UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Anglers competing in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division opener presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Amistad were welcomed to 2019 with the kind of winter weather that you’d hope would never come around to south Texas. Air temperatures dipped into the 30s for a few days, accompanied by some sleet and freezing rain as well as northerly winds that forced tournament directors to cancel day one of competition.

With an unexpected off day now behind us, it looks like smooth sailing and gorgeous conditions are on tap for the rest of the week as the entire 130-boat field will compete on Friday and Saturday to determine a champion.

Tournament details

 

About the fishery

Amistad is one of south Texas’ most famous reservoirs – the other being Falcon. Though it’s not the juggernaut that it was in the not too distant past, Amistad is still an incredible tournament fishery, with room to spread out and plenty of grass and rocky structure to target for big giant wintertime bass.

The reservoir was built on the Rio Grande near the confluence of the Devils River in the late 1960s. It’s currently about 73 percent full, which equates to about 45,000 surface acres. The water has been rising at Amistad since summer and is about 5 feet higher than it was in February 2015, when the Costa FLW Series last visited and local pro Ray Hanselman earned the first of his four wins in what was the most remarkable season-long performance in Costa FLW Series history.

Anglers are allowed to fish both U.S. and Mexico waters this week, opening up plenty of playing field as well as all the best stretches of water.

 

Current conditions

Yesterday’s cold start eventually transformed into what turned out to be a sunny, warm day with a high temperature in the low 60s. Continuous stiff winds built throughout the midday hours, but by sundown the wind had tapered off to about 7 mph out of the northwest. A light northwesterly wind is in the forecast again today.

The air temperature was a crisp 37 degrees at takeoff but expected to rise to nearly 70, ushering in conditions more akin to springtime than early January.

Oklahoma pro Bradley Hallman says the mid-50s water temperature isn’t a whole lot lower than it was a couple weeks ago when he stopped by to practice and fish a local derby before taking his family to the Texas Gulf Coast for the holidays.

Hallman didn’t seem overly concerned about the cold snap, given the time of year and that bass are still not even nosing the prespawn period.

“I think you’re going to see a pretty quick rebound,” he says. “This lake’s so deep it takes a lot to get it cold. It’s not like a shallow impoundment. We’re fishing in the wintertime, so wintertime patterns are going to prevail.”

 

Tactics in play

Some groups of bass have been found on deep, rocky structure, and while those fish will probably play in this tournament, the bulk of the catch is more likely to come from the hydrilla beds that have spread throughout the reservoir.

“It’s typical grass stuff,” says Hallman. “The grass is a little deeper, so it’s not like a Rat-L-Trap deal, but it’s still a reaction-bite deal. Of course, being a wintertime deal, the Alabama Rig is going to be a big player; and tail-spinners. You’ll see a lot of the same stuff that Hanselman was doing the year he won here.”

Hanselman won the 2015 tournament by throwing a crankbait and tail-spinner in grassy ditches and then running way up a narrow creek to a warm-water spring and slinging a line-thru swimbait.

Others in the top 10 fished offshore, threw a variety of baits in the grass and used drop-shots to pick their way to quality limits.

“There’ll be a little bit of Carolina rigging going on,” Hallman adds, referring to the offshore bite, “but there’s a lot more grass in it right now than in recent history. The lake has risen quite a bit over the last six months or so, so the grass is really deep. It’s everywhere from 25 feet all the way up to maybe 10 feet or even less.”

 

Critical factors

  • A two-day derby – If a pro wasn’t on them in practice, they'd better figure something out in a hurry today, as the weather-shortened tournament means there’s no time for a slip-up, and there’ll be a full field to contend with right up until the buzzer sounds.
  • The upriver run – Hanselman publicized what can be had by running way upstream when he snaked his way through a rocky canyon to the spring that earned him the win in 2015. That area should be accessible, and some anglers will surely try to get there. Beyond that one stretch, however, there are a lot of tucked-away areas in both U.S. and Mexican waters where pros could run to and disappear, but there’s also a lot of work to be done right in the main basin near takeoff. How willing a pro is to run and gamble versus staying close to home and maximizing time on the water could really factor into this week’s outcome.
  • Pattern options and efficiency – Right now, Amistad seems to be churning out two types of bass: runts and hawgs. There aren’t a lot of those quality “in between” 3-pound keepers to be had. Many of the larger schools are small bass. Hallman says the bigger fish are roaming in wolf packs, and you can get a couple bites from one pack, but then you might go a couple hours before running into the next flurry. With no cut to shoot for, catching a couple of kickers each day is essential for a top-10 finish.

 

Dock talk

Aside from their obvious distaste for the previous few days’ weather, most pros are mainly concerned about figuring out how to shake the small bass and find better quality bites. Amistad has them, for sure. We’ll likely see a handful of really big Texas-style bags this week. But they’re not as easy as they used to be in Amistad’s heyday.

Hallman originally figured 45 to 50 pounds was a good target range for a shot at the three-day win. You’ve got to figure that with just two days and reduced angling pressure, catching somewhere in the 32- to 35-pound range will be very strong, assuming these bass aren’t still recovering from the post-frontal blues. 

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The winner in each category will be determined by the heaviest cumulative two-day weight.

Takeoff time: 7:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff location: East Diablo Launch Ramp, Highway 90 West HCR 3, Del Rio, Texas

Weigh-in time: 3:30 p.m. CT

Weigh-in location: East Diablo Launch Ramp

Complete details

Tags: curtis-niedermier  morning-story  2019-01-03-lake-amistad 

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Smallmouths dominated at the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Oklahoma’s Andrew Upshaw led the way with brown bass caught on a jig and a Ned rig on bluff bank transitions in the reservoir’s lower end. Behind him, only a couple of pros hedged their bets on targeting largemouths. The rest fished for smallies and considered green bass to be bonus fish and spotted bass to be limit fillers on the tough days. READ MORE »

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

In classic Southern smallmouth fashion, crankbaits and jigs dominated the top 10 at Lake Cumberland during the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship. The only exceptions were a few finesse baits and the tackle used by two pros who targeted largemouths. Here’s what worked. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. 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 »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

All the talk leading up the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks was about the weather. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. READ MORE »

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks will launch right as a massive cold front arrives. How massive? The forecast has been calling for heavy rain and a high of 74 today, and so far hasn’t been wrong. A major thunderstorm greeted anglers this morning and delayed takeoff by an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to abundant lightning. Tomorrow? A high in the mid 40s. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Valdivia is Best in the West

Valdivia is Best in the West

California pro David Valdivia has consistently finished near the top of the standings in the Costa FLW Series Western Division. This year he finally won his first Strike King Angler of the Year award, and he did it by just one point in the standings. READ MORE »

How to Find the Best Docks in Early Fall

How to Find the Best Docks in Early Fall

While there’s almost no bad time of year to find a dock pattern, early fall is a prime season for it. The catch is that as shad transition throughout a reservoir in the fall, some bass go on the move with them. So dialing in a key stretch of docks or a dock pattern can at times be challenging, particularly on lakes with a lot of docks. READ MORE »

Underway on the Delta

Underway on the Delta

No matter the weather, no matter the environmental concerns, no matter the fishing pressure, the California Delta remains one of the nation’s most diverse and fertile freshwater fisheries — a truth that should play out in dramatic form during the Costa FLW Series Western Division event. READ MORE »

How to Choose the Right ChatterBait

How to Choose the Right ChatterBait

If you were going to carry just one bladed jig, the ChatterBait Jack Hammer would be a great choice. But to say it’s the perfect ChatterBait for every scenario would be like saying ketchup is the perfect condiment for every food, or fluorocarbon is the only line you should use. Sometimes you need to opt for something just a little different to tackle a niche situation. As far as ChatterBaits go, there are a number of good options. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

Weights were already tight going into the final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, which is presented by Gajo Baits. Little more than a pound separated leader Jonathan Kelley from Casey Smith in fifth place. READ MORE »