UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Walser Perseveres for BFL Regional Win

Walser Perseveres for BFL Regional Win

Every win is earned. Some are just earned a little more than others.

Robert Walser sacked the largest bag of the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on Lake Norman on day three with 15 pounds, 2 ounces, and he did so on the tail end of a tournament that saw the North Carolina angler swap out his boat on two separate occasions due to mechanical issues.

“Let’s just say it worked out in the end,” Walser jokes. “I had mechanical issues three days on three different boats. The first one failed on takeoff. I changed boats, and my other boat I ran Thursday and Friday afternoon had a gasket fail. I had a loose trim connection on Saturday, so I went through three boats in three days.”

Walser didn’t let the adversity get him down. Despite what he considers a mentally exhausting experience, he powered through it to the tune of 35 pounds, 8 ounces for the tournament and a comfortable 3-plus-pound win thanks to a couple kicker fish on the final day, including a 4-pound largemouth and a 3-pound spotted bass.

It was the largest stringer Walser has ever turned in for a tournament on Lake Norman, and he caught most of his fish flipping docks with a Texas-rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hog and Zoom Z-Craw Jr. in green pumpkin with a 5/16-ounce Eco Pro Tungsten weight, pegged with a bobber stop. He flipped those baits on a Lamiglas 806 flipping stick and a Pflueger Supreme reel in 7.1:1 gear ratio spooled with 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.

Walser credits much of his success to fishing “ugly places” – spots most other anglers didn’t bother to fish because they didn’t look ideal. He keyed on “ugly” docks that had stumps and brush submerged underneath them. Fishing those neglected docks gave him the advantage of targeting areas unburdened by the massive fishing pressure Lake Norman has received lately from anglers fishing a number of tournaments on the fishery.

A few key fish were also brought in on a chartreuse spinnerbait with one Colorado blade and one willow-leaf blade, fished on stretches of bank between docks, but the flipping bite was the moneymaker for Walser. Despite the mechanical issues and lack of sleep from dealing with boat swaps, Walser powered through to lock up his second win on Lake Norman in the last 13 months and a BFL All-American berth.

 

Healthy Beattie finishes second with swim jig bite

Scott Beattie fished his last four tournaments of the 2018 season with a shoulder still recovering from replacement surgery in May. He was forced to fish exclusively with a spinning rod for all four of those tournaments, but his shoulder was fully healed for the Regional on Lake Norman, and he showed exactly what he can do with a casting rod when he turned in 32-1 for the tournament, sealing a second-place finish.

“I had a great doctor,” Beattie says. “I’m 100 percent. It’s like I never had a shoulder problem. It feels good to be 50 and feel the best you’ve felt in 10 years.”

Beattie lives only 20 minutes from Lake Norman, so he’s as familiar with the fishery as perhaps anyone else. Heavy fishing pressure and the cold front that rolled in just prior to the tournament demanded the North Carolina angler draw from his experience and key in on changing patterns throughout the weekend.

On Thursday, Beattie spent most of his time swimming a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Queen Tackle jig on banks between docks. He opted for the green pepper color with a Zoom Twin Tail Grub in green pumpkin for the trailer and spent most of his time banging it off rocks.

That bite dried up for most of day two, and Beattie used his knowledge of the lake to find something new.

“The second day at 2 o’clock I had no fish, and I started to use my Lowrance to find what hole they were on,” he says. “From there it took me about 30 minutes to find them. I caught my limit that day on a homemade 1/2-ounce shaky head fished on 17-pound-test Berkley fluorocarbon about 35 feet deep.”

Beattie used a 6-inch Yamamoto Senko on that stretch of day two, primarily targeting offshore brush piles. In about 30 minutes, he caught three fish on one brush pile and three more on another to fill his limit and cull a fish.

With overcast conditions on day three, Beattie went back to the swim jig and his between-the-docks pattern to sack 11 pounds and secure the second-place finish and a BFL All-American berth.

Beattie says he’s “haunted” by yet another second-place finish on Lake Norman (after finishing second there at the FLW Tour event in 2016), but the trip to the All-American is a solid consolation prize.

“I’ve probably won 350 tournaments on Norman – local stuff – but I have never won a BFL or FLW [Tour event],” he admits. “It just seems like I can’t get enough or I’m scared on the last day to go out there and go for broke because you want to go to the All-American.”

 

 

Fulk mixes it up

Many thought the topwater bite could be key last week at Lake Norman, but that never proved to be the case for most anglers. Dylan Fulk was among them, and he was forced to make some last-minute changes to his game plan as a result.

“I went into it with a full plan of fishing topwater the whole time,” he says. “I ended up never getting a bite on topwater the whole tournament, so it was a lot of scrambling for me.”

He scrambled to the tune of 30 pounds, 10 ounces and a third-place finish, and the keys for Fulk were versatility and fishing to his strengths.

On day one, the North Carolina native turned to what often makes Lake Norman shine – the dock bite. He fished a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin BOOYAH Boo Jig with a YUM Wooly Bug trailer on a setup of an Ardent C-Force casting reel and a 6-foot, 10-inch, medium-heavy Falcon Expert Series rod. When that bite dried up on day two, Fulk moved out deep and tried his luck with a swimbait.

“I couldn’t get bit on any of my docks,” he says. “I went out and fished offshore, just the ends of points and on tops of humps with a really little swimbait.”

Fulk also keyed in on isolated rocks and brush piles, sometimes switching to a shaky head with a YUM Finesse Worm in the ghillie suit color.

Despite scrambling to find the right pattern each day, Fulk believes he benefited from Lake Norman’s propensity for allowing anglers to fish to their strengths.

“I don’t ever really know what I’m going to do, but it always ends up working out,” he says. “And that’s usually a pretty good sign that it just fits what you like to do. I like to move around a lot. With there being so many numbers [of fish], that really fits into my game plan.”

Fulk has no regrets, despite missing out on the top prize by less than 5 pounds. He fished as clean as he could all three days, and that’s enough to give Fulk some solace.

“I can honestly say I didn’t lose a fish the whole tournament,” he admits. “I caught everything that bit.”

 

Top 10 boaters

(The top six boaters qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Robert Walser – Lexington, N.C. – 35-8 (15) – $66,000

2. Scott Beattie – Lincolnton, N.C. – 32-1 (15) – $10,000

3. Dylan Fulk – Concord, N.C. – 30-10 (15) – $5,200

4. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 29-14 (15) – $3,100

5. Michael Fox – Statesville, N.C. – 29-11 (15) – $2,000

6. Travis Young – Charlotte, N.C. – 29-9 (15) – $1,800

7. Jack Dice – Lynchburg, Va. – 29-4 (15) – $1,600

8. Jake Frye – Charlotte, N.C. – 27-7 (13) – $1,400

9. Chad Poteat – Mount Airy, N.C. – 27-1 (15) – $1,200

10. Cole Huskins – Mt. Holly, N.C. – 25-8 (12) – $1,000

Complete results

 

Smelser finds rare topwater bite for co-angler win

While most anglers failed to entice fish to chase topwaters, co-angler champion Wayne Smelser managed to catch some key fish on a buzzbait to pile up a total of 28 pounds, 12 ounces and secure his second BFL win on Lake Norman in about three years.

Fishing from the back of three different boats, Smelser had to be versatile and just roll with the punches. On day one, he fished mostly shallow and caught them on a buzzbait, a vibrating jig and a jig. On day two, he caught four of his five fish on a drop-shot in deeper water, and on day three, Smelser caught four of his five-fish limit on a shaky head.

“You’re pretty much fishing at the mercy of the boater,” he says of fishing as a co-angler. “You have no say-so, so you have to be very adaptable to the conditions, and to win a three-day tournament, it’s very, very special.”

Smelser was confident in his ability to adapt to his boaters, but it was his boaters’ confidence in Smelser that might have really made the difference. He’s been traveling with Kevin Chandler (who finished 51st as a boater), and as the two practiced together the Wednesday before the tournament, Chandler called his shot for Smelser.

“We were practicing on Wedneday, and I caught a 3-pounder and a 6-pounder less than a half-hour from each other, and he said, ‘I’m telling you right now, you’re getting ready to win this whole thing. It’s going to happen on this lake,’” Smelser says. “I had a lot of support from all those guys. I think they had more confidence in me than I had.”

The Virginia native also gives a lot of credit to TrueSouth Custom Lures, which produced all of the lures Smelser caught his fish on during the tournament.

“The main thing is TrueSouth,” he adds. “I caught a key fish each day on the buzzbait, and I was catching fish on a buzzbait when nobody else could – and they were throwing it in front of me. The only difference was what frame we were throwing it on.”

In addition to the buzzbait, Smelser used a 6-inch Zoom Trick Worm on a 3/16-ounce TrueSouth shaky head and a TrueSouth vibrating jig.

Like many others who finished at the top of the leaderboard at Lake Norman, Smelser fished a very clean tournament. Apart from breaking off what could have been “a 10-pounder or 10 inches,” he didn’t lose any other fish, and finished just 1 pound, 1 ounce in front of second-place co-angler Larry Freeman Jr.

 

Top 10 co-anglers

(The top six co-anglers qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Wayne Smelser – Rural Retreat, Va. – 28-12 (15) – $45,200

2. Larry Freeman Jr. – La Crosse, Va. – 27-11 (13) – $5,000

3. Tristen Trull – Mt. Holly, N.C. – 25-13 (13) – $2,500

4. Ben Dacey – Chesterfield, Va. – 25-3 (15) – $1,550

5. Jeff Rikard – Leesville, S.C. – 23-7 (12) – $1,000

6. Khris Williams – Mt. Holly, N.C.  – 23-3 (13) – $900

7. Ronnie Cutshall – Piedmont, S.C. – 18-15 (12) – $800

8. Darren Kelly – Wartburg, Tenn. – 18-8 (10) – $700

9. David Blakely – Kingsport, Tenn. – 18-6 (10) – $600

10. Bart Beasley – Mount Pleasant, S.C. – 16-13 (8) – $500

Complete results

 

Tags: justin-onslow  article  2018-10-18-lake-norman 

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 »

Green Has Experience of Lifetime at Cup

Green Has Experience of Lifetime at Cup

Winning $2,500 might be the highlight of a trip for a lot of people, but for Leroy Green, winner of the FLW Tour Marshal program at the 2019 FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, the cash prize was secondary to the relationships he forged out on the water. READ MORE »

FLW Marshal Don White Wins New Ranger Boat

FLW Marshal Don White Wins New Ranger Boat

Angler Don White of Columbus, Mississippi, was announced as the first winner of a brand new Ranger Z521 courtesy of the FLW Marshal Program. READ MORE »

Henderson Holds Steady to Take FLW-KBF Cup Crown

Henderson Holds Steady to Take FLW-KBF Cup Crown

Even with day-one leader Eric Jackson taking a massive lead into the final day of competition and 70 more of the best kayak anglers on the planet behind him, Clint Henderson did what he said he was going to do. He won the Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup presented by YakAttack and the $15,000 top prize. READ MORE »

Jackson Crushes on Day One of FLW-KBF Cup

Jackson Crushes on Day One of FLW-KBF Cup

Eric Jackson is simply a hammer fishing from a kayak. The FLW Tour pro and owner of Jackson Kayak is fresh off an individual and team gold-medal-winning performance in the 2019 Pan Am Bass Kayak Championship (not to mention a third-place finish in the final 2019 FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain), and his five-fish limit of 98.25 inches on day one of the Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup presented by YakAttack puts him in stellar position to earn another victory on Saturday. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Tour Schedule

2020 FLW Tour Schedule

FLW announced today its regular-season schedule for the 25th season of the FLW Tour, which kicks off in January 2020. The schedule was revealed to anglers and media at the annual pre-FLW Cup banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. READ MORE »

Alan Reed Dishes on FLW-KBF Cup Practice

Alan Reed Dishes on FLW-KBF Cup Practice

We caught up with Reed after his practice on Wednesday to get the scoop on how Ouachita is fishing and what the outlook is for the two-day event that begins Friday and runs concurrently with the FLW Cup on neighboring Lake Hamilton. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for the Cup

FLW Live Schedule for the Cup

FLW Live will air all three days of the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, beginning with on-the-water coverage Friday, Aug. 9. READ MORE »

McCaghren Lives Out Childhood Baseball Dream

McCaghren Lives Out Childhood Baseball Dream

FLW Tour pro Billy McCaghren, who’ll be competing in the FLW Cup this week at Lake Hamilton, says his childhood dream was not to be a pro bass angler. He wanted to play professional baseball. Well, this week, the Mayflower, Ark., angler gets to dabble in both professions. The 2019 FLW Cup qualifier will compete on Lake Hamilton in front of what is practically a hometown crowd, and last night he was honored for his fishing accomplishments by the Arkansas Travelers baseball team, which invited McCaghren to throw out the first pitch in a game against the Springfield Cardinals. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: 2019 FLW Cup

By the Numbers: 2019 FLW Cup

The FLW Cup is a week away, and 52 of the best bass anglers on the planet are all gearing up for a chance at the $300,000 top prize and a slice of bass fishing immortality. READ MORE »

Meet FLW Pros at Pro Day This Weekend

Meet FLW Pros at Pro Day This Weekend

FLW has teamed up with Bass Pro Shops and Greeson’s Polaris to host four Pro Day events on Saturday, Aug. 3. Fans can take photos and get autographs from the pros, or just talk fishing and get some in-store tackle-buying advice.  READ MORE »

From the All-American to the Cup

From the All-American to the Cup

Brennon McCord is a self-described quiet, easygoing guy, but the 22-year-old T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American champion hopes to make some Lake Hamilton noise in his first FLW Cup appearance. For the moment, understandably so, he’s still basking in the afterglow of a victory that earned what he calls the biggest honor of his career. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Predictions

FLW Cup Predictions

With the FLW Cup just a little over a week away on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark., anticipation is starting to grow. We wrangled several FLW staff members and FLW Tour pros who aren’t fishing this year’s Cup and asked them to give their take on who will win and how it’ll be done, along with any other prediction they have. READ MORE »

How Brad Knight Plans to Win the Cup

How Brad Knight Plans to Win the Cup

Brad Knight’s life changed forever in Hot Springs. In 2015, the Tennessee pro won the FLW Cup on Lake Ouachita, earning $500,000 and thrusting himself into the pro bass fishing spotlight. Now that he knows just what a Cup win can do for a tournament angler’s career, Knight is even more motivated to win the title again, which he’ll have a chance to do Aug. 9-11 on Lake Hamilton, right back in Hot Springs, Ark.  READ MORE »

Thrift Eyeing Final Feather in His Cap

Thrift Eyeing Final Feather in His Cap

Another year, another FLW Cup. Which means, once more, one of the top storylines going into the championship is, “Will this be the year Bryan Thrift finally wins it?” When you have the pedigree of Thrift – arguably the top angler in the sport – it’s bound to come up. After all, he’s won Rookie of the Year, two Angler of the Year titles (and finished in the top 10 another 11 times) and 11 tournaments (six tour, five Costa FLW Series). READ MORE »

Previewing Dee Zee FLW-KBF Cup

Previewing Dee Zee FLW-KBF Cup

For the first time ever, FLW and Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) have joined forces for the championship of kayak bass fishing. Running in conjunction with the 2019 FLW Cup (on nearby Lake Hamilton), the FLW-KBF Cup will feature a stacked field of qualifying anglers all vying to take home a top prize of between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on final field size. READ MORE »

Training Future Pros at Summer Camp 

Training Future Pros at Summer Camp 

There were more than a dozen FLW pros in attendance for the first round of lakeside seminars at the Costa FLW High School Fishing Campthis morning. But within the crowd, chances are high that there are at least a couple dozen more future pros among the 230 high schoolers who traveled to Kentucky Lake to attend the camp.  It’s clear from the level of knowledge and experience the campers have exhibited during the seminars that these are some of the more accomplished high school anglers in the country. Their dedication is obvious, too. Campers came from as far away as Nevada, California, Vermont and even Montreal.  READ MORE »

300 Campers Headed for Murray State

300 Campers Headed for Murray State

On Wednesday, 230 high school students and 70 adults (coaches, parents and club advisors) from as far west as California and as far north as Vermont will gather at Murray State University in western Kentucky for the second annual Costa FLW High School Fishing Camp. That’s nearly double the number of participants from last year’s inaugural camp. READ MORE »