UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

The power of believing in yourself

Dave Lefebre

My recap of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake has less to do with this particular event than it does a feat I consider to be one of the most amazing in modern-day tournament fishing – but I’ll get to that later.

As was expected, ledge fishing was the deal on Kentucky Lake. A few big bags were caught shallow, about 2 to 6 feet deep, but doing it two days in a row was not happening. The top 10 were all out off the bank somewhere and throwing the typical ledge-type baits: crankbaits, swimbaits, jigs, big worms, drop-shots and the big spoon. The only real surprise was the size of the spoons a few of top 10 guys were turned on to. You can see and hear more about them by watching Rob Newell’s day-three Reeltime Report. I’d guess we’re about to see another industry boom.

Wesley Strader and Randy Blaukat proved that a monster bag could come from 3 feet or less. Each had more than 22 pounds on day two fishing shallow grass. Kentucky Lake is truly an amazing place, and the bass are literally everywhere.

I caught all my fish on a 5-inch green pumpkin/blue Yamamoto Kut Tail Worm paired with a 1/4-ounce VMC Finesse Half Moon jighead, and a drop-shotted 4-inch green pumpkin/blue Senko.

Before the rules meeting, I was rigged with big Storm Pro Paddle Tail swimbaits, Rapala DT-16 crankbaits and Terminator football jigs. However, after the meeting I found myself with a horrible boat draw, so I re-rigged everything and even added a couple of spinning rods to the mix.

On the first morning, of course, my best schools were covered with boats, so I camped on two last-resort deep spots that were “open” for two days and fished as hard as I could. I culled up ounces all day long during both days. I had two great co-anglers, which was truly refreshing in such a stressful situation. It helped make this, the final qualifying event, much more pleasurable … thanks to them both.

Basically, I was making two exact casts with the little worm for hours and hours when the fish were biting, and then moving on top of them with the drop-shot when they were inactive. It was critical to be above the fish vertically with the drop-shot and tease them for several minutes to get them to bite – at least for me it was. I could tell when I marked a fish whether it would bite or not. It was a cool deal.

My stressful moments started at the pre-tournament meeting when I drew out boat No. 150, knowing that a top-30 boat number would make for a simple top-50 finish. A good boat draw in a ledge deal like this is so nice, but it never happens for me. Even so, I’m extremely thankful that I happened to find a couple of smaller schools in my two days of practice that were capable of producing enough weight for a $10,000 check. I worked hard to find those places, and it was a challenge mentally and physically. Thankfully it all worked out.

Speaking of challenges, there are two ways to face adversity of any kind, such as ­– in my case – a devastating setback at the first major tournament of the season. The way your season kicks off can set the tone for your entire year – for better or worse. If you start off with a top 10, you tend to create momentum, which can carry you to a great year and seemingly smooth Forrest Wood Cup qualification. A disastrous start can lead to a snowballing, downhill slide. Both scenarios are completely mental, and how we deal with such circumstances makes all the difference in fishing, or any other sport for that matter.

Of course I know this, but I still fell into the trap and let it consume me, unlike my good friend and fellow competitor Anthony Gagliardi. This relates to the miraculous tournament feat I mentioned earlier, but let me set it up first.

After a mechanical failure on the way to the day one weigh-in at Lake Okeechobee, I began the 2014 season with a big fat zero instead of the 15 pounds I had in the livewell. As a result, I finished 176th in that event, and my attitude took a serious nosedive. No chance at AOY, and a serious uphill climb even to qualify for the championship, which I inevitably missed. You’re always so excited when presented with a new clean slate, and I can’t describe how disappointed I was at Okeechobee in February.

What could be worse? How about being disqualified on a technicality and missing the first event completely? That’s what happened to Gagliardi at Okeechobee. Someone is always worse off than you, right? That’s what my mom always told me.

Statistically, Gagliardi has been one of the most consistent fishermen on the FLW Tour for several years, but what he accomplished this year is simply incredible, especially when you consider the circumstances involved. He finished 48th at Kentucky Lake and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup on his home lake, Lake Murray near Columbia, S.C. Even more amazing, he finished the season with the exact number of points needed to make it – one less point in any of his five events and he would have been out.

In this game it’s all about attitude and believing, and Gagliardi’s achievement is an inspiration to me, and one I think should motivate all of us who fish tournaments. It seemed impossible, but he overcame the odds and accomplished something that is clearly one of the most incredible feats this sport has ever seen, especially with only five tournaments to work with. My year – along with a record of 11 consecutive Cup qualifications – is finished, but because of a superior mental attitude and a serious dose of belief in himself, my good friend Gags moves on to compete for a half-million bucks! Lesson learned.

Who do you think is destined to win this year’s Forrest Wood Cup?

Tags: dave-lefebre  blog 

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-19-waunakee-hs-wins-wi-title

Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »