UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Starting Practice on Harris with LeHew

Starting Practice on Harris with LeHew

Coming up through College Fishing, Shane LeHew had a stupendous 2017, finishing seventh in the Angler of the Year race and making the Forrest Wood Cup for the third year running. His best finish last year was fourth, right here at the Harris Chain, and he caught 23 pounds, 15 ounces on day one.  The second stop of the FLW Tour which is presented by Lowrance is back on the Harris Chain again this year, albeit a few weeks earlier, and the soft-spoken North Carolinian was kind enough to let me tag along for his first morning of practice.

 

There are a total of 10 lakes and miles of associated canals pros can explore during this week’s event on the Harris Chain. As such, it makes picking where to start a little more challenging than usual – LeHew kept it simple and dumped in at takeoff on Lake Harris. Launching shortly after 6:30 a.m., LeHew takes his time pulling rods out and idling out of the bay. Not only is he a little under the weather from a bad night of heartburn, it’s so foggy that running anywhere to start would be extremely unwise.

 

LeHew begins simply by idling out from the ramp until he doesn’t see another boat. It’s far too foggy to run safely, but it makes for a pleasantly cool and isolated scene in which to fish. Stopping on the grass line some ways from the ramp, LeHew begins flipping and winding his way along with a couple soft plastics. After 15 unsuccessful minutes on the bank, LeHew cranks up again and idles a bit until he finds some submerged grass he likes the look of. Alternating between a vibrating jig and a lipless crankbait, he begins to pick away at the grass. Now, just slightly off the bank, he’s entirely socked in by fog. After a couple more stretches of idling, LeHew starts flipping topped-out grass a hundred yards from the bank in 10 feet of water.

Though he’d rather the fog not be here, LeHew knows that it can still be productive to be on the water.

“That’s how I found them at Toho that one time,” he relays. “I was just idling down a grass line in the fog and 3-pounders came up schooling.”

 

With no bites coming, LeHew pulls out a topwater rod after noticing some fish sloshing on the surface over the submerged hydrilla. He makes a quick bait change, and minutes later a 5-pounder smashes it. The Harris Chain has been kicking out huge weights recently, so getting a big one right off the bat is certainly an auspicious start.

 

After fishing a bit longer with no success, LeHew sits back down in the driver’s seat to idle a bit more. After a short idle and in somewhat cleared conditions, he starts to run, finally moving at more than an idle, and sets down on a bank with some Kissimmee grass.  LeHew gives it a hundred yards or so with a swimbait and then makes a move as the sun finally begins to get the better of the fog.

 

Setting down offshore again at about 9:30 a.m., LeHew dons his shades and starts by fishing around some of the seemingly infinite submerged hydrilla that’s present this year in Harris. With no bites again, he points the boat toward a dock on the bank.

“Jody, I found the winning fish,” says LeHew as we edge toward the dock. “There’s so many I’m going to have to share them with someone. This might be the best gar hole I’ve ever seen.”

Indeed, in the clear water behind the Kissimmee grass, there are seemingly dozens of gar, and big ones, too. If it was a gar derby, LeHew would probably be in pretty good shape.

 

As the sun continues to rise, LeHew decides it’s time to look for some spawners and poke into one of the many canals on the Harris Chain. Easing in to a canal, he immediately spots a pair of big ones swimming. LeHew then sees a bed, and then another.

“Did you see that one?” he exclaims. “This is gonna be a bed-fishing tournament.”

 

After finishing his look around in the canal, LeHew surprisingly moves back offshore to flip a jig and wind a vibrating jig in the seemingly endless hydrilla.

“Now that the sun’s out you can see lots of little bluegills and things in this grass,” says LeHew. “Somebody will catch ‘em in Harris doing this, I know it. I don’t know where though.”

 

LeHew started with a bunch of rods on deck, and has only added two to the pile – a topwater rod and a flipping stick with flouro. This year, all his stuff is brand new from Abu Garcia, and he’s sporting a wrap on his boat for the first time ever. It’s an unusual look for one of the most understated anglers on tour, but he’s apparently moving up in the world.

 

After a short run of flipping docks, LeHew swings into a cove with a bunch of pads and starts flipping a stickworm around. He’s still not actually looking for bedding fish.

“For this place being so on fire, it’s been kinda slow,” says LeHew, who’s had about 1.5 bites as the clock ticks past 11 a.m. “Last year I really liked it here and I had like three things I could do. I don’t want to just have bed-fishing this year.”

 

After striking out in the pads, LeHew does a little more idling, and finally finds some grass that doesn’t take up the whole lake. After pinpointing a patch of hydrilla just off the main line of Kissimmee grass, LeHew grabs a vibrating jig and gets to work.

“Oh, that was a big one,” says LeHew as he sets the hook. “It knocked like 3 feet of slack in my line and I hooked her for a second.”

One good bite in his pocket, LeHew swings back through the patch with a lipless crankbait with no bites. Harris is playing hard to get so far.

 

Just before noon, LeHew takes me back to the ramp. He’s always calm and collected, but today has been one of the most relaxing mornings on the water that I can remember. With so much potential water to break down, LeHew seems to have a good handle on things despite only getting a couple of bites to start off practice. As I head in for lunch and my laptop, LeHew rolls back out to get another six or so hours in on Harris.

 

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2018-02-22-harris-chain-of-lakes 

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

Smith says that the best time for fall largemouth fishing happens after the first big cold snap, when the water finally drops below 60 degrees.   READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

The 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship brings together anglers from all over the world to compete for a top prize worth $100,000 on the pro side and $35,000 on the co-angler side. Qualifying from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, the International Division and five standard FLW Series divisions, a total of 193 pros and 193 co-anglers will descend on Lake Cumberland for a fall showdown to wrap up the fishing season. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »