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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Top 10 Patterns from Santee Cooper

Top 10 Patterns from Santee Cooper
William Fletcher

Santee Cooper is full of 30-pound stringers. It’s also been known as a lake that will humble an angler quick.

Bradford Beavers had experienced that before, having twice before weighed in 30-plus-pound stringers in tournaments on his home lake only to bomb the next day. Well, third time was the charm. After weighing in 31-02 on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by Power-Pole, he managed to back it up on day two by fishing both lakes for his first signature victory.

Of course, he had to hold off some hard charges from some veteran locals to do it. Here’s how they and the other top pros managed to carve out their own patterns and stay consistent on Santee.

Beavers’ winning pattern

Top 10 baits gallery

Complete results 

 

Lex Costas

2. Costas leaves canal, hangs in Moultrie

Santee Cooper is a shallow-angler’s dream lake. Yet, of all the legendary locals, Lex Costas is arguably the best, and he’s at his best fishing deep.

The Daniel Island, S.C., pro’s claim to fame is fishing the canal between lakes Marion and Moultrie, where little openings to backwaters off the canal create current seams. Sure enough, he fished his bread-and-butter plenty this week, though, it never quite went as best it could.

“It’s just not the right time of year for the canal,” Costas says. “I still managed to catch a couple fish from it both days, though.”

In the canal, Costas switched between a white homemade hair jig that he’d swim and hop along the bottom (and get hung up and break off often) and a crankbait, bending over to stick his rod in the water to help get his crankbait down deeper.

Yet, on day two, he only had a pair of fish by noon, prompting a move into Moultrie to fish deeper stumps and brush piles in 4-8 feet of water. Dragging a green pumpkin Zoom Magnum Trick Worm, Costas went from two fish to a giant 26-pound, 3-ounce bag in a hurry.

“The only reason I moved there was the water was clearer in my areas and I figured I had some stuff other anglers hadn’t fished,” Costas says.

 

Mike Watson

3. Watson’s kicker trees come through

There are countless cypress trees in Santee Cooper, but there’s a small clump of them on the south end of Marion that Mike Watson is quite fond of.

“I’ve fished the spot for years, and it always just produces big ones,” Watson says. “It’s just a little pile of trees, and it must be a good spawning area, because it only produces fish over 7 pounds.”

Unfortunately, someone else had found the area to start day one, so Watson had to be patient and not give it away. Once the other angler moved on, he was able to go in with a wacky-rigged green-pumpkin Yamamoto Senko and catch one good one on day one.

Day two, though, it produced quite a bit more.

“I missed one when I first got in there today,” says the Sumter, S.C. pro, “but then a little while later I caught a 9-pounder and 8-pounder about 10 minutes apart.”

Those two fish anchored day two’s biggest bag, 27-15.

 

Joey Sabbagha

4. Sabbagha milks shad spawn in Marion

Everyone knew a shad spawn was happening on Santee, but most either couldn’t capitalize on it or didn’t care to, instead focusing on spawning bass. Joey Sabbagha of Prosperity, S.C., was one of the few who focused on it, and did so quite well.

Fishing “way up in the swamp” on the north end of Marion, Sabbagha found some areas where shad were spawning around cypress tress. There, he could catch quick, quality limits tossing a Greenfish Tackle Swim Jig in Guntersville shad color with a Strike King Rage Swimmer trailer. He tossed the swim jig on a 7-foot, 3-inch Level Performance rod with 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon.

“I had the majority of my weight both days by 9 a.m.,” Sabbagha says. “On the first day, I eventually culled up a little bit tossing a BOOYAH Pad Crasher frog, but today, I just stuck with the swim jig all day.”

While the shad-spawn bite may have died early, he figured that much bait in the area had concentrated the bass in the same area, and thus, he tried to stick it out. While he went through a midday lull, the afternoon bite turned on bigtime, and he figured he caught three 20-pound limits swimming that jig in and around any piece of cover in the area.

 

Kyle Welcher

5. Welcher hangs close to takeoff

There were three predominant patterns at Santee: Pitching to cypress trees, sight fishing and the shad spawn. Cleveland, Tenn., pro Kyle Welcher sampled them all in route to fifth.

Welcher started both days on a shad-spawn pattern in Marion, but on Thursday he ran to Moultrie to complete his limit sight-fishing. Then on the way back in, he caught a bonus 6-pounder that keyed him in on something.

“I realized all my biggest bites came closer to takeoff, here on the upper end,” Welcher says. “So today I again started on the shad spawn and then went pitching cover. Didn’t matter what it was. Just had to be in 3 ½ to 4 feet, be isolated, and have shade, especially anything green touching the water’s surface.”

For his shad-spawn bite, Welcher tossed a white 3/8-ounce  Davis Baits Elite Swim Jig with a Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailer. When it came to flipping cypress tree or targeting bedding fish he flipped and pitched a green-pumpkin Yamamoto Senko with an 1/8-ounce weight on 20-pound test K9 Fishing fluorocarbon line.

 

6. Smith commits deep

Todd Smith considers himself a so-so offshore fisherman, and he hates throwing a Carolina rig. Yet, once he realized how many fish in Moultrie were postspawn, he dedicated himself to both.

“I originally wanted to fish the trees with a watermelon red Yamamoto Senko or a California 420 Zoom Trick Worm on a 1/8-ounce Picasso shaky head if there was a lot of current,” says Smith, who threw either on Big Bear spinning rod with 15-pound test PowerPro braid to a 10-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon leader. “The last hour of day one I went deep and realized that’s the place to be.”

Smith’s deep spots were stumps and brush piles in 10-12 feet of water. There he utilized a Carolina-rigged, green pumpkin Zoom Lizard on a 5/0 VMC hook and a ½-ounce weight on 20-pound test Sunline fluorocarbon.

It also just so happened that FLW Tour pro Buddy Gross was staying at Smith’s house, and one evening he asked Gross how to get a big bite.

“He gave me one of those [Scottsboro Tackle] swimbaits, and I caught my biggest one on it today,” says the Bonneau, S.C., pro, who threw both the C-rig and swimbait on a 7-3 medium-heavy Fitzgerald rod.

 

William Fletcher

7. Fletcher sticks with a spinnerbait

Marion’s north end above the Route 95 bridge is prime for a spinnerbait, and that suits William Fletcher just fine.

The Dallas, Ga., pro loves a spinnerbait, particularly some older ones or homemade versions, including one from Peanut Craft Lures. His color of choice this week was a white-chartreuse-and-blue skirt, with a gold willow leaf main blade and chartreuse kicker Colorado blade.

As for where he threw it, Fletcher targeted staging areas in 2-4 feet of water.

“I was looking for the first sets of trees close to the channel,” Fletcher says. “I was getting a mix of pre- and postspawn fish cycling through them.”

Unfortunately, while he caught multiple big fish the first day, he only got one big bite the last day, never allowing him to climb above the 20-pound mark.

 

Brent Riley

8. Riley fishes in front of house

It’s always nice to fish a tournament on your home waters. That goes especially true for Brent Riley, as he was fishing within sight of his house on Moultrie.

There, the Cross, S.C., local concentrated on cypress trees with a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko with the tail dyed chartreuse. A big key for him was hitting trees he felt others hadn’t, even if it meant going above and beyond to do so.

“Sometimes I’d idle 200 yards deep into areas to hit two trees I didn’t think anyone else had hit,” Riley says.

That tactic worked wonders, as he actually caught more fish on Saturday than on day one; something few anglers did. Unfortunately, he says he lost a key big fish both days that cost him from climbing higher in the standings.


Bryan Thrift

9. Thrift uses light line to maximize trees

Bryan Thrift has won quite a bit of money from the trees in Santee Cooper, even winning a Costa Series event back in 2016. Sure enough, he shook a few more dollar bills off the trees thanks to a key tackle tweak.

“The trees here just get so much pressure,” Thrift says. “They really get beat up in practice and the tournament. So, a big thing for me was switching to a lighter line. I think it helped my Damiki Stinger fall even better and got a few more bites in the clear water.”

Thrift’s line choice was 15-pound test P-Line TCB Braid to a 10-pound test P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon leader. He threw his wacky rig on a 7-2 medium-heavy Fitzgerald Vursa spinning rod, Abu Garcia Revo Premier 30 spinning reel and with a 3/0 Finesse Wide Gap Berkley Fusion19 hook.

Another key for Thrift said was not hitting any trees in practice that he planned to fish during the tournament.

“I just kept running new trees,” Thrift says. 

 

10. Hutson abandons sight-fishing, targets brush piles

Mark Hutson is known as one of the best sight-fishermen on Santee Cooper. So of course, that’s exactly what he hoped to do throughout the event, especially after what he saw in practice.

“I had one spot on the south end of Marion where I could’ve Power-Poled down and caught a 30-pound stringer,” Huston says. “But when I checked it on Thursday, they were all gone.”

Hutson filled his limit on Thursday with small bucks off beds before scrambling around hitting cypress trees the rest of the day. That said, the Moncks Corner, S.C., pro figured the trees had taken such a beating that he wanted to do something else on the final day.

“I had some brush I’d sunk in Moultrie I’d been saving,” Hutson says. “So I ended up fishing that with a Zoom Ol’ Monster (green pumpkin) with a ¼-ounce weight.”

Tags: sean-ostruszka  post-tournament  2019-04-25-santee-cooper 

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 »

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

A severe storm backed up the tides and drained many of the best areas on the Potomac. Adjusting to the unusual conditions and grinding out daily limits were the keys to success in the BFL Regional. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Considering this was the fourth year in a row Lake of the Ozarks had hosted a Costa FLW Series Central Division event in October, everyone pretty much knew what to expect. And then the weather happened. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Fall in the Ozarks is prime time to throw a buzzbait. Sure enough, plenty of the top guys did just that during the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks. READ MORE »

Co-Angler Fernengel Finishes Strong

Co-Angler Fernengel Finishes Strong

He got bumped from the top spot by an ounce on day one, and slipped the third on day two. But Erick Fernengel of Lake Waukomis, Mo., finally ended up on top when it mattered most.  READ MORE »

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude was no walk in the park for the top 10 pros. With a cold front passing through at the start of the event, a high-pressure system settled in for the final round of fishing. While most struggled, Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Ark., sacked up 14 pounds, 6 ounces today – the biggest limit brought in during the final day – and finally was able to wrangle his first FLW title. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude is fixing to get fun based on what’s already happened today and what could happen. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Sure enough, with conditions changing from rain and clouds to sun and wind, the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks, which is presented by Evinrude, has made it tough on guys. Of course, day-two leader James Watson predicted that some of the biggest bags of the event would come in today despite the conditions, and he was right. READ MORE »

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Weather has been the storyline leading up to the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude. With storms and rain blowing through yesterday ahead of a cold front, the cooler weather set in today making fishing tough on some, but others took advantage of the change. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

A cold front that brought temperatures in the 40s, rain and wind has the bass in a funk on day two of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

Even some of the best locals were driving the struggle bus all day trying to find ways to adapt to fish that moved thanks to the heavy storms. Yet, some guys did adapt well, with the best being Ladd Shannon and his 19-pound, 6-ounce tournament-leading bag. READ MORE »

Shannon Leads the Ozark Charge

Shannon Leads the Ozark Charge

After losing over an hour of fishing time due to a massive thunderstorm that rolled through the area early this morning causing a lightning delay, day one of the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks looked to be a grinder of an event. The tournament, which is presented by Evinrude, saw plenty of fish catching by midday, but no size to speak of. Ladd Shannon of Atkins, Ark., managed to scrape up a limit worth 19 pounds, 6 ounces by the end of the day and sits in first by 1-11 over FLW pro Greg Bohannan. 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 »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta featured all the typical Delta tactics. Punching, vibrating jigs, finesse and even a frog made an appearance in the top 10. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta had a lot of punching as usual, but it was far from the only thing going. Due to the lush grass and windy and touch conditions, vibrating jigs and finesse played a big role as well. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the St. Lawrence River

Top 10 Baits from the St. Lawrence River

Regardless of how far anglers ran, whether 95 miles or 5 miles, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River presented by Gajo Baits really came down to a battle of deep versus shallow. Here’s a look at the baits that helped the top 10 get the job done on the St. Lawrence. READ MORE »