UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Delayed entry

Delayed entry
FLW Tour anglers wait out a fog delay on Lake Ouachita during the opening day of competition.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Heading into the Lake Ouachita event, FLW Tour anglers knew that they were going to have to decipher many variables, not the least of which included the extremely high water levels that recently surged 3 to 4 feet above normal pool. However, at the start of Wednesday morning takeoff, the field was keenly aware that they will have to successfully navigate another important obstacle as well - dense fog.

Although FLW Tour anglers were scheduled to depart Mountain View Resort marina at approximately 6:30 a.m., due to safety reasons, takeoff didn't ultimately commence until shortly after 8 a.m. undoubtedly, that delay will further complicate life for anglers who were set to head out in the earlier flights.

"I wouldn't want to be in that first flight right now," said FLW Tour pro Ray Scheide. "Those guys are going to have a really short day."

Per tournament rules, anglers who are in the first flight have to head back to the marina first. By contrast, anglers in the last flight have more than an extra hour to fish throughout the day - which could be a huge advantage to kick off the Lake Ouachita event.

However, that being said, the fog delay could also affect strategies across the board.

"The top-water bite in the morning is going to be huge," said Scheide. "That's when most people are going to catch their big kicker fish. I had a bet with my roommate that I would have a limit by 7 a.m. today but that's obviously not going to happen now."

High water changes tournament dynamics

Due to a dense fog delay, FLW Tour anglers were in a holding pattern as they awaited the start of takeoff.Due to some recent rains and flooding, Lake Ouachita is experiencing much higher water levels than normal. With more water coming up on the banks, there is now more cover for fish to congregate in and, correspondingly, more areas for anglers to attack this week.

"Normally the fish would be suspended in deeper water right now," said FLW Tour pro and Chevy team member Jay Yelas. "But the water levels are up so there are a lot more fish up shallow, hanging out in the bushes. There are still fish out in deeper water, but now you're going to find some good fish shallow as well as mid-lake. Because of this, a lot of different patterns are going to be working.

"Lake Ouachita is going to fish bigger than normal this week," continued Yelas. "The (higher) water levels are really going to allow the anglers to spread out, which is fine with me. I actually like it when everyone is spread all over the place. During practice I was able to fish a few areas that I had all to myself. And that's great. And because there are a lot more areas to fish, you can move around more. Personally, I really like moving around a lot and seeing all the different scenery."

Scheide agreed that the higher water levels are really going to give anglers plenty of options and additional strategy decisions this week.

"You're just as likely to pop a 20- to 22-pound bag shallow as you are deep," he said. "It should be a fun tournament."

That being said, Yelas said conditions could change rapidly - a fact that could throw a monkey wrench into any long-term shallow fishing strategy.

"I think the water crested on Monday and it's actually dropped about 6 inches since then," said Yelas. "If it falls hard over the course of the tournament, it's really going to hurt the shallow bite. (Water levels) are going to be one of the biggest variables this tournament."

With dense flog blanketing Lake Ouachita, FLW Tour anglers carefully make their wat to the start line.With so many different areas of the lake in play, how do the anglers approach this type of fishing environment?

"There are a lot of ways to catch fish on this lake now, more than any tournament I've fished recently" said Yelas. "There are two reasons for this. For one, the lake is in a post-spawn mode which always allows for a wide variety of techniques. And secondly, the higher water levels will open up a lot more areas to fish. It's going to be one of those tournaments where you can find some technique you like to do and just go with it."

As such, Yelas said that anglers will be able to employ almost their entire arsenal this week.

"I think you're going to guys flipping, throwing top-waters, Carolina rigs, swimbaits and even spinnerbaits," said Yelas. "You're going to be able to catch suspended fish on worms - all kinds of stuff."

With a wide variety of techniques in play, high water levels and a healthy grass population providing extra good cover, Yelas believes anglers will have to really catch them in order to win the title outright.

"I think 60 pounds (over four days) will probably be the winning weight," said Yelas. "But then again, nothing surprises me anymore."

Scheide believes it could even be more.

"I think it could be more than 60 pounds," said Scheide. "I'm actually thinking it might be closer to 68 to 72 pounds to win this. But again, you never know."

Tourney format and event logistics

Amidst a backdrop of dense fog, the Arkansas National Guard helps kick off the start of pre-tournament ceremonies on Lake Ouachita.The entire FLW Tour field will compete for three days with the top-five pros advancing to the fourth and final day of competition based on their overall accumulated weight. At the end of day three, a co-angler champion will be crowned. After the conclusion of Saturday's weigh-in, the tournament title will be awarded to the pro who has recorded the most combined weight over all four days of FLW Tour competition.

Anglers will take off from Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, located at 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida, Ark., at 6:30 a.m. each morning. The first three weigh-ins - Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - will also be held at Mountain Harbor Resort beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Summit Arena & Hot Springs Convention Center, located at 134 Commerce Blvd in Hot Springs, Ark., beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Friday from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The final weigh-in will be held at Summit Arena. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV and rod and reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday. The FLW Outdoors Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit FLWOutdoors.com/chevyopen.

In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year's Cup will be in Atlanta Aug. 5-8 on Lake Lanier.

Coverage of the Lake Ouachita tournament will be broadcast in high definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors" will air June 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

FLW Tour action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, located at 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida, Ark.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 3 p.m. Central Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 6:03 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 67 degrees
Expected high temperature: 84 degrees
Water temperature: 78-85 degrees
Wind: From the west-southwest at 3-6 mph
Maximum humidity: 73 percent
Day's outlook: Foggy in the early morning hours followed by scattered thunderstorms


Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2010-05-26-lake-ouachita 

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

For the second week in a row, FLW’s Toyota Series is visiting one of Alabama’s premier bass fisheries at the perfect time of year for pros to hammer on big bags of postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell kicks off the 2020 Toyota Series Eastern Division season this week with a three-day, mid-week showdown of the area’s best bass anglers, hosted by Visit Oconee South Carolina. Hartwell definitely has the potential to produce 20-plus-pound bags, but Mother Nature has decided to create some havoc with lake levels this winter, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how well the fishery shows out. READ MORE »

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Freezing temperatures greeted anglers for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga this morning. As usual on Lake Chickamauga this time of year, every angler is hoping for a 30-pound-plus bag of bass during the Feb. 27-29 tournament. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

The cold front that moved through northeast Florida last week shut down the fishing on the St. Johns River in a big way, just as bass were starting to move up to the banks to begin spawning. With the weather that came through, many of those fish pulled back off the bank to wait for more stable conditions. Fortunately, stability arrived this week in the form of warmer weather, but it remains to be seen if those three or four days of warm, stable conditions are going to be enough to get fish back up on beds. For now, it’s safe to assume anglers are going to have to be adaptable over the next few days in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener. READ MORE »

Feast or Famine at Toledo Bend

Feast or Famine at Toledo Bend

It’s been nearly six years since the Toyota Series has been to Toledo Bend, but this week the Sabine River impoundment takes center stage to kick off the Southwestern Division season. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

All the talk leading up the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks was about the weather. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. READ MORE »

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks will launch right as a massive cold front arrives. How massive? The forecast has been calling for heavy rain and a high of 74 today, and so far hasn’t been wrong. A major thunderstorm greeted anglers this morning and delayed takeoff by an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to abundant lightning. Tomorrow? A high in the mid 40s. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Underway on the Delta

Underway on the Delta

No matter the weather, no matter the environmental concerns, no matter the fishing pressure, the California Delta remains one of the nation’s most diverse and fertile freshwater fisheries — a truth that should play out in dramatic form during the Costa FLW Series Western Division event. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

Weights were already tight going into the final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, which is presented by Gajo Baits. Little more than a pound separated leader Jonathan Kelley from Casey Smith in fifth place. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

With slightly warmer weather and similar sun and wind conditions, day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the St. Lawrence River should’ve presented optimal conditions for smallmouth. Instead, nearly every angler our on-the-water crew encountered today said the same thing: It’s tougher. READ MORE »

To Run or Not to Run

To Run or Not to Run

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits, is primed to be a smallmouth smashfest, as usual. That said, this year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, will launch out of Massena, N.Y., instead of the usual Clayton. So, what was once a 15-or-so-mile run to the mouth of the lake from takeoff – and roughly 30-plus miles to Gallo Island or Main Duck – will now be about a 95-mile run just to get to the lake. READ MORE »

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »