Live now : HIGH SCHOOL FISHING 2019 Arkansas River Open

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Studio Notes: Lake St. Clair

Studio Notes: Lake St. Clair
Rob Newell headshot

With the 2018 FLW Tour regular season coming to a close at Lake St. Clair last week, it’s been fun to have a front row seat to all the action in the FLW Live Studio. While the first six tournaments of the season were quite a ride, FLW saved the best for last with the season finale at St. Clair and I must say, it was the most impressive event of the year.

 

Record smashing smallmouth

Going into the 2018 FLW Tour season finale, everyone knew the smallmouth fishing at Lake St. Clair was going to be great. But no one really knew how great until the event started. A mix of talented pros, a tremendous fishery and impeccable weather conditions came together to create the perfect storm that flooded the FLW Tour’s record book with new numbers.

On day one of the event, 180 pros weighed in a total of 3,033 pounds, 7 ounces of bass, making it the second heaviest single-day weight record in the Tour’s 23-year history. On the second day, 3,011 pounds, 15 ounces took over the third spot in the record books for the single-day weight category.

The combined total of days one and two at 6,046 pounds, 6 ounces took over the previous two-day total weight record in FLW Tour’s record book as well.

 

Impressive five-bass limits

This was the FLW Tour’s sixth visit to St. Clair and the top 10 list of heaviest five-bass limits caught from St. Clair was re-written this time around. 

After last week, Dylan Hays now has the heaviest Lake St. Clair five-bass limit in Tour history with his bag of smallmouths from day two weighing 26-7.

Amazingly, tournament winner Chad Grigsby now owns three of the heaviest St. Clair limits in the record books, claiming the second, third and seventh spots with 26-4, 25-13 and 24-4, respectively.

Zack Birge claimed the fourth slot in the record books with a 25-6 catch. Brad Knight earned the fifth place spot with 25-5. Darrel Robertson grabbed the eighth spot with 24-0 and Craig Rozema took the ninth place spot with 23-13.

In all, eight of the top 10 heaviest limits from St. Clair are now from this event alone.

 

Caught spying

Like a spy itself, the spybait has sort of lurked around the edges of professional bass fishing competition, trying to go undetected. It has been spotted at a couple of Costa Northern FLW Series events and it had a hand in Kevin VanDam’s win at the Bassmaster Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River last year.  But after Chad Grigsby put on his spybait clinic on FLW Live last week, the “spy” can no longer hide. 

On the final day at St. Clair, Grigsby waited patiently for the right window where he could spy on his quarry. At about 11 a.m., Grigsby got exactly what he was hoping for – slick, calm conditions – in which he picked up a Duo Realis Spinbait 80 and outed the spybait on Live.

Using a St. Croix 7-foot, 6-inch medium-light action rod spooled with 10-pound test braid to 8-pound test fluorocarbon leader, Grigsby would cast the Spinbait out, count it down to 12 or 14, “because 13 is bad luck,” and then begin reeling the double-propped spinner through the water at a snail’s pace. And cast after cast the rod loaded up with 5-plus pound smallmouth.

Smallmouth in particular seem to have a real affinity for the spybait technique. Tour rookie Cody Hahner of Wausau, Wis., also used a spybait to help his cause in recording a 7th place finish at St. Clair.

Hahner theorizes that it’s a smallmouth’s curiosity trait that makes them so vulnerable to a spybait.

“More so than largemouth, smallmouth have a strong curiosity streak – if something gets their attention, they’re more prone to go investigate it,” Hahner offers. “I think smallmouth see a spybait from a long way off and it’s in their nature to swim over and check it out. Once they get up to it and give it a good look, they decide they want to eat the thing.’”

The spybait also seems to attract much bigger bites. Grigsby caught some brutes on the Spinbait on days one and four and Hahner, too, says a spybait was responsible for his bigger bass.

 

Rookie recognition

With the final event at St. Clair in the books, the Forrest Wood Cup field has gelled. As expected, many of the FLW Tour’s stalwarts scored berths and you can look forward to seeing familiar names like Bryan Thrift, Andy Morgan, David Dudley, Scott Martin and of course the newly crowned Angler of the Year, Mark Rose all bringing their A-Game to Ouachita to compete for the $300,000 payday.

In their tall shadows, however, will be a handful of rookies that pulled off a Cup qualification in their first year on Tour by finishing in the top 44 in points, which is quite a feat.

Matt Becker of Finleyville, Penn., won the Rookie of the Year title, making him the first rookie in line to punch his Cup ticket.

Becker came into St. Clair in 39th place in the points and finished strong with a 26th place showing to end the season in 36th place. Becker has one Costa FLW Series win to his credit from last year’s Northern Division showdown at the 1000 Islands and his highest finish on the Tour this season was eighth at Smith Lake.

Cody Hahner of Wausau, Wis., is another rookie who got it done at St. Clair. Hahner entered the final event in 55th place, 11 places out of the Cup cut. Last week he turned in his best performance of the year at the wire, making his first FLW Tour top 10 with a seventh place showing to bump him up to 39th and send him to Lake Ouachita.

In his first year out on Tour from the College Fishing, Tyler Stewart of West Monroe, La., locked in his first Forrest Wood Cup berth with a 40th place points finish on the year.

Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., has made a steady climb up through the FLW platforms, first as a BFL angler then through the Costa FLW Series ranks and now to the pro level on Tour. His rookie campaign hung in the balance with a 59th place standing in the points coming into St. Clair, where he experienced his best event of the season – finishing 12th – and slipping into the Cup in 41st place.

Costa FLW Series icon Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas connected with a last-minute Hail Mary effort at St. Clair to come from 61st in the points and score the very last Cup berth at 44th place with his 6th place finish at St. Clair.

 

Collings’ Cup irony

For much of the 2018 FLW Tour season, rookie Sheldon Collings of Grove, Okla., looked to have a lock on his first Cup berth in the FLW points race. In fact, he led the Rookie of the Year race for the latter portion of the season. But a horrible 170th place finish at St. Clair put him in the wall in the points race. He not only relinquished his ROY title hopes but also lost his FLW Tour Cup qualification. However, all is not lost. Collings was actually already qualified for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup by virtue of his qualification through the Costa Series Championship last fall. So to review, Collings is an FLW Tour rookie who will be attending his first Forrest Wood Cup, but not through FLW Tour points, but rather through the saving grace of his Costa berth.

 

Cup brothers

The 2018 Forrest Wood Cup will also feature two sets of brothers this time around. The “JoBros” (Chris and Cory Johnston) from Canada are both back in the Cup this year after both missing it last year.

Another brotherly Cup shout out goes to young Jared McMillan who will be joining his older brother, Brandon McMillan, at Ouachita. Brandon (a.k.a. Big Mac) has been to the Cup on two previous occasions. This will be Jared’s first Cup experience after finishing 19th in the points in his first full year on the FLW Tour.

 

Tags: rob-newell-  article  2018-06-28-lake-st-clair-metropark 

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Bass fishing fans have a chance to help the USA Bass team achieve its goal of winning the 2019 Pan American Championship in Canada next month. To help fund the effort, USA Bass, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, recently launched a limited edition hat drive with the goal of selling 1,000 USA Bass hats. READ MORE »

A High School Kayak Tournament Experience 

A High School Kayak Tournament Experience 

A recent high school kayak bass fishing tournament showcased the potential of kayaks to get more young anglers on the water and competing. READ MORE »

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Fishing just her second full season as a co-angler in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division, mother of two and first-grade teacher Kate Hough was planning and preparing for a chance to do something no woman has ever done in her division: win Co-Angler of the Year. Instead of preparing for the Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell on Sept. 28, however, Hough is simply fighting to leave her hospital bed. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

The second weekend in September saw seven more T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisions conclude their seasons with two-day Super Tournament events. From the Tennessee River to the St. Lawrence River and a few places in between, here’s a quick look at how the seven events were won. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Matt Reed

Check-in Time: Matt Reed

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Texas pro Matt Reed.  READ MORE »

When to Fish the Flashy Swimmer

When to Fish the Flashy Swimmer

In April, FLW Associate Editor Justin Onslow documented how Gross likes to cut the belly of his two favorite hollow swimbaits – the Scottsboro and the Zoom Swimmer – when rigging on a weedless hook to achieve a high hook-up ratio. However, that article didn’t break down where and why Gross prefers to use the Beast Flashy Swimmer hook versus a standard weighted, weedless swimbait hook. So we reached out to Gross for more info. READ MORE »

FLW Mourns Passing of T. Boone Pickens

FLW Mourns Passing of T. Boone Pickens

Businessman T. Boone Pickens, who in 2010 partnered with FLW to promote an alternative energy plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, passed away Wednesday at the age of 91.  READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

College football, hooded sweatshirts and the conclusion of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) regular season are what come to mind as the calendar turns to September. This past weekend, six divisions put a feather in their cap for the year with their two-day Super Tournament events – where the payouts are bigger – but, more importantly, it’s the last chance to accumulate points to qualify for the Regionals this October. READ MORE »

Harris Chain to Host 2020 College Championship

Harris Chain to Host 2020 College Championship

Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes will host the 2020 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship. The tournament, set for Feb. 26-28, will showcase the top collegiate anglers from across the nation. READ MORE »

Martin Makes Young Angler’s Wish Come True

Martin Makes Young Angler’s Wish Come True

A feature published this morning by Dennis Anderson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (startribune.com) details the story of a 10-year-old Minnesota boy named Colby, whose wish was to get to meet and fish with FLW Tour pro Scott Martin. Colby, who suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder, got his wish on Wednesday thanks to Martin, Minnesota-based 3M and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Together, they treated Colby’s family to a weeklong vacation, and Martin guided the young angler to a day of fishing for bass and northern pike on Mantrap Lake near Park Rapids, Minn. Martin has been in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for the last week or so filming for various video projects. READ MORE »

Khourie, Lingnau Win 2019 FLW South Africa Championship

Khourie, Lingnau Win 2019 FLW South Africa Championship

Team Khourie/Lignau, consisting of Pieter Khourie and August Lingnau of the North West region, came roaring back on day three of the 2019 FLW South Africa Championship with a five-bass limit of 10.55 kg (23.25 pounds) to take the top spot and beat out Greg Schluep and Giulio Nolli of Team Secret VC for the title. READ MORE »

Checking in with Walters After the Cup

Checking in with Walters After the Cup

Walters, 41, of Grant Valkaria, Fla., is getting back to business as usual following his remarkable Cup showing, and we checked in with him to find out what his experience in Hot Springs was like and what’s on tap for the future – including a possible FLW Tour career. READ MORE »

FLW Zimbabwe Championship Recap

FLW Zimbabwe Championship Recap

The 2019 FLW Zimbabwe Championship took place Aug. 23-25 on Lake Mteri. The Walking Dead team led by Roger Cousens won the event with a three-day total weight of 101.83 pounds. For the win, Cousens will fish as a boater at the Costa FLW Series Championship Oct. 31-Nov. 2 on Lake Cumberland, and Miles Bennet (from team Keepnet) will compete on the co-angler side. READ MORE »

A Tribute to Irwin Jacobs

A Tribute to Irwin Jacobs

Jacobs’ dreams were bigger. Bolder. He saw bass fishing’s potential to reach beyond the traditional fishing consumer and to the masses. Through his corporate savvy and hard work, Jacobs manifested a new era of professional bass fishing where anglers became household names, represented major national brands and competed for enormous payouts. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: John Cox

Check-in Time: John Cox

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with John Cox.  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 »

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 »

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 »

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash and Bonus Bucks at Cup

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash and Bonus Bucks at Cup

Jeremy Lawyer’s fourth-place finish at the FLW Cup on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton was enough to earn him an extra $1,000 from LEER Cover Cash and $3,500 from Toyota Bonus Bucks. The third year FLW Tour pro used a two-prong approach of fishing shallow with a topwater and probing deep brush piles with a drop-shot to notch his best finish to date in the Cup. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Set to Air Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Set to Air Wednesday

The second episode of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire will air today at 2 p.m. CT. In Episode 2, Noah Ezickson and his teammate Connor Walsh journey to the fabled Alabama fishery of Lake Guntersville. Utilizing his diverse fishing experience from his travels around the world, can the Wake Forest University team qualify for the 2020 YETI FLW College Fishing Championship? READ MORE »