UPCOMING EVENT: FLW SERIES - 2020 - Toledo Bend Lake

Ouachita: contradicting conditions

Ouachita: contradicting conditions
Local Ouachita favorite Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark., found his home lake high with plenty of flooded bushes the first day of practice.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - In a perfect world, decisions for bass pros would be easy.

For instance, when the water on a lake rises to flood shoreline cover during the pre-spawn, life is simple: go to the bank and commit shallow to catch fish moving in.

Or, let's suppose the water is falling during the post-spawn with rapidly rising water temperatures. That's a no-brainer, too, because it's time to get offshore and catch post-spawn bass which are fleeing the banks en masse to find deeper cover.

Unfortunately for bass pros, reality is never that easy. Instead of conditions all pointing in the same direction towards one dominant pattern, the conditions perfectly contradict each other making things more confusing than trying to solve a Rubik's Cube in the dark.

And that's exactly what pros are facing at the FLW Tour Chevy Open on Lake Ouachita this week: contradicting conditions.

Just as Lake Ouachita bass were finishing up their spawning process and getting ready to head back out to the lake's offshore haunts to enjoy some cooler water and the all-u-can-eat shad buffet, here comes five feet of new water flooding the shoreline cover and providing some pretty decent new real estate to stick around in.

"Yeap, this puts a whole new kink in the whistle right here," said pro Mike Wurm of nearby Hot Springs as he pointed to submerged bushes and trees. "We've had some unprecedented amounts of rain recently, the water has come up 3 or 4 feet in the bushes and this is going to open the door for those shallow water guys. Instead of being forced to fish offshore on drops, grass edges and deep brush, guys can come up here and probably do pretty well shallow."

Wurm believes plenty of fish will now stay shallow and some will even move back up shallow. But his home-turf feeling is that the bigger fish have already set up camp offshore and that's where they're going to stay.

"That's not to say they're not some big ones in the bushes, but I just think a guy is going to have to weed through a lot of keepers up there to find a good one or two," Wurm added. "Overall, I think the better quality is offshore."

Personally, Wurm would have liked the water to stay down, making his decision to stay out during the event easier. He admits that having the water up only confuses the issue.

"During practice I've caught decent limits both ways, up and out," he said. "But when you're out there trying to stay committed offshore and you keep looking up at those flooded bushes, it messes with your mind."

Local favorite Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., was another pro who would have rather seen the water stay down. Suggs demonstrated his superior summer-time understanding of Ouachita bass when he won the Forrest Wood Cup on Ouachita in August of 2007.

"I'm not real happy about it," Suggs commented about the high water. "It's going to keep the fish that I'd normally catch out offshore up on the bank where some of those flipping guys can get to them."

But one thing is for sure, Suggs refuses to be distracted buy the shallow water game - he's committed deep despite the ubiquitous invitation of shallow cover trying to lure him to the bank. As of Monday afternoon, he was stuffing a handful of buoy markers into his storage compartments.

"I'm not going do it," Suggs said of moving shallow. "I'm going to live or die out fishing the way I like to fish."Folgers pro Scott Suggs, who has won a Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, grabs his marker buoys for deep-water combat.

Meanwhile, Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark., is still on the fence about his approach due to the high water. Scheide won the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake last year when it was flooded by sawing his way back into the very backs of flooded pockets. But he says this event is different due to the spawn.

"The biggest difference is that Beaver Lake event last year was more right on the spawn," Scheide clarified. "Those fish were still coming up. Here at Ouachita, the high water is happening after the spawn and in my mind that makes things considerably different. These fish are done and ready to move out, but this new water is keeping them hanging around."

Scheide commented that he has caught decent limits both up in the bushes and out offshore and will likely bounce around between the two.

"Either way, there is going to be a lot of fish caught here this week," he said. "The lake is in real good shape and I think it's going take upwards of 60 pounds for four days to win."

Colson withdraws

In other news, Ramie Colson Jr., the Lake Barkley expert, has withdrawn from the tournament over concerns stemming from a possible rules infraction.

Colson called a friend who lives in Arkansas last Tuesday to determine how far his lodging was located from Mountain Harbor Resort, the official takeoff location. The two then began discussing commonly known lake and fishing information, such as water depth and seasonal migration. Colson stated that no specifics, such as waypoints or lures, were discussed. After a meeting with FLW Outdoors officials, Colson realized his dialogue was in a rules-infraction "gray area." Colson acknowledges he inadvertently made a mistake and wanted to take responsibility for the incident. He did that by withdrawing from the tournament of his own accord.

He will be representing the National Guard at the FLW Outdoors Expo Friday and Saturday. And he'll be among the field fishing the Tour's final qualifier of the year on Lake Guntersville.

The FLW Tour Chevy Open on Lake Ouachita kicks off Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. from Mountain Harbor Resort located 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida.

Tags: rob-newell  pre-tournament  2010-05-26-lake-ouachita 

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