UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

A Grand adventure

A Grand adventure
Opening takeoff at the FLW Tour event on Grand Lake is about to commence.

GROVE, Okla. - As the full field departed Wolf Creek Park marina shortly after 6:30 a.m. amidst a backdrop of overcast conditions, calm winds and balmy temperatures, anglers readily acknowledged the numerous obstacles standing in the way of a FLW Tour title on Grand Lake O' the Cherokees this week.

For starters, due to a slew of recent storms and flooding which has dominated this particular region of Oklahoma over the past two weeks, water levels are about 4 feet above normal pool. While that in and of itself isn't the biggest deal, due to the higher water levels, the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) has attempted to mitigate the situation by drawing down water at fairly rapid rates - by some accounts more than 80,000 cubic feet per second. This has resulted in the lake bottom being churned up and turning Grand Lake O' the Cherokees into a metaphorical giant bowl of chocolate milk.

Day-one takeoff commences on Grand Lake."It's really muddied the water up because of all of that stuff coming off the bottom," said Rayovac team pro Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla. "And it's not just some sections of the lake. I mean this lake is somewhere between muddy to stained from end to end. And the worst thing about it is that it limits the amount of fishable water on the lake."

Christie said he estimates that only about "15 percent" of the areas that anglers would normally target are still fishable as a result of the conditions. And plenty of other pros with longtime experience on Grand Lake agree.

"Some of the water is so muddy that the fish can't even see your bait," said Castrol team pro Darrel Robertson. "So everybody is going to be looking for clear water. I think a lot of boats are going to be stacked up on each other, and because of that you're going to see the overall weights in this tournament down a bit from what it might have been."

"This is a small lake to begin with and with the conditions being what they are, it's just going to fish that much smaller," said Kellogg's Frosted Flakes team pro Dave Lefebre. "Myself I've only found a couple of places where the water is clean."

"It's pretty amazing," said Straight Talk Wireless pro J.T. Kenney. "You put your bait in the water and it completely disappears. It's that muddy. It's crazy muddy."

FLW Tour boaters head to the starting line before the commencement of day-one takeoff on Grand Lake.Another issue that anglers will have to be cautious of is the debris. With plenty of floating timber churning down the lake, anglers will have to take extra precautions not to run into the multitude of obstructions both obvious and just below the surface.

"With all of the debris, you really can't run wide open on this lake," said Kenney. "There are some places where it's clear, but then you'll run a little bit further down and you suddenly have to navigate an entire field of debris. So you have to be careful because it can be dangerous."

As far as the fishing is concerned, pros argue that the muddy water will most likely take away a good portion of the deeper offshore bite and force more anglers to fish shallow.

"With these conditions, a lot of guys will be fishing shallow," said Christie. "Even though a lot of the bigger fish are out deep, there aren't a lot of places where you can catch them. The conditions are also going to put a lot of people in the lower part of the lake - and you're going to see a lot of boats on top of each other because of that."

"There are a lot of fish offshore," added Kenney. "But they don't bite when it's this muddy."
Another intriguing factor is that due to the conditions and relative lack of fishable water, the tournament's boat draw - ie. which anglers get to depart the marina first - becomes a bigger factor than usual.

"I knew that if I got an early draw, I'd have a few points I'd go to right away," said Robertson. "But if I wound up in a later flight, I was just going to go out there and just go flipping."

"Yeah, the boat draw this week is going to be really important," added Lefebre. "More so than most tournaments."

FLW  Tour anglers share some downtown at Wolf Creek Park marina before the start of day-one takeoff on Grand Lake.Although it appeared that anglers like Christie and Robertson would have a definite leg up on the competition given the fact that they know the lake extremely well while most competitors are seeing this body of water for the first time, that no longer seems to be the case - at least not this week.

"You know, coming into this tournament I was really excited. But all of this rain has really dampened my excitement because any (local knowledge) advantage I had is gone," said Robertson. "I'm just going to be out there like everyone else trying to figure things out."

"Any local advantage I had was taken away when the lake did what it did," added Christie. "So I'm just like everyone else right now."

So given the current conditions, just how will anglers attack Grand Lake this week?

"The good thing about Grand Lake is that you can catch fish pretty much any way you want to," said Christie. "You can really fish to your strengths here. I think you'll see everything from flipping to cranking to jigs - basically anything you want to throw. Honestly, with Grand Lake, nothing would surprise me."

"I think half of the field is going to try and fish points on the main lake and the other half of the field is going to be flipping buck brush and trees," said Robertson. "But for me, I'm really hoping the water settles down a little bit over the next few days."

While the field might have divergent views on how to best target bass on Grand Lake, most pros agreed that daily weights in the high teens should be good enough to keep advancing.

"I think 16 or 17 pounds a day will be good enough to make the cut; and you'll probably need 18 pounds a day to win," said Robertson.

"I'm shooting for 25 pounds a day but I think 18 will do it," said Christie.

In short, the tournament title is likely to be snared by the angler who is best able to analyze the daily riddle that is Grand Lake.

"Everything is changing on this lake," said Kenney. "The water levels are high, but they're starting to drop. The lake is really muddy but it might start to clear up as the tournament goes on. You're going to see a lot of guys who do well on day one who have no idea what they're going to do on day two. A lot of guys today have no idea what they're going to do. I really think that the person who is best able to adapt is going to win this."

Lake history/info

Anglers get ready for the start of day-one takeoff on Grand Lake.Grand Lake O' The Cherokees, considered one of the premiere bodies of water among a chain of lakes in the northeastern Oklahoma region, was created in 1940 with Grand River Dam Authority's completion of Pensacola Dam.

Grand Lake is about 66 miles long and boasts approximately 46,500 surface acres of water, while normal surface elevation is 742 feet above sea level. With 1,300 miles of shoreline meandering through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Grand Lake is consistently ranked among the top lakes for bass fishing in the region.

The Pensacola Dam (or Grand River Dam as it's more commonly known), stretches across the Grand River and is responsible for the formation of Grand Lake.

The Grand River is formed by the junction of the Neosho and Spring Rivers approximately 10 miles southeast of Miami, Okla. It flows in a southerly and southwesterly direction about 125 miles to empty into the Arkansas River, approximately 5 miles northeast of Muskogee, Okla. The river is entirely within the boundaries of the state of Oklahoma and receives the drainage of the tributaries on the western slopes of the Ozark Mountains. With a fall of 2 feet per mile, the river has been adapted to development of a variety of water storage reservoirs and hydroelectric plants.

Tournament logistics/rules

The start of day-one takeoff on Grand Lake is only moments away.During FLW Tour competition, pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Anglers are permitted to weigh in their best five bass each day. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. The full field competes on days one and two, with the top-20 pros and top-20 co-anglers advancing to Saturday's third round of competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. After Saturday's weigh-in, the pro field will be cut down to the top 10 while a co-angler winner will be crowned. On Sunday, the final top-10 pros will hit the water in a bid for the Grand Lake title - which will be awarded to the pro who brings back the most combined weight over four days of competition.

Pros will be fishing for a top award up to $125,000 while co-anglers will be competing for a $25,000 first-place prize. In addition to lucrative prize money, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, the premier season-ending championship. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.

During the Grand Lake event, which will run June 6-9, anglers will take off from Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 North 16th St. in Grove, Okla., 6:30 a.m. each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will be held at Wolf Creek Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 2115 South Main St. in Grove, Okla., beginning at 4 p.m.

Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Fans also will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Also on Sunday, country music artist Dylan Scott will perform a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at 3 p.m.

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 3 p.m. Central time (4 p.m. Eastern time) to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

To view daily on-the-water coverage exclusive to this week's FLW Tour event, click here.

Coverage of the Grand Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs July 28 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

FLW Tour pros begin to depart the marina on day one of Grand Lake competition.Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:01 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 64 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Water temperature: 72-78 degrees
Wind: From the north at 1-8 mph
Humidity: 67 percent
Day's outlook: Partly cloudy

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2013-06-06-grand-lake 

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 »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »