UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Dardanelle

Brandon Lee

Spawning season at Lake Dardanelle begins in late March and early April, but weather is always a loose wire for fishing this time of year in Arkansas.

It can shock you, and so it did for the 203 anglers and co-anglers in the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by T-H Marine. Anglers saw springtime's entire suite of weather conditions in three days, and if the tournament had continued one more day, they would have seen yet another set of conditions.

The first day was cool and cloudy, with a strong northwest wind. Day two was cool, calm and clear. Day three was warm and clear, with a sharp east wind. Fishing conditions changed daily, taking previous day's hot spots out of play and putting others into play.

Nine of the top 10 anglers in this tournament rode that bull for a full 8-count and caught fish consistently. Some milked the same spots for three days, and others moved around. Brandon Lee was the only rider to be thrown on the last day by failing to catch a keeper.

 

1. Houchin leads it wire-to-wire

Although it's a river impoundment on a navigation system, Lake Dardanelle is full of sloughs, pockets, bays and backwaters. These places offer the best fishing on the river.

Quincy Houchin's place was more important than a pattern. With 203 boats carrying 406 anglers, Houchin knew he needed to find a place that other anglers wouldn't attempt to reach in order to minimize competition. He found it on the north side of the main stem of the river in a backwater tucked behind an island and a rocky jetty. It has a variety of wood cover in 2- to 3-foot depths and 8- to 9-foot depths. It also has rocks.

Its most important feature is the big sandbar that stretches across the opening, virtually cutting it off from the river. Houchin was the only angler that attempted to jump the bar.

He says he caught 12 of his 15 keepers flipping shallow and deep wood with a green pumpkin/red flake Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a Real Deal Tungsten weight.

He caught two keepers on a black moss-colored Lucky Craft 2.5 square-bill crankbait and one keeper on a natural green-colored SPRO Bronzeye Frog. His rods were a 7-foot, 3-inch Denali flipping stick and a 7-3 Denali cranking rod. He used 25-pound-test Seaguar line with the flipping stick and 17-pound-test Seaguar on the crankbait rig.

Houchin prevailed despite steadily losing weight over three days. A stiff east wind cut his pattern in half by taking his deep cover out of play. He says the steady downward weight-loss trend forced him to consider moving, but he stayed put and won the $50,000 prize with 45 pounds, 4 ounces in three days.

 

Tom Silber

2. Tom Silber cranks square-bills for second

Though he lives in Hampshire, Tenn., Tom Silber is a former resident of the Russellville area and an experienced Lake Dardanelle angler. He knows that the lake is a prototypical junk-fishing lake that suits a lot of styles, but it is tailor-made for a square-bill crankbait. It has a variety of cover and structure in close proximity, and a square-bill can put them all in play with one cast.

Silber says he used a chartreuse/black SPRO Little John square-bill on assorted wood cover, such as stumps, laydowns and blowdowns, and also around rock. He also used a chartreuse/white Mann's 3/4-ounce Classic Spinnerbait with No. 7 and No. 3 Indiana blades and a 6-inch white Mister Twister trailer, and a black/blue 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure Rattleback Jig.

It was an effective approach that enabled him to leap from 26th place on day one to third on day two to second on day three with a 44-9 total weight.

 

Joey Cifuentes

3. Joey Cifuentes fishes a rocky road

Bridge abutments and riprap roadbeds and railbeds are always popular fishing spots on Lake Dardanelle, and Joey Cifuentes rode them to third place with a combination of subtle and aggressive tactics that produced 43-13.

Cifuentes spent the first two days targeting prespawn fish with a 1/8-ounce War Eagle shaky head and a green pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm. He concentrated on rocks at pinch points around bridge areas and ambushed fish coming into sheltered waters.

Cifuentes says he caught fish with a square-bill early in the first two days, but they were small keepers. He culled them with bigger fish on the shaky head.

The script flipped on the third day, when big fish were more receptive to the fast-moving square-bill. He found an area near a bridge where shad were spawning and bass were feeding aggressively.

Wind – not current – was the big factor in that spot, Cifuentes says. The east wind blew directly on the spot, concentrating shad and roiling the surface.

“Within an hour I culled nearly everything I had,” Cifuentes says. “My co-angler and I stayed there in one spot and threw crankbaits over and over. We made 100 casts or more. We showed up at the right place at the right time, and I caught my entire limit with the square-bill."

The square-bill of record was a citrus shad Strike king 1.5 combined with a 7-foot Denali Lithium Series cranking rod with a medium action and a Lew's baitcaster with 12-pound-test line.

His shaky-head rig consisted of a 7-foot Denali N2 Series medium-heavy spinning rod, a Shimano Stradic and a 12-pound-test fluorocarbon leader to braid.

“With that lighter shaky head I could go behind people that were power fishing and flipping and catch fish they didn't catch. There's not a lot of action in that worm. It falls slow. That kind of sealed the deal for me.”

 

Josh Ray

4. Josh Ray frogs for fourth

Though best known for its rock and wood cover, Lake Dardanelle has large amounts of aquatic vegetation in its backwaters that are famous for producing big limits with swim jigs and surface plastics.

Josh Ray used this strategy to great effect over backwater lily pads with a natural green SPRO frog with a G. Loomis GLX rod and Vicious No-Fade Braid. It produced almost every fish that he weighed, totaling 43-8.

Fish responded to the frog, Ray says, but the bite was inconsistent.

“I lost a lot of fish, too,” he says. “One day they seemed to choke on it. Other times they seemed to nip at it.”

Ray says he also caught some small fish on a black/blue homemade swim jig with an electric blue Zoom Z-Craw.

 

Zach King

5. Zach King blasts ’em in the backwater

Like Quincy Houchin, Zach King's pattern was more a place than a technique. He found several backwater areas that were largely cut off from the main river. Reaching them required jumping obstacles such as beaver dams. Once there, he caught all of his fish – 42-1 total – by dead-sticking a 5-inch watermelon/red YUM Dinger on a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook.

“That's typical for spring,” King says. “I was pitching holes.”

The weather change undercut him on the last day, though.

“It was hard to feel bites Saturday because of the east wind,” King says.

 

Evan Barnes

6. Evan Barnes sees red

Hot Springs, Ark., native Evan Barnes lives an hour away from Lake Dardanelle, so he's up to speed on the lake's junk-fishing reputation.

Not surprisingly, he cashed in with a versatile fishing approach pinned to a River2Sea spinnerbait in lemonade twist color with tandem Colorado blades, including a red “kicker” blade, which was the vital component.

“Dardanelle is notorious for the red kicker blade. Everybody knows that,” Barnes says. “I caught 30 to 40 fish in a row on day three. I was feathering it through rocks. I'd pop it a little bit, and one would get it.”

Barnes also caught a few fish on a River2Sea Biggie square-bill crankbait in the “I Know It” color and a 3/8-ounce Jig-Sooie finesse jig in Arkansas craw. His total weight was 40-8.

 

Garrett Paquette

7. Garrett Paquette cranks bridges

An aggressive presentation with a subtle twist allowed Garrett Paquette to capitalize in highly pressured areas to catch 39-1.

Paquette says he did “most of his damage” on shad pattern Strike King and Lucky Craft 1.5 and 2.5 square-bills.

“It's a good finesse profile on pressured fish,” Paquette says. “I kept rotating baits on bridge corners over and over all day to give them a different look.”

 

8. Shannon Pierce locks through

Getting away from competition was Shannon Pierce's goal, but he took it to extremes by locking down and running almost all the way to Morrilton, Ark. That's about a 25-mile run one way, and it entails many perils, like getting locked out of Lake Dardanelle by barges. It worked for two days as Pierce caught enough in a combined five hours of fishing to make the top 10.

In the sidewaters near Morrilton he found an abundance of fish in varied wood and rock structure. He caught all of his keepers with a blue heron-colored 1/2-ounce War Eagle Screamin' Eagle Spinnerbait with tandem willow-leaf blades, and a silver/black No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap.

The strategy failed him on day three. His pattern depended on stable or falling water, which he encountered the first two days. On day three, the water came up and scattered fish away from structure where they had concentrated the first two days. Pierce’s total weight was 38-15.

 

Cole Floyd

9. Cole Floyd runs upriver

Cole Floyd tried to escape fishing pressure by running upstream almost to Ozark Lock & Dam. That area has a surprising amount of fishable cover in the form of wing dams and revetments. There are also some interesting hydraulics that occur in the sidewaters that have been cut off from the main river by rock dams. These form almost separate streams with shoals that create major eddies that drop into deep water.

The backwaters have a lot of wood cover, though not nearly as much as exists between Spadra and Piney creeks. The area can't support as much fishing pressure, so fewer anglers go there, and that's where Floyd hoped to catch lightning in a bottle.

“I got a lot of bites, but I couldn’t get a big bite,” Floyd says. “I covered a lot of water and flipped shallow. I keyed in on gator grass, flipped up on the banks, flipped wood.”

Floyd fished shallow, but deep water nearby was key, he says.

“I was sitting in about 5 to 6 feet flipping up about 10 feet off the bank. It was real close quarters.”

Floyd fished quickly and covered a lot of water. He did not fish anything twice the first day, but on days two and three he picked an area apart when he got a bite.

He employed two baits in this strategy. His main bait was an Okeechobee craw-colored Berkley Havoc Pit Boss with a 1/2-ounce weight. His backup was a 1/2-ounce sexy shad Mann's spinnerbait with tandem Indiana blades. He also used Hammer Rods. Floyd totaled 38-15.

 

Brandon Lee

10. Brandon Lee bets all or nothing on bedding bass

Brandon Lee covered a lot of water searching for spawning fish. The strategy put him within 3 ounces of the lead on day one, but his weight fell drastically on day two and zeroed out in the finale.

He found a sweet spot on day one in the lower lake where females moved onto beds late in the day, and he anchored a 19-9 bag with a 5-14 kicker.

On day two he fished way upstream near Spadra, but blue skies and lack of wind knocked big fish out of the equation. His weight fell to 11-11.

He tried the same area on day three, but the east wind muddied the water. He did not catch a keeper in the Ranger Hole, in Mud Creek or Black Point. He finished with 31-4.

Lee's primary pattern was to work submerged grass and the edges of mats off the shoreline with a 5-inch watermelon/red Yamamoto Senko with a 5/16-ounce tungsten weight or a 6-inch junebug Zoom Lizard with a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight. He also threw a green pumpkin Missile Baits D Bomb. He used 4/0 worm hooks.

Tags: lake-dardanelle  flw-series  top-10-patterns  marshall-ford  post-tournament  2017-03-30-lake-dardanelle 

Lake Mead Set For Weekend of Fishing League Worldwide Bass-Fishing Tournaments

Lake Mead Set For Weekend of Fishing League Worldwide Bass-Fishing Tournaments

HENDERSON, Nev. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) is set to visit the Las Vegas and Henderson area next week, Feb. 28- March 2, for three bass-fishing tournaments that will award anglers of all ages and skill levels thousands of dollars in cash and prizes... READ MORE »

Toho on YouTube

Toho on YouTube

The second stop of the FLW Tour season on Lake Toho was a big-bass bonanza. Thanks to mandatory POV cameras and marshals, plenty of big bass were caught on camera. Aside from individual catches, pros also documented their practice and tournament days to give the viewer and inside look at how their event unfolded. Below is the full list of videos released by the pros at this point.  READ MORE »

Costa FLW Series Western Division Opener

Costa FLW Series Western Division Opener

The recent government shutdown put the Costa FLW Series Western Division opener on Lake Mead in a holding pattern, but FLW has received clearance to proceed with the event as planned, regardless of the current or future status of government operations. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Toho

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Toho

While the Lake Toho FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats fell basically right on top of a wave of spawning bass piling into the shallows, many of the top finishers targeted bass that were staging out or transitioning to or from their beds. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

Marshal Program a Big Hit for Hughes

Marshal Program a Big Hit for Hughes

Retired minister Dan Hughes made the most money he’s ever banked in a fishing tournament, and he did it without even picking up a rod. The 70-year-old Fitzgerald, Ga., resident was the winner of FLW’s marshal contest at the Tour’s second stop of the season at Lake Toho, presented by Ranger Boats. Paired with John Cox on day one and Chris Neau on day two, Hughes’ pros combined for 41 pounds, 10 ounces during his two days on the water to take home the $2,500 top prize. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Whether it was a canal or small sections of the lake, each pro in the top chose to hunker down in an area and milk it for all it was worth in the season opener of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole. Here’s a look at how the action unfolded. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee wasn’t her normal self in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener presented by Power-Pole. Bites were few and far between, but the top-10 pros dialed it in and got it done. Winner Nick Thliveros relied heavily on a crankbait and so did others, but Florida faithful’s like swim jigs, soft plastics and topwaters also fared well. READ MORE »

Nick Thliveros Wins Costa FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

Nick Thliveros Wins Costa FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

CLEWISTON, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2019) – Florida boater Nick Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces – enough to win the 2019 Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole. Thliveros, son of legendary bass angler Peter Thliveros, weighed in 15 bass over three days of competition totaling 46 pounds, 1... READ MORE »

Clewiston Readies for Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

Clewiston Readies for Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

CLEWISTON, Fla. – The 2019 Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series Southeastern division is set to open next week at Lake Okeechobee, Jan. 31- Feb. 2, with the Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole. Hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort and the Hendry County Tourism Development Council, the three-day tournament will... READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn on YouTube

Sam Rayburn on YouTube

With mandatory POV cameras and marshals this year, there's sure to more video footage than ever from the FLW Tour. In addition to simple fish catches like Andy Wicker's 11-pounder and Terry Bolton's 9-pounder, lots of pros are putting together longer videos and giving fans a front-row seat to practice and the tournament via YouTube. Below is the full gamut of videos pros have put out to this point.  READ MORE »

Beight Rings in Marshal Program in Big Way

Beight Rings in Marshal Program in Big Way

Timmy Beight won the FLW Tour Sam Rayburn Marshal prize after marshaling for Jordan Osborne and Terry Bolton. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

Fishing crankbaits, Carolina rigs and drop-shots around flooded hydrilla for Sam Rayburn Reservoir largemouths dominated the top 10 at the FLW Tour opener. Check out the top 10 patterns feature to learn more about effective patterns for working grass. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Fishing deep-diving crankbait, dragging Carolina rigs and working finesse baits such as drop-shots were the keys to success at the FLW Tour opener at Sam Rayburn. Here are the bass-fishing baits that the top pros used. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Amistad

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Amistad

Wintertime patterns with just a touch of prespawn action dominated the Costa FLW Series opener presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Amistad. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, umbrella rigs, swimbaits and drop-shots were the go-to baits used by the top finishers. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Wintertime bass fishing tactics dominated at Lake Amistad in January, as the top finishers relied on jerkbaits, crankbaits, drop-shots, swimbaits and umbrella rigs to get the job done. READ MORE »

Hanselman Wins Costa FLW Series Season Opener on Lake Amistad Presented by Ranger Boats

Hanselman Wins Costa FLW Series Season Opener on Lake Amistad Presented by Ranger Boats

DEL RIO, Texas – Local pro Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, brought five bass weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce, to the scale Saturday to win the 2019 season-opening Costa FLW Series at Lake Amistad presented by Ranger Boats. The tournament was shortened from three days to two after... READ MORE »

Lake Amistad to Host 2019 Costa FLW Series Season Opener Presented by Ranger Boats

Lake Amistad to Host 2019 Costa FLW Series Season Opener Presented by Ranger Boats

DEL RIO, Texas – The 2019 Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series tournament season is set to open at Lake Amistad, Jan. 3-5, with the Costa FLW Series at Lake Amistad presented by Ranger Boats. Hosted by the Del Rio... READ MORE »

Corn Wins Wild Card

Corn Wins Wild Card

Faced with brutal conditions for the final event of the 2018 T-H Marine Bass Fishing League season, everyone who managed to catch anything in the Wild Card on Old Hickory Lake in central Tennessee accomplished something. READ MORE »

ETBU wins on Toledo Bend

ETBU wins on Toledo Bend

The East Texas Baptist University duo of Brett Clark of Center, Texas, and Cody Ross of Livingston, Texas, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Toledo Bend presented by Bass Pro Shops Saturday with five bass weighing 19 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the Tiger’s bass club $2,400 and a slot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship, scheduled for June 4-6, 2019 at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland. READ MORE »