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

Pre-Practice Report: Tough Fishing at Lake Murray

Finding quality fish seems to be tough for many anglers practicing for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray.

Tough, tough and tough – that’s the nearly universal word from pros who made trips to South Carolina’s Lake Murray to pre-practice for the Forrest Wood Cup before the lake went off limits July 28. No competitor will get to fish the lake again until the official practice begins on Aug. 10, the Sunday prior to the competition, and all seem hopeful that the bite will get at least a little bit better between now and then.

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift had only fished Lake Murray a few times prior to the Walmart FLW Tour season finale on Kentucky Lake, despite only living two hours away in Shelby, N.C. He’s since spent a handful of days on the water during the pre-practice period. While pre-practice is usually about looking and learning, and not as focused on actually fishing, Thrift admits that he’d hoped for a few more bites. His pre-practice was a grind.

“I’m talking about fishing 12- to 14-hour practice days to get three or four bites,” he says. “I’m sure some guys are getting more, but that’s about what I’m getting. I think it’s going to be hard to catch five for four days.”

Not all can be blamed on the fishery, of course. For the final week of pre-practice, pros were faced with highs in the upper 80s to mid-90s, while lows never dropped below 70 degrees. Excluding an inch or so of rain that fell in Columbia on July 21, the area has received almost no precipitation for the entire month of July.

Hot, dry, dog-day weather always makes for tough fishing.

Barry Wilson, who was at the lake when I spoke with him and who spent several days at Murray during the final week it was open, caught two or three keepers per day, on average.

“Today I had three, plus a couple of other strikes and a couple of shorts,” Wilson admits. “If you get five keepers, you’ve done something.”

Wilson talked with several fellow competitors while at Murray, including Matt Arey, David Dudley and local favorite Anthony Gagliardi, and they all reported essentially the same thing: very difficult fishing and only a few keepers per day.

But a few pros have managed to hunt down a big bite, as indicated by posts on Facebook and other social media sites. Scott Martin and Arey are among that group, with Arey showing off a 5-pound-plus kicker-sized bass via social media. Yet, it seems that getting two bites of that quality is so rare that if a pro can figure out how to accomplish it for a couple of days, he’ll probably end up near the top of the leaderboard.

“If it keeps fishing like it is, if you can get 12 pounds per day, you’ll be in the top 10 easily,” says Wilson, whose research suggests that the bite on Murray should continue to improve as the water temperature rises.

Wilson says the lower lake is clear, but not as clear as it sometimes gets at Lake Murray. The upper lake is lightly stained, and well up the rivers the water is heavily stained – pros will certainly be presented with a variety of options when official practice opens in a couple of weeks.

Randy Haynes got his first-ever look at Lake Murray last week, and he too found the pickings slim.

“It was pretty rough on me,” he reports. “I had heard that it would be tough, so I was kind of prepared, but it was really tough.”

Not surprisingly, Haynes, a Tennessee River ledge specialist, spent almost all of his pre-practice time looking offshore.

“I don’t think I can compete with these guys shallow, so I spent my time trying to figure out the blueback herring,” Haynes says.

Haynes did catch some fish while he was at Lake Murray, but he didn’t report finding anything that gives him great confidence at this point. He’s planning to stick with his strengths and stay off the bank if possible.

“When practice begins I’ll keep trying to figure out the herring and the deep-water fish,” he says. “I guess if they won’t bite, I’ll have to try flipping docks.”

The extended forecast for Lake Murray this week shows the first signs of relief from summer’s grasp. Highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s are forecast for the remainder of the week, while the chances of storms and precipitation hitting the region remain high beginning Friday and extending through the middle of next week.

It’s difficult to find a reliable forecast beyond the first week of August, but then, this year’s Forrest Wood Cup champ likely won’t pay any mind to what happened with the weather prior to the day the tournament begins. If past results are any indicator, this Cup will go to the pro who remains flexible and fishes day-to-day, whether he’s chasing down herring schools or junk-fishing on the bank.

Tags: article 


Forrest Wood Cup Show Airs Monday

Tune in for the epic finale of the FLW season and watch east Tennessee native Brad Knight earn the win on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »


Staff Picks for Holiday Gifts

With Christmas just around the corner, perhaps you could use some help with your shopping. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for an angler or thinking of what to put on your own list for Santa to deliver, Christmas shopping can be a daunting task. Luckily our staff of elves has some pretty good suggestions to cover just about any taste or budget. READ MORE »


An Angler’s Thanksgiving

A number of pros have reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving holiday as they contemplate the season behind them and what they managed to accomplish. Yet there are others who didn’t make quite as many ripples in the tournament waters this year, but nevertheless have cause to celebrate and look to the future. READ MORE »


Black Friday Deals



Fishing 101: Soft-Plastic Swimbaits

While all swimbaits accomplish the same thing – imitating a prey fish swimming through the water – there are now hundreds of baits from which to choose, and there are models for tackling just about any scenario. READ MORE »


Critter Shots of the Year

You see some things when you’re on the water for 10 months covering tournaments from Florida to California. Most of the time our on-the-water team has its cameras trained on the anglers, but every once in a while something from nature intervenes that is just too cool to pass up. READ MORE »


How to Succeed as a Co-angler

Fishing tournaments as a co-angler is a great first step to take toward a more advanced level of competitive bass fishing. Not only do you get more time on the water, you often end up fishing behind some very experienced anglers that can teach you some valuable lessons. READ MORE »


Episode 9 of FLW TV Airs Tonight

Watch as Ontario native Curtis Richardson qualifies for the Forrest Wood Cup and earns the title of Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American Champion on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »


Peek Will Sit Out 2016 Tour

Alabama pro Richard Peek will forego the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season to resolve back problems. Peek, of Centre, Ala., was told by his doctor that he should take off a year from tournament fishing so that surgery or other measures could be performed to correct a spinal deformity and relieve his pain. READ MORE »


2016 BFL All-American Qualifiers

With the completion of the Walmart Bass Fishing League Wild Card at Lake Hartwell – won by Mike Devere – all but The Bass Federation National Championship qualifiers are in place for the 2016 BFL All-American June 8-11 on Lake Barkley presented by the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism Commission. READ MORE »


Jigging Up Late Fall Smallies

In the North Country, as fall fades and sportsmen settle in for the arrival of winter, many people put the boat away and forsake the water for the woods. For those willing to brave the elements on the lake, however, the reward is some of the best smallmouth bass fishing of the year for some of the biggest fish of the season. READ MORE »


Rayovac FLW Series Registration Opens

This is the week to register for everyone planning on fishing the FLW Series in 2016. Registration has been open for the top 40 pros and co-anglers from each division of the 2015 FLW Series and the top 50 boaters and co-anglers from each division of the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) for some time. Tuesday is when everyone else can begin to get in on the action. READ MORE »


College Championship Airs Tonight

Tune in for the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship to see Patrick Walters and Gettys Brannon of the University of South Carolina capture the title in front of the hometown crowd at Lake Murray. READ MORE »


5 Pros Weigh in on Hanselman

When Ray Hanselman won the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship to cap his season-long dominance of the Texas Division just about everyone tuned in. It wasn’t just the stunning sweep that captivated pros and fans alike; it was how he did it – leading after the second day in every event he fished and winning with stunning margins of 5 pounds, 8 ounces at Amistad, 7-2 at Sam Rayburn, 12 pounds even on Texoma and 8-2 at the Championship. READ MORE »


Episode 7 of FLW TV Airs Tonight

Watch as Shawn Gordon pulls off the win on Grand Lake in Oklahoma and qualifies for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in his home state of Arkansas. READ MORE »


How Hanselmania Happened

In case you’ve been stuck in a tree stand or out of social media range and didn’t already know it, Hanselman won all three regular-season Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments in 2015. And at the end of October he topped off his stellar run by winning the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River out of Paducah, Ky. READ MORE »


2014 Cup Wins Sports Tourism Award

The 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C., was recently named the 2015 Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism for the mid- to large market category by Sports Destination Management magazine. READ MORE »


5 Best Smallmouth Destinations

Fall is the time of year to treat yourself to one last fishing excursion before the snowflakes start to fall. And if you’re going to take a fishing road trip amid a backdrop of autumn’s colorful foliage, it might as well be for fat, angry brown bass, right? READ MORE »


College Championship Field Set

Now that the 2015 FLW College Fishing Conference Championships are complete, 58 teams have earned the opportunity to fish in the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »


2016 FLW College Fishing Rules