UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Ouachita

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Ouachita
Clent Davis

Most Forrest Wood Cup participants knew Lake Ouachita was going to be tough. Few realized just how tough. Catching a limit was a grind, even through the final day.

Yet, a number of pros – through solid patterning, hardheadedness or luck – managed to figure out Ouachita better than others, with none doing it better than winner Clent Davis, who spent all his time fishing brush piles out deep.

The rest of the top 10 fished a mixture of deep and shallow water to try to get enough bites each day to stay in contention.

Top 10 baits gallery

Complete results 

Davis’ winning pattern

 

2. Niggemeyer rides randomness up shallow

Every time James Niggemeyer thought he had something figured out, he realized he didn’t.

“I’d catch one off a point and think that was going to be it,” says Niggemeyer, who caught 29 pounds, 9 ounces over three days fishing shallow. “Then I’d catch one off a straight bank. Then one in a pocket. One off rock. One off clay. One off timber.

“It was just so random. I had to fish with an open mind the entire time and burn the bank.”

While he did most of his damage with a Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg and a buzzbait, Niggemeyer also caught a little magic with random schoolers that would come up at just the right moments to keep him going.

“I was really blessed this tournament,” Niggemeyer says. “I just turned my mind off and stayed on the trolling motor.”

 

3. Atkins nearly wins back-to-back Cups

Justin Atkins felt after practice he had a real shot at being the first to win back-to-back Cups. Had he executed, he might have done it.

“I let one good one get away every day,” says Atkins, who weighed in 28 pounds, 12 ounces total. “To win these tournaments when you’re only getting a few bites a day, you have to land them all. Execution is everything, and I just didn’t execute.”

On day one he lost a 4-pounder that ate a flutter spoon he was ripping on some offshore humps in the south fork of the Ouachita River. That deep bite was Atkins’ main deal for catching limits each day on the spoon and a Berkley PowerBait Fatty Bottom Hopper Worm Neko rigged with a nail weight in one end.

His better bites all came shallow. Unfortunately, one of those better bites on day two was another 4-pounder he hooked on a frog and broke off.

On Sunday, Atkins switched up to a Berkley Choppo and had another giant eat it on a long cast.

“I got her up close and got the net around her,” Atkins says. “She jumped and just came off. When it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, and it just wasn’t meant to be.”

 

4. LeBrun targets lily pads and grass

No one had more confidence in what he was doing after day one than Nick LeBrun – and for good reason.

The T-H Marine BFL All-American winner had executed his pattern excellently, targeting a lily pad patch in the back of Big Blakely Creek and working deep grass patches on offshore humps. He was actually done fishing by noon so he could save his stuff for day two. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left to save.

LeBrun only brought in seven more fish over the final two days – three Saturday and four on Sunday – and if it hadn’t been for a random 6-pounder that came up chasing shad on day two, he might not have even made the top 10. His 13-pound, 5-ounce bag on day one accounted for nearly half of his 28-pound, 6-ounce total.

An 8-inch V&M Wild Thang worm in blue flex was LeBrun’s main bait throughout the event. He rigged it on a 1/2-ounce Elite Tungsten weight and a Hayabusa hook, dragging and swimming it through the vegetation. He also mixed in a V&M Flat Wild, a 6th Sense SplashBack popper and a plopper-style topwater throughout the event.

 

5. Lambert’s home run swing comes up short

Jason Lambert is one of the best offshore anglers in the world, and he certainly did plenty of offshore fishing at Ouachita. On the final day, however, he swung for the fences and just never connected.

“I had felt I was fishing from behind, and I needed a big bite make anything happen,” says Lambert, who brought in 27 pounds, 15 ounces. “To do that, I figured I had to go shallow, so I made the choice to run shallow most of the day. It just didn’t happen.”

Prior to his shallow stint, Lambert spent the majority of his time fishing near Atkins on some offshore ledges in the South Fork of the Ouachita River.

“They were just old channel swings,” Lambert says. “There was brush on them, but that was just in the way. They were sitting on the flat parts in 14 to 17 feet.”

He caught 18 keepers out there the first day on a Roboworm Straight Tail Worm on a drop-shot. Unfortunately, the bite seemed to die as the tournament went on.

“I just couldn’t upgrade,” Lambert says. “I was just upgrading by ounces.”

Up shallow he tossed a River2Sea Whopper Plopper.

 

6. Birge hangs tough up shallow

After three days on Ouachita, Zack Birge doesn’t want to make a cast for a month.

“I made so many casts this week, but that’s what you have to do here,” says Birge, who was one of only four pros to bring in a limit all three days. He had 26 pounds, 13 ounces total.

Like many, Birge committed himself up shallow. He used a YUM Tip Toad, rigged either weightless or on a buzzbait, reeling both as fast as he could to cover water.

“My trolling motor batteries are shot after this tournament,” Birge says.

Birge originally focused on three stretches around the Blakely creeks, but eventually no area showed to be better than the rest. The only consistent thing was keying in on short pockets close to the main river with flats in the back. If he saw it on his map, he ran over to fish it.

He also had a schooling spot the first morning where he caught some key fish, but by day two all those fish were gone.

 

7. Logan’s bite dies on final day

For two days, Wes Logan’s first Cup couldn’t have been going better. He found himself leading after day two, but it all fell apart on championship Sunday.

“My timing was off all day,” says the 24-year-old Tour rookie, who weighed in just one fish on day three to finish with 25 pounds, 9 ounces for the tournament.

Logan was running a two-pronged pattern both deep and shallow on the west end of the lake.

The deep spots were his most consistent, as he was hitting multiple points and humps in 17 to 25 feet of water with brush piles on them. He tossed a NetBait Contour Worm on a drop-shot, and he was able to pull multiple keepers each of the first two days from the cover, typically later in the day.

The shallow bite was simply a matter of putting the trolling motor on high and running any bank he saw with either a Brian’s Prop Bee or a Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Buzzbait.

“I got the vibe [on Sunday] it wasn’t going to be a good day when I had 12 pounds swim past me and then a pair of 5-pounders cruise right by me down the bank,” says Logan. “And when I had a bunch of schoolers come up all around me and I couldn’t catch one, I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

 

8. Cox focuses shallow despite tough bite

It should come as little surprise that John Cox spent all his time shallow, but at one point during practice he actually thought about screwing his transducer back on his boat so he could fish out deep.

He put the thought out of his mind on the final day when the shallow bite finally showed what it could produce. Cox caught nearly 20 pounds that day.

“After that I was committed shallow,” says the 2016 Cup winner.

From there, Cox simply put the trolling motor on high and bounced around the lake tossing a Berkley J-Walker and Berkley Choppo. While he was able to catch a limit the first day, Cox only caught four keepers each of the next two days, with his four fish on day three weighing a scant 4 pounds, 9 ounces. He finished with 24 pounds, 7 ounces total.

 

9. Cobb makes fourth straight Cup top 10

Brandon Cobb is probably going to win a Cup at some point. He’s certainly proven that he can put himself in position. Cobb made his fourth straight Cup top 10 this year.

“This is my dream tournament,” Cobb says. “I love fishing like this, getting one bite at a time. That’s all I thought about this week, just fishing to my strengths, burning my trolling motor up and focusing on catching just one at a time.”

Cobb managed limits each of the first two days on a Greenfish Tackle Toad Toter buzzbait with a Zoom Horny Toad trailer. He also mixed in a Zoom Trick Worm and a Yo-Zuri 3DR Series Pencil topwater.

Despite what seemed like ideal topwater conditions to start day three, Cobb managed only five bites all day and lost three of them.

“They kept biting the legs off my toad,” says Cobb, who finished with 23 pounds, 1 ounce total.

 

10. Beavers’ day-one giant carries him

Bradford Beavers only caught one limit over his three days at Ouachita: a 7-pound, 15-ounce bag on day two. He nearly matched that weight in one fish on day one.

“If I don’t have that one 7 1/2-pounder, I only bring in two fish [one day one] and have nothing much,” says Beavers, who also brought in only one fish the final day and finished with 20 pounds, 8 ounces.

In a tough tournament, even a random giant can be worth a lot of money, and it certainly was for Beavers. The fish came on a 1/2-ounce Treeshaker Buzz Toad, but based on his lack of fish weighed in, it’s clear he was never on a truly solid pattern.

“My practice went terrible,” Beavers says. “Every day I just went fishing. I fished deep brush, standing timber, grass, ran the bank – whatever looked right at the time.”

Beavers figures he hit upward of 70 spots a day, constantly running new water, “hoping to run into them.”

Along with the buzzbait, Beavers alternated between a handful of walking baits up shallow. On the deeper stuff he threw a drop-shot with a Roboworm Straight Tail Worm.

Tags: sean-ostruszka  post-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

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 »

Lawyer Wins at Grand

Lawyer Wins at Grand

Jeremy Lawyer has already had a successful career by many measures – a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American title and a Costa FLW Series win took care of that in 2016 and 2018. Today, the Sarcoxie, Mo., pro earned his biggest win yet at the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake. Weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces on the final day, Lawyer totaled 62-12 to earn the win over Michael Matthee by tiebreaker. Ties on day four are broken by day three standings, and Lawyer went into the final day in third, while Matthee started the final day in fourth. READ MORE »

Thrift Eyes 7th Tour Title

Thrift Eyes 7th Tour Title

Seminole may have thrown Bryan Thrift for a loop, but he’s back on track through three days of the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake. Weighing 16 pounds each of the first two days, the Shelby, N.C., pro laid the wood to them on day three, boxing up 19 pounds, 3 ounces to move from fifth to first. With a total of 52-1, Thrift leads Jeremy Lawyer by just 3-3, which is a lot considering how good Thrift is, but not much considering how Grand has treated leaders thus far. READ MORE »

Boutries Moves to the Front at Grand

Boutries Moves to the Front at Grand

Day two of the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake was defined by a big storm that swept over the lake midday and lots of movement on the leaderboard. In first after the dust settled, Bailey Boutries of Daphne, Ala., weighed 20 pounds, 6 ounces to get up to a 35-4 total and the lead in the fourth FLW Tour event of his career. Just 4 ounces behind him is John Cox, and just 1 ounce behind him is Bradford Beavers, so his lead is perhaps not the safest, but it’s still a lead going into the weekend of a Tour event. READ MORE »

Weisenburger Wrangles 24+

Weisenburger Wrangles 24+

Most everyone said their practice on Grand Lake was brutal; Kyle Weisenburger included. Yet, while many allowed that practice to carry over into the tournament, Weisenburger kicked it aside in a big way. 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 »

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 »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Prespawn bass were the main storyline for the third stop of the FLW Tour on Lake Seminole presented by Costa. Finding areas that held concentrations of staging bass was vital to fishing all four days and most of the pros rode individual spots to their respective finishes. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Seminole

AOY Update: Lake Seminole

Bryan Thrift’s bomb at the third stop of the FLW Tour on Seminole may ripple through the minds of fans for a while, but the other contenders for Angler of the Year pretty much stayed on fire. In the lead, Terry Bolton banked his second top 10 of the year and padded his lead. Behind him, Scott Martin earned his second top 10 in a row to push him into the runner-up spot as he pursues his second AOY title on Tour. READ MORE »