UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Rain Raises the Bar

Rain Raises the Bar
Looking down the Tennessee River toward the Ohio River confluence.

When the 171 pros and their co-angler equivalents roll out of Paducah, Ky., onto the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on Thursday morning they’ll have to contend with conditions that are totally different from practice. Hosted by the City of Paducah and the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is the last event of the season for many and will be the gateway to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup for 10 pros come Saturday afternoon.

Though the anglers take off in the Paducah pool of the Ohio River, there is quite a bit of water elsewhere to fish. Besides fishing right by Paducah on the Ohio, the competitors could choose to run upstream and lock into the Smithland Pool, a big pool with more backwaters and wood cover than elsewhere. It stretches from Smithland, Ky., up past the Indiana border to Uniontown, Ky.

The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers would also play. Neither is particularly long, but the stretches running from below Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley and their respective dams are both productive fisheries and house the biggest smallmouths in the system.

You can find an in-depth rundown of the various rivers here.

The following factors figure to come into play this week:

  • Heavy rainfall, both prior to and during the tournament
  • Three species of bass
  • A large tournament field of 171 boats
  • A cold front

 

The Rain

One of the major factors in play is the potential for rising water due to the rain that fell over the region from the end of the third practice day on Monday through the night of the fourth and final practice day on Tuesday. Depending on how the rain muddies the various creeks and inflowing rivers, things could get pretty interesting.

“One of the things I did yesterday [Tuesday] was I went and checked my Smithland Pool fish,” says Tommy Williams, a longtime stick who frequents the Ohio just a few pools upstream. “Those creeks were starting to blow out, the current was starting to run pretty good and the wind was bad. I ran almost 48 miles up the river toward Uniontown. The further I went the harder the current was coming out of the creeks. That’s death on the river.

“Historically, this time of year on the Ohio the fish stack up in the mouths of creeks,” Williams explains. “That’s what I had going on up there. You could catch numbers there, but they weren’t but small fish. When the water started pulling out yesterday I couldn’t catch them, so I just wrote it off.”

Toby Corn, who hails from West Frankfort, Ill., and calls the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers home, thinks the rain and added current could both help and hurt the bite.

“This water coming up is gonna definitely hurt the backwater guys,” Corn says assuredly. “I don’t know how muddy it’s gotten, but it’s gonna get muddy. That helps the Tennessee and the Cumberland. There’ll be more water flowing there, and it will be clean water. That makes the smallmouths bite.”

There’s a small chance that the water makes a truly large rise if the engineers at Kentucky and Barkley dams decide to release a lot of water from the reservoirs up above. If that happens, it’s likely that few in the field will have any prior experience on the system in those conditions to confidently predict where the fish will go. Happily, the chances of that happening are slim, and the main concerns are that the increased current could reposition bass found in practice and that certain areas could be blown out with mud.

In the latter case, Keystone Light pro Jeff Sprague thinks locals like Corn and Williams could be happy.

“I think that because of how the river has changed since practice ended a local guy will have an advantage,” Sprague says. “He’ll know where the fish will move when the water comes up. The fish here are used to water moving around, and someone who knows how they move with it could do well.”

 

 Three Species of Bass

Besides being home to a tremendous population of sheepshead, gar and Asian carp, the rivers also have some big smallmouths and plenty of largemouth and spotted bass. All three species appear to have winning potential.

“If I get a good boat number I’m going to gamble and try and catch smallmouths,” says Corn. “That’s how it’s going to be won. I think half the top 10 will have three or four smallmouths in their bags on day one. If I don’t get a good draw then I’ll just scrap around. There are about six smallmouth spots on each river [the Cumberland and Tennessee]. If you get on one of them all day, you might only get three or four bites, but they’re all going to be 3 or 4 pounds.”

Williams plans on taking a safer route.

“I’m looking for four spotted bass and one big largemouth,” says the veteran river rat. “I’ve been catching a good limit of fish, sometimes two limits of fish, every day. It’s a typical river deal; you drop the trolling motor and go and cover as much water as you can. I think 10 pounds a day makes the cut, but that’s probably not going to win it. For that you’ll have to have a big fish or two come into play one day.”

“I’ve come here a couple times on days off when I’ve had tournaments on Kentucky Lake and absolutely smashed the smallmouths,” adds Sprague, who drove up from his home in Texas for the event. “I mean, we’ve caught 20 pounds before. But I haven’t found any of those fish in practice. For the tournament, I’m hoping to see some smallmouths and some spots. I think the spotted bass will be players. They’re healthy looking and extremely filled out.”

 

Crowds and a Cold Front

Fishing pressure impacts every tournament, but the predictions for this one are all over the board. According to Corn, the smallmouth spots are at a premium, but even if crowded they could still have an impact. The tailwater areas were crowded in practice and likely will get plenty of attention. There’s also the chance (not really a bad one) that someone has found fish in a location not predicted by history that he can have to himself.

Fishing pressure has taken a toll in other ways too. In the Smithland Pool, for instance, anglers report that it’s not just the rain that’s muddied the creeks. The increase in boat traffic has also contributed to the turbidity.

Finally, there’s a cold front headed in to make things a little tougher. The forecast for day one is cool and crisp, with a low of 36 degrees in the morning – classic fall weather that will likely have the fish a little sluggish.

Regardless of the obstacles, this week 10 pros will punch their tickets to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake. That in itself is reason enough to pay attention as a big field of very talented anglers looks for the winning fish on a tricky and interesting system of rivers.  

Tags: ohio-river  jody-white  morning-story  2015-10-29-ohio-river 

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

The season finale of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will take place on Lake Erie, out of Sandusky, Ohio, on August 11-14. The third of three special Super Tournaments, over 200 pros from FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) will fish in the event. The winner will take home $125,000 and the event will decide who wins the Angler of the Year title, the Polaris Rookie of the Year title and which Pro Circuit anglers qualify for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

The top pros in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River ended up using fairly similar tactics to attack the river, but with slight variations throughout. Tom Monsoor won with a variety of unique jigs, but many of the other top finishers used more standard fare. READ MORE »

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

The second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division is off and running this morning on Wheeler Lake out of Ingalls Harbor. Many pros fishing the Southeastern Division this season agree that Wheeler will be the most challenging of the three events in 2020 due to the timing of the tournament. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

In his fourth year on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Grae Buck has really come into his own. A standout collegiate angler at Penn State, he’s now in the thick of the Angler of the Year race and cruising toward qualification for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota. READ MORE »

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

For Jake Ormond, this is his first time fishing north of Tennessee, and thus his first time fishing the upper Mississippi. He’s not the only one lacking Mississippi River experience in the field, but considering many of the Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers that are part of the Super Tournament field have competed on the river a number of times, he’s got his work cut out for him. READ MORE »

Assessing the ROY Race

Assessing the ROY Race

With the final two events of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit regular season slated for the Mississippi River and Sandusky Bay, on Lake Erie, there’s really no candidate that is perfectly suited for both. Because of that, the final two events set up well to test true fishing talent, and it won’t be easy for someone to get on a roll to close it out. READ MORE »

Seal Stays Close

Seal Stays Close

Boater Mike Seal of Richmond, Indiana, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. For his victory, Seal earned a total of $4,127. READ MORE »

Richmond’s Seal Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Ohio River

Richmond’s Seal Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Ohio River

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – Boater Mike Seal of Richmond, Indiana, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. For his victory, Seal earned a total of $4,127... READ MORE »

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Adult mayflies only live for about 24 hours out of the water, but during that brief window, they can dramatically affect the prospects of catching a bunch of fish. At the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, Miles Burghoff based a lot of his success on schools of bass that were related to the mayfly hatch. Joey Cifuentes also keyed on the mayfly hatch, and his strategy provides a great playbook for responding to mayfly hatches in a variety of situations. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Lee Rogers mixed smallmouths from the nearby islands with a good largemouth day near Sandusky to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Outside of Rogers, the top 10 was filled with folks making substantial runs eastward or to Michigan. It also proved helpful to actually get something going around Sandusky, both during days one and two and on the wind-hampered final day. READ MORE »

Laydowns Lead Ellis to Top

Laydowns Lead Ellis to Top

Jay Ellis of Celina, Ohio, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 13 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. For his victory, Ellis earned a total of $6,972. READ MORE »

Celina’s Ellis Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Ohio River at Tanners Creek

Celina’s Ellis Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Ohio River at Tanners Creek

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – Boater Jay Ellis of Celina, Ohio, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 13 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. For his victory, Ellis earned a total of $6,972... READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »