UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Go Big or Go Home Worked for Farlow

Go Big or Go Home Worked for Farlow

In any tournament on the eastern end of Lake Erie, a competitor’s flight number often dictates whether he goes after numbers or size first thing. When Neil Farlow left Safe Harbor Marina in boat 156 on the opening morning of the Costa FLW Series North Division event presented by Polaris and hosted by Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, his was an easy choice to make: He opted for quality over quantity.

It was a wise move for the 31-year-old Canadian from St. Catharines, as he went on to catch a limit of smallmouths totaling 24 pounds, 4 ounces and won what proved to be a one-day event. The competition was shortened by buffeting winds from the west, which prompted tournament director Ron Lappin to cancel the last two days because of unsafe boating conditions.

For his efforts, Farlow collected $87,500, which included a Ranger Z518 rigged with a 200-hp outboard. His win moved him into sixth place in the Northern Division standings and upped his annual earnings to more than $90,000.

“A bunch of guys were on the big schools way ahead of me. I knew as soon as I got out there and saw all the boats that I needed to go check out some of my old spots for bigger fish,” says Farlow. “It’s all rock and sand on the drops, but over time I’ve managed to find a few places that have something else going for them. If you get to the right depth, there are so many contour changes and rock that aren’t on the maps. That’s where you don’t find so many fish, but you find the size you need in a tournament where everybody’s catching fish.”

Starting on one of his isolated spots on the Canadian side, Farlow noticed something important almost immediately. His partner, Matt Thoin, caught five keepers before Farlow had even one. A change of baits didn’t seem to matter to the smallmouths, and then Farlow saw that Thoin was casting out his drop-shot rig, while Farlow was more or less fishing straight down.

“Matt was kicking my butt so I decided to start casting around like he was doing, and it worked,” says Farlow. “My second fish was the big one [6 pounds, 6 ounces], and everything sort of smoothed out after that. It was a subtle bite, and they didn’t want the boat near them. The casting angle didn’t seem to matter so much as where the boat was. Every time I got on top of the fish they either wouldn’t bite or it would be very slow.”

The Canadian’s drop-shot bait was a Reaction Innovations Flirt Worm in green pumpkin. Sometimes Farlow would shorten the length when he thought the smallmouths wanted a smaller profile. Using a Quantum Smoke spinning combo, he fished it on a 12-inch leader of 6- or 8-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon tied to 10-pound-test braided line. Structure such as single boulders or irregular bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water produced best.

“Mainly I just cast it out and dragged it back slowly. Sometimes I would jump it up off the bottom just trying to get their attention, but I don’t know that it made much difference,” he says.

Farlow ran his milk run in Canada and the U.S., and even though the wind picked up later in the day, it wasn’t more than his Ranger 522D deep hull could handle. Picking off a fish here and another there, he caught only eight bass all day, but they were the right size. Thoin, who wound up with 19 pounds, finished 23rd on the co-angler side.

Farlow started fishing the Costa FLW Series in 2017, but wasn’t able to fish the last tournament of the season because of a conflict. This time around he plans to fish all three events, including the last one at 1000 Islands, and sees a possible career in the FLW Tour up ahead.

“I’ve been looking at the Tour for a few years. Now is not the best time, though,” he notes. “I eventually want to get there. I love the competition. Maybe in a few years I’ll take a closer look at the Tour.”

 

Ushio goes against the grain for co-angler win

Contrary to what just about everyone else seemed to be using, co-angler winner Sakae Ushio didn’t need tube jigs or drop-shot rigs to catch his 23-pound, 7-ounce limit in the first round on Lake Erie. Instead, his main bait was a 4-inch Z-Man Big TRD he was fishing on a Ned rig.

The 38-year-old deli employee was paired with FLW Tour pro Chris Johnston and made the most of the Canadian’s choice of fishing spots. During the day, Ushio boated more than 20 keepers, including a smallmouth that weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces. His winning limit was third best overall in a one-day fishfest that saw 53 limits caught that weighed more than 20 pounds each.

“The most important thing was to keep the rig in contact with the bottom,” says Ushio, of Tanawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. Ushio dedicated the tournament to his original hometown of Okayama, Japan, which was devastated by typhoon flooding 10 days ago. “If the wind blew the line so the bait would come up, or if the boat drifted back and pulled the line up, it was no good. The fish wanted it right on the bottom. If I kept it there, they would hammer it. They were very aggressive, but only at the bottom.”

Ushio and Johnston fished in water that ranged from about 28 feet deep to about 36 feet deep. The co-angler champ used a Fenwick spinning rod and Daiwa spinning reel loaded with 7-pound-test Toray fluorocarbon. He declined to name the color of the bait, but presumably it mimicked a round goby, the main forage fish in Lake Erie.

Ushio collected $27,250 for his efforts, which brought his 2018 Costa co-angler winnings to $29,250. His performance at Erie also boosted him into first place in the divisional standings with 493 points. With the Northern Division finale set for Sept. 6-8 on the St. Lawrence River out of Clayton, N.Y., Ushio is trailed by Wataru Iwahori in second with 490 points and Kevin Hesson in third with 486 points.

 

Tags: colin-moore  post-tournament  2018-07-26-lake-erie-buffalo 

Top 10 Baits from Clear Lake

Top 10 Baits from Clear Lake

Even though cold, windy and rainy conditions challenged the field throughout the event, Clear Lake still showed the caliber of fish that swim in it during the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Western Division season, which was presented by Ranger Boats.   READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns From Table Rock

Top 10 Patterns From Table Rock

Fishing at Table Rock during the Costa FLW Series Central Division event, presented by Power-Pole, was pretty remarkable, at least until it wasn’t. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Table Rock

Top 10 Baits from Table Rock

It really didn’t matter what pros threw at Table Rock. The fish were probably going to eat it. Yet, despite a banner practice, things certainly got tougher throughout the Costa FLW Series Central Division event, which was presented by Power-Pole. Thus, pros needed to continually adapt to the conditions with their offerings.Here’s a look at the lures that helped the top 10 anglers.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

The timing of the FLW Tour event at Lake Chickamauga was both a curse and a blessing for the top 10 finishers. There were plenty of fish to be had – and on a multitude of patterns – but the big double-digit females Chick is known for were hard to track down. READ MORE »

ROY Update: Lake Chickamauga

ROY Update: Lake Chickamauga

We didn’t bother with an update on the Polaris FLW Tour Rookie of the Year race after the fifth stop of the FLW Tour season at Cherokee Lake. At that point, Miles Burghoff had the overall lead in the AOY standings and a 108-point lead for ROY. It looked like it was locked up. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Lake Chickamauga

Most people probably don’t equate Lake Chickamauga to spinning rods and finesse techniques, but both were prevalent during the FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Chick. Plenty of pros threw swimbaits, jigs and crankbaits, but the common thread among most of the top 10 is the use of a stick bait (usually wacky- or Texas-rigged) to target bedding or postspawn fish still hanging in the shallows.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Santee Cooper

Top 10 Patterns from Santee Cooper

Santee Cooper is full of 30-pound stringers. It’s also been known as a lake that will humble an angler quick. Bradford Beavers had experienced that before, having twice before weighed in 30-plus-pound stringers in tournaments on his home lake only to bomb the next day. Well, third time was the charm. After weighing in 31-02 on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by Power-Pole, he managed to back it up on day two by fishing both lakes for his first signature victory. Of course, he had to hold off some hard charges from some veteran locals to do it. Here’s how they and the other top pros managed to carve out their own patterns and stay consistent on Santee. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Santee Cooper

Top 10 Baits from Santee Cooper

There were three predominant patterns at Santee Cooper: Pitching wacky rigs to cypress trees, sight-fishing and the shad spawn. Yet, they weren’t the only patterns, as a couple locals managed to do plenty of damage with some locals-only offshore patterns at the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season finale presented by Power-Pole. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Cherokee Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Cherokee Lake

Targeting spawning smallmouth bass was by far the dominant pattern when the FLW Tour visited Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee in April. With a few exceptions, the top 10 pros targeted various combinations of rock and gravel banks where the fish were bedding. Finesse baits such as shaky heads, Ned rigs and small swimbaits saw the most work. READ MORE »

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Jason Bridwell fishes in the Volunteer Division of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League, and his track record on Cherokee, a lake at which he considers himself a local, is nearly spotless, especially after a win in the FLW Tour Marshal program contest. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Cherokee Lake

AOY Update: Cherokee Lake

This year’s FLW Tour Angler of the Year race is hurtling toward one of the most dramatic finishes ever. After finishing 46th at Cherokee Lake, rookie pro Miles “Sonar” Burghoff took advantage of a stumble by Terry Bolton to move into the top spot in the standings. If Burghoff can hold on through the final two events, he’ll be the first rookie since Shinichi Fukae in 2004 to win the AOY award. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Cherokee Lake

Top 10 Baits from Cherokee Lake

The smallmouth bass spawn was on at Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee when the FLW Tour came to town in April. Most of the top pros caught their fish on Ned rigs and shaky heads, as well as swimbaits and jigs. READ MORE »

Upshaw Still Up at Cherokee

Upshaw Still Up at Cherokee

Day two of the FLW Tour presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake featured great fishing again and remarkable consistency from many of the leaders. Still on top, Andrew Upshaw weighed 17 pounds, 14 ounces of smallmouths to up his total to 36-4. In second, Dylan Hays dropped off the pace slightly and weighed 16-11 for a 34-8 total to lurk a bit less than 2 pounds behind Upshaw. Overall, 18 pros weighed more than 16 pounds on day two, and 28 pros have amassed totals over 30 pounds. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Power-fishing tactics with spinnerbaits, jigs, Texas rigs and ChatterBaits on prespawn cover and structure dominated the top 10 at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in April. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

April is transition time in the Tennessee Valley, when bass make their push from prespawn staging areas toward spawning grounds. They set up on rocky banks, shallow points and any kind of wood cover near shore in areas adjacent to spawning pockets. As we saw at the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, some of the best baits for catching bass this time of year are old-school springtime classics: spinnerbaits, jigs, shallow-running crankbaits and Texas rigs. Add in vibrating jigs and wobble-head jigs, and you have about all you need. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Grand Lake has a history of being feast or famine, and it was a lot more famine this past week for the FLW Tour’s fourth stop of the 2019 season, presented by Mercury. Falling water and inconsistent weather made just catching a limit a herculean task, as nearly as many pros didn’t weigh in a fish as brought in a limit every day of the event. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

If you’re going to fish Grand Lake this time of year, you’d better be good with a spinnerbait. The FLW Tour event at Grand Lake last week sure showcased that. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Grand Lake

AOY Update: Grand Lake

Terry Bolton is now more than halfway to his first FLW Tour Angler of the Year title after another top-30 cut at Grand Lake last weekend. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s four top-30 cuts in four events, including two top 10s and his first FLW Tour win. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits From Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits From Chickamauga

Prespawn on Lake Chickamauga usually means a healthy dose of lipless crankbaits and umbrella rigs, so it wasn’t surprising that those were exactly the baits that dominated for the top 10 at the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine on the east Tennessee fishery. Square-bill crankbaits had their place, as did vibrating jigs and a variety of other baits. In the end, though, the common thread connecting many of the anglers in the top 10 was either a trap or a rig. READ MORE »

Stacey Has Big Plans for Marshal Winnings

Stacey Has Big Plans for Marshal Winnings

Holice Stacey has a little more spending money in his pocket after taking home the top prize in the FLW Tour Marshal program contest at Lake Seminole last week — money he plans to pump right back into his passion for fishing. READ MORE »