UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Kentucky / Barkley Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Thompson Storms Back on Chesapeake Bay

Thompson Storms Back on Chesapeake Bay
Joseph Thompson

The T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on the Chesapeake Bay was defined by flip-flopping weights and a big cold front whose strong winds forced the cancelation of day two of the event. Instead of fishing two days and cutting the field for the final day, the competitors from the Buckeye, North Carolina, Northeast and Shenandoah divisions all fished for just two days. Coming from 25th on day one with 10 pounds, 7 ounces, Joseph Thompson of Coatesville, Pa., captured the win and earned his first BFL All-American qualification with 19-2 on day two for a total of 29-9. For the win, Thompson earned $66,000 for his efforts, including a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

Despite extensive experience on the upper Chesapeake Bay, Thompson didn’t get on much in practice. Though he found some cranking fish on the final day, that quickly fell apart on him when the tournament started. Because much of the upper Bay and the Susquehanna River was blown out and muddy, the North East River was crowded with most of the field and he couldn’t squeeze in anywhere to fish.

“Around 12 o’clock I made a gamble to go up the North East Creek,” says Thompson. “There was a big laydown tree, and there were a couple people fishing it already, but there was just enough room for another boat. I stayed there for the remainder of the day and I caught five fish on a drop-shot. I had never once in my life thrown a drop-shot on the upper Bay.”

After weigh-in, Thompson was emboldened despite only weighing 10 pounds and change. The fishing had been so tough that a good bag on day two might still put him in the top six and send him to the All-American.

“On the final day I started to get a little excited before I even got to the river,” says Thompson.  “The guys that got them on day one, I thought they were going to struggle. When I put the trolling motor in the water I saw the temperature had dropped like 8 or 9 degrees. And immediately I rigged two rods completely different just because of that.

“I had 100 spots on the North East River, but I’ve got a few spots where I know big fish live and live in groups,” says Thompson. “I said to myself then that I was going to fish places where I knew big fish lived. I figure if I could get five bites I could make the All-American.”

Thompson says he started Saturday with a small grub and a ¼-ounce ball head near a pier. Instead of targeting the actual pilings, he fished secondary pieces of cover nearby and scrounged two keepers to start his limit.

Later, as the tide started to go out, Thompson moved to a current-focused area at the outside of a marina. Using Spot-Lock to hold himself, he drifted a 5-inch green pumpkin-colored Yamamoto Senko with a 1/16-ounce weight through a current-swept area that was about 13 feet deep. That area produced another three fish to finish his limit.

“My last one came with 10 minutes to go,” says Thompson. “Driving back, I thought I really had a shot at the top six, but I didn’t think I had a shot to win.”

As it turned out, he did win. After falling off his roof and separating his shoulder, Thompson had to fish the Northeast Division Super Tournament at the 1000 Islands in a sling just to make the Regional. All of a sudden, after a massive comeback day, he was headed to a win and the All-American.

“I finished seventh place in a Regional before and it was the longest ride home from a fishing tournament I’ve ever had in my life,” says Thompson. “I’ve heard about the All-American from everyone that’s been there, and now it’s my time. I certainly don’t want to sound cocky, but there are two places where I feel I have a chance of beating anybody, and that’s the upper Bay and the Potomac. It don’t mean much when you’re fishing against 48 of the other best anglers in the country, but it certainly won’t hurt.”

 

Baker drops to second

Ronnie Baker of Providence Forge, Va., lead the whole shooting match with the biggest bag of the event on day one. Unfortunately for Baker, lost fish and the luck of the draw dropped him to second when it was all said and done.

“I was basically fishing a marina in the North East River, but there was one small specific spot inside the marina,” says Baker. “On day one I was boat 10, so I got the exact spot I wanted in the marina. I think seven other boats came in there, and it was really tight, but they watched me catch them. On day two I was boat 148, so I knew somebody was going to end up going there.”

Baker swapped between a shad-colored Rapala DT 4 and a green pumpkin Zoom UltraVibe Speed Craw on a ¼-ounce Texas rig to rustle up 19-10 on day one. Other than a 4-pounder caught flipping a stretch of docks elsewhere in the river, he was dependent on that marina spot.

Going out in a late flight on the final day, he didn’t get it.

“I kinda beat around the edges of the marina and at 11 o’clock I didn’t have any fish,” says Baker. “So, I went to a section of docks where I caught the 4-pounder and didn’t catching anything there. Then I went to a rocky bank where I caught some in practice and I caught one. Then I left, didn’t catch any and then I came back again and caught one.”

After leaving the rocky bank one more time, he returned for good with a couple hours left. Cranking the DT 4, he landed two more keepers and hooked and lost two others. One fish that he didn’t see, and one 4-pounder that jumped off. With just four fish on the second day for 7-7, Baker totaled up 27-1 for second place.

“I knew when I lost that 4-pounder that was big,” says Baker, who had transitioned from thinking about winning to thinking about making the top six at that point. “I looked at my co-angler and said ‘That’s gonna hurt.’ It stung a little bit, but $10,000 eases it a little bit. This will be my second All-American, the first time was at Wilson Lake, this time is going to suit me a little bit better being that it’s two hours from home.”

 

Bae makes good on last-minute call

Unable to fish the final Shenandoah Division event of the year because his boat was literally stuck in the mud in his backyard, Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md., wrapped up the season 62nd in points and only got the call to come fish when another angler dropped out. That was the Tuesday before the tournament, so he had about a day to prepare. After a frantic practice, Bae weighed a limit of 14-3 on day one and four bass for 11-15 on day two for a 26-2 total and second place.

Bae started strong on day one, and says he caught 10 keepers in total.

“I pulled up to my first spot and I ended up catching a nice 4-pounder and a 3-pounder off one laydown,” says Bae. “Then I went into another creek and found like 13 or 14 boats inside there. I couldn’t figure out if I could go past them or just turn around and go somewhere else. But I didn’t have many other places, so I stayed in that creek until I caught my limit.”

After leaving the crowded creek, Bae caught another 3-pounder off wood in the main section of the North East River to top his day off. Flipping a Junebug-colored Zoom Brush Hog with a ¼-ounce weight for all his fish, Bae was in prime position after day one.

After waiting out the front on Friday, Bae’s flipping bite fizzled on the final day.

“The water temperature dropped about 7 degrees in my area,” says Bae. “I pulled up to my first spot, and I ended up catching a 3-pound smallmouth, actually on that same laydown, but nothing else was there. Then I went back into that creek to try to catch a limit, and I didn’t see any boats in there and the water got completely mudded up. So, I turned around and went back out.”

After running more shallow wood with no results in the North East River, Bae pulled up to a rock bank around 1 o’clock. After his co-angler caught a few fish, he hunkered down with a 5/16-ounce jig and a Strike King Rage Craw (both green pumpkin) and dragged it in about 10 feet of water on the drop. His co-angler filled out his limit, and Bae caught a 5-pounder and a pair of keepers – plenty to keep him in the cut for the All-American.

“I’ve had several chances to make the All-American, and my goal was to make the All-American at least once,” says Bae. “I’m super psyched to make the All-American. I’m very fortunate that FLW called me at the last minute to fish this tournament.”

 

Top 10 boaters

(The top six boaters qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Joseph Thompson – Coatesville, Pa. – 29-9 (10) $66,000

2. Ronnie Baker – Providence Forge, Va. – 27-1 (9) $10,200

3. Moo Bae – West Friendship, Md. – 26-2 (9) $5,100

4. Ryan Bauman – Fleetwood, Pa. – 25-13 (10) –  $3,000

5. Chris Martinkovic – Hamilton, Ohio – 25-12 (10) – $2,000

6. Steven Wiseman – Bryans Road, Md. – 25-6 (10) – $1,800

7. Dave Lauer – McConnelsville, Ohio – 25-3 (9) – $1,600

8. Jon Werner – Nazareth, Pa. – 24-10 (10) – $1,400

9. Otis Darnell – Linden, Va. – 24-9 (10) – $1,200

10. Ryan Powroznik – Hopewell, Va. – 24-8 (10) – $1,000

Complete results

 

Bahnweg takes top co-angler spot

Michael Bahnweg of Union Dale, Pa., caught four fish on day one for 9-5 and a limit for 13-1 on day two for a total of 22-6. That was enough to earn him his third BFL win and a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

Fishing behind Mervin Miller on day one, Bahnweg says they stayed in the North East River and targeted shell beds. He caught his fish on a 4-inch Zoom Fish Doctor on a  Charlie Brewer Slider Head.

Day two was the big day for Bahnweg, and he did it fishing behind Christopher Helfer. Running down into the Elk River, Helfer and Bahnweg fished a shallow grass flat with current all day and Bahnweg did work with a white Z-Man Original ChatterBait.

Bahnweg has fished 115 tournaments with FLW, most of them at the BFL level, but this is the first time he’s ever qualified for the All-American.

“I’ve been fishing BFLs since they started, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” says Bahnweg. “The Potomac is my favorite body of water, I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

 

Top 10 co-anglers

(The top six co-angler qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Michael Bahnweg – Union Dale, Pa. – 22-6 (9) – $45,000

2. William Allie – Wynantskill, N.Y. – 21-9 (8) – $5,200

3. Henry McKee – Haddon Heights, N.J. – 18-8 (10) – $2,550

4. Michael Nelms – Hartwood, Va. – 17-15 (8) – $1,500

5. Howard Smith – Hamilton, Ohio – 17-11 (6) – $1,000

6. David Williams – Fredericksburg, Va. – 17-6 (5) – $900

7. Matthew Cozad – Okeana, Ohio – 17-4 (7) – $800

8. Mike Geisler – Oxford, Ohio – 16-12 (8) – $700

9. Cort Gardner – Jessup, Md. – 16-10 (8) – $600

10. Michael Duarte – Baltimore, Md. – 16-1 (7) – $500

Complete results

 

Tags: jody-white  headline-story  2018-10-11-chesapeake-bay 

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »

New Dominates Seminole Regional

New Dominates Seminole Regional

Belmont, N.C., angler Bryan New, who’s regularly one of FLW’s top performers in the grassroots ranks, had established a dominant pace. New weighed in 22 pounds, 9 ounces on day one and added 20-2 on day two to carry a lead of 6 pounds, 15 ounces into the finals. A roughly 7-pound margin isn’t necessarily a sure thing on Seminole, but the fall bite was a bit slower than what the lake can produce, and it was obvious New was cruising. READ MORE »

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude was no walk in the park for the top 10 pros. With a cold front passing through at the start of the event, a high-pressure system settled in for the final round of fishing. While most struggled, Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Ark., sacked up 14 pounds, 6 ounces today – the biggest limit brought in during the final day – and finally was able to wrangle his first FLW title. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude is fixing to get fun based on what’s already happened today and what could happen. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Sure enough, with conditions changing from rain and clouds to sun and wind, the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks, which is presented by Evinrude, has made it tough on guys. Of course, day-two leader James Watson predicted that some of the biggest bags of the event would come in today despite the conditions, and he was right. READ MORE »

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Weather has been the storyline leading up to the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude. With storms and rain blowing through yesterday ahead of a cold front, the cooler weather set in today making fishing tough on some, but others took advantage of the change. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

A cold front that brought temperatures in the 40s, rain and wind has the bass in a funk on day two of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

Even some of the best locals were driving the struggle bus all day trying to find ways to adapt to fish that moved thanks to the heavy storms. Yet, some guys did adapt well, with the best being Ladd Shannon and his 19-pound, 6-ounce tournament-leading bag. READ MORE »

Shannon Leads the Ozark Charge

Shannon Leads the Ozark Charge

After losing over an hour of fishing time due to a massive thunderstorm that rolled through the area early this morning causing a lightning delay, day one of the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks looked to be a grinder of an event. The tournament, which is presented by Evinrude, saw plenty of fish catching by midday, but no size to speak of. Ladd Shannon of Atkins, Ark., managed to scrape up a limit worth 19 pounds, 6 ounces by the end of the day and sits in first by 1-11 over FLW pro Greg Bohannan. READ MORE »

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

After winning a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago, Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., was certainly one of the favorites heading into the BFL Regional on the same pond this past weekend. Lo and behold, he wouldn’t disappoint, and notched his 11th career BFL win – five of which have come on Hartwell – and won a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower motor, plus $20,000 cash for his efforts. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Curt Warren was a paragon of consistency over three days at Grand Lake, and the result was a victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Warren turned in limits of 14-5 on day one and 16-9 on day two, but it was his day-three limit of 15-9 that was the most impressive – no other pro even cracked the 13-pound mark battling the tough post-frontal conditions Grand had to offer on day three. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

When conditions changed, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas completely scrapped his day-one pattern, caught a limit that weighed 13-11 and took over the lead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, with a two-day total of 32-14. Here’s what the rest of the top five was up to on day two. READ MORE »

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

After his sizzling day-one pattern fizzled, Cody Bird adjusted his focus to a completely different scenario and sacked up a limit of 13-11 on day two to take over the lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, with a two day total of 32-14. Going into Saturday’s final round, Bird holds a 7-ounce lead over day-one leader and Grand Lake stick Jason Christie. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leveraged his intimate understanding of Grand Lake’s tendencies to catch a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event Presented by T-H Marine. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Oklahoma stick Jason Christie overcame the unsettling effects of a passing cold front to sack up a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces for the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

After several weeks of hot, sunny conditions, anglers launched with cloudy skies, stout winds and air temperatures in the low 60s. By midday, the temperature rose into the mid to upper 60s and the wind started to subside, however, the first couple of hours saw Grand Lake’s temperamental side. READ MORE »

Beavers Focused on Bluebacks

Beavers Focused on Bluebacks

FLW Tour pro Bradford Beavers of Summerville, South Carolina, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 28 pounds, 1 ounce, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division super-tournament on Lake Hartwell Sunday. Beavers earned $6,345 for his efforts. READ MORE »