UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - St. Lawrence River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour
Rayburn

This year, the FLW Tour kicks off in Texas with a showdown presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. Big Sam hasn’t hosted too many FLW Tour events in the past, but it’s loaded with bass and bass fishing history. The lake is much higher than normal right now, which will no doubt produce different fishing than is typical for winter on Rayburn.

Here’s a look at the fishery in its current state.

 

Takeoff and weigh-in each day will be at the Umphrey Family Pavilion, which is located right near the dam. The Angelina River was dammed in 1965 to form Sam Rayburn, and the reservoir serves to control flooding and generate some power. At full pool, the lake has about 114,500 surface acres, and it is the largest lake completely within Texas borders.

 

Currently, Sam Rayburn is quite a bit higher than full pool, which is 164.4 feet. As of Sunday afternoon, the lake had risen to a whopping 172.65 feet. The record high occurred in 1992, when the lake hit 175.1 feet. Though the water isn’t there yet, it is likely to be a defining factor in the tournament.

December was so wet in the region that the area downstream of Rayburn is flooded as well, and the U.S. Corp of Engineers can’t release much water from the dam. So the water is likely to continue rising or fall slowly, but it certainly won’t drop drastically.

With the lake as high as it is, the shoreline has changed quite a bit. Instead of just having forests of standing timber in the actual lake, Rayburn now hosts acres and acres of forests along the shoreline. Bushes that used to be barely flooded or high and dry are deep, and the water’s edge reaches back over roads and into fields. Getting back to the edge of the water is quite a task in some places, and likely impossible for even John Cox in others.

 

If flipping shoreline cover turns out to be the ticket, anglers that can identify a pattern within the mass of woody vegetation will have a leg up. Historically, flipping sweetgum trees (top/middle) and cypress trees (bottom) is a player when the water rises. There might be another pattern to uncover though, and someone like Terry Bolton who excels at flipping flooded cover on Kentucky Lake might figure out a uniquely successful approach. One thing’s for sure: If a pro sets the hook into an 8-pounder buried in the cover he’s in for a Texas-sized battle.

 

With the water in the mid-50s, pros will likely dabble in the really muddy ranges of Rayburn, but the water that’s clearer will probably get the bulk of the pressure. The really muddy water on Rayburn is currently mostly up the rivers. In the majority of the lake the water is stained to varying degrees, but it’s still very fishy looking. Down near takeoff, there’s more than a foot of visibility, and the water has a nice green stain to it.

 

One concern prior to the event was how passable the TX-147 bridge would be. Cutting across the lake midway up the Angelina River arm, the bridge is near a lot of prime fishing, both above and below. Midday on Sunday, the bridge was still easily passable by a lightly loaded Ranger 520L at idle speed. As things stand, the pros should be able to get under the bridge with no problems come tournament time.

 

 

Back in March 2014, Bryan Thrift won way up the Angelina River. Now, that area looks about as different as you can imagine. Cypress trees that Thrift was flipping back in 2014 are now mostly underwater, the whole area is red and muddy, and the nearest ramp to his area is closed.

 

Ordinarily, fishing Rayburn in winter would be all or almost all about the grass bite. Ripping a lipless crankbait over hydrilla is a proven winner on Big Sam, and Tour pros Dicky Newberry and Chris McCall might be the best in the world at it. With the water so much higher than normal, the grass is correspondingly deeper. However, it doesn’t mean the fish will have entirely abandoned it. It just means the task of finding them got a fair bit harder. 

Hydrilla (top) is the primary grass in Rayburn and the main historic target. There are outside and inside edges of hydrilla, as well as a lot of hydrilla in the drains (what non-Texans would call the middle of creeks). Hay grass (bottom) is the other primary grass, but it’s normally partially out of the water and in just a couple feet. Now, it’s actually well below the surface, and only visible with Lowrance StructureScan in many places.

 

Winter on Rayburn would also normally call for some offshore fishing that isn’t grass related. Hard spots, stumps, bait and the right structure can be key for big wintertime bass. How that sort of thing will play out this week is anyone’s guess, but it’s got to be at least considered, perhaps especially for the local hands who have a bunch of waypoints they could run.

 

Whether the Tour kicks off on Okeechobee or somewhere else, it’s always exciting. The first morning of practice had a simply electric vibe, and we’re surely going to learn a lot about anglers and the lake this week. The current conditions on Rayburn are possibly entirely unique, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how the tournament unfolds.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament 

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

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“I’m pretty wild on color selection,” says Schmitt. “I always have my shad colors. I always have my black and blues. But I fall in love with trying to find a niche color. Especially when you get into the fall of the year on the Potomac. I love to find a crayfish pattern, and I feel like then a crayfish-imitating ChatterBait out-fishes anything else. And I also like to find a bluegill pattern at times, so I play with the colors.” READ MORE »

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

STIX Fishing is a relatively new company started by FLW Live host Travis Moran and Nick Smith that sells fishing rods with a bit of a unique plan. Instead of picking and choosing a rod or two at a time, STIX wants to sell you six rods at a time (the STIX PAX) for $500, which comes out to about $83 per rod. According to the company, the STIX PAX is a complete set of bass rods and will do everything you need rods to do. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

On the Potomac, hands down, I want to fish grass. The grass holds the numbers. But if you look at the event this week on the Potomac, the tournament was won on structure. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

The Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River was not the slugfest the season opener on Champlain was or the season finale on the St. Lawrence River is almost sure to be. As has been the case in many of the FLW events on the Potomac this year, the fishing was pretty stingy, and hard cover played an outsized role. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Late summer on the Potomac is often tough fishing, so the contenders in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event had to pull out all the stops. Fishing everything from grass to docks and rocks, the anglers mixed up all sorts of power and finesse presentations to get the job done in the second stop of the season presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

Short Tops co-anglers

Short Tops co-anglers

Weighing a limit on day one and two bags of just four fish each over the next two days was enough to earn Jim Short the co-angler title in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River. Weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day for a total of 29-9, Short took home a new Ranger Z175 and $5,350 in cash. READ MORE »

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

The final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac was one of the most intense of the season. In the end, with just enough to hold on, Marvin Reese weighed four for 8 pounds, 5 ounces to earn the win with a 38-15 total. For his win, which was his first on the boater side, Reese earned $38,026. Finishing second, Troy Morrow rocked up from tenth with 14-7, which was the biggest bag of the day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has offered chamber of commerce weather and some up and down fishing. The event, which is presented by Lowrance, has featured pretty tough fishing overall, and it seems like some of the top 10 may fall victim to it today. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition on the Potomac in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event the weights haven’t been nearly what the river is capable of kicking out. That said, all the top pros have managed to put at least one good day together, and some have maintained really strong consistency, just at a lesser pace than would be the norm in June or some other time of the year. READ MORE »

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

A lovely morning gave way to a dismal afternoon on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River, but despite the difference in conditions, Marvin Reese kept on plugging. Weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on day one, Reese added 15-14 on day two for a 30-10 total. With his day two bag, Reese has now weighed the two biggest bags of the event, which is presented by Lowrance, and he’s widened his lead over Justin Atkins to nearly 4 pounds. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has been quite a swing from day one. However, despite dramatically different weather, some of the top pros are still catching, and it looks like a tight race is setting up for the final day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

As is so often the case, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River wasn’t quite as bad as some predicted in practice. Though it was hot and humid as all get out, plenty of limits hit the scale and enough pros weighed 12 pounds or better to make things really interesting READ MORE »

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Day one of the Potomac River event, which is the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, featured plenty of limits, but getting quality bites was definitely an issue for some. In the lead after day one, Marvin Reese of Randallstown, Md., weighed 14 pounds, 12 ounces to get things underway. Behind Reese, Justin Atkins and Jason Kervin both weighed 14-5, and Robert Grike rounded out the 14-pound brigade with 14-4. Overall, just 11 pros cracked the 12-pound mark on day one of the tournament, which is presented by Lowrance, but 8- and 9-pound limits weren’t too hard to come by.  READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

As predicted, day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River has been fairly tough. Though most folks have a fish or two, and many will undoubtedly fill limits by weigh-in, it certainly hasn’t been a catch-fest. READ MORE »

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

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Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

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Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »