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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Thrift on the Brink of First Cup

Thrift on the Brink of First Cup
Bryan Thrift

For the second day in a row, Shelby, N.C., pro Bryan Thrift will go to bed with the lead in the 2019 FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. Today, Thrift weighed in 12 pounds, 7 ounces for a two-day total of 27-10. He leads Florida pro Kyle Walters by 1 1/2 pounds.

Day two coverage blog

Complete results

For the most part, the pros who made the top 10 this week seem very confident that the final day could be the best of the week – a slugfest by Hamilton standards. Sunshine makes the bite go at Lake Hamilton this time of year, and there’s sunshine in the forecast. 

Thrift is the exception. He isn’t sure what to expect.

For the last two days, Thrift has run all over Hamilton, fishing deep, fishing shallow and having to scrape and claw for every bite. He thinks the fishing pressure has taken its toll, but what makes him most uncomfortable is that he’s not dialed in well enough to know that he can pull up on specific spots and get bit in expected ways.

“I don’t know where I can go catch one,” Thrift says. “I know where to throw, but I don’t know where I can catch one. And I don’t like that.

“Nothing seems to outshine anything else,” he adds. “I’ve caught some on reaction baits. I’ve caught some dragging worms. I’ve caught some on topwater. It’s just kind of a hodgepodge of anything.”

Thrift only had six keeper bites today. The morning bite was really slow for everyone, especially for the leader. He only had two fish by 1 o’clock. 

Bryan Thrift

That’s when the former Angler of the Year made a key adjustment. 

“I just kind of put my head down and just made myself slow down and milk an area out and finally caught a limit,” he says. 

“You mess with your own head [when it’s tough]. Like today, when it got later in the day, I still only had two fish. I started almost getting in panic mode, and I had to calm down and think, look, you don’t have to catch all the fish in the lake. You just have to catch five. Even if you don’t catch five, if you catch two good ones you’re going to be in good shape. I just had to keep telling myself that – slow down, fish what you want to fish, fish it thoroughly, don’t rush it.”

Today, Thrift spent 70 percent of his time fishing offshore brush, and the rest tossing topwater up shallow. The topwater bite never really happened for him today. All the fish he weighed in came from brush. 

The only thing he can figure for tomorrow is that he’ll have to catch at least one good shallow fish on topwater to hold off the crew behind him. Walters is dialed on deep brush. Dakota Ebare, in third, has a unique shallow pattern. They know where and how they’ll catch them, especially with sun in the forecast.

“I have no idea what it’s going to do,” Thrift says about the sunshine. “I don’t see how it could hurt anymore than what today did. I caught one of my better fish during the sunshine in the later part of the day, but I don’t know if the sun made it bite or I just pulled up on the right brush pile at the right time. 

“I’m gonna have a full deck of rods again tomorrow, and that’s about all I know how to do.” 

Of course, running and gunning with a deck full of rods is classic Bryan Thrift. This is the time of year and the type of tough tournament where he shines. He’s also one of the best ever at running a lake full of waypoints and plucking big fish out of deep brush. 

So while Thrift isn’t sure how it’ll go tomorrow, everyone watching on FLW Live can be sure that he’s got the best chance in his career of finally winning the FLW Cup and adding the one major FLW title that has thus far eluded him. 

 

Kyle Walters

Wild double boosts Walters to second

What might be the highlight of Kyle Walters’ tournament career occurred in the middle of the day today when he caught a 3- and 4-pounder on one cast on a crankbait. Then again, the remarkable catch might not rank as his career highlight for long, as Walters is only 1 pound, 8 ounces behind Thrift with a great chance to add the 2019 FLW Cup trophy to the 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship trophy that’s already on his mantle. The Florida pro weighed in 12 pounds, 5 ounces today for a two-day total of 26-2.

Walters says he’s caught doubles before, but obviously never with this much on the line. The catch completely reshaped his day, and his tournament. 

“I pulled up to the spot where I caught them yesterday, and I caught one,” he says. “Then I ran around and couldn’t catch anything. And I said, I’m gonna go back to that spot. I went back to the original spot and didn’t get a bite. 

“This other spot is right beside it. So I pulled up there, fired out there, and there are two brush piles. I threw a worm … no bite. I threw the drop-shot in there … no bite. And I remembered in that spot the exact same thing from practice, and I had thrown a crankbait in there and caught one. It was like a 2-pounder. I thought, why not? It’s rigged. So I threw it, set the hook, and it’s just heavy. It’s down there, and it’s shaking. I thought it was a big walleye. All of a sudden my line just started to rise, and I saw both of them. I was like, oh my goodness it’s two. And two good ones. I couldn’t believe it.”

After he settled down and got those two in the livewell, Walters ran across the bay and caught two more keepers on the worm. That was about it for him on the day. He caught a barely keeper on the crankbait and one other small keeper. It was the double and the pair that came after it that put him in contention.

Now, he’s looking ahead to a final day when the forecast is calling for more sunshine – partly cloudy most of the day – which is closer to what the pros experienced in practice than the rainy, cloudy conditions of today.

“It was super hot and sunny during practice,” Walters says. “It was super easy to call my shot. It’s been total chaos out there [in the tournament]. Yesterday, I pulled up on one pile and caught back-to-back 4-pounders. Today, I catch two on a plug. I’m going to go back to where I caught the two. They spit up two big shad. I’m just going to go for broke. I’m going to go home, rig one rod, retie my crankbait and watch Bryan rig up 40.”

As for chasing Bryan Thrift, Walters is realistic about his chances. He knows how good the tournament leader is, and he knows he needs to have a big day and maybe a little help from the divine. 

“I said this from day one: It’s his tournament to lose,” says Walters. “I think he’s good enough at adapting to what’s going to happen tomorrow to catch five fish. However he has to do it, he’s going to do it. Me? I don’t believe in luck, but maybe the good Lord is looking down on me.”

 

Dakota Ebare

Ebare rockets ahead with Saturday’s biggest bag

Dakota Ebare caught 14 pounds, 15 ounces today to move into third place just 3 pounds, 3 ounces behind Thrift. Ebare’s limit was the biggest of the day and the third heaviest of the tournament.

The Louisiana pro has been fishing in the cool, clear flowing waters of the Lake Ouachita tailrace below Blakely Mountain Dam. Today, he started in his primary area, but the current wasn’t flowing. He audibled into a nearby creek, but due to the cloudy conditions and the lack of shade lines to target, that area wasn’t right either. Ebare says the fish were roaming and not relating to targets he could pick apart. 

“When it’s sunny, they might only be in 6 inches of water, but they’ll be tucked up in a root ball and you can get them to bite,” he says. 

It didn’t take long for him to scrap the secondary spot and go back to the main river. 

“I figured I needed to have a big bag anyway. I’d seen all those fish in practice out on that river. You can just see them everywhere,” he says. “And there’s good ones. There’s 3- and 4-pounders, and a lot of them.”

At about 9:30 a.m., the horn on Blakely Mountain Dam sounded, letting anyone around know the water was about to flow. Ebare first felt the effects at around 10:45. That’s when the current helped set the fish up in predictable spots. 

The next break came after a tackle adjustment.

“I started getting fish following my bait, but they just wouldn’t commit. I said, man, I’ve got to do something different. I was throwing on 12-pound-test, which is probably not smart in that clear water. It’s like 8 feet of visibility. I switched to 10, and probably five minutes later I caught that first 3-pounder on the same bait.”

The switch produced another nice keeper shortly after, but Ebare still felt like he could do better. When he sat down to retie due to frayed line, he decided to switch to 8-pound test, which he’s been practicing with this season.

“I’ve been catching big smallmouth on 8-pound test all summer, so I switched to 8 and that’s when I caught the rest of my quality fish. I caught the 4 and another 3.”

Tomorrow, sunshine and some current could set up Ebare’s fish just right for him to have a mega-bag, even if it means tweaking his presentations a little bit again. He is sharing some water with Scott Martin, though both anglers believe there are enough quality bass in the area to sustain.

“They’re feeling the pressure,” Ebare says, “but the good thing is there weren’t as many guys up there today. A lot of the other guys that were up there kind of bailed on them today.”

 

Jeremy Lawyer

Lawyer stays consistent thanks to afternoon flurry

The wild-and-crazy catch theme played out for Missouri’s Jeremy Lawyer today, too. At about 4:30, the former BFL All-American champ busted his rod and had to hand-line in his final keeper, which happened to weigh 4 pounds. 

That fish helped Lawyer finish his second limit of the week of more than 12 pounds for a two-day total of 24-6. He’s only 3 pounds, 4 ounces behind Thrift.

Lawyer started his morning throwing a topwater, which turned up one good fish. Then he mixed it up with deep brush and slinging topwater around shallow docks, eventually picking away at a small limit by 2 p.m. 

“At 2 o’clock, that sun poked out, and I started running piles again, running deep, because I only had about 6 pounds. It was terrible,” he says. “I was bouncing all the way up to the last bridge in the lake. I just kept thinking eventually I was going to find a section of the lake that they were active in, and it just never was. Whether I was in a bad rotation behind a lot of guys doing it, or if it was just the fact that it wasn’t going down, I don’t know.

“When that sun came out at 2, I just started retreading a bunch of piles I had confidence in, and it was just like there’s one, there’s one, there’s one. I can’t catch two out of every pile, but I can catch one on about every pile, or at least keep it interesting. I’m jumping pretty quick, so it’s not like I’m setting there awhile. But at the end of the day they just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I think those bigger ones were just moving into the piles because the sun finally got up and it got hot.”

Tomorrow, Lawyer plans to continue to work the brush-topwater combo. He’s gunning for big bites with a jumbo topwater and estimates that to have a chance to win, he needs two or three topwater bites. Beyond that, he’ll also need to have another solid day in the brush to fill out his five. 

 

Scott Martin

Martin also working the tailrace

Scott Martin is the only pro in the top 10 with a chance to be the first to ever win two FLW Cups, but he’s got to make up a 5-pound deficit to make it happen. Martin weighed in 11 pounds, 11 ounces today. 

What’s interesting is he thinks the area he’s fishing, which is below Blakely Mountain Dam, is capable of producing a mid-teens bag tomorrow if the sun shines. Perhaps Bryan Thrift should be a little worried about the Clewiston, Fla., pro.

All week, Martin has had to grind out his bites. His best move has simply been to stay committed.

“I thought if I’d stick with it all day, then I should have five,” he says. “I caught a couple decent ones that helped me out a lot. For me, patience really is all I’m going on. I’m in an area that I felt like has a good grade of fish. I feel like if things go just right, you can catch a pretty good bag of fish. At the end of the day, if you want to win the FLW Cup, you’ve got to put yourself around quality fish. At this point, I’m kind of all in.”

Like Ebare, Martin experienced an uptick in the middle of the day. 

“I think there’s a timing thing going on,” he says. “I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s an afternoon bite going on.”

Martin’s fish have almost all come shallow, and he doesn’t plan to change anything tomorrow. He’s very optimistic about what could happen on Sunday.

“I think the bags tomorrow across the board are going to be amazing,” he says. “I don’t think the fish got that hurt the last two days. I think the ones people caught were just random fish. I think the majority of the wolf packs are going to come back. The majority of the bluegill fish are going to come back. I think everything is going to get back on track.”

 

Top 10 pros

1. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 27-10 (10)

2. Kyle Walters – Grant Valkaria, Fla. – 26-2 (10)

3. Dakota Ebare – Denham Springs, La. – 24-7 (10)

4. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 24-6 (10)

5. Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 22-10 (10)

6. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 22-9 (10)

7. Jordan Osborne – Longview, Texas – 22-6 (10)

8. Ryan Salzman – Huntsville, Ala. – 21-14 (10)

9. Joseph Webster – Winfield, Ala. – 21-14 (10)

10. Josh Douglas – Isle, Minn. – 21-0 (10)

Complete results

Tags: curtis-niedermier  headline-story  2019-08-09-flw-cup-lake-hamilton 

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 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 »

Curveballs at the Cup

Curveballs at the Cup

When the field of 52 anglers arrived in Hot Springs, Ark., for the official practice period for the 2019 FLW Cup, they were greeted with sunshine, humidity and brutal daytime temperatures in the upper 90s. Early in the week, there was little mention of anything other than the same – a typical Arkansas summer forecast of sunny and hot. READ MORE »

High Tide Takes Langford to Top

High Tide Takes Langford to Top

Todd Langford of Great Falls, Virginia, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Shenandoah Division tournament on the Potomac River Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces. Langford took home $2,600 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Mills Works Wood at Ohio River

Mills Works Wood at Ohio River

Craig Mills of Hamilton, Ohio, took top honors at Saturday’s T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Buckeye Division tournament on the Ohio River at Tanners Creek after catching five bass weighing 10 pounds, 4 ounces. Mills took home $5,466 for his win. READ MORE »

Pollak Plays Current for Big Muddy W

Pollak Plays Current for Big Muddy W

Joe Pollak of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament on the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien Saturday after catching five bass weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce. For his win, Pollack netted $4,586. 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 »

Thrift and Kripp to discuss FLW Cup

Thrift and Kripp to discuss FLW Cup

FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift, of Shelby, North Carolina, the newest FLW Cup champion, will break down his career-defining week... 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 »