continued. "If you run to Pool 5, for example, and catch 15 pounds, there is probably no way you can duplicate that the next day in the same area. So your choice will be: Run to Pool 5 again and be satisfied catching 10 or 11 pounds or go to Pool 3 or 4, fish new water and try to get another 15 pounds. There is also the possibility the tournament could be won in the fish release area. So those are the tough choices you're going to have to make." Strategy at the Cup won't be confined just to which areas to fish. There is also the question of what type of arsenal to throw. Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas, shows off his final catch en route to an eighth place finish on Grand Lake."In my opinion, there are really four ways to catch fish on the Red River. And if you can narrow it down to two (techniques) I think you'd be in pretty good shape," said Rowland. "I think you're going to see fish caught on crankbaits, on topwaters and possibly even flipping. But it's the fourth way that scares me the most. The people who have the patience to fish a worm slowly, guys like Larry Nixon, they could have a lot of success as well. Personally, I don't have the patience for that approach. I like to do more power fishing myself." But regardless of the eventual outcome, Rowland says he's delighted to be able to compete on one of bass fishing's biggest stages. "I'm going to be fishing every day right up until the start of the Cup. And I'll be ready to go when the time comes. It's an honor just to get to compete against these guys," he said. "I've never won what I've considered to be a major championship in either BASS or on the FLW (circuit) so winning the Forrest Wood Cup would mean a lot to me. I've been close before, but close doesn't even get you a sucker. So to win the Forrest Wood Cup title against these guys would be a real honor."

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-05-19-missed-opportunities-at-beaver-lake

Missed Opportunities at Beaver Lake

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-14-2015-flw-tv-schedule

2015 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-12-strader-maintains-lead-at-halfway-mark

Strader Maintains Lead At Halfway Mark

Midway through the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, Tennessee pro Wes Strader is in first place in the Angler of the Year race, and his prospects for winning it are as good as anyone’s. Two upcoming events, at lakes Eufaula and Chickamauga, “fish” in a way that suits his style, and he has a good track record on the Potomac River, the last Tour stop of 2015. A good finishing kick could earn the veteran his first AOY title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-10-mother-of-ramie-colson-jr-passes

Mother of Ramie Colson Jr. Passes

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-07-community-outreach-sportsmanship-award-

Community Outreach (Sportsmanship Award)

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-06-tornadoes-sweep-across-oklahoma

Tornadoes Sweep Across Oklahoma

2014 Rayovac FLW Series Champion Zack Birge, whose appears in the Central Division Tournament on Kentucky Lake was cut short by tornados at his home town in Oklahoma, characterized the damage to his house as “a near miss.” READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-05-weekend-wrap-up-may-4-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – May 4, 2015

This weekend saw history being made at the Rayovac level. Plus, it was a bush- and flipping-filled BFL Saturday and the College Fishing ranks produced some Guntersville giants. Here’s a recap of last weekend’s tournament action. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-01-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, May 2. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-30-flw-raises-88k-for-charity

FLW Raises $88K for Charity

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-29-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-26-queen-and-black-crowned-high-school-fishing-champs

Queen and Black Crowned High School Fishing Champs

Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black of the North Carolina Student Angler Federation won the 2015 SAF High School Fishing National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Queen and Black bested a field of the 10 best High School Fishing teams in the two-day competition. They caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday to make it to today’s final round of five teams in second place. Then today, the Tar Heel State’s best backed it up with 17-15 to surpass Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom, the day-one-leaders, by 4 pounds, 6 ounces with a two-day total of 35-01. Queen and Black earned a $10,000 scholarship for their win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-keenom-yates-grab-high-school-lead

Keenom, Yates Grab High School Lead

Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom sacked a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to top the leaderboard on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black are hot on their heels in second with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-a-high-school-fishing-grand-finale

A High School Fishing Grand Finale

Adrenaline and optimism were running high among the 19 young guns gathered at Wolf Creek Park as they anxiously awaited takeoff on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Set for April 25-26 on the legendary Sooner impoundment, the championship pits the nation’s top 10 two-person high school teams in an all-out bass battle for the national title and a $10,000 college scholarship. One contestant, Cameron Pappan, is fishing solo. The road to the finals began in 2014, with state and open championships leading to one of five conference finals, then ultimately to Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-weekend-wrap-up-april-21-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-the-bucket-list

The Bucket List

Gleaned from my various fishing travels over the years, here are 10 places ­– in no particular order – that I’ve fished that I believe should definitely be on your bass fishing “bucket list.” Some are fantastic winter getaways, but other will require you to wait until warmer weather arrives. READ MORE »