UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

River Showdown Looms

River Showdown Looms

The 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship, which is being hosted by the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau and City of Paducah on Oct. 29-31, will be a true test of fishing skill rather than a rehash of past experiences, as it will be decided on a fishery with which few of the contestants are familiar.

Though the lower Ohio River has flown under the radar screen of most FLW anglers, competitors in the Walmart Bass Fishing League’s Buckeye, Illini and Hoosier divisions have proved time and again that the river can provide hefty limits of bass. Typically, it’s a question of fashioning three days of milk runs where several patterns and presentations might come into play.

Official practice for the 2015 Championship begins Saturday. Here’s what anglers will encounter.

 

How it Lays Out

Smithland Pool, in particular, has gained some fame in recent years as one of the Ohio’s most productive stretches, and it’s open for business during the Rayovac FLW Series Championship that commences next Thursday out of Paducah. That stretch of the river, which wends roughly 72 miles from the Smithland Dam to the John T. Myers Dam (above) near Uniontown, Ky., encompasses an abundance of tributaries, islands and sloughs that offer all sorts of alternative possibilities.

Among the major feeder streams are the Wabash River (above), which serves as a boundary between Indiana and Illinois and enters the Ohio on the north side a few miles downstream of the Uniontown dam, and the Tradewater River, which feeds in from the south side between Sturgis, Ky., and Cave-in-Rock, Ill.  Other tributaries downriver include Crooked Creek, Hurricane Creek, Peters Creek, Lusk Creek, Deer Creek, Hosick Creek, Big Grand Pierre Creek, Bay Creek and Phelps Creek.

As the river snakes its way southwest toward Smithland, its course is detoured by a number of large islands, including Wabash Island, Raleigh Bar, Pryor Island, Dog Island and Bay Creek. Many of these offer wood cover in the form of snags and willow banks, and some have substantial grass beds.

Below Smithland Dam (above), the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River, from their mouths upriver to Kentucky Dam (22 miles) and Barkley Dam (31 miles), respectively, should dominate in terms of seeing the most angler pressure. Depending on the amount of water being released through the dams, the rivers could provide good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The mouth of Massac Creek, just upstream from Metropolis, Ill., will also wind up on some milk runs, as will Post Creek Cutoff, Hodges Creek and the Cache River – on the Illinois side – and Humphrey Creek on the Kentucky side. Otherwise, there are no dominant features from there to the Ohio’s juncture with the Mississippi River.

 

A Smorgasbord of Patterns

The vast expanse of rivers and backwaters in play combined with plenty of manmade structures that deflect current and corral bass will supply the Championship contestants with a number of pattern options.

 

Tailwaters

The various tailwaters in play offer anglers what is likely the easiest fishing on the system. Of course, the most popular tailwaters – at the Smithland Dam on the Ohio, Kentucky Dam (above) on the Tennessee and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland – will get heavy fishing pressure, so some anglers might opt to avoid them altogether, or at least to save them until the last day, if they can make it that far.

Another lock and dam downstream of takeoff is a less popular fishing area, though maybe it’s a well-kept secret, and the upstream tournament boundary at the John T. Meyers Lock and Dam might be a good fishing location, but it’s almost too long of a trek to be in play.

Heavy, concentrated current and big, obvious current breaks such as lock walls, fishing piers, bridge pilings and shoreline obstructions (mostly subtle bends and break walls) will concentrate fish, but mostly pros can catch bass just by running the bank for the first half- or quarter-mile downstream of each dam. These areas are heavily lined with riprap and often steep and deep, plus rubble piles from construction projects and maintenance are common.

Mid-river in the tailwater areas anglers can fish submerged “trash piles,” humps and other slightly-harder-to-find current breaks that also hold quality bass.

 

Backwaters

Everyone knows the tailwaters will be in play, and everyone knows where to find them. Likewise, everyone knows that backwater areas could produce winning fish. Finding the right backwater, however, will be a bigger challenge.

Locals have an advantage here, especially if they know which creeks, sloughs and ponds will be full and accessible at various water levels – many are too silted in to access at all.

Out-of-towners will have to think like waterfowl hunters scouting for duck sloughs. The search usually begins with a Google Earth scan. From there, the official practice period will be critical for visiting these tucked-away honey holes to judge water clarity, current flow, bait and bass populations, and ease of access. Flipping, topwater and other shallow presentations will be put to use.

Expect the Smithland Pool, particularly the Golconda, Ill., area where Lusk Creek (above) and several other large creeks and adjoining channels are the main attractions, to draw most of the backwater anglers.

Bass aren’t the only fish in these waters, and many of the backwater creeks are filled with Asian carp, which launch themselves into the air even at the sound of an approaching trolling motor. A facemask might be a good tool to have along at this derby.

 

Traditional River Structure

This is the unknown factor at the Championship. Mid-river structure such as sweeping inside bends, points, rock bars, riprapped banks, channel edges and the like are present. However, the main stems of the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland are mostly flat-bottomed, without a lot of obvious contour changes.

If a pro spends enough time idling and scouring the bottom, he could find a mother lode of offshore fish. The odds are even higher in the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, which are greatly overlooked, quality fisheries in a region that is home to massive reservoirs.

Also, big smallmouths live out in the depths of all three rivers. The catch is that they’re roamers. A school that promises 20 pounds in practice might vanish by tournament time.

 

Islands, Shorelines and Bank Cover

Pros shouldn’t overlook obvious bank cover such as laydowns and rock. Islands and the smaller channels that often wrap around islands are also good targets where bass can set up in eddies or in areas with slower flow. Some of these areas also have grass mats.

The junk-fishing purists ought to be sure and check out these spots.

Heck, at times, just running down the bank with a spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap is all that’s necessary to catch fish, especially in the Tennessee and Cumberland.

 

Manmade Structure and Trash

We mentioned fishing “trash” in the tailwaters section above, but the influence of industry and man-made structure isn’t limited to areas immediately downstream of the dams. There are marinas, industrial complexes, sunken barges, wing dams, riprap-lined stretches of bank, barge tie-off columns, old bridge structures and plenty more fish-attracting objects for anglers to fish.

 

River-Runnin’ Baits

Topwater – It’s fall, and it’s a river, so of course topwater will be in play. Buzzbaits will be popular in heavier flow areas, while poppers and frogs will get the call in the backwaters.

Crankbaits – From square-bills to deep-divers, pros should have along a mix of crankbaits. Lipless baits too.

Spinnerbaits and swimbaits – Great for covering water, either a spinnerbait or swimbait is a great river tool. The choice between the two usually comes down to water clarity.

Jigs – Flipping, dragging, finesse, football … all types of jigs will produce.

Tubes and Texas rigs – Smallmouths love tubes, and there are some giant brown bass in this system. Likewise, a Texas rig is a smart choice for flipping snaggy riprap areas and trashy current breaks.

 

More Details

Qualification – The top 40 pros and co-anglers in the 2015 standings from each of the five Rayovac FLW Series divisions qualified to fish the Championship.

Cup Berths – A total of 10 Rayovac FLW Series pros advance to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup based on their finish at the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship. Cup qualification is determined in the following two-step process. Step 1: Select the highest finishing pro from each Rayovac FLW Series division at the Championship. Step 2: Select the five highest finishing pros not already selected in Step 1.

 

Tournament Info Page click here

Tags: ohio-river  colin-moore-and-curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament  2015-10-29-ohio-river 

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

The second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division ought to be a really good one. Set for Pickwick Lake in late May, the offshore bite ought to be in full swing, with plenty of shallow fish as well. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop goes down this week at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala. Here's how you can watch the action live. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

The annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open returns to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-March for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat, 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship and 20 spots in the all-new Major League Fishing College Faceoff presented by Wiley X in Raleigh, N.C., later this spring. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Spawning bass and spring break will be the story lines at the Toyota Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu in mid-March. Well, OK … the spawning bass will certainly be the main focus of the anglers. But dealing with traffic from pleasure boaters will definitely contribute to the pros’ decision-making, particularly on the weekend.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »

National Championship Starts This Week

National Championship Starts This Week

With the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event over, the best college fishing teams from across the country are starting practice on the Harris Chain for the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College National Championship presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

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 »

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 »

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 »