UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Studio Notes: Cup edition

Studio Notes: Cup edition
Travis Moran, Scott Martin and Rob Newell

Yes, I know I’m a little late with the Forrest Wood Cup edition of Studio Notes. But as the old saying goes, better late than never, which is sort of how the Cup itself unfolded this year.

After two days of rather anemic action from the water at Ouachita, I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to get any fireworks. Finally, Clent Davis delivered on the final morning, mounting a dream charge from 10th place to win and providing fishing fans with the most stunning comeback in Cup history.

 

The winning numbers

Davis made history by becoming the first Cup angler to go from 10th to first on the final day in the cumulative weight era. However, there were a few more things about Davis’ winning numbers that were pretty remarkable.

First, on days one and two, Davis brought in identical limits – 9 pounds, 8 ounces. What are the chances of that?

The twin limits gave him a two-day total of 19 pounds even, which put him in Championship Sunday’s top 10 by a single ounce. One ounce less and we would be talking about a different Cup champion right now.

Davis caught 17 pounds, 13 ounces on the final day, easily the biggest limit of the tournament. But consider that he entered the final day 4 pounds, 13 ounces off the lead and then won by a stunning margin of 7 pounds, 4 ounces!

His final-day limit alone weighed more than 43 other Cup competitors’ two-day tallies.

 

Deep scores again

Out of four Cups contested on the warm, summer waters of Lake Ouachita, three have now been won deep and only one shallow. The stats seem to be piling up in favor of the deep-water bite taking the Cup. But it’s important to note that all three of the deep wins have come thanks in large part to one magnificent day. Similar to Davis’ big final day, both Scott Suggs (2007 champ at Ouachita) and Scott Martin (2011) had big single-day catches from the depths to bolster their winning totals.

It always seems Ouachita’s shallow-water bank-running bite is good enough to get a few anglers close to the winner’s circle, but in the end a large single-day catch from offshore trumps them.

 

Hot zones

Clent Davis’ win left a lot of anglers wondering why brush piles worked for him and not others. Plenty of Cup anglers sampled brush in practice and had poor results. During his guest spot on FLW Live, Scott Martin ventured a guess that brush piles worked for Davis due to the section of the lake where Davis was fishing.

Martin noted that when he won out deep in 2011, the level of bait and fish activity in the section of the lake where he fished seemed to be much higher that anywhere else on the lake that year. Martin fished in the south-central part of the lake in 2011, and several other high finishers came from that section of the lake as well.

When Brad Knight won in 2015, the northeastern section where Big and Little Blakely creeks are located was the hot zone.

Davis confirmed Martin’s theory.

“There is no doubt about it,” Davis says. “I noticed that in pre-practice. I looked and fished all over the lake, but I had one section that definitely had more life in it, and that’s where I spent the tournament. I could see a lot more activity around the brush piles with my electronics. I would get a lot more bream nibbles in the brush piles in that area. Fish would come up schooling throughout the day. It just felt alive.

“I didn’t find that kind of activity anywhere else on the lake,” he adds. “I found over 1,000 brush piles on Ouachita in pre-practice, but the only ones I fished were within a few square miles of each other.”

Davis spent most of his tournament time in the north-central to northwestern portion of the lake.

 

Special guests, special insight

One of my favorite parts about working FLW Live from the Cup is having a large roster of special guests to invite to the desk to help break down the action.

This year’s guest lineup included Scott Suggs, Andy Morgan, Luke Dunkin, Jeff  “Gussy” Gustafson, Mark Rose, Melinda Hays and professional fishing icon Larry Nixon.

On day one, Suggs provided great information about the specific patterns available on Lake Ouachita. In doing so, he compared and contrasted Lake Ouachita’s shad and bream forage base to Lake Murray’s blueback herring forage base. Since the Cup has been held on both lakes several times, Suggs gave some valuable insight into how the bass behave differently on each lake because of the differing forage bases.

On day two, Nixon offered some great information on how to deal with the dog days of summer.

I also broached the subject of on-the-water disputes with Nixon. In all my years of covering his numerous accolades along the FLW Tour, I’ve never seen or even heard of Nixon getting into any kind of territorial dispute or verbal argument on the water. Given the intense competition and crowded fisheries these days, that’s a hard thing to do. Nixon provided some candid advice on how to avoid on-the-water entanglements; true words of wisdom from one of the classiest pros on Tour.

On day three, Morgan came in early during the show and addressed some of the finer points of flipping deep grass.

Scott Martin joined us on day three just as Clent Davis was putting together his final rally. Having been in Davis’ shoes himself in 2011, Martin’s commentary about Davis’ location, technique and state of mind was spot on.

If you want to watch any of these excellent segments, all three days of the Live Show from the Cup are archived on YouTube.

 

The $628,000 net

During Clent Davis’ hectic Cup week, he lost his landing net, which might have blown out of the boat at some point. Going into the final day, he realized he didn’t have a net and turned to Michael Neal for help. Always willing to help out a friend, Neal thought nothing of it when he lent Davis his lucky landing net.

As the action unfolded on FLW Live, Neal watched in awe as his trusty net helped Davis hoist 17 pounds, 13 ounces of Cup-winning bass into his boat.

“At one point I started to wonder if I should charge him by the pound or by the hour for the use of my net,” Neal joked.

After Davis collected his check for $300,000, Neal did a little math to figure out just how much money had been hauled in with his lucky net over the years. The results? Neal says a little more than $628,000 worth of bass have been hoisted aboard with his net.

“Clent wanted my address so he could send it back to me, but I told him he could keep it,” Neal says. “Clent is a friend, and I was proud to see him come back and win like that. It’s pretty inspirational. And if my net was part of that, I’m just glad I could help him out.”

For inquiring minds who want to know, Neal says the net is made by RS Nets (Small Jaw model) and is the best net he has ever used. I’m pretty sure Davis would agree.

Tags: rob-newell  post-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Osborne spent the early visit graphing for brush in Hamilton’s lower end. In practice, it was more of the same, as Osborne spent only a couple of hours beating the bank. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Minnesota pro Josh Douglas is regarded as an electronics expert. But while he put his Lowrance units to the test at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton to find offshore brush piles, even Douglas couldn’t resist spending some time in the mornings hunting shallow bass. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Ryan Salzman earned an eighth-place finish at the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton with a well-executed two-part strategy. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Among the FLW Cup pros that committed the entire tournament to one pattern was Joseph Webster, who weighed in a three-day total of 28 pounds, 2 ounces at Lake Hamilton. He finished seventh. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Eden Prairie, Minn., pro Austin Felix finished sixth in this year’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, but he’s convinced that if the engineers operating Blakely Mountain Dam had released water on a more consistent schedule, the results might have been even better for him. Felix spent most of the tournament keying on the clear waters of Hamilton’s upper end. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Prior to practice, Scott Martin had no idea that the far upper end of Lake Hamilton, where the cold waters from the bottom of Lake Ouachita flow in through Blakely Mountain Dam, was such a drastically different mini-fishery within the reservoir. Then he started scouting it in practice and realized there was potential to win the tournament in the tailrace in areas where the water temperature was below 60 degrees. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Fourth-place pro Jeremy Lawyer was the highest finisher to utilize the shallow-early, brush-later strategy. Lawyer stacked together limits of 12 pounds, 1 ounce and 12-5 on the first two days to go into the final day in fourth place. He weighed in just 7 pounds on Sunday. READ MORE »

Green Has Experience of Lifetime at Cup

Green Has Experience of Lifetime at Cup

Winning $2,500 might be the highlight of a trip for a lot of people, but for Leroy Green, winner of the FLW Tour Marshal program at the 2019 FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, the cash prize was secondary to the relationships he forged out on the water. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Ebare Fished the Tailrace

Cup Top 10: Ebare Fished the Tailrace

Most of the time, fishing Southern impoundments in August is all about slowly dragging worms through brush piles. That’s what Dakota Ebare planned to do at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton. How he wound up catching enough fish to finish in third place felt more like Southern stream fishing. Ebare spent three days fishing the tailrace below Blakely Mountain Dam where the cold, clear waters drained through from the bottom of Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Cup at Hamilton

Top 10 Baits from the Cup at Hamilton

While there weren’t too many patterns in play at the 2019 FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark., the nature of an August tournament in the South forced most of the top finishers to mix in a bunch of baits to catch their fish. Here’s what the top 10 used to catch schoolers and ply brush, docks and various types of shallow grass. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Walters Committed to Brush

Cup Top 10: Walters Committed to Brush

Coming into the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, Florida pro Kyle Walters figured the only chance he had to win was to stay away from the bank, where competing with the best in the sport was a tall order, and commit to finding as many brush piles as he could. 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 »

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 »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

June is a fantastic month to be on Lake Champlain, as the FLW Tour pros showcased at last week’s season finale, which was presented by T-H Marine. Smallmouths were spawning all over the place, but the winning pattern was catching postspawn largemouths down at Ticonderoga. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is the kind of fishery that forces pros to make difficult decisions about where to go and what color of bass to target. This time around, in the FLW Tour 2019 finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, on the big Northern fishery, the decision was more interesting because there were spawning smallmouths everywhere up north, but the forecast was favorable for making the long run south to Ticonderoga to catch largemouths. READ MORE »

High School Championship Top 10 Baits

High School Championship Top 10 Baits

June is typically ledge-fishing season in the Tennessee Valley, especially at Pickwick, but the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship was a more diverse event than most folks might have expected. Patterns ranging from junk-fishing the bank to targeting docks and other shoreline cover to working the main-lake ledges all worked. Here are the baits used by the top 10 teams during the week. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Pros caught fish everywhere from in the middle of flooded jungles of brush to deep main-lake drops. The top finishers pretty much all power fished with soft plastics, crankbaits and frogs. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

The top 10 fished a little of everything, but mostly stuck to areas within a few miles of the 147 bridge. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the National Championship

Top 10 Patterns from the National Championship

Though there was some carryover from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American the week before, the fishing on the Potomac River was a lot better for the anglers in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance. With better fishing came more robust grass patterns, but plenty of bass (some of the biggest of the event) were caught off hard cover as well. All in all, it was a mixed week of very good fishing on the Potomac. READ MORE »

National Championship Top 10 Baits

National Championship Top 10 Baits

Competitors in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance undoubtedly took some cues from the top finishers in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American the week before, but they also blazed some new ground. With better fishing overall and a better grass bite, a few more winding baits got mixed into the fray. READ MORE »