UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Practice with Zack Birge

Zack Birge qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup twice – first by winning the Rayovac FLW Series Championship in the fall of 2014 and subsequently by crushing it in his rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour. Regardless of how he got here, Birge figures to be a threat on Lake Ouachita.

With that in mind, it was a no-brainer to spend the first morning of practice with the young pro as he starts his quest for the Cup and its $500,000 top prize.

 

Birge started his day with a pretty long run up one of Ouachita's main arms. He was headed to check some brush piles he planted and some other specific stuff from pre-practice. Along the way, he idled a few lanes between islands and stumps to assure himself that his shortcuts were still runnable since the water has since dropped.

Birge started his day with a pretty long run up one of Ouachita’s main arms. He was headed to check some brush piles he planted and some other specific stuff from pre-practice. Along the way, he idled a few lanes between islands and stumps to assure himself that his shortcuts were still runnable since the water has since dropped.

 

Upon arrival, the Oklahoma pro pulled about 10 rods out and picked a topwater to start the day. Just before his first cast, Birge remarked that he was just a little bit nervous - an extreme rarity for the rookie.

Upon arrival, the Oklahoma pro pulled about 10 rods out and picked a topwater to start the day. Just before his first cast, Birge remarked that he was just a little bit nervous – an extreme rarity for the rookie.

 

Boom. Birge connected on his second cast to a brush pile and showed the produce off with his signature

Boom. Birge connected on his second cast to a brush pile and showed the produce off with his signature “shhh” pose.

 

With the dim light of morning prolonged by cloud cover, a topwater was the young pro's first choice and a lasting choice. Of course, when you're on a lake with a history of successful topwater patterns, throwing topwater is probably a good call regardless.

With the dim light of morning prolonged by cloud cover, a topwater was the young pro’s first choice and a lasting choice. Of course, when you’re on a lake with a history of successful topwater patterns, throwing topwater is probably a good call regardless.

 

Next stop was some deeper brush - to pinpoint it on his Lowrance and to check to see if anyone was home. Unsurprisingly, a worm was called into action.

Next stop was some deeper brush – to pinpoint it on his Lowrance and to check to see if anyone was home. Unsurprisingly, a worm was called into action.

 

And a waypoint for that pile.

And a waypoint for that pile.

 

Digging for new tackle was a quick and infrequent task for Birge. Besides a few soft plastic changes, he already had on what he wanted almost all the time.

Digging for new tackle was a quick and infrequent task for Birge. Besides a few soft plastic changes, he already had on what he wanted almost all the time.

 

The primary stumbling block early in practice was his shock at how much the water had dropped in some of his areas. Birge says that prior to official practice the water topped out past the lush green grass growing on the bank. Of course, the Okie pro is comfortable shallow, and though the water is down, he hasn’t changed his plans just yet.

 

Ka-chow! A Ouachita beauty showed up to bust Birge’s topwater in a big way.

 

“Twenty of those could be worth $500,000,” says Birge.

 

Birge picked up another keeper in short order and immediately began to shy away from contact with the fish. Birge might catch more fish in practice and post more photos than most, but he wasn't about to sore lip a bunch of fish that might bite during the tournament.

Birge picked up another keeper in short order and immediately began to shy away from contact with the fish. Birge might catch more fish in practice and post more photos than most, but he wasn’t about to sore lip a bunch of fish that might bite during the tournament.

 

Birge has himself a pretty good little command center at the console, but he spent the vast majority of his day on the trolling motor exploring new water up close and personal. Despite the fact that Scott Martin won offshore on brush the last time the Cup was on Ouachita, Birge wasn't interested in scanning for hours to find the mother lode.

Birge has himself a pretty good little command center at the console, but he spent the vast majority of his day on the trolling motor exploring new water up close and personal. Despite the fact that Scott Martin won offshore on brush the last time the Cup was on Ouachita, Birge wasn’t interested in scanning for hours to find the mother lode.

 

Just as Birge was beginning to get a little frustrated at his inability to get bites on seemingly perfect pieces of cover he caught a frisky little keeper. That fish was his signal to head out for, literally, greener pastures.

Just as Birge was beginning to get a little frustrated at his inability to get bites on seemingly perfect pieces of cover he caught a frisky little keeper. That fish was his signal to head out for, literally, greener pastures.

 

After making another long run, Birge idled his way through a stump field that would scare any lower unit before starting to cast in a creek filled with hydrilla, stumps and probably hawgs.

After making another long run, Birge idled his way through a stump field that would scare any lower unit before starting to cast in a creek filled with hydrilla, stumps and probably hawgs.

 

Ok, maybe not hawgs. At least, not yet.

Ok, maybe not hawgs. At least, not yet.

 

And that'll do it. I headed off to get food and look for WiFi, and Birge headed off to get food and look for more bass.

And that’ll do it. I headed off to get food and look for WiFi, and Birge headed off to get food and look for more bass. 

Tags: zack-birge  lake-ouachita  forrest-wood-cup  summer  jody-white  pre-tournament  2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup 

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