UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Tour - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Collings Chasing Childhood Dream at Ouachita

Collings Chasing Childhood Dream at Ouachita

Rookie FLW Tour angler Sheldon Collings isn’t going to make the same mistakes at Lake Ouachita that doomed him at Lake St. Clair and lost him Rookie of the Year honors. This time, at the Forrest Wood Cup and in pursuit of the biggest prize in professional fishing, it’s going to be different.

Collings knows he only needed a steady performance on day two at St. Clair to continue fishing through the weekend and lock up the ROY race. Finesse fishing is his bailiwick, and few lakes set up better for finesse tactics to catch a ton of big fish.

The pressure got to the 20-year-old Oklahoma pro, and instead of staying the course, Collings strayed from his game plan and came up well short of his goal of 15-plus pounds on day two, ending his tournament and any shot at ROY.

“I’m not going to lie, I was so tore up,” Collings says. “It was finesse fishing in clear water. The second day, it hit me really, really hard. I fished the way I didn’t need to fish.”

That kind of pressure isn’t going to sink Collings at Ouachita. He’s been there before, and he’s experienced what it feels like to succumb to those emotions. And for a 20-year-old angler — the youngest in the Cup field — it might just be that experience that teaches Collings what it will take to win an even bigger prize.

Collings let us ride along with him on day three of practice to get a closer look at his preparation and talk a little fishing.

 

Collings launches for practice a little later than usual on day three thanks to a damaged lower unit on his outboard that necessitated some repairs and put him behind schedule. By 8:10 a.m., he’s on the water and making a short run to his first spot of the day. His game plan is simple.

“I’m just going to keep a Plopper or a buzzbait in my hand and turn the trolling motor on 10,” he says.

That’s been the strategy from day one, surprisingly enough, given the amount of deep brush that Ouachita holds. It sets up well for finesse or semi-power tactics, but the same deep brush can also hold mounds of stripers, small spotted bass, walleyes and every other species that calls Ouachita home.

“There’s no point in me going out deep,” Collings says. “This is what I need to be doing. It only takes five bites per day.”

Collings’ shallow-water approach has worked well so far. He caught a limit of 14 pounds on day one of practice, and every day he’s learning more and more about the lake.

 

“I get chills thinking about being here at the age of 20,” Collings says. “Being able to win it would be a dream come true.

“I told my grandma when I was 8 that I was going to be the youngest to ever win the Bassmaster Classic, and this is even bigger.”

At 9 a.m., Collings finally hooks into his first fish, a little largemouth that probably won’t be much help during the tournament but is an encouraging sign to continue fishing shallow with topwaters. 

Ten minutes later, though, it’s time to deviate from the plan as Collings picks up a spinning rod he’s rigged with a weightless wacky-rigged 4-inch Yamamoto Senko.

“I can’t take it,” he says. “I’ve got to get a spinning rod out. That tree looks too good.”

With no luck working the branches of a couple laydowns, the rookie goes back to working a variety of topwaters along the banks of a large pocket with some standing timber, which he suspects might hold some winning fish. He’s getting into a groove until a fray in his line sends his buzzbait sailing and it’s time to tie on a new one.

“I went full-send mode on that one,” he jokes. “There’s probably a 4-pounder down there chewing on my buzzbait.”

 

Family means everything to Collings, and he’s quick to point out how many sacrifices his parents have made to help him chase his dream of making a living fishing professionally. Practicing on Ouachita, for the biggest tournament in professional fishing, makes it easy to keep that in perspective.

“When I was 15 or 16, my parents started home-schooling me so I could fish the BFLs,” he says. “They’ve done everything to help me out, and I’m just so thankful for it.”

Humility isn’t often something one associates with being 20 years old, but Collings has it in spades. He also understands that no matter how important the Cup is, there are some things in life that are far more important, even if it means not pre-fishing Ouachita after the tournament at St. Clair.

On July 14, Collings’ girlfriend, KC, was involved in a serious car accident that left her with a broken back and a long road to a full recovery. Collings spent the next two weeks by her side, forgoing any chance to get out on Ouachita before official practice this week.

“The ones you love are a whole lot more important than money,” he says.

 

Fishing starts to heat up for Collings around 9:45 a.m. He finds a portion of a shallow cut with murkier water, and the topwater bite turns on. He misses a couple blow-ups before finally hooking into a 1 1/2-pounder and sees it has some followers — the first roaming wolfpack he’s seen so far in practice.

At 9:55, Collings hooks into a spotted bass on a 4-inch Chug’n Spook Jr. As he swings the fish into the boat, it spits up a partially digested shad of about the same size as his walking bait. Another clue that could give Collings an advantage in the tournament.

 

At 10:15, Collings finishes running the banks of the shallow cut before idling back to the main lake and preparing for a short run to one of Ouachita’s small marinas. He’s hoping to find some keepers flipping dock slips.

After tossing a Senko and a Whopper Plopper 130 around some slips with no luck, it’s time to head deeper into the cove where there’s some shallow water and a submerged roadbed that Collings is certain will hold some fish.

He ties on a crankbait. There's about 6 feet of water around the roadbed and the remnants of an old submerged bridg. Only minutes go by before he lands a walleye and a couple small spots. He hasn’t come across any big bass yet, but he’s encouraged by the structure and murky water in that section of the lake.

 

Collings estimates it will take 45 or 46 pounds to win the Cup this year. So far, it’s been a struggle finding the kind of fish it will take to hit that mark.

“A 4-pound-class fish is going to go a long way in this tournament,” he says.

At 11:10, Collings decides to fish one more spot before lunch. He heads to the very back of the cove and throws a crankbait next to the bridge pilings and surrounding riprap. He lands a chunky largemouth, though it’s a little too short to be more than a pound.

Still, it’s another encouraging sign, especially since changing weather this week could force more big fish into those shallow, murky areas.

 

At 11:20, Collings decides it's time for lunch. He plans to run up to the river in the afternoon, but the heat of the day calls for a brief stint in the air-conditioned Mountain Harbor Marina’s floating Subway.

Inside, Collings sits down near a number of other Cup participants — all of whom are older and more experienced than Collings.

The rookie doesn’t turn 21 until February, and while age isn’t everything, Collings admits he still gets a little nervous seeing the likes of Scott Martin, Andy Morgan and Bryan Thrift at the boat ramp during tournaments.

“I’ll probably be really nervous for this one,” he says. “But once I get out on the water, I don’t think about it.”

Experience can teach many lessons, and Collings has certainly learned more than his share this year. The letdown at St. Clair taught him to fish the way he knows how to fish, pressure be damned. Ouachita is teaching him some lessons, too, and if he continues taking them to heart this week, he might just experience what it feels like to be a Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Tags: justin-onslow  pre-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Scott Ostmann’s last tournament on Chickamauga wasn’t what he knew he was capable of. He found out just what he could really do on Chick this week with a 54-12 three-day total in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, and a huge dose of redemption on a lake that beat him up in 2017. 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 »

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 3

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 3

With bluebird skies and a little breeze, day three conditions on Chickamauga almost mirror those of day two, which saw a 37-pound, 5-ounce bag caught by current leader Brent Butler. Weights might have been down a bit across the board, but there are enough anglers in the top 10 that are on enough fish to make today’s weigh-in interesting. They’re all out there chasing down some Chick giants today. READ MORE »

Butler Hangs On

Butler Hangs On

Brent Butler weighed in a bag he’ll never forget on day two of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Chickamauga. Not only was the 37-pound, 5-ounce stringer his best ever, it also sent him to day three of the tournament, presented by T-H Marine, with a large enough lead to finish the job. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 2

Day-one leader Rusty White caught his fish on Thursday throwing a variety of lipless crankbaits at transition points where fish are moving up to spawn. He did the exact same thing in the same locations on day two, but he struggled to get the same quantity of bites this time around. READ MORE »

Butler Blasts 37-5 on Chickamauga

Butler Blasts 37-5 on Chickamauga

Day two of the Costa FLW Series presented by T-H Marine on Lake Chickamauga was fairly humdrum until Brent Butler walked to the weigh-in stage. Weighing in 37 pounds, 5 ounces, Butler rocketed up from 40th to first with a 51-13 total, and made his mark on the record books in the process. READ MORE »

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 2

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 2

Despite improving weather conditions – including abundant sunshine and rising air temperature – the fishing seems to be as slow on Chickamauga today as it was on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 1

On a lake like Chickamauga, there are usually a lot of ways to catch fish. The top five after day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine proved that. READ MORE »

White Leads with 28-11 on Chickamauga

White Leads with 28-11 on Chickamauga

Overall, the fishing wasn’t quite what some expected out of Chickamauga on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event. However, even a slightly off Chickamauga is really impressive, and Rusty White of Harrison, Tenn., put it to them to the tune of 28 pounds, 11 ounces to take the day-one lead. READ MORE »

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 1

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 1

Despite indications that Chickamauga might be ready to churn out a bunch of mega-bags on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine, early returns suggest the fishing has been a lot tougher than expected so far. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine is underway, and by all indications, the fishery is set up to churn out some mega-bags throughout the event. Even during practice, with the water falling well below normal levels, 7-, 8- and 9-pounders weren’t uncommon. Now, with the best anglers in the southeast hard at it, you can expect fireworks. READ MORE »

2019 Grand Lake Preview

2019 Grand Lake Preview

Grand Lake is situated in Northeast Oklahoma among the foothills of the Ozarks. The impoundment was created in 1940 when the Pensacola Dam was finished along the Grand River. The 46,500-surface-acre reservoir now hosts plenty of recreational opportunities, but more importantly, is also home to some of the best bass fishing in the country. READ MORE »

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  

The second stop of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division promises much better fishing than the first. Moving north from a cold front-plagued Florida swing, the field will visit Lake Chickamauga for the middle event of the season. The tournament, which is presented by T-H Marine, should feature excellent fishing, as the east Tennessee reservoir pretty much always kicks out giants. 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 »

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

Crankbaits were the deal on Kentucky Lake during the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing Open. Springtime on the Tennessee River impoundment usually means traditional prespawn tactics, and we saw a bunch of that during the tournament. Anglers in the top 10 relied heavily on lipless and diving crankbaits, as well as umbrella rigs, jigs and jerkbaits.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Like the winning team, many others in the top 10 targeted main-lake points and rock-to-gravel transitions – and pretty much anything that served as a current break. With the wind whipping and the water being drawn down at a rapid pace, there were a couple predominant patterns that developed throughout the event. READ MORE »

McCarty, Pennington Win College Open

McCarty, Pennington Win College Open

University of North Alabama anglers Hunter McCarty and Sloan Pennington weighed in the second-largest bag of the tournament on day two of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake and finished with 45 pounds, 14 ounces total to edge out Tristan McCormick and Dakota Pierce of Bethel University by just 1 pound, 10 ounces. McCarty and Pennington also managed to upgrade their day one total of 22-2 with the 23-12 day-two bag – something few other teams were able to do on a day shortened by heavy winds. READ MORE »

College Open Midday Update — Day 1

College Open Midday Update — Day 1

Kentucky Lake is showing out in a big way on day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open. Cool but fairly calm conditions have paved the way for a lot of quality fish and some impressive stringers so far. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from College Open – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from College Open – Day 1

Blake Jackson and Trevor McKinney of McKendree University edged out 20 other bags over 20 pounds with their 23-pound, 11-ounce stringer on day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open. They did it primarily with mid-diving crankbaits on one special current break that held a bunch of smallmouths cycling through the area. That wasn’t necessarily a pattern that dominated for the rest of the top 5, though. Current certainly played its part, but versatility was key on day one. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top 5 teams caught their fish on Tuesday. READ MORE »

Jackson, McKinney Lead College Open

Jackson, McKinney Lead College Open

Blake Jackson and Trevor McKinney of McKendree University outpaced an incredibly productive field on day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open to lock up the day one lead on Kentucky Lake. The duo weighed in a bag that primarily consisted of smallmouth weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces. They hold a two-ounce lead over Bethel University's Cole Floyd and Carter McNeil. The top 10 of this event is absolutely stacked, and even the top 20 required a bag of 20-1 to crack. That's some seriously good fishing on Kentucky Lake, and Jackson and McKinney were the best of the best on day one. READ MORE »