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

Table Rock Lake Top 10 Patterns

Table Rock Lake Top 10 Patterns
Zack Birge

November on Table Rock usually offers excellent fishing as the water cools down into the low 60s and the bass put on the feedbag. This year, for the Costa FLW Series Championship, that wasn’t quite the case. An extended summer (the temperatures in practice approached record highs) kept the fish scattered between offshore summer patterns and shallow fall patterns, and as a result, the fishing was pretty tough. Nonetheless, the top 10 all caught them pretty well, considering the pressure from nearly 200 boats and the fact that a fog delay on day two robbed them of about two hours of fishing time. What follows is how they caught their bass.

Pat Fisher’s winning pattern

Top 10 baits

 

Cody Bird

2. Bird is king of the Kings

Because of the unusually warm conditions, a number of competitors fished the event a lot like the Forrest Wood Cup has often been fished, and went way up rivers for cooler and more oxygenated water. Champion Pat Fisher did it the best, but Cody Bird weighed 38-11 and nearly beat him out.

Fishing way up the Kings River, Bird targeted laydowns with a square-bill for the majority of his fish.

“There were a lot of smallmouths in there, and they wanted it as fast as I could burn it,” says Bird. “I’d usually hit the wood, and that would get them to chase it, and they would follow it out to the boat.”

Bird reports catching three limits worth of smallmouths on the final day, and his ability to get relatively easy keepers was critical in the tough tournament.

“The first couple days I caught good largemouths,” says Bird. “But I never could get a big one today [Saturday].”

Bird slowed down a tick when he was targeting largemouths, but continued to fish roughly the same mix of laydowns, from laydowns well out in the middle of the creek on flats and channel swings to others way up on the bank. Bird says he used a 6:1 gear ratio reel to crank as fast as he could and a 6th Sense Crush 50X (black back with chartreuse sides) for most of his catch.

 

Zack Birge

3. Birge does the river thing again

If there’s ever a bite up a river, Zack Birge seems to be a man to watch. Weighing 36-14 over the course of the event, Birge sampled Long Creek, the Kings River and the James River.

“In practice, about the only places I got bites were the very back of the Kings, the very back of Long Creek and the very back of the James,” says Birge. “The first day I started in Long Creek, ’cause that’s where I caught my big fish in practice. I caught a 4-pounder in the morning, and I caught two more keepers. It got to about noon, and then I decided to run to a spot I knew we could fill a limit. So I ran up to the Kings and caught No. 4 and No. 5 in five minutes.”

On day two, Birge knew that Chris Jones, Travis Fox, Cody Bird and more were fishing in the Kings, so he elected to run up the James. There, Birge actually started above where Pat Fisher was fishing. He targeted the tail end of a shoal and a run above that shoal, which was literally the last place he could get to with his boat. His upper area held solely smallmouths, but he caught both largemouths and smallmouths from the lower shoal on the final day.

Birge says his baits of choice were a 6th Sense Crush 50X square-bill crankbait in the chrome shiner color, a 6th Sense Crush Dogma topwater bait and a peanut butter and jelly-colored Santone Lures Texas Finesse Jig with a Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer trailer.

On the first day, Birge alternated between the crankbait and the jig, and he did nearly all his work with the crankbait on day two. On the final day, Birge caught the beginnings of a limit on a topwater and filled it out and culled with the jig.

 

Greg Bohannan

4. Bohannan cranks up the leaderboard

Greg Bohannan did better each day, and weighed 33-1 for fourth place.

“I was cranking down transition banks and flipping docks in the afternoon,” says Bohannan. “When the sun came out I would flip docks. When it was cloudy or windy I would crank.”

Bohannan says that he usually targeted just the ends of bluffs, but would fish down along them if they had a shelf. He says he caught fish from the bank all the way down to 10 feet. For the docks, Bohannan looked shallow around flats in the backs of pockets.

“When the sun finally came out today [Saturday], I went to docks and lost a 4-pounder and caught a 4-pounder,” says Bohannan. “But those fish weren’t there when it was cloudy.”

Bohannan’s baits of choice were a Skirmish Baits A10 crankbait in the Bohannan green color, a Gambler Lures Burner Craw and a Strike King Rage Bug. He fished the James River arm the whole week, and went as far up as the 76 bridge on day one.  

 

Chris Jones

5. Jones goes as far as he could

Chris Jones had about the worst luck possible until the final day. The first day of the event, Jones broke down once he’d gotten to his area and had to hitch a ride to weigh-in from Zack Birge. On the second day, on his way to his area, Jones broke down, and fellow competitor Juan Ruiz essentially gave him his boat to use, a la Shin Fukae and Clark Wendlandt at the Potomac River FLW Tour event last season. On the final day, Jones was back in action at full strength. Through it all, he sacked up 31-7 for fifth place.

All week, Jones fished way up the Kings River.

“I made it up there and back, and I didn’t break down,” says Jones of his final day. “I didn’t get any bigguns, but I think I punched my ticket [to the Cup], and that’s what I wanted.

“I actually went and threw topwater for about three hours because I had a full day of fishing, and I was looking for a couple bigguns. I had a couple keepers, but I never got the big bite I was looking for.”

Jones used a variety of baits on the week, ranging from a Heddon One Knocker Spook in the Z-Shad color, an XCalibur square-bill in foxy shad, a YUM Flash Mob Jr., a tinfoil-colored YUM Christie Critter and a 1/2-ounce Booyah Finance Jig with a green pumpkin skirt and YUM Bad Mamma trailer.

His targets were not nearly as varied as his bait choices.

“It was stumps and laydowns off the channel on the mud flats,” says Jones. “It was basically just river fishing, and I was going as far as I could possibly go. I actually had one little spot I was saving that I was getting in and nobody else was getting to. That’s where I went yesterday [Friday] when I only had an hour and a half to fish [due to the fog delay and distance from takeoff]. That place kind of saved me every day.”

Jones’ backup spot accounted for all his weight on the fog-shortened day two, and he had to push in using a push pole. On the final day, using his own boat, he ran into the area on plane.

 

Travis Fox

6. Fox fishes the way he wants to

A longtime Walmart FLW Tour pro, Travis Fox finished sixth and earned his first trip to the Forrest Wood Cup with 28-3 over three days.

Like Bird and Jones, Fox focused most of his attention on the upper reaches of the Kings River.

“It suits my style,” says Fox. “I’m from Beaver Lake. Table Rock Lake fishes a lot like Beaver Lake sometimes. I fished a deal about two or three weeks ago, and the top four or five guys in this 150 to 160 boat team deal went as far up a river as they could. I checked it out in practice, and that was the only place I had two bites.”

Staying with James Watson and about 10 other anglers, Fox learned that a handful of his roommates had gotten bites up the Kings as well. With that in mind, he decided to start there on day one.

“My goal was to go up there and catch two fish,” says Fox. “And I caught three pretty quick, and then I caught four, and then I caught five. After that I knew there wasn’t any reason to go anywhere else.”

Up the Kings, Fox flipped a green pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog around laydowns that ranged from 1 foot deep to 10 feet deep. When fishing them, he particularly targeted dark spots that were a bit deeper. On the final day, Fox took a tip from Bohannan and cranked a Storm Wiggle Wart down the lake for his third fish.  

 

Jeremy Lawyer

7. Lawyer does it again

It takes a special skill set to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup twice in one year. This summer, Jeremy Lawyer made the 2016 Cup by winning the BFL All-American. With 28 pounds even at the Costa FLW Series Championship, Lawyer locked up seventh place and a spot at the 2017 Cup on Lake Murray.

Lawyer is without a doubt a Table Rock local, and that experience led him to fish a few different patterns on the week, with a different bait for each situation. His primary bait was a River2Sea Whopper Plopper custom-painted with a black body and blue accents by Fallcreek Lures. He also fished a YUMbrella Rig and a 1/2-ounce Freedom Lures Live Action Hybrid Jig with a Zoom UV Speed Craw trailer.

“With the Whopper Plopper I was trying to find those big broken rock banks,” says Lawyer. “You never could tell where you were going to get a bite. Sometimes it’d be in the back, and sometimes it’d be on the point. But if there was wind or waves crashing in on it it’d be better.

“For the A-rig fish, I was trying to fish the deep trees that you couldn’t see,” says Lawyer. “The first day I caught several out of trees that you could see, but as the tournament kept going on I had to keep going deeper and deeper.”

Lawyer says that by the end of the tournament, he had his boat in 40 feet of water and was casting to trees down 15 feet in 30 feet of water. In practice, the trees produced a few kickers, but the size never materialized in the tournament.  

“The second day I caught two keepers on the swing-head jig on flat gravel banks,” says Lawyer. “I was just cranking it. My co-angler the first day caught a limit that way, so the second day I decided to try some of that.”

 

Bradford Beavers

8. Beavers cranks rock

Bradford Beavers’ catch dropped off each day, but in the end, 10 bass worth 27-14 were enough to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup and finish eighth.

“I fished shallow for the first two days of practice and started the third day of practice fishing shallow,” says Beavers. “Then I saw a pile of rocks on my side imaging. I marked it and went down a bank and made 10 waypoints of brush piles and rock piles. I said I would fish those, and if I didn’t get a bite I’d go shallow the entire time.”

The rest is history. After shaking one off on a jig in front of another competitor, Beavers returned later with a crankbait and stuck a good keeper. The rest of practice, Beavers put together a milk run of seven rock piles in 10 to 20 feet of water in the mid-lake area where he caught all but one of his keepers.

On the rock, his baits of choice were a Strike King 6XD in either blueback herring or chartreuse sexy shad and a 5/8-ounce blue craw Katch-Her Lures jig with a Zoom Super Chunk Jr. trailer.

 

Brad Cook

9. Cook targets docks

Brad Cook was in fourth after day two, but a blank on the final day dropped him to ninth with 24-12.

To catch his fish, Cook used a Strike King Premier Plus spinnerbait, a 3/8-ounce black Hart Tackle buzzbait and a Bass-X 1/2-ounce jig with either a Zoom UV Speed Craw or Gene Larew Biffle Bug for a trailer.

On day one, the buzzbait accounted for nearly all his fish before 9 o’clock in the morning, but things got considerably tougher after that.

“I was targeting flat areas away from the channel with docks,” says Cook. “They would be on the pontoon that was shallowest.”

Cook says that he could sometimes actually sight-fish for his quarry because of how shallow they were holding. One key to his docks was the presence of bluegills. On the final day, fishing in the main lake and in the James River, he lost a few key fish on a spinnerbait.

 

Brent Algeo

10. Local knowledge pays for Algeo

Though he didn’t qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup, local pro Brent Algeo weighed in 20-15 over the first two days, which was enough to earn a payday of $4,500 and a 10th-place finish.

“I live here, and the history kind of gets to you,” says Algeo. “You know you have history with everything, and sometimes the home field advantage is a home field disadvantage.”

For part of his pattern, Algeo fished almost exactly like Cook did.

“I caught them flipping real shallow boat docks. All I was doing was making one or two flips to the shallowest float. It had to be real shallow, in 1 or 2 feet of water,” he says.

For the docks, Algeo relied on a 1/2-ounce Chompers jig with a peanut butter and jelly skirt trailed with a Chompers Super Jig Trailer (twin-tail grub) in rootbeer green. His other pattern required a Cotton Cordell Red-Fin fished on 14-pound-test Lew’s APT Speed Monofilament.

“When the wind would come down a little bit I would run cedar trees in 10 to 18 feet of water,” says Algeo. “I’d run that Red-Fin right through the tops of the cedar trees. I could see the tops in most of them, and if that bait didn’t go right though the middle, if there wasn’t a hole where you could get your line through, you would never get a bite.”

Fishing from mid-lake to the lower end, Algeo says he caught about half his fish on the docks and half on the trees during the first two days of the event. 

Tags: table-rock-lake  fall  jody-white  post-tournament  2016-11-03-championship-table-rock-lake 

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 »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

From a weather standpoint, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has been almost too perfect. Slick and hot from the start, anglers have been able to go wherever they want and fish however they want. READ MORE »

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

The weights on day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie were about what folks expected: plenty of quality fish, but a lack of the plump 4- and 5-pounders that Erie is so known for. Weighing one of only two bags over 20 pounds, Scott Dobson put 20-12 on the scale after a day of fishing that took him as far from Sandusky as the mouth of the St. Clair River. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

The frog world is pretty stacked with good options these days, but the Strike King Popping Perch still manages to stand out. READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

Though Jacob Wheeler won the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga in grand style, his win didn’t impact the Angler of the Year standings. Only the original Pro Circuit anglers were competing for AOY points. That means the AOY focus is still on Ron Nelson, who slipped off his blazing pace a bit, but still holds the lead heading into the final two regular-season events in July and August on the Mississippi River and the Detroit River, respectively. 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 »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

When the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks back up next week with the Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the famous lake isn’t the only reservoir available to pros in the event. If they want, pros will be able to run and lock up into Watts Bar Lake or down into Nickajack Lake. READ MORE »