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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Hailing from Minnesota, Josh Douglas is in his third year on the FLW Tour and looking for his first FLW Cup qualification. Were it not for a disqualification in the final event of the year at St. Clair in 2018, Douglas would have sailed into the Cup. After a tough start to the year at Rayburn, he’s planning to get back on track at the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »

A Look at Lake Toho

A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous. READ MORE »

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Florida is a familiar place for FLW competition, and Lake Okeechobee is probably the best-known fishery the Sunshine State has to offer. So there shouldn’t be many surprises when the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division kicks off the season Jan. 31–Feb. 2 on the Big O with an event presented by Power-Pole. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

The FLW Tour season opener on Sam Rayburn was a slugfest for sure. Fortunately for fans and anglers alike, the second stop of the season could be just as good, as the Tour heads to Central Florida and Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Kissimmee, Fla., on February 7. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Toho Preview

2019 Lake Toho Preview

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short) is the first of four lakes on the menu for pros in the second stop of the FLW Tour. At the south end of Toho, a lock and a series of canals leads to Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch) and Lake Kissimmee, which are all fair game for the pros. READ MORE »

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Russell Cecil is one of a number of standout Texas anglers fishing the FLW Tour opener this week on Sam Rayburn. After a lackluster rookie campaign in 2018, fishing near home is a great opportunity for the Willis, Texas, pro to get the year started off strong. Though the conditions are far from normal, a few hours on the final day of practice reveal that Cecil certainly has a read on the bass. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Live seasons kicks off on the big bass factory of Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas. Watch your favorite stars such as Scott Martin and Bryan Thrift weigh-in at the FLW Tour season opener, and then follow the weekend action live with the top pros. READ MORE »

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Hensley Powell has quickly and quietly amassed quite a record with FLW. In just three years fishing the Costa FLW Series, he’s earned over $90,000, and he got a win at Table Rock in the Central Division in 2018. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

This year, the FLW Tour kicks off in Texas with a showdown presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. Big Sam hasn’t hosted too many FLW Tour events in the past, but it’s loaded with bass and bass fishing history. The lake is much higher than normal right now, which will no doubt produce different fishing than is typical for winter on Rayburn. READ MORE »

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Day one of practice for the FLW Tour presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn started this morning. We hung around takeoff to see friends we haven't seen in months and to get the season underway.  READ MORE »

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Jay Childs caught two giant largemouths on day one, along with a smaller keeper, to take the early lead at Lake Amistad. Then he survived today for the win with a pair of keepers that included one smallmouth. READ MORE »

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

Typical winter fishing on Sam Rayburn would call for a lot of lipless crankbaits, Carolina rigs and a focus on offshore structure and submerged grass. However, for the FLW Tour opener January 10-13 a lot of that may be out the window – or at least a lot different than many of the Rayburn sticks in the field are used to. Sam Rayburn has risen steadily since December 10th, and as of January 3, the lake is at 171.43 feet, which is 7 feet over full pool of 164.4 feet. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Tour takes to the waters of Sam Rayburn Reservoir Jan. 10-13 for the opening event of the new season. Rayburn can produce some absolute giants in January, and if the weather cooperates, there’s potential for an abundance of massive bags. READ MORE »

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Lake Amistad might not kick out quite as many massive stringers of largemouth bass as it used to, but the legendary south Texas border reservoir is still a factory for big fish. According to local guide and always tournament favorite Ray “Hanselmania” Hanselman, there are some real giants to be caught at Amistad, but they’ll be at a premium when the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division rolls into Del Rio to kick off the 2019 season on Jan. 3 READ MORE »

Guntersville Lake Tour

Guntersville Lake Tour

Winding through Tennessee, north Alabama and Kentucky, the Tennessee River is studded with some of the most legendary reservoirs in bass-fishing history. Many would argue that Lake Guntersville is the best of the bunch, and though that is up for debate on any given year, Guntersville’s place in fishing history is undeniable. This week, the lake is under heavy pressure from a local championship event, anglers out to have fun and the 198 pros and co-anglers in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Here’s a look at what they’ll encounter on the water. READ MORE »

Guntersville Showing Out for Costa Finale

Guntersville Showing Out for Costa Finale

Few things are certainties in life, but you can certainly count on anglers catching a ton of huge fish when the Costa FLW Series Championship rolls into Guntersville this week. With bass settled into fall patterns and gobs of vegetation still giving plenty of cover to fish feeding in the shallows, there’s a good chance the lake produces 20-plus-pound limits early and often in the championship event. READ MORE »

Costa Championship Fact Sheet

Costa Championship Fact Sheet

Up to 430 of the world’s best bass anglers will descend on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville Nov. 1-3 for the no-entry-fee 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »

Dock Talk All About Docks at Ozarks

Dock Talk All About Docks at Ozarks

Greg Bohannan, the 2017 Central Division Angler of the Year, believes the warmer-than-usual weather as of late will make the topwater bite a secondary tactic. In his opinion, it’s going to be docks that deliver the winning fish this year. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

The Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Mercury on Fort Gibson was one of the more challenging tournaments in recent memory. Consider that with 115 pros fishing over three days, there were only 13 limits caught, and it took just 18 pounds, 2 ounces for two days to make the top-10 cut. READ MORE »