UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Watson Wins on Norris

Watson Wins on Norris
James Watson

Every successful pro angler has a niche: a specific technique or time of year when conditions land right in their wheelhouse and as a result, their confidence swells. For some it’s prespawn reaction baits or maybe sight-fishing stubborn females off beds; for others it’s the sweltering hot ledge bite in 20 feet of water or punching matted vegetation.

In recent years, pro angler James Watson of Nixa, Mo., has carved out his fishing niche in the fall of the year. His career resume includes two fall wins in a PAA event and a B.A.S.S. Open, both on his home lake, Table Rock.

Today, Watson furthered his claim as the ‘Fall Guy’ with a Walmart FLW Tour Invitational victory on Norris Lake in Tenn., proving that the seasonal change of autumn is certainly his time to shine. In three days Watson checked in daily limits of 13-10, 13-4 and 9-12 to amass a winning total of 36-10 worth $95,400.

Complete results

James Watson

“I love fishing in the fall,” Watson says. “I have more confidence from August to December than any other time of year. The only problem is there simply are not that many big money tournaments during that time frame. Everyone wants to go deer hunting in October, November and December so there’s nothing to fish. I’m so thankful FLW made this opportunity available to us at this time of year.”

Watson relishes fall fishing because in many lakes across the country, lake managers begin to pull the water down to “winter pool” levels, shrinking the playing field and exposing a lot of previously submerged habitat. That draw down usually coincides with the first cold fronts that break up the doldrums of summer. The simultaneous drop in water level and water temperature seems to hit the refresh button on a fishery, opening up new areas and new patterns. And when that happens, Watson is ready to strike.

“This lake looks exactly like Table Rock to me,” Watson says. “From the moment I put my boat in here, I felt like I was right at home. The way the banks and rock look with the water down is so similar to home.”

James Watson

Watson actually began his practice cranking mid-range crankbaits around the banks. But after several biteless hours, he moved up shallower, fired a topwater out across a rock-lined mud flat and instantly got blasted.

“I moved up, threw a War Eagle Buzz Toad up there and one annihilated it,” Watson recalls. “I put that down, picked a River2Sea Whopper Plopper with no hooks and five minutes later…GALOOSH!”

“I knew right then exactly how I was going to fish this tournament,” he continues. “I put my rods away and spent the next day doing nothing but riding the lake looking for exactly the kind of stuff that works back home.”

The specifics of that “kind of stuff” include mud flats laced with rock.

“What I wanted to find was flat pockets of mud and silt that meet some kind of rock vein or boulders,” he details. “Some of the places were silty flat banks with small scattered rock. Some of them were mud banks with big boulders up on the bank. But the best stuff was anywhere a rock vein traversed through mud and ran out into the water. The more isolated the rock on the mud, the better. The more defined the transition from mud to rock, the better.”

Watson found the best stuff that fit his pattern in the Loyston Sea area.

“I had about a 12-mile run in there that offered a lot of those features,” he explains. “I liked that area, too, because no matter which way the wind blew, I could find those rock transitions that were receiving just a little bit of wind ripple. Chasing the right kind of wind on those areas was key, too.”

James Watson

Watson’s topwater arsenal included a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Buzz Toad with a Luck E Strike Frantic Frog on the back (all black), a River2Sea Whopper Plopper (130, in the loon color), and a River2Sea Bubble Walker. He rotated through these baits, firing them to the shallowest parts of the rock veins and transitions in as little as 6 inches of water. The Buzz Toad and the Whopper Plopper were his primary players with the Bubble Walker producing two of his keepers during the week. He committed to topwaters for a majority of his days, mixing in a little dock flipping with a ½-ounce custom finesse jig, which produced four weigh fish for him during the week.

Watson strung together two strong 13-pound plus days, but left the door open on the final day with 9 pounds, 12 ounces. His slower day was the result of not knowing the lake very well.

“Every day I ran new water,” Watson says. “It’s part of running this pattern – I didn’t want to repeat water too much. At home on Table Rock, I can run the right kind of new water for several days. But here I kind of ran out of new water that looked right and it nearly cost me.”

James Watson & Jason Lambert

In the end, Watson fended off a hard charge from FLW Tour pro Jason Lambert, holding him off by just a scant 3 ounces.

“I can’t believe this,” Watson said moments after winning. “I’m absolutely floored right now. I thought Jason had me. This is unreal. I made a couple of small 2-ounce culls at the end of the day and those tiny upgrades made the difference.”

 

Top 10 pros

1. James Watson – Nixa, Mo. – 36-10 (15) – $95,400

2. Jason Lambert – Pickwick Dam, Tenn. 36-7 (15) – $23,720

3. Tracy Adams – Wilkesboro, N.C. – 35-10 (15) – $19,600

4. Derrick Blake – Rockwood, Tenn. – 33-14 (15) – $15,680

5. Wesley Strader – Spring City, Tenn. – 32-15 (15) – $11,760

6. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 29-1 (15) – $10,192

7. Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 27-9 (13) – $9,900

8. Ken Vicchio – Bluff City, Tenn. – 26-12 (10) – $9,408

9. Will Campbell – Middlesboro, Ky. – 24-2 (12) – $9,016

10. Scott Canterbury – Springville, Ala. – 24-0 (13) – $8,624

Complete results

Tags: norris-lake  james-watson  rob-newell  headline-story  2016-10-20-norris-lake 

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine continued competition Saturday at the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida – the first time that the Gator Division presented by A.R.E. has opened their season on the St. Johns River – and featured a major return on investment for the winner. READ MORE »

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine opened competition Saturday at the historic Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, and featured a record-setting field size – 230 boaters and 230 co-anglers. The season opener, the largest field in more than 20 years, took off with multiple anglers left on the waiting list.  READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

The Coastal Carolina University duo of Max McQuaide of Tyngsborough, Mass., and Grant Tattersall, of Conway, S.C., won the YETI FLW College Fishing tournament at Lake Hartwell presented by Costa with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces. The victory earned the Chanticleers’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW media staff provides unofficial weight estimates for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Championship proved to be about as challenging as many anglers anticipated after a tough practice period, but it wasn’t all bad. Zimbabwe’s Roger Cousens certainly wasn’t complaining. His tournament-leading 17-pound, 2-ounce bag was exactly what he had hoped for as the tournament kicked off, and he’s gunning for another big stringer today. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

With rain early and a cold snap forecasted to move in this afternoon, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland could present some unique challenges for the 193-boat field, especially after a fairly mild and pleasant practice period.  READ MORE »

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Roger Fitzpatrick has had quite a fall fishing season. He won the BFL Super Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in September, then qualified for the All-American by winning the BFL Regional on Grand Lake in October. READ MORE »

Drury Wins on Lake of the Ozarks

Drury Wins on Lake of the Ozarks

The Drury University duo of Cole Breeden of Eldridge, Missouri and Cameron Smith, of Nixa, Missouri, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Bass Pro Shops with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces. The victory earned the Panthers’ bass club $2,650 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Myers Makes Long Run for Kentucky Win

Myers Makes Long Run for Kentucky Win

Mark Myers of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is no stranger to the victory circle with FLW, having previously won a BFL as a boater to go with two FLW Tour victories as a co-angler and two more as a co-angler in Costa FLW Series competition. But, his latest win at the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes is the realization of his long-time goal to qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

A severe storm backed up the tides and drained many of the best areas on the Potomac. Adjusting to the unusual conditions and grinding out daily limits were the keys to success in the BFL Regional. READ MORE »

New Dominates Seminole Regional

New Dominates Seminole Regional

Belmont, N.C., angler Bryan New, who’s regularly one of FLW’s top performers in the grassroots ranks, had established a dominant pace. New weighed in 22 pounds, 9 ounces on day one and added 20-2 on day two to carry a lead of 6 pounds, 15 ounces into the finals. A roughly 7-pound margin isn’t necessarily a sure thing on Seminole, but the fall bite was a bit slower than what the lake can produce, and it was obvious New was cruising. READ MORE »

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude was no walk in the park for the top 10 pros. With a cold front passing through at the start of the event, a high-pressure system settled in for the final round of fishing. While most struggled, Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Ark., sacked up 14 pounds, 6 ounces today – the biggest limit brought in during the final day – and finally was able to wrangle his first FLW title. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude is fixing to get fun based on what’s already happened today and what could happen. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Sure enough, with conditions changing from rain and clouds to sun and wind, the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks, which is presented by Evinrude, has made it tough on guys. Of course, day-two leader James Watson predicted that some of the biggest bags of the event would come in today despite the conditions, and he was right. READ MORE »