UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Going Shallow with Latimer

Going Shallow with Latimer
Brian Latimer

The 2016 FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake was one of the biggest moments of Brian Latimer’s rookie season. Back then, after chalking up a measly 10 1/2 pounds on day one, Latimer smashed 19-14 on the second day to rocket from nothing to a check for the first time in an offshore tournament on the Tennessee River. This year, Kentucky Lake is a little bit different – there are a lot more carp, and the fish are undeniably less removed from the spawn. After spending most of the first two days searching shallow on Lake Barkley, Latimer let me climb aboard to see how he approaches the final morning of practice.

 

After yours truly started the morning by driving to the wrong ramp, Latimer and I finally connect around 6:50. He’s in the middle of re-rigging and still buried in rods and tackle when I walk down the ramp. A few more baits get tied up, and Latimer finishes tweaking his arsenal before he’s ready to roll. Even though he’s getting a late start, there’s plenty of time left to fish. It’s summer now, and the days are long.

 

The first stop is a shallow bar out in front of Jonathan Creek on Kentucky Lake. Picking up a crankbait, Latimer starts winding his away along the edge.

“I am not going to let the Tennessee River kick my butt,” says Latimer, as he relays his early practice experience. So far, it sounds like things have been slow – not impossible, but his early hunting offshore quickly forced him toward Barkley and the bank. Now, he’s trying offshore one last time.

“You should be proud of me,” says Latimer as he comes to the end of the bar. “I just cranked down, like, a quarter-mile of ledge.”

Sure, there weren’t any fish, but it’s an impressive commitment nonetheless.

 

Just as he starts to quit the offshore game, Latimer decides to crank one more spot that catches his eye. Idling over it, he marks some magnum Asian carp – and no bass – on the Lowrance. Nonetheless, it gets a handful of casts just to be sure. Then he’s off again.

 

The final stop offshore is the site of Latimer’s epic 2016 comeback, and it might be the last time he checks it this week. Unlike some established ledge masters such as Clent Davis and Jason Lambert, Latimer doesn’t have a screen jammed with waypoints, but he’s got a pair of stop signs on this spot and some previous trails from day one.

Latimer starts with a crankbait and then pulls out a spinning rod and rigs up a Neko rig to milk it a little more. In between, he fields a call from fellow competitor Curtis Richardson and holds the phone in a truly unique manner.

Finally, biteless after almost two hours of fishing, it’s time to go shallow.

 

Latimer runs toward a smallish pocket off the main lake with a marina and sits down on the point leading into it, where he begins lobbing a swimbait around. He works his way through some docks on the bank, and then hops over to some marina docks from there.

“At home the postspawn residuals love to hang around these marina docks,” the South Carolina pro explains. “Between bream and shad there’s so much life around them there, but it’s a different dynamic here.”

As far as bass go, these docks appear to be lifeless, as he can’t even coax a follow on his swimbait.

 

Idling out of the pocket, Latimer takes a minute to drink some water and chow down on a section of a wrap before taking off. His next stop is a point at the mouth of one of the bigger creeks on the lake. He lobs around a big swimbait for a few minutes and then moves on. So far the mouths of creeks have been ghost towns today.

“For the most part I’ve already got what I’m gonna do,” says Latimer, who is planning on running to Barkley to fish shallow. “It’s either going to work, or it won’t. Today is just a day to try this and that.”

 

Swinging over to the break wall at Moors, Latimer finally hooks up with a fish on his crankbait. Unfortunately, it’s a catfish. A minute later, after a fraught decision about whether or not to set the hook in front of another competitor, Latimer swings on a tiny bass with a Neko rig.

He breaks off on the next cast and takes a moment to re-rig before heading out. Instead of a typical nail weight, Latimer has a prototype weight designed just for Z-Man plastics. It’s basically a little lead-head with a wire keeper in the style of the Ned rig jigheads. Stuck into the end of a Mag FattyZ, it is a very tempting package.

 

After re-rigging, Latimer fires up and rolls back into the creek to a pocket with a few docks and some slightly flooded brush in the back. First he tosses the Neko and the swimbait on the docks. Next comes a frog and a jig, which he fishes through a little creek in the pocket. Coming back out of it, he spots a bass guarding fry and a light goes off.

“Yeah, buddy,” he says. “That’s a sign. That might be the first time I’ve seen a fry-guarder on the Tennessee River. That tells you that they aren’t all out. They can’t be all gone and there still be fry around.”

A few feet later, Latimer spots another, and it’s time to tie on a popper.

 

Latimer fires the popper, and a bass immediately crushes it. He’s tickled to death to get bit on top even though the fish isn’t a keeper.

 

Now that his arsenal has expanded to topwater, Latimer is building up a decent pile of rods on deck. He’s got a little bit of everything covered, which is certainly atypical for a Kentucky Lake event this time of year. Normally you’d just expect some finesse stuff and every ledge fishing bait in the books.

 

Latimer moves to a new pocket, and after a few more throws a good one smokes his popper. Both of us think it’s about a 5-pounder for a moment, but it turns out to simply be a healthy one that would probably weigh close to 3 pounds.

“We might be on to something,” Latimer says. “I’ve got to bend my hooks down. I need to find them, but I don’t need to be hooking them. I can catch ’em like this over at Barkley. I never tried it; I just flipped, but I know I could.”

 

After easing around some docks into another pocket, Latimer gets bit again on the popper, and you can tell his wheels are spinning.

“If I can get four or five bites the rest of the day I might stay in Kentucky,” he says. “This could be something I could run with. I haven’t been getting bites. Literally, from 2 o’clock until dark yesterday afternoon I didn’t catch a single fish.”

 

Tying on a walking bait, Latimer continues prospecting along the bank, albeit in an area where the pockets look decadently less fishy.

“It’s been in the back of my mind to do this all week,” says Latimer. “But, I haven’t done it all week. I don’t know why. You know how these bushes are too shallow to flip? You just need to get out in front of them a little.”

After finishing out the stretch we’re on, it’s time for me to get off the lake. Not only is it hot as blazes, but I’ve run out of water bottles, and I don’t want to cut into Latimer’s budget.

 

Idling out of the shallow water in the pocket, Latimer pokes around on his graph for his next honey hole. There are all kinds of little pockets to prospect in, so depending on how much longer he decides to chase the topwater bite he’ll have options. After a decent run back to the ramp, he drops me off and quickly gets back on plane to keep hunting.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2018-05-17-kentucky-lake 

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 »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »