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


Brauer Sets the Pace

Del Rio, Texas, pro Denny Brauer jumped into the lead early on Lake Amistad with a 17-pound, 9-ounce limit that included this 9-7 hawg.

Denny Brauer used to spend his winters on Lake Amistad, but he and his wife loved the area so much that they sold the farm in Missouri and permanently relocated to Del Rio a few seasons ago. Now a local, Brauer says he’s spent enough time on Amistad to know that the bite can change overnight, and an angler can go from zero to hero in a hurry.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but today Brauer definitely played the role of hero on his adopted home fishery by hauling in a 17-pound, 9-ounce limit on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Lake Amistad presented by Frabill. He jumped into the early lead largely thanks to a 9-pound, 7-ounce gorilla that took the day-one Big Bass honors.

Brauer’s competition might have dodged an early bullet. He lost another giant late in the day that, considering the lack of big bass that came across the stage today, could have opened up a gap between him and the field as wide as the canyon that spans the width of this Rio Grande impoundment. Instead, he’ll go into day two 1-7 ahead of local guide Ray Hanselman, who caught two limits worth of keepers today.

The recent plight of Lake Amistad has been well documented in FLW’s pre-tournament coverage. Many anglers have been struggling to piece together five bites. Today, the challenge was even more daunting due to rain, cold and a crisp north wind that built over the course of the day to the point that anglers were burning up their trolling motor batteries just trying to stay on their offshore spots. The water temperature dropped a few degrees, and many pros came to weigh-in soaked to the skin.

“It was a struggle,” Brauer admits, “but hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow. I lost a great big one, so that was a disappointment right at the end of the day. I just didn’t get a lot of bites. I was lucky I got the big one that I did.”

Denny Brauer

Brauer’s 9-7 hawg was his first fish of the day. He caught it within the first hour of competition, but it took until 10 minutes before 4 p.m. to fill his limit.

His strategy was to hole-hop through a series of about 30 places where he located fish in practice. Not all the fish he found were actively feeding. Timing was a factor in getting bites.

“If you pull up at the right time when the fish are ready, they’ll bite,” Brauer says. “Other times, they’ll bump it but just won’t get it. They’re moving up at times to feed.”

A little variety in both location and techniques also helped the Strike King pro to track down willing fish.

“I’m doing a little of both [finesse and power fishing],” he says. “I’m throwing some big baits, and also doing some drop-shotting. The spot dictates the technique, mostly based on the depth. I was fishing from 15 feet to 70 feet deep. I ran one shallow spot at the end of the day where I’d seen a good fish in practice, mostly because I was getting desperate, but I didn’t find her.”

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high of 69 degrees and winds swinging around from the southeast at 5 to 10 mph. No one’s really sure how the conditions will affect the bite. But for Brauer, the changeup is very welcomed.

“Physically, I’ve had five back operations, so when I’m out there on that ocean rocking around it gets that scar tissue all fired up,” he says. “I hope the weather is nicer. It’ll help me, I know.”


Ray Hanselman2nd – Ray Hanselman – 15 pounds, 10 ounces

Veteran Lake Amistad Guide Ray Hanselman relied on a similar strategy as Brauer. He burned 40 gallons of gas while running a milk run of about 15 spots that he knows will reliably hold fish even in tough conditions and slow years. If a spot failed to produce a keeper within five or 10 minutes, Hanselman packed up and moved out.

Compared to a lot of his competition, Hanselman enjoyed a productive day.

“I thought it was pretty good,” he says. “I probably caught two limits. I’ve been living here so long that when it’s tough, it actually helps me because I have so many spots that I know I can run and catch one here and one there.”

Hanselman fished from 4 feet deep to 60 feet deep. He dealt with spooky fish that fled at the sight of an overhead boat and withstood waves crashing over the bow on his starting spot this morning.

In addition to handling those challenges, Hanselman is literally prepared for pretty much anything. He’s using 20 rods rigged with everything from spoons and drop-shots to an umbrella rig, which produced his best fish. Each time he pulls into a different type of area, he pulls a new “layer” of rods out of his rod locker and puts the original layer back in.

“I did a lot of looking deep and fished a half-dozen schools on ledges. I’ve got a couple spots in the grass and a couple of schools in hardwoods in true prespawn creek channels,” Hanselman adds. “Unless the fish dictate me staying in a spot, I’m going wherever I think I can get a bite. That’s not the best way to fish, but if you know you can catch one, you have to go catch one.”


Kevin Gressett 3rd – Kevin Gressett – 14 pounds, 7 ounces

Of the pros in the top 10, Kevin Gressett might be the most dialed in on a specific pattern.

“All I’m doing is working the edge of grass lines in the middle of the lake from 17 to 25 feet,” he says. “I’m sticking to the outside edge because it seems like every time I cast up where it’s thicker I can’t get bit. And it helps if it’s sparse grass. I’m pretty much relying on one bait. I only have two rods on the deck.”

Gressett landed six keepers today and might have managed a few more if not for the force of the wind and waves building up over the lake.

“We couldn’t stay out there very long past 12:15,” he says. “We were taking water over the front of the boat. I’m ready for tomorrow. I’m hoping for about a 7 mph wind and sunny skies.”


Brian Ankrum4th (tie) – Brian Ankrum – 14 pounds, 6 ounces

Brian Ankrum’s first day on Amistad mirrored the ups and downs that this lake has experienced recently.

“I caught five, but it wasn’t for proper execution,” says Ankrum, who weighed in a 5-pound, 11-ounce kicker. “That big one was the first of the day. Then I went through a stretch where I lost three out of four fish. I was pretty down in the dumps, but then it happened all of a sudden. I think I caught four on four consecutive casts to fill my limit and cull a small fish.”

The key to Ankrum’s success was a productive practice period.

“I ran around a lot in practice,” he says. “Using my Lowrance electronics I was able to find some areas that held fish. There are not a lot of reliable spots. They’re really isolated. After I found them I left them alone in practice and came back today and they were there.

“I’ve been getting bites all week [in practice],” he adds. “If they cooperate like I think they will it could be good tomorrow. But I think I could just as easily zero as catch a limit.”


Trevor Rogge4th (tie) – Trevor Rogge – 14 pounds, 6 ounces

One of the first anglers to walk across the FLW stage on day one enjoyed his spot in the lead for a good chunk of the weigh-in. Trevor Rogge thinks that, while today lacked in creature comforts for the anglers, the conditions actually helped his bite.

“With the sunshine [in practice], I was starting to get worried, but I think this wind helps,” he says. “Though I don’t know if it’s so much the wind, considering that my trolling motor batteries died, but the overcast conditions did position the fish.”

Rogge says he’s fishing deep – deeper than most anglers – and he knew where to find a lot of fish today.

“Will they be there tomorrow? I don’t know,” admits Rogge, who landed seven keepers all day. “I kind of took my foot off the gas after I culled. Then I went big-fish hunting with a jig.”


Tomorrow’s Forecast

  • high of 69 degrees
  • 0 percent chance of precipitation
  • high, sunny skies
  • winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph


Top 10 Pros

1st – Denny Brauer – 17 pounds, 1 ounce

2nd – Ray Hanselman – 15 pounds, 10 ounces

3rd – Kevin Gressett – 14 pounds, 7 ounces

4th (tie) – Brian Ankrum – 14 pounds, 6 ounces

4th (tie) – Trevor Rogge – 14 pounds, 6 ounces

6th – Alton Wilhoit – 14 pounds, 3 ounces

7th – Albert Collins – 14 pounds

8th – James Stricklin Jr. – 13 pounds, 14 ounces

9th – Charles Dubroc – 13 pounds, 5 ounces

10th (tie) – Brendan Kennell – 12 pounds, 7 ounces

10th (tie) – Jeff Sprague – 12 pounds, 7 ounces


Ricardo CarrilloCarrillo Holds Slim Co-angler Lead

Only 4 ounces separate Ricardo Carrillo, who currently leads the co-angler division, from Chase Hux in second place. The anglers are dueling it out for a spot in Saturday’s top 10 and a chance at a brand-new Ranger Boat.

Carrillo’s action today came in two spurts, early and late.

“I caught the first two in the first hour, and then it slowed down,” he says. “It picked up in the last hour. I caught my last keeper in the final 20 minutes.”

The Laredo, Texas, angler knew exactly how he was going to fish today and stuck to his strategy through a wet, dreary round of competition.

“I knew it was going to be rough,” Carrillo says. “I came in with the mentality of trying to just get a limit and to fish small. All of these fish came on a drop-shot.”

Carrillo and Cox both weighed five-bass limits and were joined only by fourth-place co-angler Anthony Ferdinando in that regard.


Top 10 Co-anglers

1st – Ricardo Carrillo – 11 pounds, 15 ounces

2nd – Chase Hux – 11 pounds, 11 ounces

3rd – Denny Wilkins – 10 pounds, 10 ounces

4th – Anthony Ferdinando – 9 pounds, 8 ounces

5th – Jimmy Ballard – 9 pounds, 7 ounces

6th – Jason Chance – 9 pounds, 5 ounces

7th – Tommy Conner – 8 pounds, 11 ounces

8th – Ryan Lejeune – 8 pounds, 9 ounces

9th – Justin Hallmark – 8 pounds, 3 ounces

10th – Nathan Harbison – 7 pounds, 3 ounces


Complete Results

Click here for complete results.




All 250 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.


Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. CT



Takeoff Location:

Diablo East Boat Ramp

Highway 90 West HCR 3

Del Rio, Texas


Weigh-in Time:

Days 1 and 2: 3:30 p.m.

Day 3: 4 p.m.


Weigh-in Location:

Days 1 and 2:

Diablo East Boat Ramp

Highway 90 West HCR 3

Del Rio, Texas


Day 3:

Del Rio Walmart

2410 Dodson Ave.

Del Rio, Texas


More Information

For complete details and updated information visit the Rayovac FLW Series tournament page. 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.

Tags: curtis-niedermier  headline-story  2015-02-12-lake-amistad 


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