UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana
Kyle Cortiana

Since starting to fish Costa FLW Series events in 2016, Kyle Cortiana has banked over $100,000 with FLW and finished in the top 10 of the Southwestern Division three times. On the FLW Tour, he’s been a bit less successful, with no top 10s and no FLW Cup qualifications … yet. This year, he’s sitting 35th in the points, with a good chance to go to the Cup, and the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake finally gives him a shot at a Tour event with home field advantage.

Eager to see what the day had in store, I was happy to hop in the boat to watch the Oklahoma pro break down a lake he’s intimately familiar with.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Launching mid-lake on Grand, Cortiana puts the boat in the water in the half-dark, and then pauses to rig his GoPro (he has a very active YouTube channel) and make a few tackle tweaks. He says he spent most of day one down near the dam in cleaner water, and thus it’s time to tackle up for what is likely going to be a pretty dirty morning.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

After idling out of the marina, Cortiana puts his Ranger on plane, rolling down the lake to the back of a creek. He talks most of the way, explaining a particularly tricky area to run, or just what he’s thinking at any particular time. Though we aren’t running flat out by any means, it doesn’t take too long to get where we’re going.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Setting the boat down, Cortiana pulls out a crankbait for a few casts and then picks up his jig. It takes maybe a cast or two and he’s set the hook on a quality fish. Theoretically, Grand Lake is really tough right now, but Cortiana just made it look as easy as pie.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to get a jig bite,” says Cortiana. “Now the rest of the day I have the confidence to keep chasing that bite.”

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

As Cortiana continues along, he alternates between his jig, a worm and a small crankbait on a spinning rod. I ask him what it’s like to have the opportunity to fish a Tour event near home.

“I wish it was a different lake,” admits Cortiana. “Out of all the Oklahoma lakes I fish a lot, this is the meanest lake we’ve got. It can make you look like an absolute idiot.”

As proof, Cortiana offers up the fact that he zeroed on day two of last year’s Costa FLW Series tournament. Though that one was pretty tough overall, he says it’s no coincidence the only time he’s ever blanked a tournament day came on Grand.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Cortiana decides to swing on his next bite, and Grand continues to make him look good. 

“I need one more sniff, just one more,” Cortiana says of this area. “If they’re here, they could be really here. This will be a lights-out area eventually, maybe this week, or maybe in a week or two. Then, ones like that will be little ones.”

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Cortiana keeps plugging, sometimes skimming over stretches of shoreline that he thinks could be productive in the tournament, but not getting any more bites. Eventually, still fishing very methodically, he gets another bite and shakes it off. After a few more casts, it’s time to go somewhere else.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Our next stop is a rocky bank out near the main lake. Adding a Biffle Bug into the mix, Cortiana goes to work as the sun finally breaks through the clouds and the breeze begins to freshen. A few minutes later, he hooks up on his small crankbait, bringing a non-keeper aboard stealthily as one of his competitors drives past.

 

Kyle Cortiana

All morning, we’ve been running slightly behind the schedule Cortiana has in mind for the day. It’s by no means a bad thing, as fishing slowly in the spring on Grand is basically a tradition, but the detour he now beings isn’t going to help get him back on schedule. Instead of picking up after fishing the sweet stretch of bank, Cortiana continues along the windblown shoreline with his little crankbait, reveling in his ability to cast it with the wind, but getting no more bites.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Cortiana pretty much arrived at the ramp with a stable of Kistler rods and Ardent reels that totally encompassed what he was going to use for the day on deck. Other than his morning modifications, he hasn’t changed much so far. He really hasn’t even picked up that many rods, sticking to the staples that Grand Lake dictates in the early spring.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

After fishing out his bit of windy bank, Cortiana pulls the plug. Snacking on a little jerky before taking off into the chilly breeze, the next stop is a very dirty pocket off the main lake.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Pulling out a spinnerbait to start, Cortiana methodically gets to work again, fishing his way into every nook and cranny of this particular creek. We arrived at about 10:30 a.m., and it’s not until nearly 11:20 that Cortiana gets bit on a jig. It’s an exciting bite, too, causing him to exclaim “oh my God,” before swinging and missing the fish.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Shortly thereafter, Cortiana calls to check up on Chad Warren. The two have known each other for years, and are sort of sharing information this week. Warren shares that his day has been a lot slower than the first day, and the two both agree that it’s gonna be a tough one.

If you want more from Warren’s first day of practice, you can peep yesterday’s story.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Continuing his way through the cove, but now finally on the opposite bank from where he started, Cortiana remembers to try his crankbait. Shockingly quickly, he gets a bite on it, which has him a bit excited and kicking himself for not trying it earlier.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Kyle Cortiana

Before taking me back to the ramp, Cortiana fishes another 50 yards or so, just to make sure of his creek. En route, he changes crankbaits to find one that runs a bit more true, and manages to hook and lose two more fish on it. All in all, it hasn’t been a bad morning.

 

Kyle Cortiana

Jody White

Kyle Cortiana

As we idle out of the no-wake zone to clear the creek and run back, Cortiana busts out some bass balls, a peanut butter and oatmeal combination that I can report is delicious. Then, Cortiana rolls me back across a chilly Grand to the ramp so that he can spend the afternoon unencumbered on the hunt for the winning fish.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2019-03-28-grand-lake 

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Takeoff was a little blustery, but overall, it’s been a perfect start to the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The event is the kickoff of the Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, and the tournament itself is presented by Polaris. READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Last year, every event in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, was won entirely with smallmouth bass. This season, the kickoff event on Champlain, which is presented by Polaris, looks destined to involve some largemouths. Everyone in the top five weighed green ones on day one, though somewhat surprisingly, the south end down by Ticonderoga didn’t play an overwhelming role, as only three of the top 10 anglers made the long run southward. READ MORE »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Less than three weeks removed from a third-place finish on Lake Champlain in the FLW Tour’s 2019 season finale, Bryan Thrift hauled 22 pounds, 6 ounces of green fish to the weigh-in stage to take the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener, which is presented by Polaris. In second, Brandt Tumberg weighed 21-10, and Joe Wood is just an ounce behind him with 21-9 for third.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

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 Brian Latimer.  READ MORE »

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching. READ MORE »

Summertime on Champlain

Summertime on Champlain

For three years running now, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits has kicked off on Lake Champlain. The tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but it’s going to be far different than the last two FLW Series tilts on the big Northern lake. READ MORE »

Nelson Wins ROY

Nelson Wins ROY

Ron Nelson blanked on the first day of his first FLW Tour event. Then he got things on track – so on track that he finished the season ninth overall in the standings and above every other rookie to earn the Polaris FLW Tour Rookie of the Year award. Winning ROY is typically a career-setting accomplishment, and to go with the hardware Nelson will also receive a Polaris Sportsman® 570 ATV. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live is back for the season finale of the FLW Tour on Lake Champlain. The event, which is presented by T-H Marine and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau runs Thursday, June 27 through Sunday, June 30. READ MORE »

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Living about as far as possible from Champlain, Wade Strelic is looking to finish his rookie season strong at the FLW Tour finale. Hailing from Alpine, Calif., near San Diego, Strelic is sitting 28th in points and has made the check cut in three out of six events so far – another good derby will lock him in to the FLW Cup. READ MORE »

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Ron Nelson is easily in the group of favorites in the event and a bonafide Northern expert, so I was eager to hop in the boat for a morning with the smallie snatcher. Champlain isn’t fishing quite like it was the years he won, but Nelson is still guaranteed to have a lot of eyes on him come day one. READ MORE »

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Over the years, a lot of anglers have established impressive records on Lake Champlain, but few have done it as quickly and authoritatively as Austin Felix. READ MORE »

Get to Know Lake Champlain

Get to Know Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is a giant of a lake. It stretches 100-plus miles from its beginning down south at Whitehall, N.Y., and runs all the way up to the Canadian border between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks in New York. Though the competitors aren’t allowed to venture into Canada, there is still plenty for anglers to break down for the final event of the 2019 FLW Tour season. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Buddy Gross

Check-in Time: Buddy Gross

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 Buddy Gross.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: David Williams 

Check-in Time: David Williams 

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 David Williams. READ MORE »

Top High Schoolers Headed for Pickwick

Top High Schoolers Headed for Pickwick

This week, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir touching Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama pulls double duty for a joint production of the High School Fishing National Championship (Wednesday-Friday) and the 10th annual Student Angler Federation High School Fishing World Finals (Wednesday-Saturday). READ MORE »

Review: LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw

Review: LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw

With the number of great crankbaits on the market or discontinued and still in high-demand, new crankbaits have to be pretty good to earn a space in a tacklebox. While I wouldn’t say the LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw is a surefire classic, after a few days of fishing it, I know I’ll be throwing it a lot more. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Champlain Preview

2019 Lake Champlain Preview

Champlain is such a fun location for a tournament in large part because of the unpredictability involved. Nelson winning last year’s Costa FLW Series tilt with all smallmouths was something of a surprise, but given the conditions, it made plenty of sense. Exactly what will go down this year is legitimately up in the air. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Lake Champlain

By the Numbers: Lake Champlain

The 2019 FLW Tour season comes to a close later this month on Lake Champlain, a lake that just about guarantees a fun finish and lots of smallmouths. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

In today’s morning story, James Biggs made several predictions for the first day of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Mercury on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Based on what our media team saw this morning, Biggs’ predictions are basically spot on. Two-thirds of the field is fishing up shallow, and there aren't many big bass to speak of. READ MORE »