UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit is at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, this week to kick off what promises to be another great season of professional bass fishing for FLW. In anticipation of great things to come during the inaugural Pro Circuit season, a few FLW staff members and one Pro Circuit pro decided to play pundit and make a few predictions. 

 

Ron Nelson

Ron Nelson for AOY 

– Jody White, FLW Digital Editor 

As one of the foremost Ron Nelson fans on staff, I feel like it’s incumbent on me to engineer an Angler of the Year prediction for the sophomore Michigan pro. This year, there are only three returning pros that finished higher in the standings than Nelson in his Rookie of the Year season in 2019: John Cox, Joseph Webster and Terry “Blade” Bolton. Now, though Cox is amazing, I think you can slip him out of the mix due to the likelihood that he’ll miss at least one event for a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. The likely absence of Cox makes the anglers in contention for the title awfully level. I don’t see anyone running away with AOY this year, but, gosh, can I see Nelson doing well. He’s great around grass and due for redemption at Rayburn, and I’m to the point with Nelson that there isn’t anywhere I don’t trust him to figure it out. Nelson’s unique pattern of fishing in the Southeast and the North seems to have given him a good start on national competition, and he really only stumbled at Grand and Rayburn in 2019. Finally, if things are close at the end, I would wager a lot on Nelson excelling in the final smallmouth showdown on the Detroit River. After all, he finished a close third in the points to the likes of Austin Felix and Chris Johnston the last time the Northern Division fished a smallie-only schedule. 

 

John Cox

John Cox makes the TITLE

– Matt Stefan, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro 

If I told you I thought an angler would qualify for the championship without fishing an entire year you’d probably think I was nuts. But I predict John Cox will qualify for the FLW TITLE championship even though he will most likely miss one of the regular-season events. He’s that good.

Read more about Cox's plan to fish two major circuits this season.

 

Nick LeBrun

Nick LeBrun finds redemption at Rayburn

– Justin Onslow, FLW Associate Editor 

Last year, then-rookie Nick LeBrun announced his presence on the FLW Tour with a bang and turned in a second-place finish at 2019’s first event on Sam Rayburn. He very nearly missed out on the victory (which went to Terry Bolton, who should also do well at Big Sam again this season) with a four-day total of 90 pounds, 7 ounces. 

High winds and poor boating conditions on the morning of day four last year forced tournament officials to deliberate and ultimately push back the final round for a day. During that process, no one in the top 10 was as amped up and ready to fish as LeBrun, and it was at that point I realized just how confident he is on Rayburn and how badly he wants to win his first pro-level event. He’ll get another shot at it this week, and this time he’s going the distance. 

 

Wade Strelic

A dozen under 30 years old will qualify for the FLW TITLE championship

– Curtis Niedermier, FLW Editor-in-Chief

FLW has some serious young firepower on the Pro Circuit this season with a roster that includes 27 pros who won’t even be 30 years old when the season kicks off at Sam Rayburn on Thursday (two of them, Evan Barnes and Kyle Gelles, will turn 30 during the season). Most of these young bucks have a few professional seasons behind them, too, which means they’re primed to have big showings in 2020. I’m predicting we’ll see a dozen of our current “under 30s” qualify for the FLW TITLE championship this year. That’s 12 out of the 50 qualifiers. And if I’m wrong, we’ll still see 10 make it in. 

In case you were wondering who’s still under 30, here’s the list: Lane Olson (19), Colby Miller (20), Bailey Boutries (20), Kyle Hall (22), Laramy Strickland (22), Tyler Woolcott (22), Cole Floyd (23), Hunter Freeman (23), David Gaston (23), Jared McMillan (23), Sam George (24), Travis Archer (25), Corey Neece (25), Jacob Wall (25), Tyler Stewart (25), Joshua Weaver (25), Dakota Ebare (27), Matt Becker (27), Preston Craig (27), Kurt Mitchell (27), Cody Nichols (27), John Hunter (28), AJ Slegona (28), Wade Strelic (29), Chad Warren (29), Evan Barnes (29) and Kyle Gelles (29).

 

Dakota Ebare

Dakota Ebare will earn a W 

– Jody White

Dakota Ebare came perilously close to a win several times in 2019, most notably in an FLW Series event at Table Rock and in the FLW Cup on Hamilton. Overall, Ebare had a phenomenal first season as a pro, earning more than $124,000 across all the tournaments he fished. This year, he has already earned money in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Cowboy Division opener on Rayburn, so he seems to be back in the saddle pretty nicely. I think in 2020 he’ll close the door on a Pro Circuit W in some form or fashion. I could totally see Rayburn happening (though I suspect Nick LeBrun will have something to say about that), but there really isn’t any lake he couldn’t win on because, after a frantic 2019, he’s fished everywhere. 

Read more about Dakota Ebare's marathon season in 2019.

 

Spencer Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield will win at Dardanelle 

– Matt Stefan 

Picking tournament winners can be difficult, but if I had to pick the pro I think had the best shot at winning any of the regular-season events I would choose Spencer Shuffield at Lake Dardanelle. I know he has been tearing up Arkansas lakes, and I think he’s going to have a leg up on the majority of us at Dardanelle since the Pro Circuit hasn’t been there in the 10 years I’ve been a pro. The rest of us won’t have near as much experience to fall back on. 

 

Cole Floyd

Rookie Cole Floyd will make the FLW TITLE championship

– Justin Onslow 

Age and time on the water often go hand-in-hand, but that’s not necessarily the case with Pro Circuit rookie Cole Floyd. The three-time Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division AOY is only 23, yet he already has a ridiculously stacked resume at the grassroots level, including FLW College Fishing presented by YETI and the FLW Series.

The Bethel University standout is making the jump to the Pro Circuit this season, and while most 23-year-olds would struggle with that jump, Floyd won’t. He might have a couple letdowns here or there, but I’m predicting at least one top 10 and a TITLE appearance for the young pro. 

 

Ron Nelson

John Cox, Ron Nelson will make four top-30 cuts apiece

– Curtis Niedermier 

This season’s Pro Circuit schedule has a little bit of everything in it: big Texas prespawn bass, Florida spawners, Southern smallmouths, spotted bass, junk-fishing lakes, big water up north and plenty of different styles of fisheries. With a schedule so diverse, everyone on the roster will at some point find himself in a scenario that fits his specialty, but only a few have the kind of track record that suggests they’ll be top-10 contenders at every event. Among them are John Cox and Ron Nelson. This is probably bold, but I predict both will make four top-30 cuts during the regular season, and they’ll probably each make at least a couple of top 10s. 

Nelson is a smallmouth hammer who’ll do great at Detroit River and Cherokee Lake. He’s also had a few good finishes in Florida in his career, which suggests he might make the cut at the Harris Chain, and could easily get a top 30 junk-fishing at Dardanelle or catching spots at Martin or Hartwell. Last year at Rayburn, Nelson blanked on day one, but caught 16-plus on day two. I think we’ll see two good days this time for a shot at the cut. 

As for Cox, making four top-30 cuts would be extraordinary because he’ll miss a tournament due to a scheduling conflict. But Cox does extraordinary stuff all the time. He’ll make the top 30 at Harris, Hartwell and Dardanelle for sure. And he’ll probably come close at all the others.

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

The first day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake started with calm conditions and pleasant weather. Some of the anglers surveyed today were struggling to get bites and others seem to have the fishing dialed in. It appears to be feast or famine so far, but there will be some solid bags crossing the stage starting at 3 p.m. PT this afternoon. READ MORE »

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

FLW and Explore La Crosse announced Thursday that the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE, the Pro Circuit Championship, will be held Aug. 17-22, 2021, on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Although FLW’s top championship has been held on the Mississippi River once before – in Moline, Illinois in 1998 – this event marks the first time that FLW has hosted its premier event in La Crosse. 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 »

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

FLW and the Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Wednesday that Counce, Tennessee, will host the prestigious 2021 Toyota Series Championship, Oct. 28-30, 2021, on Pickwick Lake. READ MORE »

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is excited to announce its first Digital Hall of Fame Week, which will be anchored by a massive online auction offering up an incredible selection of fishing-related items not available elsewhere. READ MORE »

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. READ MORE »

2021 National Championship set for Grand

2021 National Championship set for Grand

FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete for a top prize of up to $235,000. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Championship Saturday of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel followed its pattern of the week with anglers failing to capitalize on sparse opportunities. 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 »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers said Thursday that current didn’t matter during the first round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel at Lake Dardanelle, but apparently it matters more than they thought. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

FLW learned today that former FLW Walleye pro Tommy Skarlis of Denver, Iowa, passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was 55. READ MORE »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Clouds have lingered throughout the morning, which most of the top 10 were thankful for as the bite has been better than it was during practice when conditions were calm and sunny. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Clouds once again greeted the field for day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River and the fish were biting this morning. With low tide this morning around 8:40 a.m. ET – about an hour and a half later than yesterday – more anglers had time to capitalize on the strong bite revolving around that window today. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

It was a gloomy start to the first day of competition for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, and though it seems like a fishy day, so far the fish don’t seem to think so. READ MORE »

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

The 26th season of FLW’s top professional circuit will feature six regular-season tournaments showcasing the best 150 anglers in the world competing for as much as $135,000 in a five-biggest-fish format on top bass fisheries at peak times. The 2020 season culminates in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Toyota, where the top 50 pros will compete for as much as $235,000 in a catch, weigh, immediate-release format. READ MORE »

Wheeler's Wheelhouse

Wheeler's Wheelhouse

The past 20 months of Jacob Wheeler’s fishing career have been nothing less than incredible. In 2020 alone, the MLF pro notched a Bass Pro Tour win on Lake Eufaula, an FLW Toyota Series victory on Pickwick Lake, and dominated the first-ever FLW Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga. READ MORE »

Ft. Gibson Midday Update – Day 3

Ft. Gibson Midday Update – Day 3

Cameron Foster began the final day of the 2020 FLW Toyota Series Southwest Division event at Fort Gibson Lake with an 11-pound lead. By 8:00 a.m., Foster had returned to the honey hole that brought him to pole position with $27,070 on the line for crossing the finish line. Thanks to a hot, early bite, Foster is now nursing a four fish total with at least one 4-pounder in the boat. READ MORE »

Ft. Gibson Midday Update – Day 2

Ft. Gibson Midday Update – Day 2

Competitors in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event at Fort Gibson Lake awoke to a completely different waterway than the one they fished yesterday. While day one brought overcast skies and a bevy of baitfish to the surface, day two screamed bluebird skies from the start and has settled into a mostly sunny blanket of blue towards midday. READ MORE »