UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Sight Unseen, Spencer Shuffield is Ready for Anything

Nobody in the tournament caught more keepers than Spencer Shuffield of Arkansas. What he lacked were a few big fish to up his average weight.

If preparation is the precursor to victory, then Spencer Shuffield is starting out in the hole. Not only did he not pre-practice at Lake Murray to prepare for the Forrest Wood Cup, he hasn’t even laid eyes on the lake since he fished the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup there. All he remembers about it is that it was the toughest championship he ever fished, and he’s competed in seven of them since beginning his FLW career as a co-angler in 2007.

In his defense, Shuffield isn’t the same fisherman he was back then. He was a co-angler at the 2008 event, a year out of high school and still learning about what makes bass tick. Today, after three years as a pro, he’s a seasoned veteran. Well, back up a bit … part of that seasoning as a pro owes to his pedigree. He’s the son of tournament great Ron Shuffield, and that in itself is worth a lifetime of fishing lessons.

For practical reasons, the younger Shuffield isn’t all that concerned that he didn’t pre-fish Lake Murray. As he has proved with several top-10 finishes as a pro and co-angler, Shuffield has a knack for catching fish, regardless of his inexperience on most lakes. He finished 18th on the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year roster this year.

“I have absolutely no knowledge about Murray,” confesses the 25-year-old Arkansas pro. “I came close to going over there for four to five days, but then I thought, no, it’s pointless. I don’t want to go back in practice and waste time trying to figure out where the fish went that I caught in pre-practice. I’m just going to wing it.”

Actually, Shuffield has Lake Murray sized up fairly well, or so he thinks. Though it doesn’t match up perfectly with his home lake of Lake Ouachita in all respects, it’s close enough that he knows where to start his search.

“Used to be, on Lake Ouachita guys would fish deep brush this time of year, but it’s not like that anymore,” notes Shuffield. “Now most of the guys who catch fish and do well in local tournaments are fishing shallow. I’m pretty sure that’s the way it’s going to be at Murray.

“There are going to be shallow fish, and there are going to be offshore, suspended fish following bait around,” he adds. “If I could get on some of those deep fish that are hugging the bottom, I believe I could do some good, but I’m not counting on that happening.”

Shuffield expects the weather in Lake Murray country to be about the same as it was in 2008, which renders down into four days of sunny mornings and hot afternoons interrupted by thunderstorms. That doesn’t bother him, but the likelihood that fishing patterns will be unpredictable – and perhaps unsustainable – does.

As a co-angler in 2008, Shuffield scratched the first day but caught five fish weighing 8 pounds the second day to finish 25th (his dad, Ron, finished 16th on the pro side). His best round came when he shared a boat with Jason Hickey of Weiser, Id. The pair fished a feeder creek with a fairly well-defined drop-off and hit the jackpot, though the majority of the bass they found were undersized.

“It was a grind, but then we hit this one little stretch and must have caught 30 bass apiece. Most of them were 12- or 13-inch throwbacks [the size limit is 14 inches],” recalls Shuffield. “I got all my fish on a drop-shot rig and a Roboworm. With about two minutes to go before we had to leave, I caught a 2-pounder, and that filled out my limit.”

No doubt Shuffield will return to that creek in practice, but he’s more likely to adopt a milk-run strategy that involves fishing several stretches of shoreline.

“I wish I knew then what I know now about catching fish cruising the bank. I remember seeing a lot of 3- and 4-pound bass swimming around,” says Shuffield. “I didn’t really understand how to catch them at the time, and neither did my partners. That was before prop baits like the Brian’s [Prop] Bee and walking poppers like the [Lucky Craft] Gunfish came along. I’ll be better prepared.”

Indeed, Shuffield is already packed for Lake Murray, and his tackle selection includes plenty of topwater hard baits, frogs, crankbaits and jigs, as well as shaky-head and drop-shot components. In other words, he’ll be ready for whatever the South Carolina fishery serves up.

“I’m going to have some of everything for this one,” he says of the Cup. “I might have to do a little bit of it all to scratch out a limit every day.”

Tags: colin-moore  article 

/tips/2016-02-05-an-ill-wind-at-okeechobee-

An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-04-aquatic-plant-id

Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-poche-services-set

Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-time-to-shine-for-setzer

Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-01-ambassador

Ambassador

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-29-glenn-browne-s-timeout-is-over-

Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-flw-podcast-109-mike-surman

FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-john-cox-gives-himself-a-makeover

John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-austin-felix-is-ready-for-the-big-time

Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-flw-canada-sets-tournament-sites-dates

FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-26-jigging-spoons-for-winter-bass

Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-24-how-bryan-thrift-got-to-be-so-good

How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-high-school-fishing-makes-the-grade

High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-flw-mexico-at-the-starting-gate

FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-making-the-case-for-haynes-as-aoy

Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-21-flw-podcast-108-jason-lambert

FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-bfl-choo-choo-division-postponed

BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-tigerodz-aligns-with-auburn-team

TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-becoming-aware-of-your-angler-strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-18-pundits-picks-for-aoy

Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »