UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

AOY Showdown Looming in Texas

AOY Showdown Looming in Texas
Ray Hanselman (top) leads a stacked Texas Division AOY field on to Lake Texoma this week.

Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border will play host to a Strike King Angler of the Year showdown in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division this week, and there are plenty of storylines worth discussing before this one gets underway.

Several pros are in contention for the AOY title, and many others are vying for a trip to the Rayovac FLW Series Championship, which requires finishing in the top 40 in AOY points.

Here’s what you need to know.

 

Local guide Ray Hanselman was on them today. He landed two limits worth of keepers and is poised to make a run at Brauer's lead on Friday. Oh, and check out the smallie.

Hanselmania Part 3?

Ray Hanselman has dominated the Texas Division thus far by winning the first two stops of the year at Lake Amistad and Sam Rayburn. He told us a couple weeks ago that Lake Texoma is a hit-or-miss lake for him. If he hits, he could easily lock up AOY and the Strike King $2,000 prize package that includes deposits into the 2016 FLW Series. He has a perfect 500 AOY points so far.

However, if he misses, Denny Brauer and Joe Don Setina are hot on his heels thanks to also finishing in the top 10 in back-to-back events. Hanselman’s points lead is only 6 over Brauer and 12 over Setina. Albert Collins is 29 points back in fourth, and James Stricklin Jr. is 30 points back, but he won a Texas Team Trail tournament on the lake last weekend (more on that shortly).

Hanselman fished the TTT event, but he says the lake was filled (and flooeded) with red muddy water due to a terrific storm, and it took until noon just to find fishable water. He opted not to come to weigh-in and instead stayed out for extra practice. Many, many teams either didn’t catch a fish or skipped the weigh-in in that event. Based on that tournament, it’s tough to draw a conclusion regarding his chances this week, especially since the lake has had a few days to recover from the storm. Hanselman did say that he’d found some fish in practice this week, so maybe the lake is turning around.

 

Del Rio pro Denny Brauer dropped a couple of spots in the standings today. He never got the big bite that he needed to maintain his day-one lead.

Brauer Injured, Barely Hanging in There

We spoke with Denny Brauer at the end of practice yesterday (Tuesday), and he was in pretty rough shape. Brauer severely injured his shoulder on the first day of the Rayburn tournament and somehow managed to fish the remainder of the event and finish in the top 10.

He had an MRI after the tournament, and it showed a torn rotator cuff. The doctor also informed Brauer that his shoulder is stricken with arthritis, bone spurs and bone-on-bone contact – the lingering effects of a long tournament career.

“Let’s put it this way, the best way to sum it up is that it’s not a good situation,” Brauer says. “I knew I screwed it up really good [at Rayburn]. I just got the word from the specialist that it needs a whole new-shoulder replacement, not just a scope. I’m going to go in a couple weeks and get that done. It’s going to be one of those three-month deals that you just hate to have happen. I didn’t even know they did shoulder replacements, but now I know.”

When we caught up with Brauer, he was ending his practice day in early afternoon. He said just about any physical activity causes shoulder pain. In fact, he’d felt something “pop” that day when he was pushing off his boat at the ramp. The inability to physically perform up to standards has forced Brauer to change his goal at Lake Texoma.

“AOY is not even a thought,” Brauer says. “My goal is to try and catch a keeper in the two days of the tournament to earn enough points to qualify for the championship. Then I’ll go get it fixed and be healthy and ready by then. I would love to be able to give AOY a shot, but I don’t know if I’ve found the fish to do it or that I’m physically able to catch them.”

 

After a slow start, Joe Don Setina turned his day around and landed 23 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead.

Setina Has Done it Before

Joe Don’t Setina also did not weigh a fish at the TTT. Setina strikes me as a scrappy angler who knows how to junk up a limit. At Amistad this year, he was doing something a little different than the rest of the field for his top 10. That might be what it takes to do well this week, as the fish are in prespawn, spawn and postspawn mode on Texoma, and many of the spawning and staging areas will be crowded.

Assuming he’s on the water practicing all week, and given that the weather conditions are supposed to turn around (lows in the 50s and highs in the upper 70s) during the event and bring the fishing back with it, Setina could very well put something together before the FLW Series event begins.

Setina also has a Texas Division AOY already on his resume from 2009. He knows what it takes to finish strong and shouldn’t feel the pressure that Hanselman might be feeling right now in the search for his first.

 

Albert Collins was on many fishing fans' radars this week. He lived up to expectations on Thursday by opening the event in seventh place.

Collins Feeling Good About His Practice

Up until last January, Albert Collins was making his living as a plumber and fishing guide. But last year he won his third American Bass Anglers annual championship and decided to see if he could parlay his success in weekend-level events into a full-time gig, starting with the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division. Collins finished 17th in the standings last year and is in fourth this season.

He’s not much of a clear-water guy and definitely not a smallmouth guy, but because of recent rains that have stained Texoma, he’s been able to sniff out a practice pattern that gives him some confidence with the tournament just a day away.

“Up until about an hour ago I was not feeling very good about it, but I think I might have figured something out,” Collins told us yesterday afternoon while practicing on Texoma. “If I can find some more of the same stuff I’ll be OK. I’m afraid there’s going to be boats all in it, but I’m doing something a little different than everybody else.”

Conditions in practice yesterday were cloudy, and Collins is concerned that the sunshine predicted for the tournament could squander his bite, but if not then he might have a shot catching Hanselman.

“The way this lake is fishing right now it’s very, very doable if I can catch fish like I’ve found [in practice],” he says. “There are a lot of guys, locals too, that are getting one or two or three or four bites a day. It’s really, really fishing tough.”

 

Veteran pro James Stricklin Jr. cracked the 50-pound mark to finish in fourth.

Stricklin on Track

As mentioned, Stricklin and his team partner, Billy Cline, won the TTT event last weekend. The fish were on beds, but nasty weather pretty well shut down that bite. If Stricklin makes the top 10 this week and Hanselman and Setina stumble, and Brauer is out of the race, there’s definitely a chance that Stricklin could come from behind to win AOY.

Here’s a little more background on the TTT tournament.

It was a low-weight tournament. Ten limits were weighed, and the tournament was won with 16.93 pounds. Tenth place weighed in 10.75 pounds.

Russell Cecil (sixth in the AOY) and Todd Castledine (17th) fished together and weighed in two keepers. Stephen Johnston (10th) fished it with Dicky Newberry (97th), and they also weighed in only two keepers.

Philip Crelia, who’s in 24th place and a long shot to win AOY (he’s 82 points back), took third with partner TJ Goodwyn. He might still have a crack at the title if he can duplicate his success this week.


Versatility will be Key

To lock up AOY on Texoma is going to require the ability to change it up on a moment’s notice. The top three teams in the TTT event weighed in prespawn, spawn and postspawn fish, and a mix of largemouths, smallmouths, spotted bass and meanmouth hybrids. With all the transitioning going on, there are going to be a lot of patterns in play, and those patterns could change daily.

This is also most likely going to be a low-weight tournament, though if another wave of spawning largemouths moves up to the banks to spawn with the oncoming warm weather, then sight-fishing for 5-pound-class fish in very crowded and well-known spawning areas (especially the lake’s marinas) could produce a big limit at least one or two days. And with the water up, a lot could depend on how stable the water level is in the next few days. If it starts to drop, it’ll pull some of those fish out with it.

Normally in fluctuating conditions you’d give the nod to the angler in the top 10 of the standings with the most tournament experience, but just about every pro in the top 10 has been contending for major titles in Texas for many years. Every one of them has what it takes to win the title.

One thing we know for sure is that there’ll be some drama in the Texas Division this week. The top three anglers are all on the ropes. Who’ll be standing in the end?

Tags: flw-series  lake-texoma  curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament  2015-04-30-lake-texoma 

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks up with stop No. 2 this week in Leesburg, Fla., at the Harris Chain of Lakes. This tournament is presented by Bad Boy Mowers. With it comes another weekend of FLW Live broadcasts with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Spring can be one of the best times to launch a boat in the clear waters of Lake Hartwell. That’s why the Georgia-South Carolina border reservoir might be the perfect venue to start the Eastern Division of the Toyota Series on March 3.  READ MORE »

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant. The fishing has also been pretty good through a day and a half of practice. READ MORE »

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

If it’s big bass you want, late winter and early spring are ideal times to catch them at Lake Chickamauga, which is why the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division opener is perfectly timed to be a big-bass slugfest. The tournament, which runs Feb. 27-29, could produce some of the biggest five-bass limits FLW will see all year. Just how good the fishing will be depends on the weather, and whether the region ever sees an end to the rain that’s been falling recently.  READ MORE »

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Stop No. 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division is Lewis Smith Lake. Smith is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the east, and late winter should provide some really good fishing. READ MORE »

Toyota Announces Sponsorship of FLW and MLF

Toyota Announces Sponsorship of FLW and MLF

PLANO, Texas (January 29, 2020) – Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced today a formal sponsorship of Major League Fishing (MLF), professional bass fishing’s newest premier tournament organization, and home to Team Toyota professional anglers Mike Iaconelli, Terry Scroggins, Kevin VanDam, and Jacob Wheeler. The partnership includes Fishing... READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big largemouths and lots of spots are the main attractions at Alabama’s Lake Martin, where the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division kicks off its 2020 season Feb. 8. Local hammer David Gaston, who’s won the last two Bama events at Martin, expects a typical wintertime tournament this season with solid weights across the board. READ MORE »

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits.  READ MORE »

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

At the registration meeting for this week’s Pro Circuit season opener at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, FLW announced that Daniel had been promoted to senior director of tournament operations for the Pro Circuit, FLW Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League, with responsibilities to include directing the Pro Circuit. Bill Taylor, who served as tournament director for the FLW Tour from 2001 through 2019, has been promoted to senior director of operations, where he’ll lend his expertise acquired through more than two decades as a tournament director toward logistics, angler relations and event planning for all FLW circuits. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit kicks off this week in Brookeland, Texas, at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which means it’s also time for another season of FLW Live with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. Here's how and when to watch. READ MORE »

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

Weather is a storyline in almost every tournament throughout the course of the year, but from winter through spring it can often be the biggest influencing factor in a tournament. Warming trends and cold snaps can send fish flooding to the bank or retreating to the safety of deeper water in no time. READ MORE »

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Last season, Jordan Osborne made the top 10 in the season opener on Sam Rayburn, and he’s got the chance to kick things off in a similar style this week. READ MORE »

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

At just 20 years old, Colby Miller is pretty young to be a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. However, the Elmer, La., native isn’t lacking in accolades, as he’s now finished 24th or better in points in the Southwestern Division of the FLW Series two years in a row. Additionally, he’s starting the season close to home – Miller guides for bass and crappie on nearby Toledo Bend, and he’s got a lot of tournament time in on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

One of the nicest and most experienced pros on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Jim Tutt has fished about everywhere, but he calls Texas home. Last year, Tutt finished fifth in the season-opener on Sam Rayburn, and it’s also where he earned one of his three FLW Series-level wins. READ MORE »

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

Built in the 1940s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Lake is nestled in the hills of east Tennessee. The Holston River impoundment lies roughly between Norris Lake to the northwest and Douglas Lake to the southeast. The clear waters of Cherokee can fluctuate about 30 feet between winter pool and spring flooding, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t out of the ordinary for the average east Tennessee reservoir. So, depending on the water level, Cherokee has about 400 miles of shoreline and 28,780 surface acres. READ MORE »

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles. READ MORE »

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

Situated between the Ozark National Forest to the north and the Ouachita National Forest to the south, Lake Dardanelle in Northwest Arkansas is a roughly 34,000-acre impoundment on the Arkansas River that offers a multitude of unique and varied opportunities to catch quality bass. READ MORE »