UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


James River Jam

With high hopes, anglers head toward a high tide on day one on the James River.

RICHMOND, Va. – On tidal fisheries like the James River, optimism and opportunity are inextricably linked to water level. For anglers competing in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division, today’s tide schedule will present a brief period of opportunity, followed by a long grind the rest of the day.

The field will likely see an even split between the James River and its major tributary, the Chickahominy River (aka Chick), about 40 miles from takeoff. Both offer lots of habitat options, the Chick has more grass and greater numbers of quality fish. On the flipside, competition for spots will tend to be greater.

Bryan Schmitt, the Maryland pro who has bagged multiple wins on another Northern Division tidal fishery – theMaryland pro Bryan Schmidt readies his gear for day one. Potomac River – said this week’s tide schedule is not what he prefers. (The James River event was rescheduled after extreme high water postponed the original event.)

“It’s a little bit stronger current than the Potomac so you have a shorter window of opportunity,” Schmitt said of today’s schedule, which finds an incoming tide from about mid-morning through check-in time. “It’s all about the low, slack water, which we might not have much of today. Once the tide starts rising, it’ll be junk fishing and covering water.”

Rising water not only gives the fish more areas in which to roam, but the strong current associated with the rise tends to curtail feeding.

“I don’t think the fish want to spend their time swimming into the current, they want something out of the way,” Schmitt said. “When the tide gets low, it positions fish. Anything that looks like it should have a fish on it has one.

“When the tides running hard, I don’t think the fish are as likely to come out and strike something.”

TBF National Champion Mark Daniels will be looking for fish around hard banks as the water rises.On the upside, Schmitt said that as the week’s tides advance, that crucial morning window will lengthen, so Saturday’s final-round field will have the greatest opportunity. Schmitt said he thinks Senkos, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and frogs will produce in the Chick, while crankbaits and shaky heads will well on the James.

TBF National Champion Mark Daniels calls another tidal fishery, the California Delta, his home waters so he’s well-accustomed to fishing fluctuating water levels. The James River habitat, he said, is significantly different than that of the Golden State’s massive central valley drainage, but the principles remain the same.

“The incoming tide, which we’ll face all day today, is going to be the most difficult tide,” he said. “The low tide tends to bring fish out of cover and makes them more accessible to anglers; but with that water coming in, there’s so much cover for them to go for miles sometimes, that makes it a lot more challenging.

“I think that finding those hard banks where even on the higher tides you can get your bait to that bank will be important. You can put your bait right in the fish’s face when they can push way back into lily pad field or a swamp.”

Virginia pro Brandon Stapleton will start on the James, but also has spots at the Chick. HisVirginia's Brandon Stapleton will use a short spinning outfit to make precise casts with a small frog. main deal is a small Spro frog that he’ll fish on a 5 ½-foot spinning rod with 10-pound braid.

“It’s all about precise casts,” Stapleton said. “You have to lay it right on a specific pad and this short spinning rod allows me to make those casts.”

Stapleton said he has mapped out his day with a game plan he believes will keep him in contention.

“I have one spot about 8 miles away that it seems nobody ever fishes,” he said. “I caught about 14 pounds there in an hour Monday and last year, I finished third in a BFL event in that spot. The spot just shows up as a mud flat on the chart, but as soon as you get up to the marsh bank, there’s 2 feet of water and the fish just cruise up and down that zone.

“I have another spot where I caught about 80 fish on Sunday. There’s just tons of fish, but they’re not big. And then I have another spot right at the mouth of the Chick that has a 2-pound average. The plan is to try to get the early bite on that first spot and get to 10-pounds. If I don’t have 10 pounds, I’m going to go into that second spot and get a limit.”

Troy Garrison hops aboard his boat for the day-one launch.Maine pro Troy Garrison had a strong practice during which he had five to six big bites a day – all on a Snagproof Ish’s PHAT Frog. Garrison said the spatterdock fields hold the best opportunity and he intends to fully exploit it.

“I’m going right to that spot and I’ll probably stay there all day,” Garrison said.

One benefit of rising water is decreasing navigational concerns. Falling water brings boat hulls and props closer to shallow hazards, while rising tides allow a safer separation. Similarly, rising water eliminates the potential trap of entering a backwater area, only to find that falling water has closed the exit.


Anglers will take off from Osborne Landing located at 9680 Osborne Turnpike inSpectators lined the dock to watch their favorite anglers take off for day one on the James River. Richmond, Va., at 6:30 a.m. each day. Weigh-ins will be held daily at the launch site beginning at 2:30 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

Kool-Aid pro Jim Dillard selects his crankbait color for day one on the James River.The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

Thursday’s conditions:Anglers await the day-one takeoff on the James River.

Sunrise: 6:31 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 78 degrees
Expected high temperature: 85 degrees
Water temperature: 73-75 degrees
Wind: East 17 mph
Day’s outlook: Mostly sunny, partly cloudy later

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2014-08-21-james-river 


A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from Lake Amistad

Wintertime patterns with just a touch of prespawn action dominated the Costa FLW Series opener presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Amistad. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, umbrella rigs, swimbaits and drop-shots were the go-to baits used by the top finishers. READ MORE »


Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Wintertime bass fishing tactics dominated at Lake Amistad in January, as the top finishers relied on jerkbaits, crankbaits, drop-shots, swimbaits and umbrella rigs to get the job done. READ MORE »


Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Jay Childs caught two giant largemouths on day one, along with a smaller keeper, to take the early lead at Lake Amistad. Then he survived today for the win with a pair of keepers that included one smallmouth. READ MORE »


Hanselmania Wins Again at Amistad

Ray “Hanselmania” Hanselman won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Amistad today with a two-day total of 38 pounds. The tournament was shortened to two days after day one was cancelled due to severe weather. Hanselman opened the tournament Friday with a 25-pound, 15-ounce catch that put him 9-7 ahead of second place. He could’ve stayed home today and still won the tournament, but the local angler added 12-1 to finish the blowout win. Second-place finisher Tyson Patrick’s two-day total only equaled what Hanselman caught on day one. READ MORE »


Amistad Midday Update - Day 3

Lake Amistad was in a stingy mood for the final day of Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division action, as evidenced by a lot of long-faced anglers with lots of vacancy in their livewells. A slightly warmer day began with flat, calm conditions, but a light breeze was gaining some consistency by early afternoon. It’s possible that the growing ripples may break up the surface enough to stimulate a few fish into chasing reaction baits. READ MORE »


Amistad Midday Update – Day 2

Prespawn staging is probably just around the corner, but for now the big and small fish in Amistad are still in their winter patterns — holding on main lake points and structure, lounging in the low grass lining the mouths of creeks and pockets and filling their bellies. READ MORE »


Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Amistad is one of south Texas’ most famous reservoirs – the other being Falcon. Though it’s not the juggernaut that it was in the not too distant past, Amistad is still an incredible tournament fishery, with room to spread out and plenty of grass and rocky structure to target for big giant wintertime bass. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns From Lake Amistad – Day 2

Wintertime bass fishing tactics are in play at Lake Amistad for the Costa FLW Series opener. The tactics used today offer a good how-to lesson in dealing with early season conditions. READ MORE »


Hanselman Way in Front at Amistad

Ray "Hanselmania" Hanselman caught a massive 25-pound, 15-ounce limit of largemouth bass at Lake Amistad in south Texas to take the lead at the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division opener. READ MORE »


Here Comes Fall in the Ozarks

Mother Nature will deliver a big part of the story this week as the 2018 Costa FLW Series season comes to a close on Lake of the Ozarks. The tournament, which is presented by Evinrude, will wrap up the Central Division and finalize the field for the 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship scheduled for Nov. 1-3 at Lake Guntersville. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

Two heavy-hitting days buoyed Gregory Troughton to a 6-pound, 11-ounce lead going into a tough day three in the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. The Discovery Bay, Calif., pro stumbled in the final round with a limit of 12-13, but outlasted the field and secured the win with 60-2. Troughton caught most of his fish by punching a Yamamoto Flappin Hog, but he added a few keepers on a Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jackhammer and a Don Iovino Splash-It popper. Read on to learn about the rest of the top 10. READ MORE »


Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division finale presented by Power-Pole on the Cal Delta presented challenging conditions due to the autumn transition and the effects of herbicide spraying. Still, typical Delta baits were used by the bulk of the top finishers, who picked their way through aquatic grasses and miles of riprap.  Here's a look at what the top 10 used on the Delta. READ MORE »


Troughton Triumphs on Cal Delta

Despite a slow day that yielded only 12 pounds, 13 ounces, Gregory Troughton of Discovery Bay, Calif., held on to his day-two lead and won the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta with a three-day total of 60-2. Days one and two saw Troughton catch all of his fish on a heavy punch rig. Day three brought challenging post-frontal conditions, and he had to vary his presentations. A popper and a ChatterBait added key fish today. READ MORE »


Traba’s Big Bag Earns Delta Win

Talk about saving the best for last. Jacob Traba sacked up a limit of 17 pounds, 6 ounces — the tournament’s heaviest co-angler bag — to win his division at the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Traba’s three-day total was 40-2. READ MORE »


Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 3

Everyone knows the California Delta is one fickle fishery, and that disposition seems to be on display today for the final round of the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Power-Pole. Day-two leader Gregory Troughton carried a ton of momentum into day three with a lead of more than 6 pounds. However, we spent the better part of the morning with Troughton, and the magic was not happening. Not to say it will not happen at some point, but the leader will need to have a strong afternoon. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Cal Delta – Day 2

Specifically targeting big bass and catching a 9-pound, 4-ounce fish put Gregory Troughton in the lead by a margin of 6 pounds, 11 ounces at the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Troughton caught the largest bag of two day, 24-14, and holds the top spot with 47-5 READ MORE »


9-Pounder Anchors Troughton’s Lead

Gregory Troughton of Discovery Bay, Calif., caught 24 pounds, 14 ounces — the biggest bag of the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament on the California Delta — and took over the day-two lead with a two-day total of 47-5. READ MORE »


Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 2

As expected, today’s changing weather has shuffled the deck for anglers fishing the Costa FLW Series Western Division tournament on the California Delta. After the mostly calm and hot conditions of day one, the second round began about 14 degrees cooler with gusty winds of 15 mph. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns From the Cal Delta – Day 1

A key flipping bite from a 7-pound, 9-ounce bass anchored a day-one catch of 22-11 for Jerred Jennings, who leads the Costa FLW Series Western Division event on the California Delta. READ MORE »