UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Top 10 Patterns from the Red River

Top 10 Patterns from the Red River
NICK HATFIELD & COREY NEECE

University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Thomas Soileau and Hunter Freeman concentrated on easily accessible backwater areas in Pool 4 to win the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance C-Map Genesis on the Red River. Behind them, the rest of the top 10 caught fish a variety of ways – camping in smaller backwaters, fishing the main river, or mixing it up. The Red was certainly tough, but most teams managed a limit every day. That said, getting a kicker bite or two was a huge challenge.

ULM’s winning pattern

Complete results

 

2. Cody Huff and Garrett Enders – Bethel University – 35-2 (15)

With their second-place finish, Bethel University’s Cody Huff and Garrett Enders continued their upward movement, which started with a 32nd-place catch of 8-8 on day one, followed by day two’s biggest catch – 13-14 – and a big move up to third. In the final round, they added 12-12 and finished with 35-2.

Huff and Enders fished primarily in one backwater in Pool 4 and had to wait for their pattern to develop each day.

“We had a really slow start; we didn’t catch our first keeper until an hour and a half into it,” Huff says. “As soon as that sun got up, those fish really sucked to the bank and got in those shade lines and we caught them pretty quick.”

Huff says he and Enders were targeting the shade of overhanding willow trees, as well as the subsurface root structures. They caught their fish on a 1/2-ounce white Twin Tackle Swim Jig with a white Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailer and a Z-Man Custom ChatterBait.

“There were a lot of bluegill around those trees, but also a lot of bait relating to that cover,” Huff says. “The swim jig was better earlier in the week, but today, they seemed to eat the ChatterBait better.”

Enders says that early ChatterBait bites steered them toward the bait for the rest of the final day.

“We got bit right away this morning, so we just stuck with it,” he says. “It wasn’t fast and furious; you’d just go down the bank and catch one or two, then you’d go back down and catch one or two.

“The boat was sitting in 5-6 feet and that’s why we think they were on that bank. It was like a foot and a half, but some parts of the bank are undercut and the willow roots would come out. We think some of those big ones would get up under those roots, so the key was to get our ChatterBaits as close to the bank as we could.”

 

3. Nick Hatfield and Corey Neece – Tusculum College – 34-5 (15)

For the first two days, Tusculum College’s Nick Hatfield and Corey Neece kept themselves near the top of the standings before finishing third with 34-5. Day one saw the anglers catch a limit of 12-1 and place fourth. They’d follow up a day later with 13-9 and move up to second. In the final round, they finished out by adding 8-11.

A key backwater area in Pool 4 with abundant vegetation held Hatfield and Neece’s attention for most of the tournament. Punching a beaver style bait with a 1 1/2-ounce weights and working the surface with a popping frog and a buzzbait yielded all of their bites.

“We found this little backwater area that had clean water and alligator grass,” Hatfield says. “There was a healthy population of fish. Day one and day two we caught them good. Today, we went in there and we caught one good one right off the bat, but then I think it showed us we had depleted the area; we had run out of fish.”

Neece says his team’s strategy was to get away from the crowds and fish in solitude.

“Those fish live in the grass, so you have to get up close to catch them,” Neece says.

 

4. Nick Czajka and Jack Hippe – Adrian College – 30-14 (15)

With far fewer tournament boats on the water on the final day, Adrian College’s Jack Hippe and Nick Czajka took advantage of the opportunity to run and gun. Adding 8-12 to their first two scores of 10-3 and 11-15, they ended up in fourth place with 30-14.

“One days one and two we spent more time in our areas, picking them apart,” Hippe says. “On day three, we spent more time covering water and looking for bigger bites. Also, we could spread out and let our areas rest. The first two days, we had to guard our areas, but today, we could back off and let our fish reposition.

“We didn’t have a limit today until about 1 o’clock and then we made three or four culls afterward. Our adjustments worked, to an extent. We didn’t get nearly as big a bag, but I think we’re both happy with it.”

Czajka says he and Hippe caught their fish on black Zoom Magnum Trick Worm. Downsizing from a 5/16-ounce weight to a 3/16-ounce allowed them to make more effective presentations.

“In the areas we were casting to, you either got bit or you got hung, but that’s where the fish were,” Czajka says. “If you threw it out there and if you moved it too much, you were getting hung in the rocks. You had to let the current do its thing and just drag it along really slowly. It was painfully slow.”

Late on day three, Hippe culled a fish with a 1/4-ounce white Terminator spinnerbait with white blades and a white Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad trailer. Earlier in the week, the pair dragged a tube as well.

 

5. Jackson Ebbers and Charlie Deshazer – University of Nebraska – 30-9 (15)

Day one saddled Charlie Deshazer and Jackson Ebbers with crippling boat issues, but the University of Nebraska anglers fought through the impediments and got their equipment back in full form for days two and three. That first day actually delivered their best weight — a limit of 13-11 that put them in second place. Adding 8-9 on day two and 8-5 on day three gave them a fifth-place total of 30-9.

“As the week went on, the big fish were being caught or they were being pressured, so we couldn’t catch a big one after day one,” Deshazer says. “We caught them on a spinnerbait and a squarebill crankbait. The crankbait excelled in the morning when they were up shallow and we threw the spinnerbait out deeper for big ones.”

Ebbers says boat positioning was key for the squarebill presentations. Sitting nearly on top of the rocks allowed them to get a light crankbait down into the strike zone.

 

6. Hunter Malmay and Robert Jones – Northwestern State – 28-3 (15)

Shallow, muddy water intimidates some, but not Robert Jones and Hunter Malmay, who worked shoreline wood cover and earned a sixth-place finish for Northwestern State. Weights of 11-14 and 12-5 kept them in fifth place for days one and two, until a slower day three brought only a limit of 6 pounds for a tournament total of 28-3.

“The muddy water played to our strengths,” Jones says. “We’re pitching and flipping guys; that’s what we love to do. We did that on day one and got some bites and that was basically our practice day because we didn’t practice for this tournament.”

Malmay says they noticed lots of crawfish and baitfish around the shallow cover so they “beat it to death” with a black and blue V&M J Bug. Sending baits deep into cover allowed the Northwestern anglers to reach fish others likely bypassed.

“We lost a good one doing that on day three, but you can’t be afraid to go after them,” Malmay says.

 

7. Cody Batterson and Chase Serafin – Adrian College – 27-4 (15)

The Adrian College team of Chase Serafin and Cody Batterson – winners of this year’s YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake – placed 13th on day one with 10-6, moved into ninth on day two with 8-4 and ended in 7th after they added 8-10 for a 27-4 total. Making their first visit to the Red River, the Adrian College duo opted to grind it out on the heavily pressured main river rocks; a strategy that relied on current.

“We were on some good fish in practice, but as the tournament came, more and more guys started moving out to the main river as they realized the sloughs and backwaters weren’t as good as they were hoping,” Batterson says. “Everyone pushed out onto the main river. The first two tournament days we had a boat on just about every one of our spots.

“We would run down the river and look for one of our spots that was open, we’d catch fish and go on to the next one. The final day was a little better; we shared spots with maybe one or two other teams.”

Batterson notes that less fishing pressure allowed them the morning bite they had previously been denied. Serafin says he and his teammate caught most of their fish on a Ike’s rasta-colored Rapala DT 6. They also caught fish on a mud bug-colored  Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap.

“We mostly targeted wing dams with current coming over them,” Serafin says. “One day we followed a barge to three different spots. As the barge came through, the water pulled over the spot and it pulled the bait over and we’d catch a couple of fish. We’d run down to the next spot and wait for the barge to come through.”

 

8. Nick Montilino and Brock Spencer – Murray State University – 27-2 (15)

Pitching Missile Baits D Bombs and Strike King Rage Bugs earned the bites for Murray State’s Nick Montilino and Brock Spencer, who finished eighth with 27-2.

“We were fishing shallow cover in backwater areas,” Montilino says. “The key to that was finding areas with access to deep water. We caught a few on the main river, but deeper backwaters are what we were focusing on.

“We were fishing the bank, but the key was staying near a deep hole somewhere in the backwater.”

Spencer says wood and hyacinth mats were the key targets in the backwaters.

 

9. Michael Dunn and Henry Colberg – University of Pittsburgh – 26-4 (14)

Adjusting to a changing bite led the University of Pittsburgh’s Michael Dunn and Henry Colberg to a top 10 finish. They placed 12th on day one with 10-8, moved up to eighth on day two with 8-2 and added 7-10 in the final round to end up ninth with 26-4.

“Day one was good, day two we had to change it up a little bit and day three we didn’t catch a fish until 12:30,” Dunn says.

As Colberg explains, shifting gears in that final afternoon proved pivotal.

“We cranked rock with a squarebill day on one and day two and on day three, we cranked rock almost all day,” he says. “In the last hour, we switched to a shaky head and picked up five.”

According to Dunn, the extensive pressure in Pool 5 eventually took its toll on their cranking bite. Switching to 1/4-ounce shaky heads with Z-Man Finesse WormZ coaxed the tough bites. Colberg says multiple casts to the same spots on current-washed jetties was essential to getting bit.

 

 

10. Gabriel Dubois and Brandon Heizer – University of Missouri – 25-3 (13)

For the University of Missouri’s Gabriel Dubois and Brandon Heizer, making the top 10 was like starting all over. Days one and two saw them fishing an oxbow, which produced limit catches of 10-2 and 8-7 for 17th and 16th places. Day three yielded only three bass for 6-10 for a tenth-place finish with 25-3.

“We clawed our way here,” Dubois says. “We only got five keeper bites yesterday and when we made it to the day three, Brandon and I looked at one another and said ‘What do we do now?’”

“We finally found some water that produced for us. We just kept grinding and grinding and we finally got the ones that we weighed in in the last 30 minutes. We had to leave our spot at 12:45 to make the lock. At 12:25 I caught our first keeper, at 12:30 I caught our second keeper and at 12:35, Brandon caught our biggest one and that was our day.”

Dubois says he and Heizer caught all of their fish on 7-inch junebug-colored ribbon tail worms.

“We felt like kids again, fishing in the pond, but it got us here,” he says.

 

Tags: david-a-brown  post-tournament  2018-05-30-national-championship 

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Dardanelle

Top Patterns and Baits from Dardanelle

The beginning of the fall transition coupled with dirty water from end to end created difficult fishing conditions at the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel, but anglers focused their attention to the backs of creeks and used a variety of baits to solve the riddle. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake has the potential to churn out some big bags – look no further than the 2019 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, when 21 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds on day one alone – but the 2020 iteration wasn’t as friendly to the college anglers who took to her waters this week. Here’s the skinny on how the top 10 teams caught their fish this week and what they caught them with. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac

Some of the top 10 pros chose a power approach to cover vast stretches of grass, while others slowed down with some of the finesse tactics that always seem to play on the Potomac. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

Top 10 Patterns from Fort Gibson

The beginning of September helped mark the start of the fall transition in the south and that is exactly what the field faced in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Fort Gibson. From topwaters to soft plastics, the top 10 utilized a large chunk of Fort Gibson to catch their fish, with the Grand River paying the biggest role in the division’s second stop of the season. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Neely Henry

Top 10 Patterns from Neely Henry

Mark McCaig won the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Neely Henry casting a SPRO Bronzeye Poppin' Frog under overhanging trees, pitching a  Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog docks and cranking current breaks with a square-bill crankbait. Behind him, the rest of the top 10 mostly fished shallow grass, docks, rocks and laydowns by pitching creature baits and casting buzzbaits, ChatterBaits, and shaky heads. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Fort Gibson

Top 10 Baits from Fort Gibson

Low water and changing weather patterns meant tough fishing at for the second stop of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division at Fort Gibson. While day one brought in prime topwater conditions, days two and three generally saw anglers slogging it out for bass stuck somewhere amidst the fall transition. Fittingly, a few well-known baits are tailor-made for that kind of fishing—including a regional favorite named for the lake’s most legendary fisherman. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Neely Henry

Top 10 Baits from Neely Henry

With very little current being run through Neely Henry during the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event, offshore fishing was almost nil. Instead, most of the field had to survive fishing shallow shoreline cover like willow grass, docks, rip rap, laydowns and shade. Here is a look at the lures that helped score a top 10. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Summertime smallmouth fishing makes having a drop-shot or two on the deck pretty essential, and the top pros in the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay basically all relied on the versatile finesse rig to get the job done. However, between them, there was a decent amount of variation in baits, and a few pros actually branched out from the drop-shot into other techniques. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Cal Delta

Top Patterns and Baits from the Cal Delta

While a lot of things were different in the Toyota Series Western Division event on the California Delta – time of year, amount of time to fish and the odd haze from nearby wildfires – one thing remained the same: flipping, punching and frogging got the job done. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Erie presented anglers the opportunity to fish Erie or make a 100-mile run to Lake St. Clair. Pros found success doing both, with Justin Lucas taking home the crown by 1 ounce sticking it out on Erie. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The overwhelming majority of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament field at Lake Erie was throwing a drop-shot, with a good portion of them using the same lure on it. Yet, there were a couple of oddballs who switched up their offerings to give them an edge. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Patterns from the Mississippi River

Instead of limits coming in bunches, the top pros were often scrambling to get five keeper bites a day at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries event. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Wheeler Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Wheeler Lake

As promised, Wheeler Lake turned out to be the stingiest of the two stops on the Toyota Series Southeastern Division so far this season. The dog days of summer put the kibosh on the main-lake bite, leaving Wheeler’s many shallow creeks and tributaries to supply the pounds and ounces at weigh-in. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Wheeler Lake

Top 10 Baits from Wheeler Lake

The Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake was a shallow-water power-fishing showdown in tough summertime conditions. Almost all the fish the top 10 pros caught came from 5 feet of water or less, and a fair amount of those were caught in 3 feet or less. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

The top pros in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River ended up using fairly similar tactics to attack the river, but with slight variations throughout. Tom Monsoor won with a variety of unique jigs, but many of the other top finishers used more standard fare. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Lee Rogers mixed smallmouths from the nearby islands with a good largemouth day near Sandusky to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Outside of Rogers, the top 10 was filled with folks making substantial runs eastward or to Michigan. It also proved helpful to actually get something going around Sandusky, both during days one and two and on the wind-hampered final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

When you put one of the largest and most talented fields of bass anglers on one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, big things are bound to happen. The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga became a battle between shallow and deep, with pros on either side catching big stringers of giant bass. Here's how they did it. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

When so many anglers are throwing similar baits and running similar patterns, doing something a little different can be quite the advantage. Sure enough, the pros who made the top 10 at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga all had techniques or tactics of their own to set themselves apart. READ MORE »