UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

LeHew Ready for a Tough Slog

LeHew Ready for a Tough Slog
Shane Lehew

We should all be so lucky to have stock market returns that trend like Shane LeHew’s FLW Tour record. Since joining the Tour in 2008, when he placed 161st in the standings as a co-angler, the North Carolina pro’s annual finishes have progressively gotten better. He switched to the front of the boat in 2014 and kept moving upward in the ranks. This year he finished seventh and clinched a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray. If he’s not on a roll, LeHew nevertheless is closing out his best season ever in the big leagues, and that makes him a solid contender for the championship.

The 28-year-old angler is understandably proud and happy he qualified for the Cup, but he’s also apprehensive. Even though Murray is only about three hours from LeHew’s home in Catawaba, N.C., his experience fishing it has mainly been limited to the spring. He knows that the most difficult period of the year to catch decent limits at Murray is at about the same time that FLW’s best gather there to settle all bets. Having pre-practiced on the lake, he sees a long, hard slog ahead. “Tough” is his one-word summation of the fishing.

 

LeHew’s prediction

“I think whoever wins it is going to have to do like Anthony [Gagliardi] did, and mix it up,” says LeHew, referring to Anthony Gagliardi’s Cup win at Murray in 2014 with a four-day total of 51-2. “I don’t think it’s going to be won doing any one thing in one place. And any limit’s going to be a good limit, with 10 or 11 pounds a day likely to get you in the top 20 somewhere.”

Fish are caught in Murray’s vast main lake and along its shorelines, though everything in the wide-open spaces is pretty much part of a waiting game on a typical summer day: Fishermen wait for schooling activity on long, flat points that jut into the lake’s depths, and bass wait for blueback herring or threadfin shad to come along. Only the herring don’t wait. Their nature of constant wandering in search of plankton effectively keeps them in the food chain merry-go-round. The pelagic baitfish aren’t going to the points on purpose; the points just happen to be in the way of their nomadic travels. If the bottom on and adjacent to the points has a few irregularities, rocks or manmade cover where bass can set up ambush points, such spots are golden.

“There’s always some schooling activity going on,” observes LeHew, “but it might not be all largemouths. That lake is full of 2-pound stripers, and sometimes it’s them busting herring and shad, or them mixed in with the largemouths. The herring move around aimlessly so much, too. Could you do some good with three days of that? If you have enough good points and flats to fish and it’s sunny and all the other conditions are right – maybe.”

 

How it sets up

Docks, planted brush piles in the main lake and wood cover in the back ends of coves and feeder creeks produce bass, and scattered grass beds of Southern naiad or water willow usually give up a few fish, especially to the anglers in the first couple of flights. Afterward, everything settles down into a game of catch-as-catch-can for most with crankbaits, swimbaits, buzzbaits, frogs, skipping baits and a variety of bottom-bumping jigs and soft plastics.

Some anglers, including LeHew, contend that the lake’s aquatic vegetation has become more abundant. The lake level is at about 357 feet now and likely to stay there, so if Cup competitors locate fish in the grass, they probably won’t have to worry about any sudden changes in depth that might chase bass offshore. The water temperature is in the low to mid-80s.

“There could be a frog bite,” says LeHew. “The water was a little high when I was there last, and there’s been a lot of bank grass [emergent water willow] this year toward the middle and lower end of the lake. There’s also that stringy pondweed [submergent naiad] growing out in 12 to 15 feet of water in some pockets. I saw some bluegills and that sort of thing swimming around in it, so that’s probably a pretty good indication there’s going to be bass around, too.”

In many impoundments, current or the lack thereof regulates fishing success. Not so in Murray; having been relegated to a seldom-used backup source of hydroelectric power if the main grid gets overtaxed, a whimper of current flows down its upper end from the Saluda River, its main feeder.

 

A test of the best

“Mental and physical stamina are definitely going to be factors in this tournament,” opines LeHew. “The long times between bites – you’ve got to keep yourself pretty focused and fish like every cast is the most important one. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to catch 20 or 30 fish a day, but if I get five of the right bites, that would be great. I’ll know more after practice. I’m going to practice from daylight to dark all four days they give us, so we’ll see.”

The weather forecast for the Forrest Wood Cup is atypical of South Carolina in August, with highs expected to nudge into the low 90s, and the likelihood of rain each day. At least there's a waning full moon that's going to land on top of the championship too, which should make the fishing a bit better, according to Lehew.

“I don’t understand the science of it, but something about a full moon always seems to improve the fishing,” he says. “The last time I pre-fished Murray, it was awful. The first time, when it was just coming off a full moon, it seemed like I got a few more bites. I think it gets the fish a little more active in early morning. There’s a lot of leftover fish that were feeding the night before, but even the schooling fish seem more active.”

Wishful thinking and nothing more? Could be, but a Forrest Wood Cup contender needs all the mojo he can muster at Lake Murray in August.


Forrest Wood Cup details page

Forrest Wood Cup event schedule

Forrest Wood Cup event map

Tags: colin-moore  pre-tournament  2017-08-11-forrest-wood-cup 

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 »

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Surrounded by his family, Forrest Wood passed away in a Mountain Home, Ark., hospital just after 9 a.m. Saturday, four days after suffering a heart attack in his home. Wood, who was 87 at the time of his death, was the founder of Ranger Boats of Flippin, Ark. A pioneer of bass tournament fishing, he helped launch the careers of hundreds of aspiring tournament anglers through sponsorships. During his 20-year span at the helm of the company he founded with his wife, Nina, Forrest is credited with laying the groundwork for the modern bass boat through his innovative designs and engineering advancements. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit kicks off this week in Brookeland, Texas, at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which means it’s also time for another season of FLW Live with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. Here's how and when to watch. READ MORE »