Live now : TOYOTA SERIES 2020 Eufaula

Top 10 Patterns from the Ohio River

Top 10 Patterns from the Ohio River
Trevor Fitzgerald hauls on one.

 Hanselman dominated the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River by opting to fish for smallmouths in the connected Tennessee River below Kentucky Dam. Hanselman was not alone in opting to fish the Tennessee. In fact, he was joined by six other members of the top 10.

Here is a closer look at how the rest of the top 10 fished in the Championship, which was hosted by the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Paducah Oct. 28-31.

Hanselman's winning pattern

Complete results 

Todd Kline's winning co-angler pattern

 

Brandon Perkins hoists two of the slammer smallies he rode to second place and the Cup.

2. Brandon Perkins – Counce, Tenn. – 38 pounds, 9 ounces

Video interview with Perkins

Brandon Perkins relied on his background knowledge of Tennessee River current and smallmouths, gleaned from fishing Pickwick Lake, to finish runner-up in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship.

Perkins put in four days of pre-practice and concentrated much of that time on using side-imaging in the Tennessee River to find rock piles and other current breaks in various depths.

In all, Perkins found 15 likely offshore current breaks that suited his liking. During the event he burned a Strike King 6XD (chartreuse blue back) crankbait through the current breaks in 10 to 15 feet of water to trigger reaction bites from smallmouths. He fished the crankbait on a 7-foot, 11-inch Hammer rod.

“I had to go down to 10-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon to get the bait down where it needed to be,” Perkins says. “It was a heck of a risk to go to such light line in rocks for big smallmouths, but it’s what I had to do to get the bites. Once I got one hooked up I would play it forever to get it in the boat.”

Perkins also caught a couple of his weigh fish during the week on a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait fluttered down through the rocks.

 

3. Trevor Fitzgerald – Belleview, Fla. – 38 pounds, 2 ounces

Video interview with Fitzgerald

Trevor Fitzgerald had the comeback story of the Championship. It started on day one when he caught just one keeper weighing 1 pound, 15 ounces. But on day two he caught a bag of smallmouths weighing 18-11 to rocket into 10th, the last qualifying spot for Saturday’s final round.

On the final day, Fitzgerald continued his climb up the leaderboard with 17-8 to finish third.

“I’ve never weighed in a smallmouth in my life until this tournament,” Fitzgerald says. “We don’t have those brown fish in Florida, but I have to admit, they’re pretty fun to tangle with.”

The difference in Fitzgerald’s fortunes was switching rivers. On day one he tried to fish the Cumberland, which had become high and muddy. On day two he switched to the Tennessee River and hit pay dirt.

“I had several rock piles I had side-scanned in the Tennessee during practice,” he says. “I went and checked them the second day, and one of them had a barge parked right overtop of it. At first I didn’t think I would be able to fish it because most of the rock pile was under the barge. So I started casting to the nose of the barge and sort of drifted my jig under the barge into the rock pile – then it was game on. I started catching them one after another from underneath the barge. It was crazy.”

Fitzgerald’s primary bait for the smallies was a homemade jig (green pumpkin) with a Zoom Fat Albert twin-tail grub fished on 15-pound-test Seaguar line. He says that in order to make the jig “roll under the barge” he had to switch from a 3/4-ounce jig to a 1/2-ounce jig.

“Lightening up the jig allowed the current to take it up under the barge, and that made the difference,” he says.

On the final day, Fitzgerald switched to a 4 1/2-inch True Bass Little Head swimbait on a 3/4-ounce Revenge swimbait head to do his damage. He fished both baits on his own Fitzgerald Rods medium heavy-action 7-foot, 3-inch Stunner HD. 

 

Brian Holder picks up to roll - he was really scrambling around on the final day.

4. Brian Holder – Belmont, N.C. – 37 pounds, 4 ounces

Brian Holder played out a junk-fishing strategy along the Tennessee River for a fourth-place showing in the Championship.

Holder’s best spots were pea gravel points and the eddies behind them. But since he only had two of those types of places, he had to improvise with other current breaks such as boulders, riprap, bridge pilings and creek mouths.

His best three lures on the week were crankbaits: a Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad chrome), a Rapala DT10 and a DT14. He fished all the cranks on 14-pound-test line and selected each according to the depth of the current break.

“That river claimed so many of my crankbaits this week,” Holder says. “I got hung up so many times that by the final day, I was using whatever color DTs I could find in my box.”

 

Nick Prvonozac holds up a good one for the crowd at the final weigh-in.

5. Nick Prvonozac – Warren, Ohio – 36 pounds, 10 ounces

Nick Prvonozac spent his week in the Tennessee River as well, but he targeted largemouths and didn’t weigh in a single smallie.

On the first two days Prvonozac stayed inside the creeks in the Tennessee, flipping a YUM Wooly Bug to laydowns on the bank. He rigged the Wooly Bug with a 1/2-ounce weight and fished it on 17-pound-test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon.

A hard drop in water level prior to day three left the creeks dry, and Prvonozac had to resort to umbrella rigging near the Kentucky Dam with a YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. with 4-inch swimbaits.

Even when using the umbrella rig near the tailrace, Prvonozac still caught only largemouths.

“Isn’t that crazy?” he questions. “I’m from Ohio. I fish Erie all the time, and all I could catch in this river was largemouths.”

 

Tyler Suddarth has improved slightly each day and is in the hunt and in fourth place.

6. Tyler Suddarth – Valdosta, Ga. – 35 pounds, 14 ounces

Video interview with Suddarth

Tyler Suddarth went rigging and jigging on the Tennessee River for his sixth-place finish.

In practice, Suddarth found five specific deep current breaks in the Tennessee that were made up of rock piles or pea gravel. Each day he would rotate among the breaks with Carolina rigs and jigs.

For the Carolina rigging, he used a Gambler Burner Craw or a Big Bite Baits Fighting Craw, both in green pumpkin. Suddarth was diligent in making sure each craw’s pincers were dipped in just the right amount of chartreuse before being offered up to the smallies.

In the jig department, Suddarth used a 1/2-ounce Strike King football jig teamed with a Burner Craw and a 3/8-ounce football-style shaky head with a Burner Craw as well.

In addition, he fluttered a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait down around deep rock piles for a couple of keepers.

 

7. David Barnes Sr. – China, Maine – 35 pounds, 4 ounces

Barnes' day one pattern

David Barnes Sr. shocked the weigh-in crowd on day one when he toted five smallmouths across the stage that ended up weighing 21 pounds. Barnes’ day-one catch was the first indicator that the Rayovac FLW Series Championship would be dominated by hefty smallmouths from the Tennessee River.

Barnes’ primary strategy was to drift and roll a Carolina rig though big holes and depressions in flats where smallmouths were tucked in out of the current.

His plastic of choice on the rig was a 4-inch Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw (green pumpkin) with the pincers dipped in chartreuse. He fished the rig on 15-pound-test line and inserted a worm rattle into the body for extra noise.

“I used a 1/2-ounce weight on the rig because I wanted it to naturally drift and roll with the current into the holes,” Barnes says. “Anything heavier and it would hang up and not look as natural.”

 

Jeff Hippert ended up eighth and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup.

8. Jeff Hippert – Hamburg, N.Y. – 35 pounds, 3 ounces

Jeff Hippert utilized two rivers for his eighth-place finish in the Championship.

On day one, Hippert fished in the Tennessee and focused on small cuts and washouts along the main banks of the river. One days two and three, he stayed close to Paducah on the Ohio, looking for current breaks.

His go-to lures on each river included a Zoom Finesse Worm (green pumpkin) on a 1/8-ounce shaky head and a Rapala DT10 in Helsinki shad.

Hippert notes that he soaked his Finesse Worms in goby oil before the tournament began to give them a little more scent in the river currents.

 

Bill Chapman + co-angler Lorne Dornak = a fish in the boat.

9. Bill Chapman – Salt Rock, W.Va. – 34 pounds, 8 ounces

If you were wondering if there were any other top-10 finalists that did anything else other than target smallmouths in the Tennessee River, then Bill Chapman is your man.

Each day, Chapman ran far up into the Smithland Pool to catch largemouths and spotted bass on wood targets with a crankbait.

His lure of choice was a Lucky Craft 1.5 square-bill that was hand-painted in a splatterback pattern. He fished it on 12-pound-test line and made casts to shallow logs buried in flats.

A sudden drop in water mid-tournament left his logs high and dry, and Chapman had to resort to fishing down the creek channels with a 5/16-ounce Eakins Jig trailed with a Cabin Creek twin-tail grub.

 

10. Denny Brauer – Del Rio, Texas – 33 pounds, 4 ounces

Fishing legend Denny Brauer also made runs to the Smithland Pool the first two days to make a top-10 finish in the Championship.

Surprisingly, though, flipping and pitching, which Brauer is known for, were not at the top of the list of the pro’s techniques in Smithland. Instead, he spent much of the tournament fishing logs and stumps with a Strike King HC Flat Side crankbait (sexy blueblack herring) on 12-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu line.

On the final day, Brauer decided to stay close and fish near Paducah, but still relied on the Flat Side crankbait to catch his bass.

Tags: ohio-river  tennessee-river  rob-newell  post-tournament  2015-10-29-ohio-river 

Top 10 Patterns from Pickwick

Top 10 Patterns from Pickwick

Pickwick Lake greeted Toyota Series anglers with high, stained water and stronger than normal current last week. While the last week of May usually means fishing to depths of 25 feet on Pickwick, some anglers felt Pickwick’s bass were a little behind in their summer migration to the deep ledges. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Pickwick

Top 10 Baits from Pickwick

From shallow bars to deep ledges, the offshore bite on Pickwick was the deal for the majority of the field in second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division. Because the offshore bite reigned supreme, it’s no surprise that the lures thrown by the top 10 pros were standard issue for the Tennessee River this time of year. READ MORE »

Lockard Locks up Pickwick Win

Lockard Locks up Pickwick Win

At the day-three weigh-in of the FLW Toyota Series at Pickwick Lake, the biggest five bass limit of the final day wasn’t caught from the front deck – it was caught from the back deck. READ MORE »

Wheeler Wins on Pickwick

Wheeler Wins on Pickwick

What started out as a scouting trip to better learn Pickwick Lake turned into another tournament victory for Jacob Wheeler’s ever-expanding career resume at the second Toyota Series Central Division event of the season. Today, Wheeler brought in a limit of bass for 17 pounds, 11 ounces to take the win with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 8 ounces worth $38,545. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 3

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 3

For two days Pickwick Lake gave up some nice early morning flurries for the top10 fishing the Toyota Series Central Division event. But this morning, the lake might as well have been frozen over. Despite ample amounts of current still rolling down the lake, and fairly light fishing pressure for a beautiful Saturday morning in the Tennessee Valley, the early bite was shut down for most of the field. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 2

Today’s weather was much sunnier, warmer and calmer; conditions that some think could push fish out deeper. But some are still counting on shallow grass. Here is a rundown of how the rest of the top five caught their fish on Pickwick today. READ MORE »

Murray Leads Wheeler by an Ounce

Murray Leads Wheeler by an Ounce

Sacking up 22 pounds, 10 ounces on day two of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake, John Murray rocketed up the standings from 14th place to the lead. With a total of 38-14, Murray is just one ounce ahead of Jacob Wheeler, who weighed 20-11 on day two to move up from ninth place. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 2

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 2

The red-hot shad spawn bite that fueled the big catches on day one of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick has fizzled this morning. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Pickwick – Day 1

Grass seemed to be the dominant theme at the top of the day one leaderboard at the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake. Not only did Buddy Gross target grass for his leading catch, but three others in the top five seined the grass for top catches as well. READ MORE »

Buddy Blasts 24-1 on Pickwick

Buddy Blasts 24-1 on Pickwick

Buddy Gross won his first FLW Tour event on Pickwick Lake in May of 2016 fishing a shad spawn on eelgrass along the Tennessee River channel. Today, Gross rekindled those old memories from four years ago to bring in 24 pounds, 1 ounce and take the day one lead in the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 1

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 1

Pickwick Lake didn’t disappoint on the first morning of the Toyota Series Central Division event. As predicted, fish were biting right off the bat. READ MORE »

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Matt Becker recently shared a great video that details the three patterns he used to earn a fourth-place finish at the season’s third stop on Lake Martin. Becker, who’s currently second in the Angler of the Year race, caught both largemouth and spotted bass and capitalized on a variety of tactics for a top finish. His patterns included targeting staging and spawning spotted bass on shoals, skipping docks and sight-fishing for spawning largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Spotted bass dominated the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Lake Martin, but they didn’t win it. Sure, the sheer abundance of spotted bass in Martin left most pros’ thumbs bloody and raw from catching so many fish. Yet, it was the key largemouth that really separated the field, and what helped Jason Abram earn his first victory. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Hartwell

Top 10 Baits from Hartwell

Because of high water and cooler conditions, bass on Lake Hartwell haven’t quite gotten fully into the mood to spawn. During the Toyota Series Eastern Division opener on Lake Hartwell, there were plenty of shallow fish to be had, but catching them wasn’t as simple as finding one pattern or one primary bait. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Hartwell

Top 10 Patterns from Hartwell

Early March on Lake Hartwell can be feast or famine. The bite often depends on weather patterns, as both largemouth and spotted bass are staging before the spawn. MLF Bass Pro Tour pro Marty Robinson pulled off a wire-to-wire win, but the victory wasn’t easy. The final field of 10 contained a lot of local knowledge and experienced anglers who were ready to knock Robinson off should he falter. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their paychecks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

In February, with water temperatures in the high 40s, no one expected a fast and furious bite during the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga. What everyone hoped for was quality fish. There were two 10-pound-plus bass brought to the weigh-in stand, but it appeared consistency was the name of the game, at least for the winner, Jim Neece Jr. of Bristol, Tenn.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

In past FLW events on the chain, the grass was best in Griffin and Harris, but this time Dora, Beauclair, Eustis and Harris provided most of the top bags. Targeting hydrilla, eelgrass and hard spots, prespawn and postspawn fish were the focus for the vast majority of the top schools. READ MORE »