UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2018 Forrest Wood Cup Preview

2018 Forrest Wood Cup Preview
Lake Ouachita

Forrest Wood Cup

Lake Ouachita

Hot Springs, Ark.

Aug. 10-12, 2018

Hosted by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs

 

About the fishery

Home to the 2007, 2011 and 2015 Forrest Wood Cups, Lake Ouachita is a deep, clear mountain reservoir located in western Arkansas within the Ouachita National Forest, a 1.8 million-acre wildlife-rich area that sprawls clear across the Oklahoma border. Construction of the dam took place from the late 1940s to the early 1950s and, depending on the water level, the lake covers about 40,000 surface acres, with approximately 975 miles of shoreline.

Ouachita is a short drive from nearby Hot Springs, Ark., yet due to its location within the Ouachita Mountains and National Forest, there is very little development along its largely remote shoreline.

Standing timber, hydrilla and other grasses, and natural structure such as points and humps provide most of the fishing targets.

 

Last time

In the three Forrest Wood Cups that have been held on Lake Ouachita, both shallow and deep patterns were applied by top-10 competitors.

Tennessee pro Brad Knight, who won the 2015 Cup on Ouachita, surprised many people by camping in one area in the back of a creek for four days and catching the winning fish shallow. Most folks who target Ouachita’s shallow bass in August opt to run-and-gun around the lake, the assumption being that one spot can’t hold up for several days. Knight, who actually shared his best area with Mark Daniels Jr., proved the naysayers wrong.

The prior two Cups at Ouachita – won by Scott Martin in 2011 and Scott Suggs in 2007 – were won out deep around standing timber, brush piles and other areas where balls of shad had congregated. Martin relied on a drop-shot, Texas-rigged ribbon-tail worm and under-spin. Suggs used a swimbait, worm and spinnerbait.

 

What to expect this time

According to Suggs and fellow local pro Evan Barnes, Lake Ouachita will still offer up its usual mix of deep and shallow patterns, but there’s a big difference in what we’ll see this time.

“We’ve always had some grass, but this year [by late 2017] we’ve had it over half of the lake,” says Suggs. “The whole entire main lake on the lower half has been totally covered – and all the creeks. It’s hydrilla and milfoil, and some coontail. In the past, normally fish would live suspended and all that, but we’re catching lots of fish back in the grass again.”

The grass sprung up in Ouachita’s lower end due to extremely low water levels and extreme water clarity – caused by a very dry year – and now it’s expanding up the lake. Barnes actually estimates even more total coverage (about 75 percent of the lake) than Suggs. Regardless, both agree there’s more grass in Ouachita than there has been in 10 to 15 years.

Some of the grass will die back over winter, but Suggs believes that unless the water gets extremely dirty for an extended period of time in the spring, there will be plenty of regrowth by August. That means an entirely new set of patterns for Cup competitors.

According to both pros, weights have seen a slight uptick as a result of the grass patterns. Locals were sacking up limits in the upper teens to 20 pounds in late fall and early winter. It probably won’t be that good come August, but there’s a chance the daily average for the winner will crowd 17 pounds. Compared to the 12 pounds and change that Knight averaged in 2015, that’s a marked improvement.

 

Baits and techniques

How Ouachita’s lower end fishes depends greatly on the grass situation.

“It’ll be right on the verge of topping out at that time. If it does again what it did this year there’s going to be a variety of ways to catch fish,” says Suggs. “There’s been a frog bite, towpater bite and flipping bite, and you can fish up the rivers. It’ll just be kind of a wide-open deal. It won’t be like Lake Murray where it’s a one-dimensional thing. If we get back into the type of summer where the grass doesn’t grow like crazy like it did this summer, then you’re back to catching schooling fish here and there, throwing the Brian’s Bees Prop Bee around the bank and fishing shallow.

“The top half of the lake is going to fish like a whole different world. There’ll be no grass. It’ll be brush, timber, river fishing, dirt shallow, bedding bream – stuff like that. That’s the thing about this lake: Whatever a person’s strength is, whether it’s shallow or way up the river or they like grass, they’re going to have the opportunity to fish whatever kind of fishing they want.”

Barnes agrees with Suggs’ assessment.

“To me, what’s going to happen is you’re still going to see the brush pile bite and schooling fish,” he says. “The fish in the timber – you’re still going to see that. You’re also going to see the bream bed deal. You’re going to have shallow fish for sure, especially in the midsection to the west, where you don’t have as much grass. But to the east, there’s going to be a grass bite, and I think it’s going to be a flipping deal.”

 

3 critical factors

1. Grass – Obviously, this is a big one. The extent of the grass growth will have a huge impact on the predominant patterns fished throughout the lower end of the lake. It also will dictate which pros feel right at home and which ones are a little lost, as the experience level fishing deep grass lakes varies widely among pros on Tour. One catch when grass fishing in vast amounts of the green stuff is that it can take a very long time to locate fish. That’ll factor into pros’ pre-practice and practice strategies.

2. The bank bite – It’s tough to ignore the shallow bank bite on Ouachita, given the lake’s history of producing some big bags along shore in late summer. And with the Cup only three days long again this year, the shallow pattern stands an even bigger chance of contending for the win. If the grass is thick and it draws typical shallow-focused pros away from the bank, that might open up even more opportunities to catch big bags around bream beds and shallow wood, as resourceful pros take advantage of overlooked bank bass while their competitors play in the green stuff elsewhere.

3. The heat – Near-triple-digit temperatures and swampy humidity are possible at Ouachita, and if those are the conditions pros get when the Cup kicks off, expect this one to be the typical late-summer marathon grind that the Cup so often is.

 

Fantasy Fishing picks

Because of the potential for new conditions at Ouachita, any “locals” that qualify have a leg up. Scott Suggs and Evan Barnes are definitely favorites if they get in. Scott Martin has won there before and came close a second time. He also has family ties to the Ouachita area, so he considers it a home away from home. Otherwise, John Cox knows shallow bass and grass fishing better than most, so watch out for him, as well as anyone from Texas (Jeff Sprague, Clark Wendlandt, etc.) with experience on grassy reservoirs in hot conditions.

Tags: article  flw  pre-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer represents Green Pond Landing and Event Center (on Lake Hartwell) with logos on his boat and jersey, and, with Hartwell serving as Latimer’s home lake, he’s being honored with a press conference on April 22 at Green Pond Landing to celebrate his recent success. READ MORE »

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

The top 40 pros in the 2019 FLW Tour standings qualify to fish the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton Aug. 9-11. For about a dozen pros, the final two events of the season will decide whether they make it in or out. READ MORE »

Smith Mountain Lake Set for Weekend of FLW Youth Bass-Fishing Tournaments

Smith Mountain Lake Set for Weekend of FLW Youth Bass-Fishing Tournaments

BEDFORD, Va. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) is set to visit Bedford next week, April 26-27, with the YETI FLW College Fishing event at Smith Mountain Lake presented by Costa and the Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Open at Smith Mountain Lake. The tournaments, hosted... READ MORE »

Costa FLW Series Heads to Santee Cooper Lakes for Tournament Presented by Power-Pole

Costa FLW Series Heads to Santee Cooper Lakes for Tournament Presented by Power-Pole

SUMMERTON, S.C. – The top bass anglers from around the region are set to fish Santee Cooper Lakes April 25-27 for the Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series Southeastern Division finale on Santee Cooper Lakes presented... READ MORE »

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Jason Bridwell fishes in the Volunteer Division of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League, and his track record on Cherokee, a lake at which he considers himself a local, is nearly spotless, especially after a win in the FLW Tour Marshal program contest. READ MORE »

Apex’s Joyce Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Opener on Kerr Lake

Apex’s Joyce Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Opener on Kerr Lake

HENDERSON, N.C. – Boater Keith Joyce of Apex, North Carolina, caught five bass Saturday weighing 19 pounds, 5 ounces, to win the... READ MORE »

Dallas’ Smith Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Toledo Bend

Dallas’ Smith Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Toledo Bend

MANY, La. – Boater Ken Smith of Dallas, Texas, caught five bass Saturday weighing 21 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Cowboy division tournament on Toledo Bend. Smith... READ MORE »

Little Rock’s Clark Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hamilton Presented by GEARED

Little Rock’s Clark Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hamilton Presented by GEARED

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Boater Randall Clark of Little Rock, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces, to win... READ MORE »

Macon’s Lanier Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Sinclair

Macon’s Lanier Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Sinclair

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – Boater Justin Lanier of Macon, Georgia, caught five bass Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce, to win... READ MORE »

Floyd Central High School Wins 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Cumberland Open

Floyd Central High School Wins 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Cumberland Open

BURNSIDE, Ky. – The Floyd Central High School duo of Zach Rose of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and Cameron Crider of Dwale, Kentucky, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 16 pounds, 10 ounces to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Cumberland Open... READ MORE »

Oklahoma’s Upshaw Leads Wire-To-Wire, Wins FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

Oklahoma’s Upshaw Leads Wire-To-Wire, Wins FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, won the FLW Tour at the Cherokee Lake presented by Lowrance after catching five bass Sunday weighing 15 pounds, 6 ounces. Upshaw’s four-day cumulative total of 20 bass weighing 67 pounds, 10 ounces, was enough... READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Cherokee Lake

FLW Live Leaderboard - Cherokee Lake

FLW Marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for stop No. 5 of the 2019 FLW Tour at Cherokee Lake. READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 4 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 4 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw has a chance to go wire-to-wire for the win at the FLW Tour event presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake. The Oklahoma pro has led for three days thanks to his smallmouth pattern. The rest of the pros are catching mixed bags of largemouths and smallmouths. Many of the fish are spawning. READ MORE »

Murray State University Wins YETI FLW College Fishing Central Conference Opener on Lake Cumberland presented by Costa

Murray State University Wins YETI FLW College Fishing Central Conference Opener on Lake Cumberland presented by Costa

BURNSIDE, Ky. – The Murray State University duo of Hunter McKinley of Murray, Kentucky, and Brendan Bingham of Louisville, Kentucky, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake Cumberland presented by Costa Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned the Racer’s bass club $2,400 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

Upshaw Leads Field into Final Day of FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

Upshaw Leads Field into Final Day of FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, maintained his lead Saturday at the FLW Tour at the Cherokee Lake presented by Lowrance after catching five... READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 3 Coverage

It's a catch-fest at Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee, as the top 30 pros kick off the weekend rounds. Weights are packed together. The fish are spawning and eager to bite. It should be an exciting day of action. READ MORE »

Cherokee Day 3 Coverage

Cherokee Day 3 Coverage

It's a catch-fest at Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee, as the top 30 pros enter the weekend with hopes of catching Andrew Upshaw, who has led for two days. Largemouths and smallmouths are both spawning, and they are eager to bite. READ MORE »

Upshaw Holds Lead at FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

Upshaw Holds Lead at FLW Tour on Cherokee Lake Presented by Lowrance

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is still on top at the FLW Tour at the Cherokee Lake presented by Lowrance after catching five bass weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Upshaw’s two-day total of 36-4 will lead the final 30 pros into the third day of... READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 2 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the FLW Tour event at Cherokee Lake was a doozy. Pros hammered impressive numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass on what was a perfect spring day in east Tennessee. Now, it's cut day, and everyone is hoping to make it into the top 30 and fish again on the weekend. READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 1 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 1 Coverage

The FLW Tour visits Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee at the perfect time for a spring showdown. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are ready to spawn, and practice reports suggest a lot of fish will be caught. READ MORE »