UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division is preparing to get underway on June 13 on the Wolf River Chain of Lakes, and it promises to be a derby predicated on catching good numbers any number of ways.

Curtis Samo of Rochelle, Ill., has been fishing the Wolf River and its many lakes for three decades, and he has a pair of wins on the chain in previous June tournaments (2017 and 2019). Samo knows as well as anyone how the sprawling fisheries in Wisconsin will set up for the Great Lakes Division opener.

 

Tournament Details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division

Wolf River Chain of Lakes

Winneconne, Wis.

June 13, 2020

 

How the Fishery Sets Up

To say there’s plenty of water to fish on the Wolf River Chain would be an enormous understatement. From Lake Poygan and Lake Winneconne through the Wolf River and down into Lake Butte des Morts, into the Fox River and Lake Winnebago, there’s enough water on the chain to really find something for yourself.

Winnebago is the deepest body of water on the chain (with a maximum depth of 21 feet) and fishes like some of the larger Northern smallmouth fisheries in that anglers can find good concentrations of smallmouth bass offshore. Other lakes on the chain offer some similar opportunities, but Winnebago is your best bet for finding schools of bronzebacks.

Butte des Morts and Winneconne are significantly shallower (with average depths of 9 and 6 feet, respectively) and smaller than Winnebago, though they do offer some unique opportunities in the form of grass, riprap and other target-oriented cover and structure.

In the rivers, there’s no shortage of current eddies to target, along with plenty of backwater with even more grass and natural cover.

 

Curtis Samo

What to Expect

According to Samo, the Wolf River Chain is a bit of an angler’s paradise. Whatever you like to fish, you’re going to find it somewhere on the chain.

“Guys who like to fish offshore will go into Winnebago, and you can find concentrations of fish there,” he says. “Everybody says if you’re going to win a tournament you’ve got to go into Winnebago, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be in the river. It can be anywhere.

“You can just fish to your strengths. You can find pretty much whatever you like to do, and you can catch fish doing it. There are also stretches of riprap and rock where you can throw a crankbait and catch fish. It’s kind of like the Mississippi River – everything looks fishy, and there are lots of ways to catch them.”

In his 30 years fishing the chain, Samo has found that catching bass in most sections of the fishery isn’t about being area-dependent. In fact, he prefers to fish a milk run of basically anything that looks good to him.

“Typically, I’ve got 20 to 25 spots, but it’s normally a milk run,” he adds. “I don’t have just one area I sit on. It just doesn’t seem like that type of fishery – not to say that you can’t; I have done that, but it’s shallow water, natural lakes. I have spots where I catch one or two and run to the next one.”

It’s easy to do that on a fishery as diverse as the Wolf River Chain, which has an abundance of grass (from coontail to eelgrass to milfoil, pads and bulrushes), current, riprap, isolated rock and other natural cover and structure. Whatever you like to fish, you’ll find it on the chain.

As for winning weight, Samo won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League event in June last year with 15 pounds even, and he expects that weight to be exactly what wins it again this year.

 

Matt Stefan

Baits and Techniques

There isn’t one specific bait or technique that dominates in the postspawn period on the Wolf River Chain. Last year, Samo won flipping tubes and burning a buzzbait on Winneconne. In 2017, when Samo tied for the win with Mike Feldermann, the latter was using a black and blue swimbait in about 3 feet of water off the main river.

In Winnebago, drop-shots, Ned rigs and other finesse tactics can be prevalent, while crankbaits and other power-fishing techniques often get the call in other sections of the fishery.

Again, it’s dealer’s choice when it comes to fishing the Wolf River Chain.

And like the variety of cover and structure (as well as baits and techniques in play), anglers can choose from green fish and brown fish almost at will. Some tournaments are won with all largemouth and some with all smallmouth and others with mixed bags.

“It’s kind of like the Mississippi River,” Samo says. “The Winneconne tournament I won on all largemouth. Last year, I won on all smallmouth. It could be either. It has an equal chance. It just depends on what you go for.”

Tags: justin-onslow  pre-tournament  2020-06-13-wolf-river-chain 

Breaking Down the All-American Roster

Breaking Down the All-American Roster

One of the longest-running championships in bass fishing, the All-American is often considered to be the pinnacle of the grassroots level and has launched the careers of anglers like Shaw Grigsby, Jacob Wheeler, Jeremy Lawyer and many more throughout the years. READ MORE »

Previewing the All-American

Previewing the All-American

Originally set for the beginning of May, the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP is now slated for November 11-13 on Lake Hartwell. The All-American brings together the best of the best from the Phoenix Bass Fishing League ranks as well as top anglers from the TBF, college and high school ranks.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Dale Hollow

Top 10 Patterns from Dale Hollow

There’s no way around it. Dale Hollow was fishing tough during the Toyota Series Central Division finale. Ultimately, it was Adam Wagner and a mega-school he found in 50 feet of water that got the job done. For the rest of the top 10, it was a little bit of everything. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Dale Hollow

Top 10 Baits from Dale Hollow

While Dale Hollow really featured a hodgepodge of different baits in the Toyota Series Central Division finale, the anglers who performed the best did so by targeting deeper fish that were either chasing bait or sitting on isolated cover. For the job, much of the field had a spoon and a drop-shot on deck. READ MORE »

Wagner Wins on Dale Hollow

Wagner Wins on Dale Hollow

Adam Wagner is approaching legend status in central Tennessee. Storming to the win from fifth place on the final day, Wagner put a limit for 16 pounds, 1 ounce on the scale for a 34-6 total and the win in the Toyota Series Central Division event on Dale Hollow. READ MORE »

Russell, 71, Earns First FLW Win

Russell, 71, Earns First FLW Win

Robert Russell has been fishing a long time, and he’s been fishing FLW tournaments for a long time, too. At Dale Hollow, from the back of the boat, he finally got his first FLW win. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 3

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 3

You’re not going to find a better day to be out on the lake in the fall. Unfortunately, the warming trend paired with bluebird skies, plenty of sun and very little wind hasn’t produced very good conditions for catching fish. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Dale Hollow is fishing tough. That’s about the only constant across the field in the Toyota Series Central Division finale. Everyone in the top 10 has made it to this point by finding a way to battle the difficult conditions and tricky timing, and many have done that extremely well. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 2

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 2

Despite some hopeful optimism that the cold front that moved in overnight might turn on the bite, day two of the Toyota Series Central Division finale on Dale Hollow has been as slow as – or slower than – day one, and that’s saying something. READ MORE »

Smith Stays Consistent on Dale Hollow

Smith Stays Consistent on Dale Hollow

Dale Hollow has been tough as nails this week for the competitors in the Toyota Series Central Division event. Only three of the top 10 have managed limits both days, and one of those limits was shy of 7 pounds. So, Blake Smith’s back to back limits of 11 pounds, 9 ounces, and 11-13 qualify as extremely impressive. Leading with a total of 23-6, Smith has more than a 3-pound edge on second-place Chris Malone and seems to be in prime position to bring home a win on Saturday. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Dale Hollow was predictably tough, with few scratching above the 10-pound mark and limits hard to come by. Still, Jonathan Bowling waylaid over 13 pounds for the lead, and the pros behind him have put some actual patterns together. All that is threatened by much colder weather that’s on the way, but it’s nothing the pros in the top 10 haven’t seen before. READ MORE »

Bowling Leads on Dale Hollow

Bowling Leads on Dale Hollow

As tough as Dale Hollow has been fishing lately, it’s not really a surprise that only nine anglers managed to crack double digits after day one of the Toyota Series Central Division finale. What was surprising, though, was to see one angler – Harriman, Tennessee’s Jonathan Bowling – grab a lead of more than 1 1/2 pounds. Given the conditions, that’s a huge lead. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 1

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 1

The rain that soaked the region all Wednesday hung around to start the morning of day one of the Toyota Series Central Division finale on Dale Hollow. By midday, though, the spotty rain started to move out and give way to a little sunshine ahead of sharply falling temperatures this evening and into Friday morning. READ MORE »

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

It’s been an odd “fall” at Dale Hollow, mostly because there hasn’t really been one. Water temperatures are still hovering in the high-60s, which puts the typical fall transition well behind its usual schedule in terms of bass movement. READ MORE »

Previewing Dale Hollow

Previewing Dale Hollow

When the Toyota Series Central Division wraps up its season on Dale Hollow Lake next week – a lake known for its smallmouth fishing, thanks in big part for producing the world record smallmouth back in 1955 – its anglers probably won’t be weighing in masses of brown fish. READ MORE »

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

The Toyota Series Southwestern Division will wrap up its season this week at Sam Rayburn. Hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

The 2020 Toyota Series Plains Division will continue with a tournament this weekend in Osage Beach, Missouri, with the Toyota Series at Lake of the Ozarks. Hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

The Toyota Series Eastern Division will wrap up its season this week at Lake Norman. Hosted by Visit Lake Norman, Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake has the potential to churn out some big bags – look no further than the 2019 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, when 21 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds on day one alone – but the 2020 iteration wasn’t as friendly to the college anglers who took to her waters this week. Here’s the skinny on how the top 10 teams caught their fish this week and what they caught them with. READ MORE »

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

As tough as Kentucky Lake was fishing this week in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo leading after day one and finishing the job on Thursday resulted in one of the more impressive wins you’ll see. After weighing in a day-one best 12-13, the duo backed it up with another 12-7 on day two for the victory, displaying the kind of consistency it takes to grind it out in tough fishing conditions. For their efforts, Morris and Pfundt were awarded a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-hp Mercury outboard. READ MORE »