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

Grand Lake Top 10 Patterns

Grand Lake Top 10 Patterns
Toby Hartsell pitched behind just about every dock he could manage.

Zack Birge might have won the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the City of Grove on Grand Lake with a crankbait, but most of the top-10 spots were taken by anglers fishing jigs on rock banks leading into spawning pockets. There were some variations on that theme through the top of the field, but there is no doubt that a jig during the prespawn is still a force to reckoned with in the Ozarks. 

Birge’s winning pattern

Top 10 baits

Complete results

 

Hartsell's fish prepared for another jump.

2. Hartsell jigs docks for runner-up

Grand Lake was a heartbreaker for Toby Hartsell who weighed in four bass on the last day and missed winning the event by a pound and a half with a three-day total of 50-5.

Hartsell is considered by many to be an expert when it comes to fishing jigs around docks in the Ozarks. And he proved his dock-fishing savvy all week, targeting the areas behind big floating docks where few others bother to reach.

The problem when fishing around such objects, of course, is that some are going to get off, which is what cost Hartsell in the end.

To target areas behind the docks, Hartsell used two different jigs: a 3/8-ounce War Eagle Heavy Finesse jig and a 5/16-ounce Jewel Finesse Jig fished on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

“I was not targeting certain kinds of docks, but rather the banks behind the docks,” Hartsell says. “The docks block off good transition banks where bass stage and spawn, and that’s where I was trying to get my jig into.”

 

Sammy Burks (18-7).

3. Burks ran far for solitude and water color

When Sammy Burks started practice for the Costa FLW Series event on Grand, he kept finding dirty water and lots of fishing pressure. He decided to get away from it all by running far, far up the river, burning over a multitude of sandbars to reach secluded backwaters.

The result?

Catches of 18-7, 16-4 and 13-12 for a three-day total of 48-7 to finish third.

“I was burning through a foot of water to get to some of these places,” Burks says. “At times I could feel the boat catching on the bars because they were so shallow. Once I got back into the main creek channel, it dropped off to 7 feet, and the water was Grand Lake green – perfect for spinnerbaits and flipping.”

For his spinnerbait, Burks used a 1/2-ounce Bass Pro Shops model, which features a big No. 5 Colorado blade for a thumping vibration on 17-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon. He also pitched bushes with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver (black/blue) on a 1/2-ounce weight with 20-pound-test P-Line Ultimate Fluorocarbon.

 

Matt Arey (4th, 48-3).

4. Arey ‘blind bed-fishes’ for fourth

Matt Arey’s scorecard for the week included weights of 19-8, 14-3 and 14-8 for a total of 48-3 for the event.

Arey finished second in the Grand Lake FLW Series event last year. At that time Grand was exceptionally clear and fish were bedding everywhere. Arey vividly remembers exactly where the fish bedded on docks. He used those memories to his advantage this time around to “blind bed-fish” for spawning bass he could not see but knew were there.

“Last year it seemed like every back dock corner, walkway and cable had a bed on it,” Arey says. “So I just pitched to those kinds of targets over and over again. If one was there, it would swipe at it and knock slack in my line. I might not catch it on the first pitch, but if I kept pitching in there, I could usually catch it eventually.”

To blind bed-fish Arey used a 7/16-ounce homemade jig with a twin-tail trailer and a 4-inch Lunkerhunt Revealer Tube with a 5/16-ounce weight.

“When those fish bit, they would move so fast with the bait and knock so much slack in my line that I had to switch to an Okuma Helios TCS reel with an 8.1:1 gear ratio to catch up to them,” Arey says. “Once I went to a faster reel, I caught some of those that were previously running at me and spitting the bait before I could hook them.”

 

Chad Warren hooks up!

5. One lure for Warren

Chad Warren checked in weights of 17-8, 17-11 and 11-14, catching a total of 47-1 for three days. And all but one of his fish came on a single lure: a 3/8-ounce homemade round-head jig with a Zoom UV Speed Craw (green pumpkin) tied to 16-pound-test line.

Warren used his jig on gravel banks in and around docks.

“I could not see any fish because of the water color,” Warren says. “But I’m pretty sure they were spawning around those docks. They like to bed around those floating docks because the docks offer stability, knocking down the wave action and turbulence, giving them a calm place to spawn.”

 

Somewhat surprisingly, Wolfe was relying heavily on a spinning rod on the final day.

6. Wolfe seeks reaction bite on creature baits

After sacking up weights of 19-13 and 19-7 the first two days, Jesse Wolfe led going into the last day. But he caught just 7-12 on the final day to fall to sixth with a total of 47-0.

Wolfe fished spawning cuts and pockets, too, but instead of dragging a jig he snapped and hopped a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver on a 3/16-ounce jighead with a spinning rod and 10-pound-test line for a reaction bite. He also caught some fish on a 3/8-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbait and pitching a 1/2-ounce Super K jig.

 

Bill Tervin (18-11).

7. Tervin swims for seventh

Bill Tervin of Pocola, Okla., scored weights of 18-11, 15-12 and 10-4 over three days to finish seventh with 44-11. Tervin’s jig choice at Grand was a 1/2-ounce Buckeye Lures Flat Top Finesse Jig with a Strike King Rage Craw (green pumpkin purple) tied to 12-pound-test Vicious Fluorocarbon.

In addition to fishing a jig, Tervin also scored some quality weigh fish on a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbait (sprayed grass), which is the technique Tervin used to win the Costa FLW Series event on Grand in 2014.

Tervin rigs the Little Dipper on a 1/8-ounce weight, 3/0 hook and 10-pound-test Vicious Fluorocarbon and slow-rolls it along the bottom, bumping rocks and small ledges.

“I keep the boat in about 8 feet of water and cast parallel to the bank and slow-roll it down through that 1- to 3-foot zone where the fish bed and stage up,” Tervin details. “I used a Halo casting rod for the technique and just reeled it very slowly, feeling for the rocks.”

 

Matt Cooper (35-4).

8. Jig on rocks worked for Cooper

Matt Cooper did his part in keeping the jig theme alive and well on Grand Lake with daily weights of 16-8, 18-12 and 4-3, finishing eighth with a total of 39-7.

Cooper’s primary jig was a 5/16-ounce Jewel Finesse Jig (peanut butter and jelly) tipped with a green pumpkin Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw with the claw tips died orange. He fished the jig on 10-pound-test Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon.

Cooper concentrated his jigging efforts on big rocks and outcroppings that formed points down the banks leading into spawning pockets.

“The first third going into a spawning cove was the most productive for me,” Cooper says. “Any rockslides or outcroppings that formed a deviation anywhere along the bank seemed to be better.”

 

Russell Cecil (19-14).

9. Cecil cranks for ninth

This was Russell Cecil’s first trip to Grand Lake, and consequently he tried to put his own pattern together instead of mimicking the locals. He settled on shallow cranking as his main gig and used it to catch 19-14 on day one and 13-3 on day two, and then his pattern fizzled for a final-day catch of 3-15 for a three-day total of 37-0.

“I knew I couldn’t come here and compete with the local flipping experts who know exactly what banks and docks to fish,” Cecil says. “I was going to be at a serious disadvantage trying to beat these boys at their own game. So instead I tried to find something here that fit the way I like to fish: cranking flat points with a square-bill.”

Cecil’s crankbaits of choice included a 6th Sense Movement 80X and a 6th Sense Crush Flat 75X fished on 12-pound-test fluorocarbon.

“I was targeting flat points that had softball-size rock on them,” he says. “The key depth was to 2 to 5 feet. I mostly used the Flat Crush in that zone, and if I would see a shallow piece of wood up there on the point, I’d crank it with the Movement, which runs shallower.”

 

10. Hoskins rounds out top 10

Earl Hoskins checked in weights of 14-2, 19-0 and came up fishless on the last day to finish 10th with 33-2.

Hoskins relied on a 7/16-ounce Jewel Finesse Jig (green pumpkin) teamed with a Zoom UV Speed Craw with the pincers died orange, as well as an 8-inch lizard made by New Wave Soft Plastics and sold by Basskwondo. He fished the jig and the lizard on 25-pound-test Seaguar on JD rods.

Hoskin’s prime targets on Grand were chunk-rock banks, and he keyed in on the 8-foot zone for his bites. 

Tags: grand-lake  spring  rob-newell  post-tournament  2016-04-07-grand-lake 

Top 10 Patterns from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Patterns from the Mississippi River

Instead of limits coming in bunches, the top pros were often scrambling to get five keeper bites a day at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries event. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Wheeler Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Wheeler Lake

As promised, Wheeler Lake turned out to be the stingiest of the two stops on the Toyota Series Southeastern Division so far this season. The dog days of summer put the kibosh on the main-lake bite, leaving Wheeler’s many shallow creeks and tributaries to supply the pounds and ounces at weigh-in. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Wheeler Lake

Top 10 Baits from Wheeler Lake

The Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake was a shallow-water power-fishing showdown in tough summertime conditions. Almost all the fish the top 10 pros caught came from 5 feet of water or less, and a fair amount of those were caught in 3 feet or less. 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 »

Culpepper Captures Co-Angler Win

Culpepper Captures Co-Angler Win

Cal Culpepper of Hamilton, Ga., won the co-angler side of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake in impressive fashion. In three days of a tough tournament, Culpepper sacked up limits of 11-11, 5-11 and 11-7 from the back of the boat for a three-day total of 28 pounds, 13 ounces. For his win, he takes home a fully rigged Phoenix bass boat. READ MORE »

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Carter Cruises to Wheeler Win

Anglers who have fished the Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine in the southeast any length of time know the name Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga. For years, Carter has pocketed plenty of checks from both leagues with a career total of 50 top 10s. This year, Carter decided to jump back into regional competition with the Southeastern Division of the Toyota Series, and in just his second event back, he found his way to the winner’s circle at Wheeler Lake.  READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 3

The fish were biting pretty well for the top 10 on the final morning of Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Overcast skies and a steady south wind put a perfect buzzbait ripple on the water back in the shallow flats in creeks – and the anglers were taking advantage of it.  READ MORE »

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Carter Takes Over at Wheeler

Kip Carter of Mansfield, Ga., may not have the nicest, shiniest boat in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event this week, but it sure gets him where he needs to go. His beater aluminum tunnel hull craft has plenty of nicks and dings in it and for good reason: Getting into the places he has fished on Wheeler Lake the last two days has required enduring some scratches and dents. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Fishing creek ends continued to be the theme on day two of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Although the current was not running as much in the creeks as yesterday, the cooler shadier waters in the back of creeks were still producing for top anglers once again.  READ MORE »

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Millsaps Grabs Lead on Wheeler

Wheeler Lake doled out some lumps today in the second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season. Only 14 pros managed to crack the 10-pound mark and six pros took a zero on the day. Leading the way is Jesse Millsaps of Jasper, Ga., with five fish weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces. His biggest bass weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which was certainly the difference maker in nudging him to nearly 15 pounds in a challenging summertime grinder. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Wheeler Lake has turned out to be beyond stingy to the anglers fishing the second event in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division today. After visiting with some 20 pros this morning, the most fish reported caught by a pro was just two keepers. The rest either had just one bass or an empty livewell. 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 »

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 »

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 »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

When you put one of the largest and most talented fields of bass anglers on one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, big things are bound to happen. The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga became a battle between shallow and deep, with pros on either side catching big stringers of giant bass. Here's how they did it. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

When so many anglers are throwing similar baits and running similar patterns, doing something a little different can be quite the advantage. Sure enough, the pros who made the top 10 at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga all had techniques or tactics of their own to set themselves apart. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Josh Stracner won the 2020 Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula by fishing offshore. He targeted deep ledges in the mid-lake area for two days before switching to brush piles in 12 to 15 feet on the final day when a front moved through and replaced still, sunny conditions with wind and overcast skies. The rest of the top 10, with one exception, also fished offshore in what turned out to be a pretty typical June ledge-fishing tournament.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

June on Eufaula is ledge season. Well, mostly. Nine of the top 10 in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Eufaula fished offshore, but targets included ledges, brush piles, standing timber and some “in-between” offshore structure where bass stopped in transition from the bank to out deep. One pro even fished exclusively shallow. Here are the baits they used to make the cut. READ MORE »

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 »