UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Smallmouths dominated at the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Oklahoma’s Andrew Upshaw led the way with brown bass caught on a jig and a Ned rig on bluff bank transitions in the reservoir’s lower end. Behind him, only a couple of pros hedged their bets on targeting largemouths. The rest fished for smallies and considered green bass to be bonus fish and spotted bass to be limit fillers on the tough days. READ MORE »

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

In classic Southern smallmouth fashion, crankbaits and jigs dominated the top 10 at Lake Cumberland during the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship. The only exceptions were a few finesse baits and the tackle used by two pros who targeted largemouths. Here’s what worked. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Oklahoma's Upshaw Wins Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Oklahoma's Upshaw Wins Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – Strike King pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit to the stage weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces, Saturday to claim the title of 2019 FLW Series Champion at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Upshaw, with a three-day total of 15 bass for 42 pounds, 15 ounces, won by a 1-pound, 10-ounce margin over second... READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

Upshaw Leads at Day Two of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Upshaw Leads at Day Two of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – Strike King pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, crossed the stage Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce, for a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 30 pounds even, to lead after Day Two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Upshaw now holds a 1-pound, 13-ounce lead over pro Rob Burns of Plano, Texas, who weighed... READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe Angler Cousens Leads Day One of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Zimbabwe Angler Cousens Leads Day One of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – A tournament field of 193 boats – each featuring a pro and a co-angler – began their three-day competition for a top cash award of $100,000 at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, in Burnside, Kentucky, Thursday. The no-entry fee bass-fishing championship, hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside... READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

The 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship brings together anglers from all over the world to compete for a top prize worth $100,000 on the pro side and $35,000 on the co-angler side. Qualifying from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, the International Division and five standard FLW Series divisions, a total of 193 pros and 193 co-anglers will descend on Lake Cumberland for a fall showdown to wrap up the fishing season. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

Major League Fishing and FLW Announce Expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine BFL Details, Schedules, Entry Dates, and Advancement Opportunities

Major League Fishing and FLW Announce Expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine BFL Details, Schedules, Entry Dates, and Advancement Opportunities

TULSA, Okla. – Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts, highlighted by lower entry fees in both circuits and an expanded FLW Series schedule, along with upping the championship payout to $200,000 for first... READ MORE »

More Than 400 Anglers to Visit Somerset and Burnside for Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

More Than 400 Anglers to Visit Somerset and Burnside for Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2019) – The Costa FLW Series will close out the 2019 season next week, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, in Burnside, Kentucky, at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. The no-entry fee bass-fishing championship, hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission, will feature more than 400 of the best regional... READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. READ MORE »