UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

2019 Grand Lake Preview

2019 Grand Lake Preview

Grand Lake

Grove, Okla.

March 28-31

Hosted by the City of Grove

Presented by Mercury

 

Curt Warren

About the fishery

Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees (more commonly referred to as Grand Lake) is situated in Northeast Oklahoma among the foothills of the Ozarks. The impoundment was created in 1940 when the Pensacola Dam was finished along the Grand River. The 46,500-surface-acre reservoir now hosts plenty of recreational opportunities, but more importantly, is also home to some of the best bass fishing in the country.

Being that Grand Lake is found in the Ozarks, the predominant structure on the lake is rock. Aside from various types of rock, docks and wood found in the form of flooded bushes, laydowns and brush piles are found fairly commonly throughout the lake.

 

Christopher Jones

Last time

The FLW Tour hasn’t been to Grand since June of 2013. Back then, flipping shallow cover was the predominant pattern and local hammer Jason Christie got the W with 78 pounds, 1 ounce overall.

In recent years, the Costa FLW Series has made Grand a regular stop. Last year, Oklahoma’s Chris Jones scored the win with 47-3 over three days by rolling a spinnerbait behind docks for suspended fish moving up to spawn. In 2017, Nick Prvonozac won sight-fishing or pitching to where he marked beds earlier in the week. Go back to 2016 and Zack Birge won cranking shallow points in Wolf Creek. 

 

Bradley Hallman

What to expect this time

Unseasonably cold temperatures have impacted every stretch of the country this winter and early spring, with Oklahoma being no exception. Because of that, the bass in Grand should be 100 percent prespawn.

FLW Tour pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., has put his time in on Grand over the years – including winning the 2015 Costa FLW Series event there – and he knows as well as any how feast or famine this time of year can be on Grand.

“Standard Grand Lake in the springtime is to go through a lull in March,” Hallman says. “When the water starts to warm back up about now is when a lot of the shad die. People think it happens when the water gets cold, but it’s actually when it warms up. It makes it hard to generate bites because there are so many dead shad for those bass to eat, but it also makes for some huge fish heading into the spawn. That leads to the quality being there.

“The lull usually happens for about three weeks before we come out of it and we’ve been in it for about that time now. When the lake comes out of it, it starts firing.”

Recent rains have drenched the region leaving the lake about 3 feet above full pool at the moment, though it is on its way down. The lake more stained than normal, but despite cool, dirty water Hallman believes that the fishing will be good and they’ll be chewing across the lake.

“The thing with Grand is that [bass] live from one end of the lake to the other,” says Hallman. “Certain sections of the lake will be hot. Which section that will be, I don’t know, but we’ve seen that in the national and regional tournaments here somebody from the top 10 will catch them on the upper end and someone will catch them by the dam.”

 

Kevin Ledoux

Baits and techniques

Prespawn in the Ozarks means lots of casting and winding. Crankbaits of all shapes and sizes will certainly play a big role, along with a spinnerbait and perhaps a vibrating jig. Expect to see these baits tossed at whatever structure is in front of a pro running down the bank, from docks to rock to laydowns.

Despite stained water, a jerkbait could also have a hand in some big bags. There are areas pros will be able to find cleaner water and if the wind blows some, it will only help that bite.

Also, you can’t discount a shaky head or a jig. They’re a classic prespawn option when fish are in a funky mood and you can bet plenty of fish will be caught dragging. 

Hallman's Little Brown Jig 

 

3 critical factors

1. Water temperature – The water temperature now is somewhere in the upper 40s, but warming weather will likely help bring it up throughout practice and the event. The more the water warms, the better the bite should get.

2. Water level – There is rain in the 10-day forecast and how much it will translate to is yet to be determined. If some rain pushes through, it could keep the lake at a level where flipping bushes comes into play. On the flip side, falling water could help concentrate fish staging to spawn and possibly lead to better bags caught.

3. Pressure – As with any fishery, both pressure from the Tour event and locals can take its toll. Just because a pro catches them from one area one day doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to replicate it. Pros that can adapt and change with the conditions and avoid pressure will likely survive to see the weekend.

 

Chad Warren

Pros to watch

There are quite a few Okies in the field and you’ll certainly want to take note of them. Scott Ashmore, Sheldon Collings, Kyle Cortiana, Jeff Dobson, Derek Fulps, Hallman, Jimmy Houston, Brandon Mosley, Darrel Robertson, Andrew Upshaw and Chad Warren all call the Sooner State home and are quite familiar with Grand.

Aside from locals, guys like Greg Bohannan, Jeremy Lawyer, David Dudley, Casey Scanlon, Brad Knight and current Angler of the Year leader Terry Bolton are all guys to keep watch on because of their prowess in the Ozarks or with a crankbait and spinnerbait. 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2019-03-28-grand-lake 

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

Built in the 1940s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Lake is nestled in the hills of east Tennessee. The Holston River impoundment lies roughly between Norris Lake to the northwest and Douglas Lake to the southeast. The clear waters of Cherokee can fluctuate about 30 feet between winter pool and spring flooding, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t out of the ordinary for the average east Tennessee reservoir. So, depending on the water level, Cherokee has about 400 miles of shoreline and 28,780 surface acres. READ MORE »

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles. READ MORE »

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

Situated between the Ozark National Forest to the north and the Ouachita National Forest to the south, Lake Dardanelle in Northwest Arkansas is a roughly 34,000-acre impoundment on the Arkansas River that offers a multitude of unique and varied opportunities to catch quality bass. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Martin Preview

2020 Lake Martin Preview

Lake Martin was created back in 1926 when the Martin Dam was completed on the Tallapoosa River. At the time, the 44,000-acre reservoir was the largest man-made body of water in the world, though it obviously no longer holds that distinction. READ MORE »

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.   READ MORE »

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Toledo Bend is a legendary reservoir that straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana. It spans some 65 miles along the impounded Sabine River, which runs north to south, and sprawls across about 185,000 acres at full pool. Though Toledo Bend has a number of major tributaries along its length, the bulk of the reservoir is its straight, wide-open main-lake span. READ MORE »

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

According to pro Casey Martin, who once won a BFL on Guntersville with a whopping 40 pounds, 11 ounces, it’s not unreasonable to expect a mid- or upper 20s bag to win this time. READ MORE »

2020 Sam Rayburn Preview

2020 Sam Rayburn Preview

Sam Rayburn has a reputation as a phenomenal bass fishery and a giant in the tournament world. At more than 114,000 acres, it’s the largest reservoir contained entirely within the borders of the Lone Star State. READ MORE »

Gator Division Kicking off at St. Johns River

Gator Division Kicking off at St. Johns River

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League’s popular Gator Division, which is presented by A.R.E., kicks off its 2020 season on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the St. Johns River near Palatka, Fla. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

Running Ditches for Winter Bass

Running Ditches for Winter Bass

There are a lot of excuses to not go fishing this time of year. Though, if you like catching bass and avoiding the crowds, you should definitely consider keeping the boat hooked up to your truck instead of the 4-wheeler. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Tom Monsoor

Check-in Time: Tom Monsoor

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 where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Wisconsin pro Tom Monsoor.  READ MORE »

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Except 2020 will be different for the General. He’ll miss the season opener on Sam Rayburn and stop No. 2 at the Harris Chain. In fact, he might not get to launch a boat for the 2020 Pro Circuit until stop No. 4 or 5 in April. READ MORE »

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

When the VMC Tokyo Rig first debuted at ICAST in 2018, a lot of folks didn’t know what to make of the weird-looking contraption. Some thought of it as a gimmick. I kind of felt that way at first until some industry friends told me about their success with it. It didn’t take long before I had a few in hand and was ready to take it for a spin. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

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 where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Delaware pro Kurt Mitchell.  READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »