UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Zero.

Nada.

Nothing.

That’s what Clark Wendlandt brought to the scales on the final day of the FLW Tour event on Lake Cumberland two weeks ago.

After leading the event going into the final day by nearly 4 pounds, with what appeared to be a lock on his fifth Tour win, he zeroed, relinquishing his lead to Scott Martin.

No professional angler is immune to a goose egg. It happens. When it does, the easiest way to deal with it is to slink off past weigh-in, put the boat on the trailer and hope no one notices.

Clark Wendlandt

But when you’re leading an FLW Tour event going into day four, there is no way to crawl under the stage – you have to cross it. You have to go up before the crowd and thousands of people on FLW Live and face the moment of truth, bagless.

On stage, Wendlandt offered no excuses, nor did he blame anyone or anything for his catch-less-ness on the final day. In an act of class, he simply smiled as said, “Those smallmouth can be fickle; I didn’t catch a bass today; your winner is Scott Martin.”

And with that, he disappeared from the stage as Martin raised the trophy.

 

No regrets

The official practice period for the FLW Tour presented by General Tire on Beaver Lake is the first time Wendlandt has put his boat in the water since his empty-handed “death march” across the stage at Cumberland.

“Honestly, it kind of feels like someone rips your guts out with a grappling hook,” Wendlandt recalls with a chuckle, showing his perspective on the raw moment of humility while he cranks down a bluff wall on Beaver Lake.

Wendlandt has had several weeks and a couple of dozen hours drive time to sort out what went wrong on the last day at Cumberland and he is really no closer to an answer than when he left the stage at Cumberland.

“I wish I had a nice easy, convenient excuse, but I don’t,” Wendlandt says. “I fished how I thought I could win the tournament and it worked flawlessly until the last day.”

Clark Wendlandt

Lake Cumberland was a “clean slate” event for the FLW Tour. Due to the recent dewatering and refilling for dam repairs, a whole new lake had sprung up at Cumberland with very little past tournament history to go on. Cumberland is a pattern lake – a massive pattern lake – giving pros vast expanses of water to run. In addition, the lake featured all three bass species, including a unique 18-inch smallmouth keeper requirement, offering pros multiple options and strategies. It was the kind of event Wendlandt relishes – the kind of venue that hovers right in his wheelhouse.

“Cumberland was a rare opportunity,” Wendlandt offers. “In today’s world of multiple tournaments on top fisheries, it’s hard to find a venue where everything is totally new to a majority of the field. I can’t tell you how refreshing that was to me.”

“Plus, that 18-inch smallmouth deal was pretty cool,” he opines. “It brought a whole new element to the game. I meant even a squeaker weighed 3-1/2 pounds. I decided pretty quickly that I would take five ‘line burners’ like that any day rather than fish for largemouth or spots. And that’s how I chose to fish the tournament.”

Using jerkbaits and crankbaits to catch smallmouth was his primary strategy at Cumberland.

“Going into it, I knew it was a dicey proposition,” he reveals. “But that’s the kind of fishing I love: exploring new water; chasing a high-risk, high-reward window. Fishing right on the edge of either doing great or completely failing – trust me, I understood the risks.”

Wendlandt admits that the thought of switching species – perhaps to largemouth – occurred to him on the final day, but he cranked for smallmouth with conviction.

“Some of the pros I respect the most in this sport fish their strengths – their style,” he says.  “They pursue their own program. They don’t get caught up in chasing what someone else is doing or what others tell them to do. I knew there were some other patterns going on, but I stayed true to the way I wanted to fish on that last day and that’s what matters to me most.”

Clark Wendlandt

When asked about regrets at Cumberland, he hesitates.

“The regret comes from knowing that in a lifetime of professional fishing, there are only so few opportunities to win tournaments,” he says. “Those opportunities are huge bonuses that only come around every so often. When one slips away like that, it hurts.

“I fully understood the risks of pursuing smallmouth from day one,” he concludes. “Taking those risks is exactly what got me to day four. What I really would have regretted would have been dropping back and punting for another species, bringing in a few keepers and still losing. At least I can sleep at night knowing I went all in the for the win.”

 

The Cumberland-Beaver connection

On several occasions at Lake Cumberland, Wendlandt remarked how Cumberland reminded him a lot of Beaver Lake, especially in the Tour’s early visits to Rogers, Ark., some 15 years ago. That’s back when Wendlandt reigned as “Mr. Beaver Lake.” From 1999 to 2004 he recorded five top tens including two wins.

In the modern era of Tour visits on Beaver Lake, Wendlandt’s title has been seriously challenged by Matt Arey, who has also racked up five top-10’s, including two wins, at the annual Tour stop.

As he scoured Beaver Lake’s majestic rock ledges with a crankbait on the final day of practice, Wendlandt again mentioned how Cumberland made him reminisce about the old Beaver Lake.

“I love this lake – I’ve won a lot of money here,” Wendlandt says. “But the problem I have with it now is there is nothing new to me about it anymore. It’s a fairly small lake and over the years of coming here, I have literally fished every bank on this place from the river to the dam – and so have a lot of other competitors. Everyone knows everything. In the early years, this place was still such a mystery, and that’s what I loved about it. That’s what fired me up about Cumberland, it was all new, the way this lake used to be 15 years ago.”

Despite his final day bomb at Cumberland, Wendlandt still finished ninth, adding to an 11th place showing at Harris Chain and a fifth place showing at Travis, which has given him a nice push in the points race, putting him in second place for Angler of the Year.

Now at Beaver Lake, he is looking to channel some of that excitable newness he felt at Cumberland back into the old Beaver Lake.

“Although we’ve been here umpteen times, this lake is still a very dynamic fishery,” Wendlandt says. “It changes a lot. And with this water rising so fast and this muddy water coming into the lake, it’s setting up to be the kind of event I like. There is a lot more cover in the water now and that means a lot of options. We’re on a new moon so new fish should be moving up to spawn with this water rise. Even though I’ve been here a bunch of times, I’m trying to use these conditions to see it like I’m seeing it for the first time – the way I viewed Cumberland several weeks ago.”

“I really need to find something new in the old to get me fired up about this place again,” he concludes. “And chances are, that new isn’t even going to materialize until the tournament, which is just the way I like it.”

 

Tournament details

Format: All pros and co-anglers will compete for two days. The co-angler champion will be crowned on day two, and the field will be cut to the top 20 pros on day three and the top 10 pros on day four. The winners will be determined by total cumulative weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Prairie Creek Recreation Area, 9300 North Park Road, Rogers, AR

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

Weigh-In Location: Prairie Creek all days

 

Check out the FLW Expo and Evinrude Test Rides

Test rides – Evinrude will be hosting test rides for its popular E-TEC G2 motors at Prairie Creek Recreation Area on Saturday, April 29, from 7 to 11 a.m. All participants will receive a free Evinrude hat. Come demo Evinrude’s most powerful and fuel-efficient two-stroke motor in history.

Expo – The FLW Expo will take place at Prairie Creek on Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, from 12 to 4 p.m. Kids’ activities include a Ranger Boat simulator, casting pond and more. Concessions will be available, along with vendors selling tackle and other outdoor gear.

Complete details

 

Tags: rob-newell  pre-tournament  2017-04-27-beaver-lake 

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition is returning to Arkansas when the Arkie Division picks up competition with a weekend doubleheader June 13 and 14. READ MORE »

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

The second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division ought to be a really good one. Set for Pickwick Lake in late May, the offshore bite ought to be in full swing, with plenty of shallow fish as well. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop goes down this week at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala. Here's how you can watch the action live. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

The annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open returns to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-March for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat, 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship and 20 spots in the all-new Major League Fishing College Faceoff presented by Wiley X in Raleigh, N.C., later this spring. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Spawning bass and spring break will be the story lines at the Toyota Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu in mid-March. Well, OK … the spawning bass will certainly be the main focus of the anglers. But dealing with traffic from pleasure boaters will definitely contribute to the pros’ decision-making, particularly on the weekend.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »

National Championship Starts This Week

National Championship Starts This Week

With the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event over, the best college fishing teams from across the country are starting practice on the Harris Chain for the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College National Championship presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

FLW Live Schedule for Harris Chain

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks up with stop No. 2 this week in Leesburg, Fla., at the Harris Chain of Lakes. This tournament is presented by Bad Boy Mowers. With it comes another weekend of FLW Live broadcasts with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Spring can be one of the best times to launch a boat in the clear waters of Lake Hartwell. That’s why the Georgia-South Carolina border reservoir might be the perfect venue to start the Eastern Division of the Toyota Series on March 3.  READ MORE »

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant. The fishing has also been pretty good through a day and a half of practice. READ MORE »

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

If it’s big bass you want, late winter and early spring are ideal times to catch them at Lake Chickamauga, which is why the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division opener is perfectly timed to be a big-bass slugfest. The tournament, which runs Feb. 27-29, could produce some of the biggest five-bass limits FLW will see all year. Just how good the fishing will be depends on the weather, and whether the region ever sees an end to the rain that’s been falling recently.  READ MORE »

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Stop No. 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division is Lewis Smith Lake. Smith is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the east, and late winter should provide some really good fishing. READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big largemouths and lots of spots are the main attractions at Alabama’s Lake Martin, where the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division kicks off its 2020 season Feb. 8. Local hammer David Gaston, who’s won the last two Bama events at Martin, expects a typical wintertime tournament this season with solid weights across the board. READ MORE »

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits.  READ MORE »