UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake
Jeff Sprague

Christopher Jones may have missed his first day’s limit by one fish, but he boated just enough keepers in three days to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event on Grand Lake via tiebreaker. Jones tied pro Jeff Sprague with 47 pounds, 3 ounces. Day-three ties are broken by the previous day’s standings, so Jones won because he was in fourth on day two, and Sprague was in fifth. 

The Bokoshe, Okla., pro caught most of his bass by fishing a BOOYAH Colorado-blade spinnerbait around docks. He also caught fish on a YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. with 3 1/2-inch YUM Pulse Swimbaits.

Jones’ winning pattern

Complete results

Top 10 baits gallery

 

2. After tiebreaker, Sprague takes second

It was nearly a Cinderella story for Jeff Sprague, who started the tournament with only two fish for 6-15 on day one, which left him in 61st place. The Texas pro left the stage with a look of determination, the likes of which can lead an angler to a huge follow-up effort.

Suffice it to say, Sprague made a statement on day two by weighing the event’s heaviest limit – 22-2 – and rocketing up the standings to fifth place.

Sprague continued his tear the next day by sacking up 18-2, which was the final round’s biggest catch. Unfortunately, Sprague’s comment at the final day’s weigh-in proved prophetic, as Jones, who weighed in next, edged him on the tiebreaker.

“They say you can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can sure lose one,” Sprague told the weigh-in crowd. “I’m almost 99.99 percent sure I lost this one on the first day.”

Sprague found some fish that were staging up to spawn. He was targeting docks and wood in shallow water in places where the fish hadn’t reached yet in practice. The warming trend that coincided with the later rounds of the tournament pushed fish up into these areas.

A 3/8-ounce 6th Sense Jigsaw prototype vibrating jig with a Gene Larew Hammer Craw trailer produced most of Sprague’s fish. He also caught some of his keepers on a 6th Sense Crush square-bill crankbait. The final day, he switched to a double-Colorado spinnerbait.

 

3. O’Rourke steadily climbs to third

Troy O’Rourke followed a continuous path of betterment, both in terms of daily weights and tournament standings. After placing ninth on day one with 13-15, the pro from Natchitoches, La., added 14-12 and rose to sixth. A day-three weight of 16-4 gave him a tournament total of 44-15 and a third-place finish.

“My goal was to improve each day, and I did it,” O’Rourke says.

Square-bill crankbaits did all the work for O’Rourke this week. He used the SPRO Fat Papa 55 in red craw and a Bill Lewis Echo 1.75 in a crawfish pattern.

“I threw these baits in practice and didn’t have a whole lot of bites, but I figured out one area that if I went through it, I’d pick up a couple. I kept coming back every hour, and a couple more would be there.”

The key to his presentation was bottom contact.

“Everything I fished was 5 feet or less,” O’Rourke says. “That crankbait had to hit those rocks. If you felt a little bit bigger rock and you paused when the bait hit it, they’d crush it.”

 

4. Hartsell battles back to fourth

Day-one leader Toby Hartsell set the early mark with 19-4, but quality eluded him on day two, as the Afton, Okla., pro caught a small limit that weighed 8-11 and dropped to seventh. Day three offered better quality, but Hartsell only caught three keepers for 8-2 and ended in fourth with 36-1.

“I fished absolutely pitifully today,” Hartsell said on Saturday. “I ran 40 or 50 spots today, and I just couldn’t get dialed in. I had a few bites; I actually lost four fish today, so I could’ve made a whole lot better showing. My back’s been messed up for the past couple of weeks, so I was just lucky to be able to fish this.”

Hartsell caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper trailer and a homemade 5/16-ounce jig with a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver trailer.

“It seemed like you’d get a bite when you least expected it, and then you’d go the rest of the day and not get another bite doing the same thing,” he says. “So when I got a bite, I almost went the complete opposite direction.”

 

5. Shallow cranking lands Covington in fifth

Blaine Covington’s comeback performance was second only to Sprague’s. He placed 56th on day one with 7-6, but made a big day-two move by catching 17-13 and rising to eighth. He gained three more spots in the final round by adding 10-14.

The Texas pro fished shallow rocks in a creek with clear water near the Pensacola Dam and found the day-three conditions had stymied his bite.

“Those fish were super-shallow, and I think the big fish were coming in there overnight because I’d catch them right off the bat each morning,” he says. “I had a big wave of fish come in the afternoon of day two, and they just never got there on day three. Once the wind switched to the north on day three, we caught very few fish. We caught some crappie and some drum, but that was it.”

Covington cranked a Lucky Craft SKT Mini MR in ghost minnow.

“As soon it would come off that first shelf in about a foot of water, that’s where the fish would hit it.”

 

6. Collings goes small for sixth place

After a dismal practice yielded only seven fish, local pro Sheldon Collings knew he needed something special for the tournament. He found just that in a No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap.

“I knew the lake was fishing really tough, and I just didn’t think anyone would be throwing small baits,” Collings says. “I fished this around chunk rock banks and Sailboat Bridge [Hwy. 59].”

Essential to effective presentations with the lightweight bait was spinning gear and 10-pound-test Berkley NanoFil line. Collings added a 3 1/2-foot, 8-pound-test fluorocarbon leader for abrasion resistance, but still benefited from the long, smooth casts afforded by the slick fused braid. Collings also caught fish on a 1/2-ounce JaKKed Baits SKKaterbait vibrating jig with a 4-inch Keitech swimbait trailer.

 

7. Ledoux spins into seventh

Kevin Ledoux came within 5 ounces of the day-one lead when he weighed 18-15. Day two proved stingy for the pro from Choctaw, Okla., and Ledoux missed his limit by two fish, dropping to ninth. He worked his way back up to seventh by adding another three fish for 8-8 and finishing with 33-6.

“Yesterday was a struggle to catch my three fish. Today was a struggle again,” Ledoux said on Saturday. “I ended up catching two pretty good ones. I was around good fish, but it’s just hard to get bit, and you have to cover a lot of water.”

Ledoux caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait with double Colorado blades.

 

8. Warren winds up eighth

Oklahoma pro Curt Warren definitely rode the Grand Lake roller coaster. He caught a good day-one limit of 12-15, which put him in 10th place, and then bolted into first on day two with a 20-pound, 6-ounce limit. Day three, however, would deny Warren any keepers, and he settled in eighth place with 33-5.

Warren started each day throwing an umbrella rig, but he caught most of his fish on a 1/2-ounce Bass-X football jig in the Grand Lake special color with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer.

“The wind was blowing into my areas pretty good on day two. I went back on day three, but there was no wind blowing in there,” he says. “I tried to adjust and just didn’t get it done.”

 

9. 18-year-old Miller takes ninth

At 18, Colby Miller was the tournament’s youngest pro competitor, but his poise and confidence during the event’s highs and lows bespoke a levelheaded competitor with a bright future in this sport. The pro from Elmer, La., placed third on day one with 18-10 and held that spot a day later when he added 11-6. Day three was hard on Miller, and bagging a lone keeper that went 2-15 dropped him to ninth with 32-15.

Miller caught his fish on a 7/16-ounce V&M Pacemaker Skipping Jig with a V&M J-Bug trailer and a 1-ounce Chartreuse/white spinnerbait with double Colorado blades.

“I ran up the Elk River each morning and swam a jig. Then I’d move down south to fish pockets and cover a lot of water,” he says. “The pockets had to have wind blowing on them to push the shad in there.”

 

10. Reynolds settles at 10th

Jeff Reynolds got off to a good start with a day-one limit of 16-8, but when a tougher day two left him with only two keepers for 8-5, the Oklahoma pro slipped to 10th. In the final round, he managed only one 3-pound, 10-ounce keeper.

Targeting docks and wood, Reynolds caught his fish on a 3/4-ounce black/chartreuse spinnerbait with a Strike King Menace Grub trailer. With the fish positioned near the surface, he used a No. 5 Colorado blade to help keep his bait high in the water column.

Also helpful, Reynolds says, was holding his rod tip high during the retrieve.

Tags: david-a-brown  post-tournament  2018-03-22-grand-lake 

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

June is a fantastic month to be on Lake Champlain, as the FLW Tour pros showcased at last week’s season finale, which was presented by T-H Marine. Smallmouths were spawning all over the place, but the winning pattern was catching postspawn largemouths down at Ticonderoga. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is the kind of fishery that forces pros to make difficult decisions about where to go and what color of bass to target. This time around, in the FLW Tour 2019 finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, on the big Northern fishery, the decision was more interesting because there were spawning smallmouths everywhere up north, but the forecast was favorable for making the long run south to Ticonderoga to catch largemouths. READ MORE »

High School Championship Top 10 Baits

High School Championship Top 10 Baits

June is typically ledge-fishing season in the Tennessee Valley, especially at Pickwick, but the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship was a more diverse event than most folks might have expected. Patterns ranging from junk-fishing the bank to targeting docks and other shoreline cover to working the main-lake ledges all worked. Here are the baits used by the top 10 teams during the week. READ MORE »

Cicero and Snyder Win World Finals

Cicero and Snyder Win World Finals

Anthony Cicero IV and Dakota Snyder went right to their spot, locked up a big limit early and about six and a half hours later, brought what would be the winning sack of 16 pounds, 6 ounces to McFarland Park where the Elizabethtown High School duo won the 10th Annual High School Fishing World Finals. READ MORE »

World Finals Midday Update - Day 4

World Finals Midday Update - Day 4

Pickwick is big lake, but even this 53-mile long TVA reservoir gets weary and the first half of the day told a tale of occasional opportunity, but a lot of waiting and hoping as 31 teams competed in the final day of the 10th annual High School Fishing World Finals. READ MORE »

Northlake Christian Wins By An Ounce

Northlake Christian Wins By An Ounce

Northlake Christian High School’s Christopher Capdeboscq and Sam Acosta weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces (three fish) on the final day to win the High School Fishing National Championship on Pickwick Lake. With a three-day total weight of 35-12, Capdeboscq and Acosta had just a 1-ounce margin over the second-place team of Colin McCullough and Justin Hamlin who tallied 35-11 for Cedar Bluff High School. READ MORE »

High School Midday Update - Day 3

High School Midday Update - Day 3

Timing is typically the key to success on most TVA reservoirs and Pickwick Lake seems to be dishing out the lessons during day three of the High School Fishing National Championship, held in conjunction with the 10th Annual High School Fishing World Finals.  READ MORE »

High School Midday Update – Day 2

High School Midday Update – Day 2

Pickwick showed off its impressive diversity during day two of the High School Fishing National Championship, which is held in conjunction with the High School Fishing World Finals. End-to-end, this Tennessee River reservoir stretches about 53 miles, and, while the offshore ledge game gets most of the attention, anglers were also leveraging the lake's many other fishable features. READ MORE »

Northlake Christian Takes the Lead

Northlake Christian Takes the Lead

Weights are stacked tight atop the standings of the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship on Pickwick Lake. Moving into the lead position is the Northlake Christian team of Christopher Capdeboscq and Sam Acosta, who added 12 pounds, 14 ounces today for a two-day total of 26-5. Will Daniels and Kade Suratt added an impressive three-bass limit worth 15-12 today to move up one spot and into the lead in the High School Fishing World Finals. READ MORE »

Bedford, Brown Lead at Pickwick

Bedford, Brown Lead at Pickwick

Weighing in a three-fish limit of bass that averaged more than 4 1/2 pounds apiece has JD Bedford and Walker Brown of Lawrence County High School in the driver’s seat at the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship on Pickwick Lake. Keegan Fort and Clayton Page lead the High School Fishing World Finals with a three-fish limit worth 14 pounds, 5 ounces. READ MORE »

High School Midday Update – Day 1

High School Midday Update – Day 1

Some things on Pickwick Lake were as expected, but some were less so during day one of the dual High School Fishing National Championship and High School Fishing World Finals. Predictably, offshore patterns seem to be dominating the day, particularly traditional ledge scenarios below the Natchez Trace Bridge. Crankbaits, jigs, swimbaits and big worms were the common presentations. READ MORE »

Top High Schoolers Headed for Pickwick

Top High Schoolers Headed for Pickwick

This week, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir touching Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama pulls double duty for a joint production of the High School Fishing National Championship (Wednesday-Friday) and the 10th annual Student Angler Federation High School Fishing World Finals (Wednesday-Saturday). READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Pros caught fish everywhere from in the middle of flooded jungles of brush to deep main-lake drops. The top finishers pretty much all power fished with soft plastics, crankbaits and frogs. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

The top 10 fished a little of everything, but mostly stuck to areas within a few miles of the 147 bridge. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the National Championship

Top 10 Patterns from the National Championship

Though there was some carryover from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American the week before, the fishing on the Potomac River was a lot better for the anglers in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance. With better fishing came more robust grass patterns, but plenty of bass (some of the biggest of the event) were caught off hard cover as well. All in all, it was a mixed week of very good fishing on the Potomac. READ MORE »

National Championship Top 10 Baits

National Championship Top 10 Baits

Competitors in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance undoubtedly took some cues from the top finishers in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American the week before, but they also blazed some new ground. With better fishing overall and a better grass bite, a few more winding baits got mixed into the fray. READ MORE »

Best Hair from the College Championship

Best Hair from the College Championship

Inspired by the Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair videos, we thought we’d take a little time to break down some of the best hair from this year’s YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship. This article is not meant to criticize the hair the college anglers brought to the Potomac; rather, we want to recognize the unsung heroes and the flair they brought to the tournament. Since the college anglers can compete in the tournament solo or as a pair, we allowed the same rules on our list. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

With notably less developed grass than usual on the Potomac River, the anglers in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American had a slightly different river to deal with. The tournament, which was presented by General Tire, featured a lot more hard cover action than grass bed fishing, and that trend was reflected in the top 10. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

The T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, which was presented by General Tire, featured a mixed bag of staple river tactics. As such, a pretty good variety of jigs, vibrating jigs and plastics came into play, with some finesse and hard baits mixed in. READ MORE »