UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Scrubbing for smallmouths

Eric Olliverson slipped on day two with a catch of 9-5 to drop him to 13th place.

When FLW announced its 2014 Walmart FLW Tour schedule back in 2013, Eric Olliverson grabbed his calendar and drew a great big circle around the four days spanning April 10-13 - Beaver Lake. For Olliverson, a Tour rookie, that four-day period of competition was his window to make a splash diving into the tournament-fishing world. While other pros no doubt lamented that they'd once again be visiting the northwest Arkansas reservoir, which has a reputation as being a difficult place to catch fish consistently, Olliverson had a plan that included something fans don't normally see at Beaver Lake Tour events: big smallmouth bass. He also had at his disposal a unique presentation perfectly suited for the deep, clear waters where Beaver's brownies live. For many local anglers, it's known as "scrubbing" - slowly reeling and dragging a small grub across the rocks in deep water. Olliverson's twist is to match the ultralight tackle and line normally used to scrub with a swimbait of a size more tournament-worthy. "When the schedule first came out and I saw Beaver Lake, I had goose bumps that lasted seven months," Olliverson told reporters after the day-one weigh-in, where he showed off a 14-pound, 12-ounce limit of smallmouths and spotted bass that he caught with the scrubbing technique. "Every time my wife would talk about Beaver Lake, I'd get goose bumps again. I told my wife before I left that this could be a special week. "A lot of people don't realize it, but that tournament [Beaver Lake] can be won on smallmouths alone," he adds. "I've had too many 17- to 20-pound days out there with all smallmouths. There're that many big smallmouths living in that lake." Unfortunately for Olliverson, wild weather swings put a damper on Beaver's deep-water bite, and with it his chances to win. He slipped in the standings on the second day, eventually finishing in 14th place. When the scales settled in the end, several of the top 10 anglers were also using a technique similar to that of Olliverson. We asked him to break down the scrubbing technique for us, as we all could stand to see a few more brown bass emerge boatside this spring. Staging and timing Olliverson relies on scrubbing from the prespawn period through the end of the spawn, which in his part of the country near Lampe, Mo., spans mid-March through mid-May. The key is locating staging and spawning areas. "This time of year I am normally fishing flatter banks," Olliverson says. "I look for flat pea gravel with scattered big boulders. This year [at Beaver] was a little different. We caught them earlier in their spawn. This year they were more on the bigger rock, where there was really deep water close to them." His best areas were pockets near the mouths of main-lake creeks where the channel swung in close to shore and secondary points in the creeks with pea gravel mixed with chunk rock or boulders. The key was the gravel, which is good spawning substrate, though several of his biggest bass during the week came from around standing timber. The final ingredient was wind. On days when the wind blew, the contingent of pros fishing Beaver's lower end saw the bite pick up thanks to the camouflage that a choppy surface provides in clear water. "Any time I had wind, gravel mixed with bigger rock and timber close by, that was the kind of deal where I felt like I could catch some bigger fish," Olliverson says. "They spawn on that gravel. The staging areas are the same areas as where they'll spawn. The fish that I was targeting were anywhere from 8 feet deep all the way down to 30 feet." The rig Traditionally, scrubbing is done with a grub or small swimbait and a small jighead - think crappie or walleye tackle for smallmouths. "This year I switched the bait," Olliverson says. "It's a Missile Baits Shockwave. It's a new bait. For years I used a Swimmin' Minnow, which is a crappie bait made by Luck-E-Strike. It's something that I catch a lot of walleyes on. That's how I found these brownies. I was fishing for walleye and crappie, and I started noticing I was catching some excellent smallmouths. Over the years I've kind of stepped up my baits. It was a prototype bait last year, and I noticed I was catching a lot bigger fish on that bigger swimbait." The technique requires a great deal of patience because of the light tackle and deep water. Olliverson uses darter or round-head lead jigheads ranging from 1/8 to 3/16 ounce most of the time. He'll upsize to 1/4 ounce on occasion and only uses 3/8 and 1/2 ounce in extreme winds.Scrubbing can be done with simple darter and round-head jigheads. Use the lightest you can stand, down to about 1/8 ounce. Just make sure to choose a jighead with a quality hook. The technique Olliverson starts by parking his boat over deep water and making an extremely long cast, which helps to shield his approach from the fish. The lure usually lands in about 5 feet of water on the first cast, depending on the spot, and then is retrieved down the slope into deeper water. On subsequent casts, Olliverson adjusts his target depth by moving his boat in and out. The entire presentation takes place on bottom or within a foot of bottom. Once the lure sinks, Olliverson commences with a tedious, slow retrieve with the reel handle barely turning. "That's why you want to really watch your line," Olliverson says. "I'll start feeling that bottom-bumping, and about every seven or eight cranks of the reel handle, I'll just kind of let it fall back to the bottom. As much as I can, I try to maintain bottom contact. Each day you figure out where they're hitting. If they start hitting closer to the boat, I'll back out farther. Sometimes I can stay closer to the bank." Back-reeling and careful, slow control are the keys to landing fish on light line.Light line Olliverson admits that he's a power fisherman, but scrubbing works so well for smallmouths in spring that he reprograms himself to use ultra-light line and spinning tackle: 6-pound-test Vicious fluorocarbon and a 7-foot, medium-light Lew's rod. The light line allows the little jig to sink more quickly, and it spooks fewer fish. However, it's also challenging line to use in lakes full of standing timber and snaggy rocks. "I've done this for so long that fishing around trees doesn't scare me," Olliverson says. "I had two of my fish that first day at Beaver - 3-pounders - that came right out of a tree. You do lose some, but man, I just have confidence that by back-reeling I can get those fish out. "I just take my time," he adds. "The first thing I do when I hook one is I kind of pull into it. I get away from the cover and try to get it out to that deep water. I sweep-set and reel just as fast as I can to try to bury that hook into it." Finding the juice Forrest Wood Cup champ Randall Tharp coined the term "the juice" when referring to the sweetest spots within large expanses of aquatic vegetation. For Olliverson, putting together a tournament game plan for his deep smallmouth technique requires finding a similarly small, productive patch of gravel and rock within a lake full of gravel and rock. The search starts with map and visual shoreline study, locating channel swings, deep points and other structures where gravel banks are near deep water. Once they're found, the actual cast-and-search can begin. "Typically the places that I fish are no larger than a 30- or 40-yard area," he says. "I'm not covering a bunch of water. They'll really bunch up. "I can think of several areas where my boat will not move from a 10- or 15-yard area, and I know exactly what cast I need to make," he adds. "I have days where I might have to revisit these spots several times, but sometimes I can camp on one and catch 10 or 15 keepers on one stop." Execution is key Olliverson did his part at Beaver Lake this season. He dedicated himself to a technique that he knew could win, but the fish just didn't cooperate. "Realistically, I lost some key fish, especially the third day," he says. "I had three of the right bites. I literally saw those fish, but I never broke off. They weren't eating it right; they were barely skin-hooked. Even with me letting them eat it, they just weren't mouthing the bait really well. "I had the fish on to do extremely well in this tournament," he adds. "I have no regrets. Any time I can go to a tournament and have one rod on the deck of my boat and fish with that much confidence, I've got no regrets. I'm telling you, one of these years, if we keep coming back to Beaver, that's a way that you can win this tournament." Meet Eric Olliverson The Ozark region, with its blue ribbon trout streams and links to tournament bass fishing's infancy, is steeped in fishing tradition. While bass fishing fans are still getting to know Eric Olliverson, his family's history is already part of that tradition. "I was born in Mountain Home," Olliverson said. "My grandfather, Bill Olliverson, owned and built several resorts on the White River. He was a guide for about 50 years and actually held the world record for brown trout. Old Forrest Wood used to guide for my grandfather on the White River. They were actually really good friends." The fishing bug skipped a generation in the Olliverson family, but it bit Eric hard as a kid. "Looking back, my grandfather was who got me into fishing," he says. "That was all I wanted to do was go out and trout fish and just fish. I didn't watch cartoons growing up. It was all about Bill Dance and Hank Parker and those guys." Eric's passion parlayed into a full-time career as a multi-species fishing guide on Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Lake Taneycomo. And in his free time, he fished local derbies before progressing to the regional level. In 14 years as a professional, Eric has won just about everything that can be won in the Ozarks. That's what led him to pursue the FLW Tour. "I've always wanted a chance to fish the Tour and was able to hook the right sponsors and just make it happen this year," he says. "I'm looking forward to not looking back. I'm ready to pursue this. I just love fishing. I'm so passionate about fishing, and I'm more passionate about tournament fishing. So I'm so excited about starting my career as an FLW Tour pro." To fish with Olliverson, who bases Eric's Elite Guide Service out of Lampe, Mo., check out EricsEliteGuideService.com.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-08-28-planned-power-outage-in-ky-office

Planned Power Outage in KY Office

A planned power outage is in effect around the Benton, Ky., area causing phone lines and internet to be temporarily unavailable. It should last until roughly 5 p.m. CT. Do not call the help line or try to register online during this time. Instead, if you'd like to sign up for an event call the tournament director for the particluar tournament you'd like to fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. 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 »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. 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 events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »