UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Haynes dominates out deep

Haynes dominates out deep
Randy Haynes holds up a Lake Eufaula largemouth that helped him win the fourth Walmart FLW Tour qualifier of the year.

EUFAULA, Ala. - When Randy Haynes won the EverStart Series event on Pickwick Lake two weeks ago, it was hardly a surprise. After all, Haynes has five FLW wins on the Tennessee River and he knows just about every nook and cranny on the entire chain. But Haynes had never visited Lake Eufaula, part of the Chattahoochee River system. Initially it took some getting used to, but Haynes acquainted just fine.

The Counce, Tenn., pro is fishing his rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour, but his experience and ability belie that of a seasoned veteran. Earlier in the week, Haynes spoke about the history of Eufaula as an offshore cranking lake, tipping his cap to pioneering anglers like David Fritts and Bobby Padgett. While the humble Haynes will never admit it himself, he's beginning to enter that same rare territory. Randy Haynes hoists another keeper aboard.How good is Haynes offshore? Mark Rose, known as the ledge master on tour, largely credits Haynes with his offshore education and transformation.

While Haynes had identified six solid schools of bass on the mid-to-upper end of Eufaula, what bothered him all week was that he'd only catch a fish or two off each school. Thanks to a cool spring, the numbers of bass just weren't there yet, and while his weights were increasing each day, the possibility of stumbling on day four was real.

Haynes was eager to at least scratch out a limit this morning, and in a rush his timing got a little off.

"I was impatient with my rotation; I was trying just to get by and I was about an hour early today," he explained. "I had three main spots, and I was rotating through them, giving them a few hours of rest before I would go back. I hit my spots three times per day and I was lucky to have sections of the lake all to myself."
A closer look at Randy Haynes
Over the course of the tournament, Haynes said roughly half his keepers came on Strike King 6XDs and 5XDs in citrus shad color. The other half came on a variety of swimbaits, and a few fell victim to a Strike King football jig or Carolina-rigged creature bait. The key water depth was six to 15 feet and oftentimes the fish would suspend off the front of the bars. While most offshore fishermen targeted brush and timber, Haynes fished hard rock. It was his belief that the shad were spawning on the tops of the rock ledges and occasionally he could even feel the shad nip and bump his baits.

"It varied, but a lot of times the crankbait would fire them up and then I'd go back with the swimbait. Today I weighed one on the crankbait and four on the swimbait. Once the sun got up, it put those fish on top and they started eating."

Haynes' day-four sack officially weighed 16 pounds, 1 ounce. With a total of 73 pounds, 1 ounce, his winning margin was 11 pounds. The hardwood floor installer will take a $125,000 check with him back home to Tennessee.

For winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula, pro Randy Haynes earned $125,000."To win one of these events, everything has to line up just right. I was blessed. I'm so happy for my family and friends. There are so many people back home that I compete for, and against."

Haynes concluded by calling Eufaula a special place - a fitting offshore venue for his first tour title.

"Back in its day, Eufaula was the place. I started ledge fishing back in 1998. I decided I had to learn because nobody wins around the bank anymore. I don't think I've hardly been back since."

Thrift soars to second

After a subpar day three, Bryan Thrift made up some serious ground on day four - soaring from seventh to second via a 16-pound, 14-ounce limit. Thrift finished the week with a four-day total of 62 pounds, 1 ounce.

"I fished shallow for the first hour and a half this morning after only weighing in four little spots yesterday," said the Chevy pro. "I caught one on a buzzbait, one on a swim jig and one skipping a jig under a dock. That kind of relaxed me as I went out to my deeper stuff."
Bryan Thrift rallied from seventh to second Sunday after catching a 16-pound, 14-ounce limit.
In practice, Thrift marked over 100 offshore spots, most of them small one-cast places in 8 to 15 feet that had either standing timber or brush. These spots were located anywhere from the mouth of Cowikee Creek all the way to the dam. Sunday, he caught a 4-pounder at his third offshore spot. Then he went to his next waypoint and caught another 4-pounder and a 3-pounder. At that moment, he thought it was game on, but received no other big bites the rest of the day.

"I was basically casting a swim jig. I'd throw it out, let it hit bottom and then start reeling. I'd put a swimbait on back as a trailer, either a Damiki Anchovy Shad or a Keitech 4.8."

While most of his bites were random, he had one piece of standing timber that produced three quality fish during the week.

"Today was a good day; I don't know why they didn't bite yesterday. The rest of the days I was averaging eight or nine bites per day."

Had they bit on day three, Thrift could have potentially made a run at Haynes. As it stands, he earned $35,000.

"Any time you weigh in four bass for just 7 pounds, you can't be upset with second place. I didn't really think I could move up this far. This is a nice surprise."

Lucas retains third

After opening the tournament with a whopping 22-pound, 6-ounce stringer, Justin Lucas spent the rest of the week in scramble mode. With only three keepers on day two, he decided to start fresh and fish shallow. On day three he stumbled onto a pocket of spawning bass and caught 13 pounds, 10 ounces.

Lucas eventually gets the fish under control. He started day four on a little bay off the main river with good bank grass. As he got nearby, he noticed the water had come up and the grass was more submerged. Instead of throwing a swim jig like he had been, he switched to a ChatterBait and immediately caught a 3-pounder. Minutes later he hooked up with a 4 1/2- or 5-pounder but the fish got off due to his drag being set too loose.

"She ate it good, it was my fault," said Lucas. "Then I saw her open her mouth and the bait was gone; she spit it."

After that, Lucas returned to his sight-fishing program down by the dam where he had two productive pockets. He started with a 5-pound female and a 4-pound female that were on beds. Ultimately neither kicker would bite. Yesterday he caught the accompanying males, but today new males had paired up with the big females.

"I saw 10 females on bed this week and I caught only one of them. It's crazy; I can't explain it. But the males were big too; they were almost 3 pounds. So I caught those, cruised around and caught another one and then finished the day back in the grass where I caught a couple more."

Lucas' day-four stringer weighed 13 pounds, 13 ounces, finishing the tournament with 61 pounds even.

"When I was sight-fishing I was using soft plastics with a drop-shot or a shaky head, nothing fancy. I did weigh some fish on a Tightlines UVenko. And on day one, I caught those big fish offshore on a Lucky Craft LC 2.5DD."

While the crankbait caught quality, Lucas' deep spot ultimately dwindled out.

"The problem with that second day is that I thought that offshore spot was better than it was and I wasted too much time."

For third place, the California native and current Guntersville, Ala., resident earned $30,000.

"I'm stoked with third. As a newlywed, $30,000 is a lot of money."

Dudley finishes fourth

Day four on Eufaula was a mental struggle for David Dudley. With Haynes having a 10-pound advantage on him, Dudley knew he'd have to fish deep to catch the kind of stringer needed for yet David Dudley finished the Lake Eufaula event in fourth place with 60 pounds, 12 ounces.another comeback win. But every time he'd venture deep, he'd struggle to even get a bite. And every time he returned to the bank the bass would eat his wacky-rigged Yum Dinger.

"I just kept fighting mentally between shallow and deep," said the three-time Angler of the Year. "I wanted to get out there and go after the ledge master, but I just couldn't do it."

Dudley caught some sight-fishing and others were probably spawning or guarding fry but he simply couldn't see them. In addition, wolfpack bass surrounding bream beds were part of his shallow-water program. He used a mix of baits - from a Booyah Pad Crasher to wacky-rigged Yum Dinger to a swim jig and even a Rebel Pop-R. All of his baits were fished on prototype Lamiglas David Dudley Signature Series rods.

"I probably caught the most on the Dinger (green pumpkin purple) but every single one I caught on the Pad Crasher went to the scale. Now that I think back on it, the Pad Crasher was responsible for a lot of my big bites."

Dudley's five best keepers Sunday weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces, giving him a total of 60 pounds, 12 ounces. For fourth place, the Castrol pro earned $25,000.

Blaylock rises to fifth

Each of the final two days, Stetson Blaylock caught identical 14-pound, 10-ounce limits and gradually rose to fifth with a cumulative weight of 59 pounds, 9 ounces. Like Lucas and Dudley, Blaylock spent Stetson Blaylock took fifth on Lake Eufaula by fishing a Senko in shallow water.all of his time shallow.

"Every bass I weighed this week came on a spinning rod, 10-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line and a Yamamoto Senko rigged on a shaky head," said the Benton, Ark., native.

In practice, Blaylock identified two or three productive stretches of bank. On day one, he caught them in between the docks under cloudy conditions. But during the rest of the week, he caught them under and around the shady spots in the sunny weather.

"They say shallow fish don't replenish, especially this time of year, but they really did for me this week. Every day I'd catch a good fish off the same dock."

Blaylock's week was repetitive, likely making over a thousand pitches to dock posts. But it also proved effective as he earned $20,000

"I just had confident in my pattern and I was doing what I like to do."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula:

6th: Kelley Jaye of Dadeville, Ala., 59-6, $17,000
7th: JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., 52-15, $16,000
8th: John Devere of Berea, Ky., 51-7, $15,000
9th: David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., 51-2, $14,000
10th: Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., 47-12, $13,000

The next FLW Tour event is slated for Grand Lake in Grove, Okla., June 6-9, the fifth of six qualifiers.

Related links:

FLW Tour Lake Eufaula podcast

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2013-05-16-lake-eufaula 

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

It’s not like we didn’t already know it, but today the top 10 anglers drove home the point: To win at Lake Eufaula right now, you have to be fishing offshore. Among the ledge anglers this week is Michael Smith, who maintains his lead at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event with a two-day total of 50 pounds. Here’s how the rest of the top performers made it to Saturday. READ MORE »

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Competing in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Lake Eufaula this week, Michael Smith weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces yesterday to take the lead and backed it up with 24-9 today. His 50-pound two-day total has Smith ahead of second-place pro Scott Montgomery by 5 pounds, 9 ounces.  READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Michael Smith established the pace at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula with a five-bass first-day limit that weighed 25 pounds, 7 ounces. He leads a crew of mostly offshore sticks that are mining Eufaula’s brush piles and ledges for some seriously big bass. Though, it’s worth pointing out that several in the top 10 did catch some or all of their keepers up shallow today. Here’s a rundown of the top five after one day of fishing. READ MORE »

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

It’s a 90-minute drive from Michael Smith’s Andalusia, Ala., home to Lakepoint Resort State Park where the Toyota Series Southeastern Division kicked off its season today on Lake Eufaula. That’s just close enough, says Smith, that he fishes here more than anywhere else. His understanding of how Eufaula’s bass transition from the bank to postspawn ares to the main lake really showed today while Smith put together an impressive 25-pound, 7-ounce limit to gain the day-one tournament lead. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

It’s pretty clear from what went down on Lake Eufaula this morning that this lake is plumb full of fish. Almost everybody we pulled up on was catching bass. Yet, the consensus was that the bite isn’t quite as good today as it was during practice. No one reported the kind of mega-weights everyone expects to see. But there’s still some time. READ MORE »

Shad Spawn Carries Kelly

Shad Spawn Carries Kelly

Boater Danger Kelly of Somerset, Kentucky, brought five bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 14 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on South Holston Reservoir in Bristol, Tennessee. For his victory, Kelly earned a total of $3,021. READ MORE »

Wheeler Wins on Pickwick

Wheeler Wins on Pickwick

What started out as a scouting trip to better learn Pickwick Lake turned into another tournament victory for Jacob Wheeler’s ever-expanding career resume at the second Toyota Series Central Division event of the season. Today, Wheeler brought in a limit of bass for 17 pounds, 11 ounces to take the win with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 8 ounces worth $38,545. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 3

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 3

For two days Pickwick Lake gave up some nice early morning flurries for the top10 fishing the Toyota Series Central Division event. But this morning, the lake might as well have been frozen over. Despite ample amounts of current still rolling down the lake, and fairly light fishing pressure for a beautiful Saturday morning in the Tennessee Valley, the early bite was shut down for most of the field. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 2

Today’s weather was much sunnier, warmer and calmer; conditions that some think could push fish out deeper. But some are still counting on shallow grass. Here is a rundown of how the rest of the top five caught their fish on Pickwick today. READ MORE »

Murray Leads Wheeler by an Ounce

Murray Leads Wheeler by an Ounce

Sacking up 22 pounds, 10 ounces on day two of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake, John Murray rocketed up the standings from 14th place to the lead. With a total of 38-14, Murray is just one ounce ahead of Jacob Wheeler, who weighed 20-11 on day two to move up from ninth place. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 1

Grass seemed to be the dominant theme at the top of the day one leaderboard at the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake. Not only did Buddy Gross target grass for his leading catch, but three others in the top five seined the grass for top catches as well. READ MORE »

Buddy Blasts 24-1 on Pickwick

Buddy Blasts 24-1 on Pickwick

Buddy Gross won his first FLW Tour event on Pickwick Lake in May of 2016 fishing a shad spawn on eelgrass along the Tennessee River channel. Today, Gross rekindled those old memories from four years ago to bring in 24 pounds, 1 ounce and take the day one lead in the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 1

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 1

Pickwick Lake didn’t disappoint on the first morning of the Toyota Series Central Division event. As predicted, fish were biting right off the bat. READ MORE »

Abram’s Dream Comes True

Abram’s Dream Comes True

All week on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit the weights have been close, so it was only fitting that the final weigh-in followed suit. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram One Day Away

Abram One Day Away

Day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin was a bit tougher for the 30 pros on the water, and while quality has been tough to come by all week, that was especially the case today READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram Out Front on Martin

Abram Out Front on Martin

Same story, different day on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. When it comes to catching fish, Martin is on fire at the moment. However, just like on day one, big bites are tough to come by on the Alabama fishery. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Adams Leads at Martin

Adams Leads at Martin

Catching fish wasn’t going to be the issue for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin and after day one that certainly was the case. With the entire field catching a limit, the weights are stacked with a little over 4 pounds separating 100th and 10th. Finding a Lake Martin kicker was Barron Adams, who sacked 17 pounds, 2 ounces to take the lead – thanks in large part to his 8-13 Berkley Big Bass. Just 15 ounces back is Derrick Snavely and the weights tighten up a lot from there. READ MORE »