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

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Rayovac FLW Series Championship Pros to Watch

Who will be the last man standing and take home the title of Rayovac FLW Series Champion?

Rayovac FLW Series Championship Pros to Watch

Keystone Light pro Casey Martin isn’t fishing in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship this week on Wheeler Lake, but he was still more than capable of breaking down how the lake should fish. Perhaps more than anything, Martin emphasizes that this Tennessee River impoundment doesn’t fish much like the legendary bodies of water that bookend it.

Past results back up that assertion. Though fall tournaments on Wheeler have been won on offshore structure, high finishes have also come shallow around shad schools, off the developed shoreline of the Decatur area, up the river on current-relating fish and a number of other ways. So, while traditional Tennessee River favorites such as Mark Rose and Randy Haynes remain good bets to finish high in this one, there’s plenty of opportunity for a versatile angler from anywhere in the country to find the right bite in shallower water and do very well.

Here are 12 to watch this week.

 

2014 Anglers of the Year

For five anglers in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship field, this final tournament of 2014 is the culmination of a long, successful season. They are the five division Angler of the Year winners, and each hopes to parlay his regular-season title into a championship victory. Surely, each has the skills to do it.

Travis Fox

Fox took home the Strike King Angler of the Year title in the Central Division at the final event of the year on the Mississippi River when both Wesley Strader and Mark Rose faltered. Despite having some help, his title was well deserved. Fox has scuffled in Walmart FLW Tour competition, but he’s consistently finished well in FLW Series events across the country and seems to fish better with a little less pressure. He said as much on Episode 47 of the FLW Podcast. Fox is as good a bet as any to make some noise at Wheeler, and he has banked top-10 finishes at enough places that his versatility can’t be questioned.

Dave Lefebre

The Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro finished first overall in the Northern Division and is without a doubt one of the most dangerous anglers in the field. Lefebre is deadly anywhere and is burning to get back to the Forrest Wood Cup after missing it for the first time in his career in 2014. He’ll be a contender for sure.

Keith Pace

Pace, a successful carpenter, is a long way from his 2002 Forrest Wood Cup win as a co-angler. The best proof of that is probably his recent success in the Southeast Division of the Rayovac FLW Series, where he’s banked three top-three finishes as a boater in the AOY standings. Of note, he chose to fish the Southeast Division (and the ultra-stiff competition if offers) solely because he likes fishing grass lakes. Martin says that Wheeler doesn’t currently have a lot of grass, but some other facets of it could play to Pace’s strengths. He has five different river systems within an hour’s drive of his home, and he self-identified his only real weakness as offshore fishing. There should be plenty of opportunity for the former FLW Tour pro to fish to his strengths this time of year on Wheeler.

Todd Castledine

Castledine has long dominated Texas competition, but he appears to have a soft spot for the Tennessee River as well, considering that he banked a ninth-place finish in the 2011 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Kentucky Lake and grabbed the fourth spot in this year’s Walmart BFL All-American on Wilson Lake. He figures to have a great shot again in this event, especially if a deep bite materializes. Not to say that he’s a bad shallow-water angler – he finished third fishing for spawners this year in the FLW Series on Toledo Bend – but he seems to have a knack for tapping into a deep bite, and there’s almost always one present on Tennessee River impoundments.

Kyle Grover

Grover’s first full season fishing the Western Division of the Rayovac FLW Series resulted in an Angler of the Year title and some surprising finishes. Specifically, he cleaned up at the Delta and on Clear Lake but faltered slightly at Lake Havasu, the only place where he had an extensive amount of experience. Grover and his father, Rick, with whom he sells Rangers at Anglers Marine in Anaheim, Calif., trucked east for practice, and with a little time on Wheeler, he might be a solid bet. Grover says that he’s won quite a bit of money fishing in 40 to 60 feet of water, but that he fished in less than 10 feet in every FLW Series event he fished this year. That sort of versatility bodes well for his ability to adapt to a fishery more than 1,500 miles east of home.

 

The Studs

The number of Walmart FLW Tour stalwarts in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship must be somewhat daunting to the rest of the field. It’s also daunting to someone attempting to name less than 10 of them as favorites. That said, the anglers here have a great chance of doing well, especially if certain scenarios play out.

Randy Haynes

Haynes has a knack for getting on an offshore bite when others can’t, or at least when it isn’t the main player. He has demonstrated that ability throughout the years on the Tennessee River, and last year in the FLW Tour event at Eufaula. If the offshore bite is a valid option, Haynes, the man of five FLW Series wins, is likely to dial it in.

Scott Canterbury

The Straight Talk pro is coming off a second-place finish at the Forrest Wood Cup and a pair of top-15 finishes in the U.S. Open and the Central Division FLW Series event on the Mississippi River. Hot streak or no, Canterbury is one of the best anglers in the country and can exploit a deep or shallow bite. My hunch is that he finds something shallow to do better than anyone else and finally gets win No. 2 with FLW.

Bryan Thrift

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift is a world-class angler and as versatile as they come. He’s finished in the top 10 in the Walmart FLW Tour AOY standings an incredible seven years in a row. This year he fished his way to top-20 finishes on lakes as divergent as Lake Murray and Sam Rayburn, and has mixed in a pair of top-14 finishes on Tennessee River lakes. He can adapt to changing conditions as quick as any, and if there’s a shallow bite you can bet he’ll be in the mix.

 

Past Champions

Several anglers in the field have been here before, and come out on top – pros who’ve either won the Rayovac FLW Series Championship or have big wins on Wheeler.

Dan Morehead and Koby Kreiger

Morehead and Krieger are the two most recent Rayovac FLW Series Championship winners. Morehead, the George Foreman pro, won on Kentucky Lake in 2011, and Kreiger picked up the win on the Ouachita River in 2012, the last time the event was held. Both have impressive records in FLW Series competition, but the real kicker is the pair’s Tennessee River experience. Both have top 10s up and down the system, and they each have some big fall finishes on their ledger.

Mark Rose

For a time, Walmart pro Mark Rose led the world in offshore fishing innovation. The pack has caught up to him a lot over the last few years, but he’s still a favorite on any Tennessee River reservoirs. Add his win on Wheeler in the 2012 Walmart FLW Tour Open to his innate offshore skills, and you’ve got a winning combination. Rose has an incredible ability to avoid a bomb, and if they’re deep, he’ll catch them.

Chad Aaron

This time four years ago Aaron was about a week away from winning the Rayovac FLW Series Invitational on Wheeler Lake. Since then, he’s finished in the top 10 at Wheeler two more times. Aaron hails from nearby Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and has a pretty sweet mix of local knowledge and past success.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2014-10-30-championship-wheeler-lake 

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