UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Breaking Down Ouachita

Breaking Down Ouachita

Set in the Ouachita Mountains about 35 minutes from Hot Springs, Ark., Lake Ouachita is a tremendously scenic and diverse venue for the Forrest Wood Cup. It’s likely that depending on how the competitors want to fish, limits could be caught shallow or deep, and in grass, brush or timber. Though the fishing will be tough because of the time of year, the 56 pros that qualified won’t face a shortage of options.

 

Built in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Blakely Mountain Dam created a reservoir that is deep and clear with about 975 miles of shoreline, depending on the water level. About the longest run pros will be able to make this week is from takeoff at Brady Mountain Resort and Marina to the upper reaches of the Ouachita River near the town of Washita. Even that is less than 20 miles. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of diversity contained within the lake, and though it isn’t huge, there is truly a ton of fishable water.

 

 

One of Ouachita’s signature features is standing timber. Back in 2007, Scott Suggs targeted fish suspending in timber when he won the Cup on Ouachita, and it’s a proven pattern, but one that’s difficult for a non-local to dial in. Fish suspending in timber that’s in 30-plus feet of water are very tricky. There’s plenty of timber up closer to the bank to provide additional cover or knock an unsuspecting angler out of the boat. 

 

 

Another winning pattern from years past is catching fish in brush piles. Ouachita has a tremendous number of them, and from Scott Martin’s win in 2011 to Ramie Colson’s charge in 2015 (he finished second), brush piles have given up a lot of big fish in FLW’s championship events. Historically, most of the brush fish have been caught on bigger baits such as worms or crankbaits, but there’s plenty of finesse potential as well. A lot of the pros have reported catching mostly crappie in the brush piles this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bass around them.

 

One of the wild cards this week is the grass. Ouachita has a fair amount of hydrilla and milfoil in it now, and most of it looks pretty amazing. If it does play in the tournament it’s going to be the first time grass has really accounted for a lot of weight in a Cup on Ouachita. That said, with topped-out grass in a few feet and submerged grass in 15 feet, it sure seems like there’s something to be figured out. You can find it growing in many parts of the eastern portion of the lake, on points, in pockets, around timber and solo.

 

Back in 2015, schooling bass were a major focus of the top finishers. This year, most practice reports indicate the schooling bite is off some from last time, but there still seems to be plenty of reasons for the bass to school. The lake is loaded with bait, from pockets to the main lake, and summertime bass seem to love to suspend and chase shad.

 

The backs of Ouachita’s many creeks and rivers will surely see some attention this week. The way-back stretches of the lake usually have slightly cooler and more oxygenated water this time of year due to the inflowing creeks, and going dirt shallow nearly always plays some in August. We probably saw the pinnacle of that in 2016, when John Cox won up a creek on Wheeler Lake and JT Kenney caught the biggest bag of the tournament in a creek about twice as wide as his Ranger. Ouachita has a lot of options in that respect – from the Ouachita River and its South Fork to smaller creeks that dump in to shorter coves.

 

In addition to the grass, another new factor on Ouachita is the marina docks. In 2015 pros weren’t allowed to fish in marinas due to Arkansas state law, but this year any marinas that aren’t posted against fishing are fair game. Shade could certainly concentrate some summer bass, and fishing docks is a time-honored tactic on Ozark lakes.

 

Running the bank with a topwater has played each of the last few years on Ouachita. Pros armed with a buzzbait or a Whopper Plopper can burn down the bank looking for cruising bass, wolf packs or bass sitting around bluegill beds. There’s not really any set feature that the bass concentrate on for the shallow-running pattern. Sometimes the big ones get caught in steeper pockets, and other times they’re caught on flat points. The best approach can be just about covering water, but finding a set of conditions or a milk run of areas that work better than average could push a pro a long way in this one.

 

In addition to the bank game, there is plenty of potential out deep, from more riverine ledges and drops (think along the lines of how Jason Lambert has caught them at Norris Lake and Table Rock), to drops and flats in the main lake. Sometimes the offshore targets could include brush or timber, but there are rock piles and schools of fish just set up on break lines. One problem with offshore on Ouachita is the species mix. A lot of what you mark isn’t bass. Instead, there are drum and walleyes and stripers galore out deep.

Past years on Ouachita have resulted in a few proven patterns, but there’s really no telling how it’ll be won this week. The lake is loaded with fish and bait, and though big fish won’t come easy, someone is going to figure them out well enough for a $300,000 payday and the title of FLW Cup champion.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Capt. Blake Smith was presented with the 2019 Forrest L. Wood Sportsmanship & Community Leadership Award by the award’s namesake, Forrest Wood, at the 2019 FLW Cup pre-tournament banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. Smith, of Lakeland, Fla., has fished the FLW Tour since 2015. READ MORE »

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Two terrible tournaments to end the season cost Miles Burghoff his shot at the Polaris Rookie of the Year title. This week at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, he's hoping to apply the lessons learned at the end of the season to his preparation for the championship event. READ MORE »

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

In seemingly any tournament that Bryan Thrift shows up to he is without a doubt one of the favorites to win. With two FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles, six Tour wins and five Costa FLW Series wins – including his most recent on Lake Champlain just a few weeks ago – it’s easy to understand why. READ MORE »

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

In a Ranger Z520L with a 250-hp Evinrude G2, it takes about 15 minutes to run from Carpenter Dam, which impounds Lake Hamilton, to the Blakely Mountain Dam that separates Hamilton from Lake Ouachita. If you stop and chat with 11 pros along the way, however, you’ll need most of the morning, but you’ll also wind up with a pretty sound idea of what’s going on at Hamilton for this week’s FLW Cup. READ MORE »

The First Morning with B. Lat

The First Morning with B. Lat

You won’t hear Brian Latimer complain about hot weather and tough fishing in Arkansas during this week’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. For B. Lat, sweating it out on the water is vastly better than working in the heat installing landscaping and mowing lawns for a living, which is what he was doing just a few years ago. A lot’s changed since those days. Now, Latimer is an FLW Tour champion, with a growing fishing media company and his first shot at a Cup title. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

The FLW Cup goes down August 9-11 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. As the crowning event of the FLW Tour season, there’s naturally a lot that goes with it, from takeoffs, the FLW Expo, a Trace Adkins concert and of course the weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Arena. Below you’ll find everything you’ll need to follow or attend the Cup, from the times to each event and seminar to each giveaway going on. Keep in mind, everything is free to attend and all times are Central. READ MORE »

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

For some, preparation has been in the form of map study and online research, while others have made the trek to Lake Hamilton to get eyes on the playing field, which went off limits July 22. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

As usual, the fishing on Lake Champlain was great. Pros and co-anglers alike loaded the boat with smallmouths and largemouths each day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event, and they did it with a wide array of techniques. If you’re wondering what to throw up north when there are green and brown fish on the table in the early summer, you could hardly go wrong with anything the pros in the top 10 used.  READ MORE »

The FLW Cup Playing Field

The FLW Cup Playing Field

It’s been 14 seasons since the FLW Cup has been held at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. In the years since, FLW fans have likely developed some familiarity with nearby Lake Ouachita, which has been a frequent destination for the Cup and, in fact, hosted last year’s championship event. Hamilton is less-known because it hasn’t gotten the nod to host the finale since July 2005, when George Cochran won his third bass-fishing world championship . READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Grueling wind on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener on Lake Champlain didn’t do the field any favors, but otherwise, it was a heck of a tournament on the big northern fishery. The aftereffects of an odd spring with high water had things somewhat scrambled, putting some of the local participants on their off foot, but a variety of patterns proved to be successful. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass. READ MORE »

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

Weighing in 16 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Henry McKee beat out co-angler superstar Gary Haraguchi for the win in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on Champlain. With a 47-8 total, McKee won a $1,050 and a brand-new Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower outboard. READ MORE »

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris.  READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

One of the windier tournament days in recent memory did a lot to reshape the leaderboard of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The run south to Ticonderoga was not impossible, but the wind up north kept a lot of pros from effectively fishing their best stuff. That made weights drop pretty much across the board on day two. READ MORE »

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Champlain featured a bunch of wind and a lot of turnover on the leaderboard. Though he struggled to replicate his massive day-one success, Bryan Thrift still managed 16 pounds, 6 ounces for a 38-12 total to retain the lead. Behind him, Scott Dobson rose from ninth to second with a robust bag of smallmouths worth 18-10 for a 37-14 total. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Polaris on Lake Champlain is going to be quite a swing from day one. Typically turnover in the standings is common on Champlain because the weights stay so tight, but today’s turnover is going to have a lot to do with the weather. READ MORE »