UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Potomac River

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 

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Capt. Blake Smith was presented with the 2019 Forrest L. Wood Sportsmanship & Community Leadership Award by the award’s namesake, Forrest Wood, at the 2019 FLW Cup pre-tournament banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. Smith, of Lakeland, Fla., has fished the FLW Tour since 2015. READ MORE »

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Two terrible tournaments to end the season cost Miles Burghoff his shot at the Polaris Rookie of the Year title. This week at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, he's hoping to apply the lessons learned at the end of the season to his preparation for the championship event. READ MORE »

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

In seemingly any tournament that Bryan Thrift shows up to he is without a doubt one of the favorites to win. With two FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles, six Tour wins and five Costa FLW Series wins – including his most recent on Lake Champlain just a few weeks ago – it’s easy to understand why. READ MORE »

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

In a Ranger Z520L with a 250-hp Evinrude G2, it takes about 15 minutes to run from Carpenter Dam, which impounds Lake Hamilton, to the Blakely Mountain Dam that separates Hamilton from Lake Ouachita. If you stop and chat with 11 pros along the way, however, you’ll need most of the morning, but you’ll also wind up with a pretty sound idea of what’s going on at Hamilton for this week’s FLW Cup. READ MORE »

The First Morning with B. Lat

The First Morning with B. Lat

You won’t hear Brian Latimer complain about hot weather and tough fishing in Arkansas during this week’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. For B. Lat, sweating it out on the water is vastly better than working in the heat installing landscaping and mowing lawns for a living, which is what he was doing just a few years ago. A lot’s changed since those days. Now, Latimer is an FLW Tour champion, with a growing fishing media company and his first shot at a Cup title. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

The FLW Cup goes down August 9-11 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. As the crowning event of the FLW Tour season, there’s naturally a lot that goes with it, from takeoffs, the FLW Expo, a Trace Adkins concert and of course the weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Arena. Below you’ll find everything you’ll need to follow or attend the Cup, from the times to each event and seminar to each giveaway going on. Keep in mind, everything is free to attend and all times are Central. READ MORE »

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

For some, preparation has been in the form of map study and online research, while others have made the trek to Lake Hamilton to get eyes on the playing field, which went off limits July 22. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

As usual, the fishing on Lake Champlain was great. Pros and co-anglers alike loaded the boat with smallmouths and largemouths each day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event, and they did it with a wide array of techniques. If you’re wondering what to throw up north when there are green and brown fish on the table in the early summer, you could hardly go wrong with anything the pros in the top 10 used.  READ MORE »

The FLW Cup Playing Field

The FLW Cup Playing Field

It’s been 14 seasons since the FLW Cup has been held at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. In the years since, FLW fans have likely developed some familiarity with nearby Lake Ouachita, which has been a frequent destination for the Cup and, in fact, hosted last year’s championship event. Hamilton is less-known because it hasn’t gotten the nod to host the finale since July 2005, when George Cochran won his third bass-fishing world championship . READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Grueling wind on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener on Lake Champlain didn’t do the field any favors, but otherwise, it was a heck of a tournament on the big northern fishery. The aftereffects of an odd spring with high water had things somewhat scrambled, putting some of the local participants on their off foot, but a variety of patterns proved to be successful. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass. READ MORE »

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

Weighing in 16 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Henry McKee beat out co-angler superstar Gary Haraguchi for the win in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on Champlain. With a 47-8 total, McKee won a $1,050 and a brand-new Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower outboard. READ MORE »

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris.  READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

One of the windier tournament days in recent memory did a lot to reshape the leaderboard of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The run south to Ticonderoga was not impossible, but the wind up north kept a lot of pros from effectively fishing their best stuff. That made weights drop pretty much across the board on day two. READ MORE »

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Champlain featured a bunch of wind and a lot of turnover on the leaderboard. Though he struggled to replicate his massive day-one success, Bryan Thrift still managed 16 pounds, 6 ounces for a 38-12 total to retain the lead. Behind him, Scott Dobson rose from ninth to second with a robust bag of smallmouths worth 18-10 for a 37-14 total. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Polaris on Lake Champlain is going to be quite a swing from day one. Typically turnover in the standings is common on Champlain because the weights stay so tight, but today’s turnover is going to have a lot to do with the weather. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Takeoff was a little blustery, but overall, it’s been a perfect start to the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The event is the kickoff of the Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, and the tournament itself is presented by Polaris. READ MORE »