UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Clear Lake

Key spot carries Cotten to day-one lead

Rick Cotten jumped out to an early lead at Sam Rayburn with 25 pounds, 15 ounces.

Big wind, big lakes, big bass - it's a perfect storyline for the "everything's-bigger-in-Texas" shootout that's playing out at the Sam Rayburn Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Chevy. Pro Rick Cotten of Guntersville, Ala., slammed 25 pounds, 15 ounces to jump into the early lead over Blacksburg, S.C., pro Andy Montgomery, who weighed 24 pounds, 11 ounces. Four of the top-10 anglers surpassed 20 pounds, and the 20th-place cut currently sits at 16 pounds, 13 ounces. "This was a total surprise based on my practice," Cotten said. "I had about 16 pounds in practice, and they just kind of moved in." Like many in the field, Cotten lamented the effects of south winds that began gusting across Sam Rayburn at 15 to 20 mph right from the start of competition. Rather than tear across the lake and hit the few spots he located in practice, Cotten camped out in one spot on what he called an "all-day deal." "I didn't catch my last fish until 30 minutes before weigh-in," he said. "I just kept fishing hard. They're not really holding on anything, other than a little grass line. Who knows if they'll be there tomorrow." Most of the top anglers fell into one of two camps today: cover water with reaction baits or thoroughly scour a few key spots with bottom baits. Cotten is among the slow-fishing group. He landed seven quality fish from a roughly 2-acre area with just two lures - the same two lures he's been using since the start of practice. "Honestly, I think these were mostly prespawn fish," Cotten said. "Fishing slow was necessary to coax a bite. They haven't really moved up in numbers yet, but I think they'll move in more as the weekend goes on." Andy Montgomery sacked 24-11 Thursday to grab the second-place position.Montgomery was among the day-one blitzers. He was late in arriving to Texas for practice after the B.A.S.S. Elite Series event in Florida. After less than a day and a half to sample Rayburn's waters, he used this morning's competition hours to branch out into eight or 10 areas and eventually uncovered a pattern that helped him narrow down his options for tomorrow to two primary chunks of real estate. "I covered a lot of territory," Montgomery said. "It was tough. I was just fortunate enough to run into a few bigger bites. I think I know how the big ones are setting up. My big fish were all prespawn today, but it's going to change because the big ones want to move up really bad." His big one today was an 8-pounder, which came from the same place where, in practice, Montgomery said he got a look at the biggest bass he's ever had on a line in his life. "I'm pretty sure I could run this pattern and find more water, but these areas are really big," he said. "I just don't get enough bites [to try and learn more spots]." The Rest of the Best 3rd place - Mark Rose - 23-14 Walmart pro Mark Rose shows off part of his 23-pound, 14-ounce limit that put him in third place after day one.Walmart pro Mark Rose of West Memphis, Ark., was the first angler to cross the stage with more than 20 pounds. Rose falls into the "in-between" category of fishing techniques - not really fast, but he's not soaking his two go-to lures either. The key for Rose was a particular type of structure where bass are staging on their way to and from bedding areas. Having some type of drain or access route to bedding pockets makes a spot even more attractive to him. "I'm getting some good bites," Rose said, "but I start on one spot and it takes forever to get a bite. I'm just catching one fish here and there. That's a typical staging scenario, especially prespawn. I need wind and clouds. I'm not looking forward to sunny, calm weather." Rose fished from the dam to the Cassel-Boykins County Park takeoff site. His big fish was a 7-plus, though he's hoping more for a consistent catch tomorrow. "You can't rely on a 7-pounder," he said. "I need to catch more 3-pounders." 4th place - Ryan Davidson - 21-06 Ryan Davidson jumps out to fourth place thanks to his 21-6 haul.Ryan Davidson has some top-10 momentum coming off his ninth-place finish at Lake Hartwell earlier this month. The West Virginian was noticeably confident, but especially cautious of revealing too much information this early in the event. "I'm getting in a couple areas and camping," he said. "From my two spots I had my fish by 10:30 and then went practicing. I ended up culling two fish." Davidson's key spots from day one are just a portion of the potential big-fish-producing locations he's located this week, which began with a couple of 20-pound practice days. "I caught 18 keepers today," said Davidson, adding that his spots should replenish during the tournament. "The weather today didn't hurt me. I need some wind and clouds, but really, sun or clouds, it doesn't really matter." 5th place - Steve Kennedy - 18-14 Steve Kennedy rounds out the top five for day one with a weight of 18-4.Today was nothing complicated for veteran pro Steve Kennedy. He "just went fishing" after only getting a half-day of practice. Kennedy found a few of his spots were blown out first thing in the morning, and he countered by running and gunning with a combination of fast- and slow-moving lures. "Fishing shallow and covering water - I like fishing that way, especially when the conditions are like this," he said. His big break came after switching from a soft plastic to a spinnerbait. "I picked up the big spinnerbait, and within 10 casts I caught a 5-pounder," he said. "Then I caught another one that broke the bait in half." Later, he caught 7-14 with a worm to bump his limit up into top-five territory. In the Kennedy's eyes, the warm-up forecast for the weekend could only make his program even sweeter. "The sun could set them up better," he said. "There's not as many up right now as I'd like. They ought to be storming the banks by the weekend." Beale and Self tied for co-angler lead Most of the top-20 co-anglers are packed in tight in the 10- to 13-pound range, but Mississippian Tim Beale and Lawndale, N.C., co-angler Eric Self stood out among the back-boat crowd with limits weighing 18 pounds, 4 ounces. Co-angler Tim Beale found 18-4 on day one to sit tied for the lead.Beale's big break came in the form of an 8-pound, 9-ounce giant he caught by targeting specific pieces of wood cover and other targets within shallow grass. "I like to see what the pro is doing and try to find a pattern within his pattern," said Beale, who fished with pro Bob Behrle today. "I don't want to mimic my pro or be in competition with him. He [Behrle] was fishing one side, and I was fishing the other. I just happened to get the bites." Beale is the reigning Rayovac FLW Series Central Division Co-angler of the Year, which qualified him to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup. He's hoping to also qualify via this season's Tour and prove himself as one of the Tour's best amateur anglers. Co-angler Eric Self tied for the lead after day one thanks to his 18-4 bag.Beale's fellow co-angler leader Self was paired with pro Brad Rightnour on day one. He rotated between a Z-Man Original ChatterBait for shallower areas and a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap in deeper water. "I only had four at around lunchtime, and then I went on a tear and caught six in a row," Self said. "I just got lucky and had two big bites. Big Bass Awards Pro: Jay Yelas - 8 pounds, 13 ounces Co-angler: Tim Beale - 8 pounds, 9 ounces Full results To see the full results, visit FLWOutdoors.com Competition format In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in, and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days. For more coverage For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the "On the Water" banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages. Walmart FLW Tour event information Takeoff Location: Cassels-Boykin County Park, FM Road 3123 (off State Hwy 147), Zavalla, Texas Time: 7 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; 7:30 a.m. Sunday Weigh-in Days 1 and 2: 3 p.m.; Cassels-Boykin County Park, FM Road 3123 (off State Hwy 147), Zavalla, Texas Days 3 and 4: 4 p.m.; Lufkin Walmart, 2500 Daniel McCall Drive, Lufkin, Texas FLW Expo Date: Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30 Location: Lufkin Walmart, 2500 Daniel McCall Drive, Lufkin, Texas Time: noon-4 p.m. Admission: FREE Free Concert: See Michael Ray perform live Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m. Activities: Fans are welcome to join FLW for the FLW Expo at the Lufkin Walmart. Come meet Walmart FLW Tour pros, who'll be on hand signing autographs. Families can enjoy interactive games, receive free samples, drive a Ranger Boat simulator and have a chance to win a $250 Walmart gift card.

Tags: article 


Knight’s 3-Bait Flipping System

I’m pretty systematic in all my fishing, and I really only flip with three baits: a Strike King Rage Hawg, a Strike King Rodent and a Strike King Hack Attack Jig. I think those three baits will cover the entire season and will catch big ones. READ MORE »


Episode Three of FLW Airs Tonight

Episode three of the 2015 “FLW” TV season is set to air tonight. Fans can witness Quaker State pro Matt Arey make his dramatic come-from-behind win on the final day at Beaver Lake for his second consecutive win on the Arkansas reservoir. Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports at 7 p.m. ET tonight. READ MORE »


Focusing on Mom

Three weeks before Christmas in 2013, Johnson’s mother, Betty Johnson, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. At what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, Jason and his family were suddenly dealing with a reality that was far from wonderful. READ MORE »


10 Tips for Finding Bass in the Grass



Watch Episode Two of FLW Tonight

Episode two of the 2015 “FLW” TV seas is set to premier tonight. After last week’s exciting battle on Lake Toho, the Walmart FLW Tour moves on to Lewis Smith Lake and spawning largemouths and big spotted bass. Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports at 7 p.m. ET tonight to watch Dave Lefebre take home the win. READ MORE »


2015 BFL Postseason Begins

All of the 2015 regular-season events have concluded, including the two-day Super Tournaments. Season-long point standings are now final. That means 24 divisional Anglers of the Year have earned their $1,000 AOY awards, and their Co-angler of the Year counterparts have earned $500 apiece. But more importantly, the fields have been set for FLW’s marathon run of BFL Regional Championships. READ MORE »


Inaugural FLW Canada Tournament

It’s official: FLW Canada is the first organization to hold a tournament under the auspices of the new FLW international partnership. FLW Canada held its inaugural event, which also was its championship tournament, Sept. 18-20 on Big Rideau Lake near Smith Falls, Ontario. READ MORE »


Four Fall Crankbait Patterns

There’s almost always a crankbait bite somewhere, but crankbaits truly shine in the fall as bass are loading up on baitfish. We talked with a few different pros and got them on record about their favorite crankbait tactic for hoodie season. READ MORE »


McDonald Family Battles Breast Cancer

Candy and Billy, the Walmart FLW Tour pro, found out Candy had breast cancer in July, between the final Tour event on the Potomac and the day they left for the ICAST fishing tackle show in Orlando. READ MORE »


East Hall Wins on Lake Lanier

The winning East Hall High duo said that they concentrated on fishing blowdowns for the majority of the day with a green-pumpkin Reaction Innovations Flirt Worm rigged on a shaky head to catch the majority of their fish. READ MORE »


Bass Fishing 101: Choose the Right Jig

The basic jig is one of the most versatile baits that a bass angler can have in their arsenal. It can be fished just about any way, in any depth, and around most types of cover and structure. READ MORE »


FLW TV Season Starts Today

All-new episodes of the FLW television program begin today on NBC Sports at 7 p.m. ET with the season-opener at Lake Toho. New hour-long episodes are scheduled to run every Monday at 7 p.m. ET between now and Dec. 7. READ MORE »


BFL Wild Card Venue, Date Set

FLW announced Sunday that the 2015 BFL Wild Card tournament will take place on Lake Hartwell on November 13-14. The event will launch from Clemson Marina, located at 150 Clemson Marina Drive in Seneca, South Carolina. READ MORE »


Poppers for Matted Grass

Poppers might be a bit old school, but they’re still great tools for calling up bass from around matted grass when the fish aren’t buried so deep in the green that you need to flip or frog to get them out. They are especially good this time of year when bass are roaming the edges of grass and hunting for schools of bait that are pushing shallow. READ MORE »


North Brandford HS Wins Northern Conference

The winning duo from North Branford High School said that they caught the majority of their fish on a drop-shot rig and a jig. Other teams reported catching their fish on spinnerbaits and topwater baits. Seven of the 12 teams brought five-bass limits to the scale. READ MORE »


Ranger’s Biggest, Baddest Bass Boat Yet

Inspired by Ranger’s successful Fisherman Series deep-V boats, which are favored by the best walleye anglers on the planet for rough-water fishing, the Z522D is designed to turn back the worst waves that bass anglers will encounter. This 4X4 ability is accomplished with a lengthy 22-foot, 7-inch-long deep-V hull with a 102-inch-wide beam. With size comes power, thanks to 300-hp motor rating. READ MORE »


2016 Rayovac FLW Series Schedule

FLW announced today the 2016 Rayovac FLW Series schedule, which will consist of three events in each of the five divisions: Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western. The former Texas Division has been renamed the Southwestern Division and will feature stops in Oklahoma and Texas. READ MORE »


5 Autumn Patterns that are Hot Now

Want to cash in on autumn’s bass fishing bounty? Of course you do. But first, you need to consider that bass are in transition as temperatures fall and shad move, most often from deep to shallow. READ MORE »


Hawk Wins U.S. Open

Ranger Pro Roy Hawk capped off a great month for his family on Wednesday in the desert outside of Las Vegas. After competing in the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, and watching his son Sunny win the co-angler title there, Hawk earned a win of his own in the 2015 WON Bass U.S. Open. READ MORE »


FLW TV Season Premieres This Month

All-new episodes of the FLW television program will be shown on the NBC Sports Network beginning Sept. 28. The Walmart FLW Tour season-opener won by JT Kenney at Lake Toho will kick off the series of hour-long episodes that are scheduled to run every Monday at 7 p.m. ET. Repeat showings are set for 3 p.m. ET every Friday. READ MORE »