UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Top 10 Patterns from the 2016 Cup

Top 10 Patterns from the 2016 Cup
Todd Auten

John Cox of Debary, Fla., outfoxed 49 other competitors in the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart at Wheeler Lake by running his aluminum boat far back in Cotaco Creek to tap into a population of resident bass that few others could reach. His efforts earned him $300,000 and a Forrest Wood Cup for his trophy case.

Cox’s back-of-the-creek strategy was one of two effective patterns utilized on Wheeler during Cup week. The other dominant player in the event was targeting schooling fish. Here is a breakdown of how the second- through 10th-place finishers fished at the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup.

Cox’s winning pattern

Complete results

 

Michael Neal

2. Neal waited out schoolers in one spot

Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn., finished runner-up in the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup by spending the better part of four days waiting on schoolers in one spot – not an area – but literally one 30-yard-long pea gravel bar located on the main lake. In all, Neal pulled the majority of his 50 pounds, 10 ounces off this single spot.

It’s safe to say that Neal used his trolling motor less than anyone else in the Cup over four days as he Power-Poled down in the spot and just waited … and waited ... for hours for the fish to come up breaking.

“It was pointless to chase them around on the trolling motor and cast randomly at them,” Neal says. “It was far more effective to just sit still, be quiet and just wait for them to surface within casting distance.”

Many times Neal fished by not fishing at all. He would stand on the deck with the button on his reel pushed, waiting for the school to erupt. The goal was to land his topwater right on the very spot where a fish was breaking the surface.

“You had to land right on the fish’s boil or it wouldn’t bite it,” Neal says. “It was a maddening way to fish, but it was my best chance at catching quality fish. There were some bigger bass in there schooling with the small ones. The small ones would school on small bait, and occasionally the big bass would school on much bigger 5- to 6-inch shad. If I could land just one or two casts per day in those bigger breaking fish, it was worth it.”

Neal says he rotated through three different walking baits all week, but the biggest key to all of them was to put a feathered hook on the back.

“I started using a feather on my hook the second day, and it made a difference in the number of bites I got in those schools,” Neal says. “I don’t know what it is about that feather, but it works in schooling fish.”

Neal used a Cashion 7-foot topwater rod to launch the walking baits on 50-pound-test Sunline FX2 braided line.

When the schools went dead for a while, Neal would drag a Carolina-rigged Big Bite Baits Finesse Worm under them. If he could hook up, it sometimes fired the school back up and got them surfacing again.

 

Todd Auten

3. Auten played shallow card for third

In his sixth trip to the Forrest Wood Cup, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., posted his best finish at Wheeler, ending up in the third spot with a four-day total of 50 pounds, 5 ounces.

Auten has a shallow-based fishing style, opting for quality over quantity, and that trend showed in his scorecard for the week. He caught four bass the first day and only three bass the last day, but on the two days that he connected with a limit, he weighed in 14 pounds, 6 ounces and 17 pounds, 10 ounces, respectively, which put him in striking distance of winning the Cup going into the last day.

Auten did spend some time fishing for schoolers during the week, but the majority of his time was spent in Second Creek and the Elk River fishing shallow with buzzbaits, jigs and ChatterBaits.

His impressive 17-10 bag on day three was the result of weather, according to Auten.

“Every day of the Cup dawned sunny, hot and slick, except for day three,” Auten says. “That morning a little front pushed through, causing a few storms, overcast and wind. And I really believe that’s what triggered those big fish to bite that day. I fished that same area other days, and it just didn’t produce much compared to the third day.”

Auten’s shallow-water arsenal included a homemade 1/2-ounce buzzbait teamed with a Zoom Horny Toad (white), Zorro jigs (7/16 and 1/2 ounce) teamed with Zoom Speed Craws and Super Chunks, and ChatterBaits teamed with Speed Craws.

 

Bryan Thrift

4. Thrift runs and guns for fourth

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., has been to the Forrest Wood Cup 10 times and has eight top 10s to show for it, including his most recent fourth-place finish at Wheeler Lake.

Thrift once again applied his run-and-gun style at the Cup.

“I caught them from Ditto to the [Wheeler] dam, and from 8 inches to 8 feet,” Thrift says. “To me, fish in the summer are going to stay in one spot. Where they are now is where they’re going to be until the first cold front cools things off. So if I have a place where I can get a bite, I’m going to go throw at it every day. And that’s what I did. I had about 25 spots and places where I had a bite, and I ran most of them every day.”

Thrift says a lot of his 49 pounds, 6 ounces during the week came on a Damiki D Pop 70 in a color called spayu. He tied the popper to 12-pound-test P-Line monofilament and fished it on his signature series Fitzgerald Rods 6-foot, 3-inch topwater rod.

His other key baits included jigs, swimbaits and shaky heads.

 

Jeremy Lawyer

5. Lawyer hunts schoolers for fifth

Jeremy Lawyer, the 2016 FLW Bass Fishing League All-American winner from Sarcoxie, Mo., made a fifth-place showing in his first Forrest Wood Cup with a four-day total of 49 pounds, 5 ounces.

Lawyer spent the majority of his four days tied to schooling areas near Wheeler Dam. He caught schoolers in a conventional topwater fashion, using a Yellow Magic popper that was custom-painted by Fall Creek Lures in a color Lawyer calls “Forrest Wood Cup shad.”

Interestingly, though, Lawyer also caught some quality schoolers on a 1/2-ounce slab metal spoon (white) by throwing it out, letting it go to the bottom and then ripping it up off the bottom. Also, he boated one of the biggest fish of the week by cranking a LIVETARGET BaitBall Threadfin Shad TDD-70 through the schools.

“When the fish would go down, I needed something to throw that might produce a reaction bite,” Lawyer says. “So I used a spoon and crankbait to rip through them after they went down, and both scored some key fish for me during the week.”

Once Lawyer left the lower end of the lake to return to Ditto Landing, he hit a couple of river banks, pitching a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver on a 3/8-ounce weight to shaded banks with current. He picked up a couple of key 4-pounders this way as well.

 

Mark Rose

6. Mark Rose switches to shallow for sixth

Given his Tennessee River ledge-fishing reputation in the summertime, Mark Rose was a huge favorite going into the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake in August. And Rose did not disappoint, posting a sixth-place finish in the event with a four-day total of 47 pounds, 15 ounces. But the way he caught his fish was a bit surprising.

“I fished shallow for a lot of the week,” Rose says. “I could see them [with electronics] out deep, but I just could not get them to bite. I tried fishing deep a little bit during the event to keep them honest, but I mostly stayed on the bank in the mornings and then fished a few brush piles in the afternoons.”

For his shallow fish, Rose opted for a buzzbait with a toad.

“I had one shallow gravel bar where I could catch a good smallmouth or two every morning on a buzzbait,” he adds.

After that, Rose ran shallow creeks and sampled brush piles with a Strike King Bull Worm (plum apple) Texas-rigged with a 3/8-ounce weight and tied to 17-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon to fill out him limits.

 

Jacob Wheeler

7. Wheeler runs creeks for seventh

Former Forrest Wood Cup champion Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Ind., added another top-10 Cup performance to his resume at Wheeler Lake with a 46-pound, 7-ounce total to finish seventh.

Wheeler says he went “creek fishing” for the week, pitching jigs and creature baits to overhanging trees, shade, laydowns and undercut banks in the very back ends of small tributaries.

Wheeler says he was very “non-committal” in his areas, choosing to run in and out of a lot of different creeks each day instead of setting up camp in just one or two like Cox did.

“Being able to run in and out of the creeks on plane was part of my plan,” he says. “I didn’t want to waste time idling, so I marked safe routes into six or seven creeks and ran them each day.”

Once in the creeks, Wheeler hit his key targets with a 9/16-ounce E.R. jig (magic craw swirl) teamed with a Gene Larew Punch Out Craw (Minnesota flash) tied to 17-pound-test Sufix fluorocarbon.

He also covered water in the creeks with an Accent Game Changer Buzzbait teamed with a toad and a black frog.

 

Chris Johnston

8. Johnston schools for eighth

FLW Tour Rookie of the Year Chris Johnston of Ontario turned in an eighth-place finish in his first Forrest Wood Cup appearance with a total of 44 pounds, 8 ounces.

Johnston got in on the schooling game at Wheeler, chasing breaking fish with an Evergreen SB-105 (American shad) tied to 20-pound-test PowerPro braided line.

“They would only come up breaking for like six or seven seconds at a time,” Johnston says. “And I had to land right on the exact spot where they were boiling or chasing a shad to get a bite. If you didn’t land right where they were breaking, they would never even look at the lure.”

 

Brandon Cobb

9. Cobb “springs” to ninth

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., has been to the Forrest Wood Cup two years in a row and scored a top 10 both times. He finished ninth at Wheeler this time around with a total of 44 pounds, 4 ounces.

Cobb caught the majority of his weight during the week from what he believes was a spring outflow hidden by an undercut bank on the main lake.

“This was just a small little pocket in the bank, under some overhanging trees,” Cobb says. “It was only about a foot and a half deep, but the water coming out of it was clear and about four degrees colder than the main lake.”

Cobb caught all of his fish the first two and a half days from the small spring area, pitching a 1/2-ounce Greenfish Tackle jig and a Zoom Baby Brush Hog to the bank with a 7-foot, 4-inch Falcon Cara heavy-action rod. He also mixed in a Zoom Z3 Original Worm on a drop-shot to squeeze a few more keepers from the area each day.

 

Joseph Webster

10. Webster combines schoolers with deep fish

TBF champion Joseph Webster of Fulton, Miss., rounded out the top 10 at the Forrest Wood Cup with a total of 42 pounds, 3 ounces.

Webster played a one-two combo on Wheeler by chasing schoolers in the mornings to start his limit and then cranking deeper areas in the afternoons to score a quality keeper or two to bolster his weight.

When targeting schoolers, he fired a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 (clear) tied to 15-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon at breaking fish with a 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Hammer rod.

In the afternoons, he ground a Norman DD22 (citrus shad) across deep humps and ledges in the lower end of the lake for a reaction bite.

“The fish were just not bunched up real well out deep during the event,” Webster says. “There were small groups of maybe five or six fish down there, and if I hit one just right I could catch maybe one or two out of them.”

Tags: forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  rob-newell  post-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

The top finishers in the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn caught the lake when the shallow bite was just picking up. Sticking shallow around hydrilla with a wake bait, Aaron Johnson stayed consistent and won the event. Behind Johnson, there was a lot of room for pros to fish to their strengths, though there’s no doubt that shallow eventually won out. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Jigs and topwaters – that’s pretty much all you need when it comes to fall in the Ozarks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Five straight years of Lake of the Ozarks hosting a Toyota Series Plains Division event in October usually takes the guesswork out of what to expect. Anglers pretty much did what they’ve come to know as tried-and-true patterns on the historic fishery. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Norman

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Norman

Fall fishing in the southeast can be a challenge. Cold fronts, rainfall, rapidly cooling water and turnover can shake things up and make getting a bite much harder than normal. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Brown Tops Co-Anglers on Norman

Brown Tops Co-Anglers on Norman

Derek Brown of Charlottesville, Va., has fished the Toyota Series as a co-angler for about seven years and during that time has racked up five Toyota Series top-10’s. He has finished nearly everywhere in the top 10 except first. That all changed in a big way today when Brown won the Eastern Division event on Lake Norman with a three-day total of 20 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

Morrow Squeaks Out Norman Win

Morrow Squeaks Out Norman Win

Weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, Troy Morrow squeaked out the win by 4 ounces over Todd Walters. With a 32-3 total, Morrow earned the win on a super tough week and pocketed $24,795 for his efforts. The win is his fifth with FLW and his first since 2018. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 3

It didn’t take the top 10 pros long to start catching fish on the third and final day of Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman. Despite the coolest morning of the event at 44 degrees and a chilly northeast wind, the fish were biting. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Bass seemed to be a bit more cooperative on day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, especially in the largemouth department. READ MORE »

Morrow Slips Ahead at Norman

Morrow Slips Ahead at Norman

Day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman felt like fall all day, and it seemed to have the bass chewing. Improving from day one, Troy Morrow popped 12 pounds, 6 ounces on the scale for a 22-12 total and the lead. Going into the final day, Morrow is one of seven pros that have scraped over the 20-pound mark – essentially the entire top 10 is in the hunt for the win. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers fishing the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman on day two were greeted with brisk north winds and temperatures in the high 40s this morning. The conditions seemed to spark up a better bite as many anglers were catching more fish than yesterday in the early morning hours. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

It’s the time of year when bass can be in one foot of water or 40 feet of water. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman. READ MORE »

Stephens Sets the Pace at Norman

Stephens Sets the Pace at Norman

Fall fishing in the south is rarely easy. Cold fronts, rapidly cooling water, migrating shad and turnovers seem to scatter fish from top to bottom of the water column. Day one of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman featured all of those challenging conditions and Michael Stephens of Gastonia, N.C. navigated them successfully to take the early lead with five spotted bass weighing 12 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series on Lake Norman dawned bright and sunny this morning with a morning low of about 52 degrees. A light breeze had the schooling fish popping early and anglers were taking advantage of the fall feed. A lot of topwaters, swimbaits, jerkbaits and spy baits were being offered to the schoolers on main lake points. READ MORE »

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

The third and final Toyota Series Eastern Division event is off and rolling this morning on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C. While Norman has hosted a couple of past Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events and is a popular stop for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, this is the first time the Toyota Series has taken a crack at the large Carolina lake. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Dardanelle

Top Patterns and Baits from Dardanelle

The beginning of the fall transition coupled with dirty water from end to end created difficult fishing conditions at the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel, but anglers focused their attention to the backs of creeks and used a variety of baits to solve the riddle. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake has the potential to churn out some big bags – look no further than the 2019 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, when 21 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds on day one alone – but the 2020 iteration wasn’t as friendly to the college anglers who took to her waters this week. Here’s the skinny on how the top 10 teams caught their fish this week and what they caught them with. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Some of the top 10 pros chose a power approach to cover vast stretches of grass, while others slowed down with some of the finesse tactics that always seem to play on the Potomac. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

The beginning of September helped mark the start of the fall transition in the south and that is exactly what the field faced in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Fort Gibson. From topwaters to soft plastics, the top 10 utilized a large chunk of Fort Gibson to catch their fish, with the Grand River paying the biggest role in the division’s second stop of the season. READ MORE »