UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September.

Though any tournament on Erie is bound to include some big smallmouths, the location and the time of year for this derby means we may see Great Lakes largemouths play a big part in shaping the outcome.

 

Tournament details

Toyota Series Northern Division

Lake Erie

Sandusky, Ohio

July 9-11, 2020

Hosted by the City of Sandusky

 

How the lake sets up

Without seeing them firsthand, it’s almost impossible to understand how vast the Great Lakes really are. Nestled in the southwest corner of Lake Erie, Sandusky is roughly 250 miles from Buffalo at the east end of the lake. Of course, by surface area, Erie is actually the second smallest of the Great Lakes (with Ontario being slightly smaller, though it holds much more water due to its depth).

Though Canada is off-limits for this event, anglers will still have plenty of good options. Just north of Sandusky, a series of islands including Kelleys Island, South Bass, Middle Bass and Isle St. George define the region and lead out to Pelee Island in Canada. There is also a lot of really good largemouth fishing within easy reach of takeoff. Unlike other parts of the Great Lakes, the bays, harbors and protected stretches of largemouth water are much more plentiful around Sandusky and Port Clinton than the rest of the lake.

Erie is known for its smallmouth population, and the west end is where legends like Steve Clapper have built their careers with long runs and specialized offshore fishing. Growing fat on gobies and using tons of rock, sand and offshore structure as habitat, smallmouths thrive in that section of the lake. Still, the largemouths in the region can’t be counted out, especially because of how recently the bulk of the smallmouths finished spawning.

 

Mike Trombly

What to expect

Mike Trombly of Belleville, Mich., has eight FLW wins taking out of the Detroit River and is a wealth of knowledge about the west end of Erie. Trombly says that most of the smallmouths in the region will be postspawn and beginning to filter out to deeper water and the areas around Pelee Island.

“Because of the timing of it and with Canada being off-limits, it’s going to be a little tougher tournament for the smallmouths,” outlines Trombly. “Typically, what ends up happening is those fish come to the islands to spawn, and then those fish scatter off into Canada. With it being postspawn, I think it’s going to be tougher for the smallmouths.

“They’re pretty much just done. You may have some bucks still on beds, but you’re probably going to catch fish deeper. You’re going to start finding them on the deeper structure, probably 16-feet-plus, and you could catch them as deep as 25 or 30 feet. How well they get caught depends on how far into summer they are. If they’ve had a chance to gang up, [anglers] should catch them.”

While smallmouths are likely to be in a transition stage, Trombly thinks largemouths, which spawned earlier in warmer bays and backwaters, will be ready to rock.

“The one thing a lot of guys from the south are probably going to love is the fact that largemouths are probably going to be a big player,” Trombly says. “There are so many bays and harbors – all of these contain largemouths – and there are largemouth-only circuits in this area. A couple years ago there was a tournament that went out of the Marblehead area, and it took upwards of 26 pounds to win it. That’s the best we’ve ever seen, but we’ve had numerous team tournaments that are won with 20 to 22 pounds. That’s pretty exceptional anywhere in the country.”

Trombly says those largemouths are totally catchable in shallow grass, pads and around docks and other cover. However, the offshore bite for largemouths might really be where it’s at.

“If they’re immediately postspawn and they haven’t schooled up, it will be tougher,” Trombly adds. “But, once those fish school up on structure, they could knock ‘em out pretty good.”

As far as a winning weight, both Trombly and Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Matt Becker think 20 pounds a day is the mark to shoot for.

“I think a mixed bag could definitely do it, and I would not be surprised if a largemouth-only angler won it,” posits Trombly. “I think if you average 20 pounds, you will have a really good chance of winning.”

“They’re not far off from spawning, so the big smallmouths are beat up and not really grouped up,” says Becker. “It’s still Erie, so over three days it will take 20 pounds a day to win. Even when it is tough, there is still a huge population of 4-pounders.”

 

Baits and techniques

For smallmouths, the usual range of Great Lakes techniques should play. For shallow fish, a jerkbait, swimbait and spy bait will be good tools. For deeper fish, the tried-and-true standards apply.

“It’s pretty much the same old, same old for the smallmouths,” says Trombly. “Neds, anything that is minnow-replicating, goby baits – that all is good. Gobies are probably the predominant forage species for smallmouth on that particular part of the lake for sure.”

For largemouths, Trombly says things get a little more interesting. In the shallows, frogs, other topwaters and flipping baits will work. For offshore fish, a crankbait or a heavy jig could get the call.

Tags: lake-erie  -smallmouth  -largemouth  -bass-fishing  -sandusky  jody-white  pre-tournament  2020-07-09-lake-erie 

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

The top finishers in the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn caught the lake when the shallow bite was just picking up. Sticking shallow around hydrilla with a wake bait, Aaron Johnson stayed consistent and won the event. Behind Johnson, there was a lot of room for pros to fish to their strengths, though there’s no doubt that shallow eventually won out. READ MORE »

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Weighing five fish for 12 pounds, 4 ounces, co-angler Anthony Templeton of Beckville, Texas, rocketed up from fifth place to win the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. With a total of 28-3, Templeton takes home a new Phoenix bass boat worth $33,500 and his first winner’s trophy with FLW. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Our crew on the water hasn’t had very good luck tracking the top pros down in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, but the fishing has still been pretty good. With the entire top 10 within striking distance, it’s still anyone’s game, and the good fishing today could help someone run into a mega-bag. READ MORE »

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Going into the final day, Blake Schroeder was just 3 ounces ahead of Aaron Johnson in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Tight to the end, both anglers brought more than 18 pounds to the scale, but Johnson’s 18-14 bag boosted his total to 54-14 and earned him the win. For the victory, Johnson takes home $31,751 and the second FLW win of his career. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition, it’s looking like the shallow grass bite is the deal in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Leading the way, Blake Schroeder had tallied a pair of 18-pound bags from shallow grass, and the pros behind him aren’t slacking on the grass game either. Heading into the final day, it’s going to be a true shootout for the win, with a Texas-sized kicker a bite away for everyone in the field. READ MORE »

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Climbing from fourth to first, Blake Schroeder took over the lead in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn with his second-consecutive 18-pound bag. Weighing 18-3 on day one, the Texas pro put an even 18 pounds on the scale on day two for a 36-3 total. Behind him, the weights are stacked, and five other pros are within 5 pounds going into the final day on the big Texas lake. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn has been exactly as forecast. Somewhat chilly, with scattered rain and wind in the morning, it’s starting to brighten up now. Though most fished with jackets and bibs on in the morning, it’s now very comfortable and the sun is out pretty steadily. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn offered pretty good fishing and a lot of options. Anglers in the top 10 fished deep, shallow and in between to catch their fish, and no one pattern dominated the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Taking the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, Cole Moore weighed an even 21 pounds to kick things off. Though the fishing was not really up to the massive heights it can reach on Rayburn, it was far from bad, and plenty of pros put together limits in the teens both shallow and deep. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event has been beautiful so far, with mild weather and apparently decent fishing. Though Rayburn isn’t kicking them out like it can, there seem to be plenty of ways to catch fish and at least one pro has seen some success. READ MORE »

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. 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 »

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

Bradley Dortch, who grew up on the Tensaw River and the Mobile Delta, says throwing shrimp for bass is a winner, and a viable tournament technique if you use plastic ones. It all has to do with the seasonal movement of the forage. 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 »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. 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 »

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »