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Hawk Talk - Kentucky Lake BASSFest

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August 23, 2015

I spent the month leading up to the Kentucky Lake tournament fishing and guiding on Lake Guntersville (also a part of the TVA chain of lakes) and since both lakes fish similar during the summertime I had a lot of confidence going into the event. I knew I'd dedicate the three practice days idling and graphing up and down KY Lake’s river ledges, looking for the winning schools of fish and stopping only briefly to make a few casts once I did find a school to see their size.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 23 August 2015 09:44

Beatin' The Bank with Bernie Schultz—2015 St. Lawrence River BASS Elite

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August24, 2015


Beatin' The Bank—2015 St. Lawrence River BASS Elite
by Bernie Schultz
The St. Lawrence River is, by far, my favorite body of water in America. It's vast, beautiful and full of fish. Both smallmouth and largemouth thrive there, and it always takes big weight to do well.
The river forms at the mouth of Lake Ontario, then runs northeast, serving as a natural boundary between New York and Ontario. My plan was to scout the river near the town of Clayton, then move to tournament headquarters at Waddington, some 60 miles to the northeast.
Even though most of the river's summertime smallmouth are located in deeper water, I felt my chances were better staying shallow. The number of fish may be limited, but their size more than makes up for the lack of numbers.
Getting Started
I began on a series of islands and shoals and quickly located some fish. They were even the right size. But as I moved around, it became apparent I wasn't alone. Other competitors – both in our event and two Canadian competitions – were also scouting the area. And they weren't shy about it, either.
From that point forward, I never set a hook. Instead, I moved from spot to spot recording the waypoints of any fish I could find. And by day's end, I had marked more than two dozen areas on my Raymarine e97 GPS.
On day 2, I moved to the center section of the river, near Chippewa Bay. There, I knew I'd have the option of looking for smallmouth and largemouth within close proximity of each other. And I found both. The smallmouth were relating to shallow bars next to high current areas. The largemouth were holding in submerged grass and around docks in the bays. Both patterns were reliable, too.
My best baits were a Rapala X-Pop and Shadow Rap, Hildebrandt Drum Roller (swimbait), 3-inch green-pumpkin tube, and Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm and Flappin' Hawg.
On day 3. I moved to Waddington to explore the shoals and grassbeds in that section of the river. The day passed quickly and other than two key spots, I found very few fish.
Competition Time
Having more confidence in the areas near Chippewa Bay, I decided to begin the competition there. As I neared my first stop, I could see competitors in the Canadian events already occupying some key spots. Fortunately the one I wanted most was still vacant.
In minutes, I had my first fish on the Drum Roller swimbait – a hefty 4-pound smallmouth. Shortly after, I caught a 3-pounder on a tube. But then things slowed dramatically. Nearly an hour passed when, suddenly, a dark cloud appeared. And with it, came a wall of hard rain and high winds.
Fortunately, the area was somewhat protected and the storm soon passed. In its wake was an eerie calm with dark, gloomy skies. That's when I put the Rapala popper to work!
Inside of 30 minutes, I caught three 4-pound smallies. That made a solid limit, so I decided to run to another area and conserve those fish for the next day.
My next stop was to the tip of an island near Clayton. When I pulled in, two other boats immediately moved to the same stretch. I maneuvered between them, but caught only a few small fish. Frustrated, I pulled the MotorGuide and ran to a nearby bank. Incredibly, one of the boats did likewise and pulled right in front of me.
At that point I was ready to abandon the area, but then I noticed a black fish swimming below the boat. It was a smallmouth, all lit up as if it were spawning. When I spun the boat around for a second look, I could see it was pushing five pounds. It took some time, but I eventually got it to bite a Shad Shape Worm.
Putting that fish in the boat within eyesight of my rivals was particularly satisfying. And at that point, I decided it was time to go. With more than 20 pounds in the livewell, I wanted to make sure I made it back to Waddington on time.
Jockeying For Position
My first-day catch put me in third place, just one pound behind the leader. In order to catch him, I knew I'd have to have the same weight again.
Like the day before, I raced to my starting spot near Chippewa Bay. Again, I encountered competitors from other tournaments. But their numbers had increased. I was pissed. I couldn't understand why two different Canadian circuits would schedule events directly on top of ours. They had the option of fisihng other sections of the river, or even going to Lake Ontario ... which we could not. Nonetheless, I worked around them.
My first fish was a solid 4 ½ pound smallmouth. Soon, another pushing 3 ½ came aboard. Then things got tough.
I moved to the shore of a small island and began combing a stretch of boulders and chunk rock. Below the boat, I noticed a big smallmouth resting next to a boulder. I spun the boat and pitched a tube in its direction and immediately hooked up.
That made three, but then things got tough again. After no action for nearly an hour, I raced to a small weedbed where I had located some largemouth in practice. In just a few minutes of pitching the Flappin' Hawg, I caught a solid 2-pounder. Then another, and another. With a limit in the boat, I then moved back to the islands hoping to upgrade.
By the end of the day, I managed three nice smallies and a total weight of nearly 19 pounds.
Fishing On The Weekend
After making the weekend cut, my goal now was to stay in the Top 12 and fish the final on Sunday – a tall order considering the number of competitors I was sharing water with. With that in mind, I decided to stay near Waddington and take my chances in more isolated areas.
My first stop was to the side of long point where I had found a school of smallmouth swimming during practice. Using a Shad Shape Worm rigged on a dropshot, the first fish came quickly. In another hour, I caught another. But then a long lull set in.
I moved around and eventually hooked up with a 4 ½ pounder. Minutes later, I added a solid 3-pounder. At that point, I knew I was close – I just needed another good fish.
With time running out, I hit one last spot near weigh-in – a small point tipped with riprap. Making a long cast to the upcurrent side, my line jumped instantly and I was hooked up with a big smallmouth. The fish jumped twice, then carved sideways in the current.
After a couple of string pulls, the line suddenly went slack. I watched as the big brown swam away into deeper water. At first I thought I had broke it off. But somehow, the fish had managed to dislodge the hook and free itself. And with it went my hopes of making the top-12 finale on Sunday.
Back at weigh-in, I learned that I missed the cut by mere ounces. Finishing in 15th place, my week was over, and it was time to redirect my thoughts toward the Chesapeake Bay ... just one week away.

The St. Lawrence River is, by far, my favorite body of water in America. It's vast, beautiful and full of fish. Both smallmouth and largemouth thrive there, and it always takes big weight to do well.  

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Last Updated on Sunday, 23 August 2015 17:10

Nixon Hopes Ouachita is His Fountain of Youth

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By Pete Robbins

August 19, 2015

Ten days after the conclusion of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, legendary bass pro Larry Nixon will turn 65. As most of his angling contemporaries either retire or fade into relative obscurity, Nixon continues to make waves. He finished 10th in the FLW Angler of the Year race this year, his best finish in almost a decade, and completed a grueling Cup prefish session before Lake Ouachita went off limits that would’ve put men several decades his junior on bed rest or a serious IV drip.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 09:20

2015 Forrest Wood Cup Preview - Team Yamamoto

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By TJ Maglio

August 19, 2015

From the opening bell on Florida’s Lake Toho through the final event on the Potomac River, the 2015 FLW Tour season was one to remember for the Yamamoto pro team. With a victory (Dave Lefebre on Alabama’s Smith Lake), 7 top-10’s (at least one in each 2015 derby), three anglers in the top 15 in AOY points, and over $430,000 in winnings – the Yamamoto pro team showed that it’s one of the most dominant groups of anglers in the sport.

As a result of that successful season, six GYCB pros qualified for the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup, which kicks off August 20th on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita, a venue that previously hosted FLW’s top event in 2007 and 2011.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 17:22

A Cup Full of Knowledge - Besting the Bluster - Windy Day Strategies

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July 28, 2015

Dealing with wind is just part of bass fishing, but rather than complain about too much or too little wind, I’ve learned to make the best of any situation I find myself facing in a day on the water.

The reality is that wind can hurt you or help you, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. It think that wind sometimes gets the fish active, but if you have to fish slowly and methodically with a bottom bait, then it’s difficult, as the wind limits your ability to maintain the right pace.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 09:13

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