UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

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 

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

FLW has a long history of hosting multiple-day summertime tournaments on Lake Ouachita, where pros have to grind it out for three days in what are usually tough conditions. On June 27, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division takes to Ouachita, the Natural State’s best bass anglers will need to game plan a little differently. With only one day to fish and a three-bass limit, they’ll have to swing for the fences with big-bass patterns to have a shot at winning. READ MORE »

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

If you wanted to design the perfect frog-fishing tournament, you might host it at Guntersville or the Cal Delta, but you could also copy the agenda for the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Josh Stracner won the 2020 Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula by fishing offshore. He targeted deep ledges in the mid-lake area for two days before switching to brush piles in 12 to 15 feet on the final day when a front moved through and replaced still, sunny conditions with wind and overcast skies. The rest of the top 10, with one exception, also fished offshore in what turned out to be a pretty typical June ledge-fishing tournament.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

June on Eufaula is ledge season. Well, mostly. Nine of the top 10 in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Eufaula fished offshore, but targets included ledges, brush piles, standing timber and some “in-between” offshore structure where bass stopped in transition from the bank to out deep. One pro even fished exclusively shallow. Here are the baits they used to make the cut. READ MORE »

Co-angler Lewis Wins at Eufaula

Co-angler Lewis Wins at Eufaula

Co-angler Blake Lewis followed the lead of pro Josh Stracner at Lake Eufaula today, coming from behind to earn the Toyota Series Southeastern Division tournament win. Lewis, of Pace, Fla., caught a three-day total weight of 44 pounds, 4 ounces to win by just 11 ounces. He came into the final day in fourth place. READ MORE »

Stracner Shifts to Brush for Eufaula Win

Stracner Shifts to Brush for Eufaula Win

What started as Michael Smith’s week turned into Josh Stracner’s day today, as Stracner came back from third place to win the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season opener at Lake Eufaula. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 3

For the first two days of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Lake Eufaula, the early morning bite was key for many of the top pros. It was almost common to hear comments from the top 10 anglers about catching 15 to 20 pounds within the first hour. Today, that’s changed. The first two hours of the day were actually pretty tough. There were some limits caught, but nobody lit up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

It’s not like we didn’t already know it, but today the top 10 anglers drove home the point: To win at Lake Eufaula right now, you have to be fishing offshore. Among the ledge anglers this week is Michael Smith, who maintains his lead at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event with a two-day total of 50 pounds. Here’s how the rest of the top performers made it to Saturday. READ MORE »

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Competing in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Lake Eufaula this week, Michael Smith weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces yesterday to take the lead and backed it up with 24-9 today. His 50-pound two-day total has Smith ahead of second-place pro Scott Montgomery by 5 pounds, 9 ounces.  READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Fishing is good, but it’s not easy today at Lake Eufaula on the second day of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event. Well, that’s only part of the story. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Michael Smith established the pace at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula with a five-bass first-day limit that weighed 25 pounds, 7 ounces. He leads a crew of mostly offshore sticks that are mining Eufaula’s brush piles and ledges for some seriously big bass. Though, it’s worth pointing out that several in the top 10 did catch some or all of their keepers up shallow today. Here’s a rundown of the top five after one day of fishing. READ MORE »

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

It’s a 90-minute drive from Michael Smith’s Andalusia, Ala., home to Lakepoint Resort State Park where the Toyota Series Southeastern Division kicked off its season today on Lake Eufaula. That’s just close enough, says Smith, that he fishes here more than anywhere else. His understanding of how Eufaula’s bass transition from the bank to postspawn ares to the main lake really showed today while Smith put together an impressive 25-pound, 7-ounce limit to gain the day-one tournament lead. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

It’s pretty clear from what went down on Lake Eufaula this morning that this lake is plumb full of fish. Almost everybody we pulled up on was catching bass. Yet, the consensus was that the bite isn’t quite as good today as it was during practice. No one reported the kind of mega-weights everyone expects to see. But there’s still some time. READ MORE »

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

For the second week in a row, FLW’s Toyota Series is visiting one of Alabama’s premier bass fisheries at the perfect time of year for pros to hammer on big bags of postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW has extended an invitation to Major League Fishing’s pro anglers to join the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for three newly created “Super Tournaments” that include an expanded roster and higher payouts. The Super Tournaments are made possible by the abbreviated schedules announced recently by MLF and FLW. READ MORE »

David Dudley’s Greatest Hits

David Dudley’s Greatest Hits

We’re visiting the top 10 highlights in the career of David Dudley, FLW’s all-time leading money winner and only four-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

An Elbow Bump for Tournament Directors

An Elbow Bump for Tournament Directors

I’m hopeful that FLW will be able to commence with relaunching the season according to plan May 28-31 at the rescheduled Lake Hartwell Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournaments are scheduled to start up the following weekend. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Tyler Stewart

Check-in Time: Tyler Stewart

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and what they’re working on to improve their fishing game. This week, we caught up with Louisiana’s Tyler Stewart. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Grae Buck

Check-in Time: Grae Buck

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and what they’re working on to improve their fishing game. This week, we caught up with Pennsylvania’s Grae Buck. READ MORE »