UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Touring the Harris Chain with Hahner

Touring the Harris Chain with Hahner

Finishing 33rd at Okeechobee, Cody Hahner kicked off his FLW Tour career with a success. Now, on the second stop of the Florida swing, the Wisconsin rookie is looking for some consistency and perhaps to make his first Tour cut. After two full days of practice on the Harris Chain with travel buddy and practice partner Connor Graham, Hahner wanted to tie up some loose ends on the final day.

With plans to burn some gas, Hahner was kind enough to let me hitch a ride for a morning tour of the “other” lakes in the Harris Chain.

 

Hahner and Graham essentially arrive fully-ready to the ramp on the west side of Lake Harris along Highway 27, coffee in hand and rods on the deck already. After unclipping the boat, Hahner hops in and Graham backs him down to get another day underway. Unlike the first two days, there isn’t a trace of fog on the water – its game on right from the get go.

 

Hahner’s first move is to blaze across the lake toward the Dead River and then into the Dora Canal. In a jiffy, he’s turned launching in Harris into 20 minutes or so of extra idling.

“I want to be in the water as much as possible,” says Hahner by way of explanation. “I want to spend most of the day in Harris and Little Harris I think, but I needed to see these other lakes.”

With one day on Harris and another on Lake Griffin already under his belt (plus a little pre-practice on both after the opener on Okeechobee), Hahner has a bit of a plan in place, but he’s not willing to put all his eggs in any one basket just yet. As such, he wants to spend some time in Lake Dora and Beauclair as well.

 

Once out of the Dora Canal, Hahner quickly assesses the water clarity (it is dirtier than he hoped) and makes a short run to one of the few drops marked on the map. Once there, he hones in on his Lowrance and begins to idle. The bottom of Dora is remarkably free of grass compared to Harris and Griffin which are currently loaded out with hydrilla. With his StructureScan set to read out 60 feet on either side, Hahner quickly covers the section of the map he’s interested in and rolls on without making a cast.

 

Hahner decides to fish at the next stop after marking some bait and bass on the graph. Picking up a Carolina rig, he fires a few casts out over the drop before getting a bite. Forgetting that he’s changed to a much smaller hook for practice, he decides to swing on the next one. It’s a Bryan Thrift-esque hookset, but he comes up empty, foiled by the combination of small 1/0 hook and a Zoom Brush Hog. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad sign – you don’t need to get them in the boat in practice.

“The water doesn’t look good, but there are fish out there,” says Hahner of the spot.  “As soon as you get it up there they bite. I guess they don’t mind this water color.”

 

Hahner came loaded for bear, with a full suite of offshore and shallow stuff on deck. He’s in the process of completely switching over to St. Croix rods, and he’s still got a few old favorites on deck that he hasn’t gotten a replacement for just yet.

 

Our next stop looks even better on the Lowrance. It’s another drop off a point, and there are actually quite a few fish showing themselves. Hahner cuts the motor after two passes and picks up the C-rig again. Everyone in the boat is expecting a bite in short order. For some reason, it doesn’t come – apparently, these fish are a little tricky.

 

As the morning goes on, it’s apparent that Hahner and Graham work very well together. From barely spoken conversations to share little things they pick up about the lake and the conditions to their bait choice when actually fishing, the duo are a good fit. Recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Graham is only along for the ride for the Harris Chain and Lanier events, but he’s getting the full experience. Hahner is saving money by sleeping in his truck, and that alone is a big commitment to the dream.

“I should have thought of it, but it kinda sucks in Florida,” says Hahner of his sleeping area, which is simply a tonneau cover over the bed. “I need to come up with a better system. The mosquitoes are still pretty bad down here. So, you want to be tired enough at night that you just go right out and then deal with the consequences in the morning.”

 

After a few more stops offshore, Hahner has worked himself out of Dora and almost to the end of Lake Beauclair. There, he finally goes to bank, pulling up just outside of the canal mouth to actually fish like he’s in Florida.

“We’re gonna flip a little bit. There’s not enough offshore stuff to make me come down here for just that,” says Hahner. “We have not been catching many fish shallow. We’ve seen beds, but the amount of fish on them we’re seeing is pretty minimal.”

After fishing around some lovely pads and reeds with no bites, Hahner makes the observation that every northerner makes at some point in the south.

“If this was in Wisconsin we would have caught 20 through that,” says Hahner. “That’s the problem out here, it all looks so good. But, you’d think for how healthy these lakes are you’d catch a lot more 12-inchers doing this.”

 

Finally, Graham gets a bite, as a decent fish bashes through some pads to take a swing at his creature bait on the way back in. It doesn’t hook up, but it prompts Hahner to spend a little more time fishing. Working into and around the mouth of the canal, the pair spot a few beds a bit deeper (and even coax one bite), but otherwise don’t run into anything of note. It seems like the shallow bite truly isn’t rolling for Hahner.

 

With nothing much to show in Beauclair, Hahner cranks up and rolls back into Dora. Not stopping for anything offshore, he swings into a pocket he and Graham noted earlier in the day during their idling session. Picking up a popping frog, he fishes through it quickly with no success.

“We’ve had one big bite shallow in two days,” says Hahner. “It’s time to go back into Harris and graph. It’s probably a little different story for Cox or some of these guys who know where the good shallow areas are, but that’s not happening for us.”

 

After a short run, we settled down again for the long idle through the Dora Canal. This time, we’re going with the current, and it’s a considerably quicker and smoother ride through the jungle. Along the way, Hahner explains that he’s got a good feeling about Griffin, but is worried about the potential of a killer fog delay.

“In Griffin it’s just like home,” says Hahner with more than a hint of optimism. “They’re sitting like how I’d catch them back home. And there’s some really good stuff, but if we got a fog delay I’d be screwed. That’s why I want to go back into Harris this afternoon.”

 

Along the way into Harris, Hahner drops me back at the ramp in Lake Eustis for a pickup by FLW Senior Editor Kyle Wood. It’s faster to go lake-to-lake by road in many instances, and my absence will let Hahner spend the rest of the day entirely focused on his Lowrance in search of the motherlode.

 

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 »