UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Lake Erie

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Grueling wind on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener on Lake Champlain didn’t do the field any favors, but otherwise, it was a heck of a tournament on the big northern fishery. The aftereffects of an odd spring with high water had things somewhat scrambled, putting some of the local participants on their off foot, but a variety of patterns proved to be successful.

Bryan Thrift earned the win fishing up north, weighing mostly largemouths he plucked from fairly shallow grass. Others made the top 10 solely on smallmouths or by making the run to Ti for their largemouth, but if there was any overarching theme, it was certainly how well the northern green fish played. In fact, six of the top 10 anglers weighed in northern largemouths on at least one of the first two days.

Thrift’s winning pattern

Top 10 baits

Complete results

 

Edward Levin

2. Levin adapts perfectly

Edward Levin fished a nearly perfect tournament, and if it’d just been windy on day one, he may have won. Weighing in 18-6 the first day, Levin got knocked off his primary area by the wind on day two and cracked 19 pounds each of the final two days for a 56-9 total.

On day one, Levin fished for smallmouths in the main lake, but he turned to the Inland Sea and a mix of species on subsequent days. For smallmouths, he targeted isolated piles and veins of small rock with a YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. with Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers and Little Dippers (in white trash with one perch-colored swimbait).

“Today they wanted it closer to the bottom,” says Levin of his umbrella rig tactics. “The other days I’d burn it a lot higher, a lot faster. They’d come up and hit it. Today they were a little sluggish; there was less wind, and I had to let it actually let it hit the bottom, then jerk it off the bottom and slowly start reeling. That’s when they’d hit it.”

For largemouths, Levin flipped grass with a 3/8-ounce Texas-rigged tube, but he didn’t do it like everyone else.

“I was flipping grass in about 12 to 15 feet of water,” says Levin. “Just isolated patches where milfoil would mix in with other grass and some rock. It’d stick up to about 5 or 6 feet under the water. You had to graph it to find it. So, to be honest, I had it to myself all week

“There were big schools of largemouth in there. We’d run through 30 or 40 keepers a day to get those 3 1/2- and 4-pounders.”

 

Scott Dobson

3. Dobson leans on smallies

Scott Dobson and smallmouths go together like chocolate and peanut butter, so it was no surprise to see him earn another top 10 with brown fish. The Michigan angler ended up with only 15-9 on the final day, which took him out of the running for a win, but he was the highest-finishing angler in the field to weigh in all smallies.

Dobson mostly relied on a few stretches offshore near Rouses Point. He mixed baits profusely, and weighed fish on a few jerkbaits, a pencil popper, a spy bait and a drop-shot.

“I just didn’t get many big, key bites today,” says Dobson.  “The fish were there, but today, nothing was happening. We were catching fish, but you can’t put that drop-shot in front of enough fish to get the big bites. That’s why they need to eat that jerkbait, so you can cover water and get those big bites.”

As is often the case with smallies, Dobson lost quite a few each day as well. However, he was getting enough bites the first two days to make up for it. Though he fished a long stretch of offshore grass every day, he ended up weighing in a lot of his fish off one small area along it that had leaner bottom and very sparse cabbage.

“You can’t win unless you make the top 10,” says Dobson, who’s now got a good start to a possible Angler of the Year run. “If I would have stumbled yesterday, I’d have come in 30th place. So, I’ll take my check and go home.”

 

Brandt Tumberg

4. Tumberg struggles to follow up on day one success

Brandt Tumberg hammered out 21-10 worth of largemouths on day one, but he hovered around 15 pounds the rest of the way.

Fishing up north in The Gut and the Inland Sea the whole time, Tumberg had a school of largemouth on a shallow point dialed in, as well as some flipping fish in mats. On day one, they both paid off in a big way, but he never got to fish his mats on day two and had to rely solely on his point. On the final day, the bigger bites just never came.

In addition to flipping and throwing a topwater, Tumberg also caught a bunch of fish off the shallow point with finesse tactics. A watermelon-colored Zoom Trick Worm on either a shaky head or a Neko rig did the trick for that.

Though he couldn’t follow up day one, his only regret is not spending less time on smallmouths.

“I would have not gone smallmouth fishing if I could do it again,” says Tumberg. “I caught some good ones in practice and spent a lot of time on them. That was a waste. In the tournament I was never able to catch any.”

 

Kurt Mitchell

5. Mitchell goes north and south

A stupendous practice and a world of confidence in Ticonderoga bode well for Kurt Mitchell in his latest attempt at Champlain. It didn’t really turn out as planned, but the Delaware FLW Tour pro still managed to wrangle up enough to finish fifth.

Mitchell ran south to Ti on days one and three, but he stayed up north because of the wind on day two for his biggest bag of the event.

“Even that didn’t go as planned,” says Mitchell. “I went up into the Missisquoi River and started fishing log jams. There are two main trees in there that are big and have a lot of jam in them. In practice I was catching them on creek mouths in the river; you could just catch them every cast, but the water dropped in there and that was done. I knew the log jams out in deeper water were still going to have the fish on them — that’s the only place they could have been.”

After making the cut, he decided to run back down to Ti.

“I knew that I needed 22 pounds or something to win and catch up to Thrift,” says Mitchell. “To me, Ti was the only place that I could do that. I didn’t really have the opportunity today. I lost two big ones, but in Ti, if everything works out perfect, you can come in with 22 pounds.”

Down at Ti, he didn’t do anything too special. Some hard cover and some grass places produced the bulk of his fish.

“You had to find grass with bait in it,” says Mitchell. “The alewives would be flickering in some of the grass mats, and those were the mats you had to find. When you found them schooling up and busting on them it didn’t matter what you threw at them, but for the most part, you had to throw a white frog to get bit and then follow it up with something flipped in there.”

 

Jason Bacon

6. Bacon mixes green and brown

Fishing north each day, Jason Bacon caught a mix of largemouths and smallmouths. On day two, he weighed in 19-1 to vault into the cut, but couldn’t make it happen again.

“The first day, I caught most of my better fish flipping mats,” says Bacon. “The second day, I caught a bunch on a Ned rig in the morning on current, and my better fish came on a jig. It was a mixture of hard cover, docks, and some rock piles and stuff like that. Most of it was in 2 to 4 feet.”

Bacon targeted current at the breaks in causeways, but stayed on the deeper side, in 12 to 16 feet of water. He ran the same game plan of current and targets on day three, but could only scrounge up 15-15.

 

Wayne Vaughan

7. Smallies are the ticket for Vaughan

The second of three pros to weigh in entirely smallmouths in the top 10, Wayne Vaughan tallied 19-5 on day one, but couldn’t quite break the 16-pound barrier thereafter.

Fishing through the Inland Sea and near Rouses Point on day one, he committed to fishing about a mile away from Scott Dobson on days two and three.

“I knew there was a fair amount of fish in that area,” says Vaughan. “Everything else I had was more spread out, so I just went ahead and committed to that area.”

Like Dobson, Vaughan had a little sweet spot that he developed as the tournament went on.

“Most of it was between 11 to 14 foot, and it has a crazy mixture of grass depending on what part you’re in,” says Vaughan of the area. “What I figured out with it is there’s a really clean section that is in the middle. Sometimes they wanted to get up in the clean section, and sometimes they nestled out in the grass.”

Vaughan put a drop-shot with a wacky-rigged 4-inch Yamamoto Senko to work for the most part. He also added in a Ned rig, a tube and a shad-colored Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait.

“I threw a Ned rig a lot on day two, like a heavy Ned rig,” says Vaughan. “I found out I could take a tube and rip it out of the grass, but then all of a sudden they got weird and wouldn’t bite it. But I had a bunch of crawdads in my livewell, so I put a little Ned rig on and I caught a fair amount of fish on that.”

 

8. Wood goes green

Running to Ti each of the first two days paid off with a top 10 for Joe Wood, but he elected to fish up north on the final day. In practice, Wood located a massive school in the grass at Ti, but that was gone during the tournament, and in two days of trying he couldn’t relocate it.

“It was actually a really good week. I can’t complain,” says Wood, who’s won a Northern Division AOY title before. “Just making a top 10 here is hard to do.”

In Ti, Wood didn’t do anything too fancy when he wasn’t’ trying to relocate his school.

“I pretty much just junk-fished down there,” says Wood. “I fished a little grass, I fished some laydowns, I fished a few docks and some cribs. I just did a little of everything.

“I just never got the same bites I got down there the first day,” says Wood of the call to try north.  “And I looked at the weather forecast, and it wasn’t blowing too hard at takeoff, but the app I had on my phone said it was gonna blow out of the south at 15, and I didn’t want that.”

On the final day, Wood nabbed a quick limit of smallmouths and then culled most of the flipping in The Gut, but he never ran into quality fish.

 

Casey Smith

9. Smallmouths help Smith start the season strong

Northern Division stalwart Casey Smith plucked limits of smallies each day for a strong start. Lost fish and some mechanical difficulties cost him on the final day, but he still tallied a more-than-respectable finish.

“Practice was really good all the way through,” says Smith. “I found them shallow early in practice and then in 15- to 20-feet as the week went on. I fished both on day one, and I started deep and then went to the shallow stuff and upgraded. Day two I ran the shallow stuff right from the get-go, and I focused on the most windblown places I could find.”

Running shallower places on the final day was the ticket as well, though his landing ratio went down. His shallow areas were mostly mixes of rock, grass and sand in anywhere from 6 to 12 feet of water. For baits, he used a Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 112, a 3.3-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT and a Duo Realis Spinbait 80 in either grass minnow or ayu.

 

Ron Nelson

10. Nelson takes a crack at three in a row

The winner of the two previous Costa FLW Series events on Champlain, Ron Nelson got into this one at the last minute on a bit of a whim and turned in another great finish.

Nelson mixed largemouth and smallmouth, but the bulk of his weight came from a pair of humps near deep water in close proximity to each other that had a big school of smallmouth on them.

“The biggest key was finding that group of fish,” says Nelson. “I left them biting on the first day; I didn’t want to beat them up. It was a megaschool that was deep, and they would pull up on the shelf and eat a topwater.”

A topwater, a jerkbait and a drop-shot were the deal for Nelson’s smallies, but he mostly lost them on the final day.

“I don’t know why the fish weren’t really committing today,” says Nelson. “You had to slow down and spoon-feed them, and they’d still not get it. I was just barely poking them, and then they’d turn and come free.”

Nelson also flipped a few largemouth in Carry Bay, and but he never really got in the hunt for a third consecutive win.

“The overall event was good,” says Nelson. “The fish were biting good and they were healthy. I feel really blessed to have two wins here, and I feel blessed to make the top 10.”

Tags: jody-white  post-tournament  2019-07-18-lake-champlain 

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

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

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 »

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Osborne spent the early visit graphing for brush in Hamilton’s lower end. In practice, it was more of the same, as Osborne spent only a couple of hours beating the bank. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Minnesota pro Josh Douglas is regarded as an electronics expert. But while he put his Lowrance units to the test at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton to find offshore brush piles, even Douglas couldn’t resist spending some time in the mornings hunting shallow bass. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Ryan Salzman earned an eighth-place finish at the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton with a well-executed two-part strategy. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Among the FLW Cup pros that committed the entire tournament to one pattern was Joseph Webster, who weighed in a three-day total of 28 pounds, 2 ounces at Lake Hamilton. He finished seventh. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Eden Prairie, Minn., pro Austin Felix finished sixth in this year’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, but he’s convinced that if the engineers operating Blakely Mountain Dam had released water on a more consistent schedule, the results might have been even better for him. Felix spent most of the tournament keying on the clear waters of Hamilton’s upper end. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Prior to practice, Scott Martin had no idea that the far upper end of Lake Hamilton, where the cold waters from the bottom of Lake Ouachita flow in through Blakely Mountain Dam, was such a drastically different mini-fishery within the reservoir. Then he started scouting it in practice and realized there was potential to win the tournament in the tailrace in areas where the water temperature was below 60 degrees. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Fourth-place pro Jeremy Lawyer was the highest finisher to utilize the shallow-early, brush-later strategy. Lawyer stacked together limits of 12 pounds, 1 ounce and 12-5 on the first two days to go into the final day in fourth place. He weighed in just 7 pounds on Sunday. READ MORE »