UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Kentucky / Barkley Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Summer or Fall at Fort Gibson?

Summer or Fall at Fort Gibson?
Fort Gibson

When the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division culminates this week at Fort Gibson Lake, summer patterns will likely linger, but fish won’t be far from the fall feeding mode.

“It’s gotten a lot cooler there than it has at my home in Brookeland, Texas, so they might be starting into that fall deal, but I still think it’s going to be a little bit of a transition,” says Walmart FLW Tour pro Chris McCall, who currently ranks second in divisional points.

The tournament, presented by Lowrance, kicks off on Thursday out of Taylor’s Ferry North in Wagoner, Okla. In addition to the Strike King Angler of the Year race for the Southwestern Division, qualification into the 2016 Costa FLW Series Championship will be determined, with slots reserved for the top 40 boaters and co-anglers in the season standings.

 

About the fishery

A modest body, Fort Gibson covers about 20,000 surface acres. It’s an impoundment of the Grand (Neosho) River situated about five miles northwest of Fort Gibson, Okla., on the eastern end of the state, and about 7.7 miles above the confluence of the Grand and Arkansas rivers. The lake is impounded by Fort Gibson Dam, which is a hydroelectric/flood control structure that was completed in 1949 and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While Fort Gibson has spots and some good smallmouths, largemouths will probably dominate this event.

Currently eighth in points is Tour pro Zack Birge, who lives two hours southwest in Blanchard, Okla. Birge calls Fort Gibson his home waters. Considering the season, as well as the lake’s generally temperamental nature, he advises treating this fishery with the flexibility one might employ on a tidal river.

“Fort Gibson is the type of place that can change by the hour. It almost changes by the minute,” Birge says. “They fluctuate that lake so much with water moving down the Grand River. Guys will have a good practice and then go out there the next day and it will be different, and they won’t adjust to it.”

 

Factors in play

Water level: At this writing, Fort Gibson’s water level is just slightly higher than its normal level, which is 554 feet. McCall says that higher water would help even the playing field.

“If it’s high, the water willows or buck brush come into play, and that helps all of us from out of town. Otherwise the locals have a distinct advantage because a lot of those guys put out a ton of brush piles,” McCall says. “I’d like to see it remain high because that takes away a little bit of that local advantage. But who knows. If the water comes up and it stays clean, those offshore spots might still be the better places.”

Current: Moving water positions fish, but turbidity remains a potential downside. If the current’s trucking, McCall says he’ll spend most of his time in the river targeting the usual current breaks that provide downstream ambush spots.

Air temperature: Tournament week will most likely remain mild, but should a significant temperature drop occur, we could see acceleration toward fall patterns.

Pressure: As McCall notes, too much sore-lipping can hurt a lake that already fishes small.

“This lake has one of the state’s best 4- to 5-pound fish populations, but practice can significantly impact Fort Gibson,” he explains. “We’ll probably have about 115 boats, and they’ll pick it over pretty good.”

 

The playbook

McCall points out that the recent explosion of articulated (“wobble head”) jigs like the Gene Larew Biffle HardHead designed by local legend Tommy Biffle now keeps a lot of Fort Gibson anglers off the bank.

“I think it will be a typical Oklahoma tournament – moving around a lot, junk-fishing, throwing a lot of moving baits,” McCall says. “But there is a lot more offshore fishing going on here than there used to be.”

Offshore anglers targeting submerged building foundations and natural rock will also throw deep-diving crankbaits, big worms, football heads and the occasional Carolina rig.

Other promising options include square-bills, spinnerbaits and walking topwaters up the river; flipping and pitching main-lake bushes; and throwing topwaters at shallow targets.

“You want to fish topwaters on shallow, flat points with baseball-sized rock,” Birge says. “There should be a lot of baitfish up there, so the fish will be up there feeding in the mornings. Any walking or popping topwater will work, but they really like the Whopper Plopper on Fort Gibson.”

“The bait selection will run the gamut,” McCall adds. “If it cools down enough, there’ll probably be some fish caught on an Alabama Rig.”

 

Risk/reward

Fort Gibson might be small, but its size allows anglers a diverse game plan. You’re not necessarily locked into one area, so a change of pace or scenery is never out of reach.

“You can fish down lake all day and then say, ‘Let’s run up the river,’ and you can be up there in 15 minutes,” Birge says. “If I have 12 to 13 pounds down lake and I don’t think I’ll get the bites I need, I won’t hesitate to run up the river.”

Notwithstanding this option, Birge notes that several main-lake tributaries such as Spring Creek and Flat Rock offer lots of fishable water. Some bristle with stumps and timber, so don’t rush.

Birge’s advice: “Don’t hug your turns too closely. Fort Gibson is full of flats. Every point seems to go out forever, so don’t hug the banks. And if you’re unfamiliar with the lake, ease your way into the shallow areas.”

 

Russell Cecil (19-14).

The AOY race

Veteran Texan Russell Cecil leads the Southwestern Division AOY race with 485 points. He enjoys a slim two-point margin over fellow Texan Chris McCall.

The AOY title is determined by total points earned over the three-tournament divisional season. The winner earns the $2,000 Strike King AOY package, which includes deposits for the 2017 season. The Co-angler of the Year prize package worth $800 includes 2017 deposits as well.

The current top-10 standings in the AOY race:

1. Russell Cecil – Willis, Texas – 485 points

2. Chris McCall – Brookeland, Texas – 483  

3. Jeffrey Randolph – Huntsville, Texas – 469                     

4. Kyle Cortiana – Broken Arrow, Okla. – 465                    

5. Jesse Wolfe – Nelson, Wis. – 464  

6. Nick LeBrun – Bossier City, La. – 464     

7. Jeff Dobson – Ponca City, Okla. – 452                 

8. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 450                     

9. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas – 447 

10. Tommy Martin – Hemphill, Texas – 442                       

 

Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Taylor’s Ferry North, Dock Road, Wagoner, OK

Weigh-In Time: 3:30 p.m. CT on days one and two; 4:30 p.m. CT on day three

Weigh-In Location: Taylor’s Ferry North on days one and two; Walmart, 410 S Dewey Ave., Wagoner, OK on day three

Complete details

Tags: flw-series  fort-gibson  david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2016-09-29-fort-gibson-lake 

Arkansas' Dylan Hays Wins Costa FLW Series Tournament at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude

Arkansas' Dylan Hays Wins Costa FLW Series Tournament at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Beginning the day in fourth place, Nitro Boats pro Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, to jump to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude... READ MORE »

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

It was sweet redemption in many ways for the Texas legend who still owns and operates his Houston-based HVAC company despite spending so much time on the tournament-fishing circuit. Redemption for missing out on the FLW Cup in his first season. Redemption for what Grand did to him earlier this year on Tour (dropping from sixth to 41st with only one fish on day two). And, in a way, validation for a career filled with big accomplishments. READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Defending his title as co-angler winner in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, was impressive enough, but the way Steven Meador did it was truly remarkable. After earning the 2018 win on Grand by 3 pounds, 6 ounces, the Bentonville, Ark., co-angler repeated the victory with a three-day total of 27-15 for a much slimmer winning margin this time around – just 10 ounces. READ MORE »

Rose, Oklahoma's Warren wins Costa FLW Series Tournament at Grand Lake presented by T-H Marine

Rose, Oklahoma's Warren wins Costa FLW Series Tournament at Grand Lake presented by T-H Marine

GROVE, Okla. – After starting the day in third place, pro Curt Warren of Rose, Oklahoma, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 9 ounces, to vault to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Costa FLW Series at Grand Lake presented by T-H Marine... READ MORE »

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Curt Warren was a paragon of consistency over three days at Grand Lake, and the result was a victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Warren turned in limits of 14-5 on day one and 16-9 on day two, but it was his day-three limit of 15-9 that was the most impressive – no other pro even cracked the 13-pound mark battling the tough post-frontal conditions Grand had to offer on day three. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

When conditions changed, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas completely scrapped his day-one pattern, caught a limit that weighed 13-11 and took over the lead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, with a two-day total of 32-14. Here’s what the rest of the top five was up to on day two. READ MORE »

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

After his sizzling day-one pattern fizzled, Cody Bird adjusted his focus to a completely different scenario and sacked up a limit of 13-11 on day two to take over the lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, with a two day total of 32-14. Going into Saturday’s final round, Bird holds a 7-ounce lead over day-one leader and Grand Lake stick Jason Christie. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leveraged his intimate understanding of Grand Lake’s tendencies to catch a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event Presented by T-H Marine. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Oklahoma stick Jason Christie overcame the unsettling effects of a passing cold front to sack up a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces for the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

After several weeks of hot, sunny conditions, anglers launched with cloudy skies, stout winds and air temperatures in the low 60s. By midday, the temperature rose into the mid to upper 60s and the wind started to subside, however, the first couple of hours saw Grand Lake’s temperamental side. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Costa FLW Series Closes Out Regular Season at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude

Costa FLW Series Closes Out Regular Season at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – The 2019 Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series Central Division will wrap up their season next week at Lake of the Ozarks, Oct. 10-12, with the Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude. Hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, the three-day tournament will feature more than 230 of the best regional bass-fishing pros and... READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta featured all the typical Delta tactics. Punching, vibrating jigs, finesse and even a frog made an appearance in the top 10. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta had a lot of punching as usual, but it was far from the only thing going. Due to the lush grass and windy and touch conditions, vibrating jigs and finesse played a big role as well. READ MORE »