Archive for the FLW Tournaments Category

Co-angler Report – Lake Chickamauga FLW Event

Posted in FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on July 5, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fish as a co-angler in the last FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee last weekend.  This was a great opportunity to fish with the pros and get a taste of what tournaments will be like once I move beyond college fishing tournaments.

Prefishing

Mich 3On the first day of prefishing I fished with Gussy. We fished a lot of different areas and tried a lot of techniques. We were able to catch some small fish around laydowns and a few keepers in the grass, but once we moved out a little deeper we caught better fish. In a few spots, where we marked fish, we were able to catch a few on drop shots. While fishing a point where we had graphed fish, out of nowhere a school of giant bass started busting shad on the surface. We turned the trolling motor on high and hustled over there. I threw in a big topwater bait and had one smack it away, then Gussy threw in a big fluke and caught at least a six-pounder.

During the following two days of practice I was able to fish with Terry Bolton. He is an awesome ledge fisherman and I knew I was going to learn a lot. During our two days of practice together we did a lot of idling and scanned a bunch of ledges. If we didn’t graph fish we went to the next ledge. There are a lot of ledges to look at so it took up a lot of time. There were some key features we were looking for: old creek channels, rocks or shells, points or anything different that helped narrow down our search. The key lures we used were football head jigs and big 10-inch worms on the VMC rugby jig. We also threw deep diving crankbaits like a DT-20—which caught fish—but the slower presentations on the bottom produced bigger fish. Towards the end of the day, we decided to try something different and hit a point with shallow grass and a few brush piles. On my second cast with a size 7 Rippin’ Rap, I caught a chunky five-pounder. We also caught a few nice fish out of the brush piles.

Tournament Fishing

For the first day of the tournament I was paired with Dale Hightower.  In the morning , we fished a rocky bank and jetty that had some grass. Then later in the day, we flipped some laydowns and docks. It was tough to fish the rock bank and jetty from the back of the boat because we were paralleling the bank so it made it difficult to cast. However, I was able to catch two keepers off of the front face of the rock jetty. There was a little hole that I slow rolled the Rippin Rap through—keeping it a little bit above the bottom.

Mich 1The second day I fished with Rodney Thomason and had a ton of fun. He didn’t want to battle people for spots on ledges so he had found some grass that had grown to the surface and some lily pads. I had not seen lily pads or grass that tall all week, so I was excited to try something new. I caught some small fish on a Trigger X Flutter Worm and he caught a few on a frog but we couldn’t connect with any keepers. Rodney had at least one monster bass blow up on a frog, but it just pushed it away and didn’t eat it.

I picked up a few lessons as a co-angler in this tournament.  Both boaters I fished with did not want to be fighting for a spot on the ledges and fishing right next to other competitors. Because of this, they taught me that there are still fish to be caught shallow—even when everyone else is deep. It is tough to be a co-angler in these events, because it is totally dependent on your draw and if you are put around fish, but it was a great learning experience and I hope I will be able to fish a few more events next year!

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).

Lake Chickamauga FLW Tour Report

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

The final event of the 2013 FLW Tour season took place this past weekend at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.  For many anglers on the tour, this was an important event, because after it was finished the 35 anglers with the most points after the six-event season qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup—the annual Tour Championship where anglers fish for a first place prize of $500,000.  My chances of qualifying for the Cup were eliminated earlier in the season after a couple of bad tournaments.  So I went into the event with the goal to cash a check and end the season on a good note.

I had spent a few days at Chickamauga in late May before the lake went off limits, which helped me because I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I got back for the official practice.  I planned to check out some places where I had caught fish earlier—both shallow and deep—hoping that would give me a start on things I should focus on during the week of the tournament.

Over the course of the three day practice for this tournament, I found a few different areas that held fish, and had a reliable dock pattern that would put a few extra fish in the boat after I was finished working over my “spots.”  The best place I found was a small ledge that had a shell bed on it.  In practice I caught a couple of big fish off of it on a ¾oz football jig.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

When the event started, this ledge was my first stop and it paid off when I caught a five-pound largemouth on my third cast of the day.  I caught this fish on a Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait in the chartreuse shad color.  I was throwing this bait on a 7’11” G. Loomis GLX crankbait rod (GLX955CBR)Shimano Chronarch reel (CH200E6) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line.  I could get this bait to touch the bottom in 14-16 feet, where the fish were and put a few of my biggest fish in the boat during the tournament with this set up. Over the course of the event, I also caught a few of my weigh fish on a football jig, a drop-shot rig and by pitching a jig around some docks—all using G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.

After a good catch on the first day (18-05), I sat in 21st place.  My goal on day two was to improve my position and try to make the top 20, which would have allowed me to fish another day.  I ended up having a little bit of a tougher second day and brought in 13-14, to finish in 26th place—earning a check for $10,000.

Overall, my experience fishing the FLW Tour this season was awesome!  I learned a lot and look forward to giving it another shot next year.  I feel like the experiences I had this year, both good and bad, will help me down the road.  Huge thanks go out to all of my sponsors for making it possible for me to fish the FLW Tour this year, as well as all the people that supported me through the ups and downs of the season.  It’s been fun!

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga--it was over six pounds.

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga–it was over six pounds.

Tournament Recap: FLW College Central Qualifier on Kentucky Lake

Posted in FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

This week was the last FLW College Central Qualifier on Kentucky Lake. Unfortunately, we were not able to prefish this event because I was recently in an accident. Luckily, everyone in the vehicle walked away without a scratch, but I can’t say the same about my boat and truck—which were both totaled! As discussed in my blog about whether prefishing is worth the work, I do not like fishing tournaments without logging some time on the water.  However, I was assured after doing some research and talking to friends that have fished the lake in the past that there were a lot of fish in the lake and it would be a fun tournament to attend. Also, we were motivated to participate in this event because it was our last chance to qualify for the FLW Central Invitational.

Michaela's truck and boat after the accident.

Michaela’s truck and boat after the accident.

From our research we determined that bigger fish would be caught on the ledges. I like throwing big, deep-diving, crank baits like a Rapala DT-20, so I was looking forward to trying my hand at fishing ledges. The morning of the tournament, we made the long run up towards the dam to an area of ledges we knew were productive. We found an area of shell beds on a ledge that we marked fish on, and started the morning there. My partner, Bryan Billeadeau, caught our three keepers in this spot with a Terminator football head jig. I was throwing all sorts of baits trying to get a bigger bite. I caught at least ten short fish with a Carolina rigged lizard, but wasn’t producing fish of any size. I also tried the DT for more of a reaction bite but had no luck. We started to graph suspending fish over the shell bed we were fishing, so I tried a Scatter Rap through the school again with no luck. After Bryan caught the third keeper, I switched to a football head jig as well but I continued to catch short fish.

Bryan with the three keepers from the tournament.

Bryan with the three keepers from the tournament.

We stayed in that area for most of the day because we knew it held big fish and we had a lot of fun catching a bunch of short fish. With about an hour and a half left, we ran back towards the launch and fished another shell bed—which again only produced short fish. We ended the day in 19th place and were 4 ounces away from qualifying. It was a little upsetting that we couldn’t the additional fish we needed to qualify for the invitational, but we were happy with the way we fished given we did not have a chance to prefish. In hindsight, the only thing I would have tried differently would be a Trigger X flutter worm or drop dead minnow on the suspending fish.

Overall, one of the biggest things I learned is how many nice people there are in the fishing industry—everyone was willing to help us out. One of our friends that fishes the FLW Everstart Tour stayed an extra night so that we could use his boat for the day. He woke up early on his day off to meet us at the landing and drop us into the lake. Without him we would not have been able to fish the tournament so I am extremely grateful.

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).

Grand Lake, OK FLW Tour Report

Posted in FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The fifth stop on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.  I arrived in Grove, Oklahoma the day before practice started, and while I drove over a bridge on the lake I was shocked to see the high, dirty water.  There were literally thousands of logs and pieces of debris floating down the lake—a result of heavy rains accompanying the nasty storms that have gone through Oklahoma recently.  Fishing this type of water was going to be a new experience for me.

A look at the flooded shoreline of Grand Lake.

A look at the flooded shoreline of Grand Lake.

During my first morning of practice, things started out pretty well.  It didn’t take me long to start catching some nice fish by flipping a ½ oz jig in some of the flooded bushes and wood along the bank of the lake.  Over the course of the day, I caught several good fish and figured I was onto a solid program that would carry me through the weekend.  But, the next two days of practice were not as good as the first.  I wasn’t sure if I had simply found a good area on the first day or if the pattern was not as solid as I thought.

Heading into the event I figured that 13 pounds per day would likely be enough to get a check at this event, based on what I saw in practice and what some of the other anglers were saying.  But as it turns out, I was way off on that prediction.  I brought in 12 pounds the first day of the tournament and found myself sitting in 94th place.  On day two, I did a little bit better and caught 13 pounds but it didn’t help my final standings.  I ended up with a 99th place finish at this tournament.

Even though I ended outside of the money, I still had some success with my techniques.  I caught most of my fish with a jig on a 7’5″ G. Loomis GL2 flipping stick matched with a 7:0:1 Shimano Core 100 and 20 lb Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon.  I also caught a few fish with a Jackall SK-Pop Grande on a 6’8″ Shimano Crucial topwater rod  matched up with a 7:0:1 Shimano Chronarch reel and 30 lb Power Pro Super Slick line.

Gussy with a big fish he caught during practice.

Gussy with a big fish he caught during practice.

Obviously I’m disappointed with where I finished, but I am taking some positive notes from the experience.  I lost two big fish during the first day of the tournament, they just jumped off on me, so I ended up weighing a couple of small fish that day.  I’m not trying to give you the “woulda, coulda” routine, but I know that if I would have landed those two fish I would have been flirting with getting a check and a happy finish.  So I feel like I was on the right program with my technique but maybe needed to find a better location.  I’m taking the positive out of all of these events and hopefully next year when I’m faced with similar conditions I’ll be able to adjust a little more quickly.

There is one event left on the 2013 FLW Tour Majors schedule coming up in a couple weeks at Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga.  I’m looking forward to getting on the water on Chickamauga and trying to put together a solid game plan to end the season on a strong note.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Lake Eufaula FLW Tour Recap

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Stop four on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula.  For me, this event was a humbling experience to say the least.

Gussy's dad, Jim Gustafson, with a nice largemouth from practice.

Gussy’s dad, Jim Gustafson, with a nice largemouth from practice.

My Dad was down with me for this event and fished his first tournament as a co-angler.  I did little research for this tournament prior to launching the boat on the first morning of practice.  My approach to fishing these new lakes is to get the boat in the water and try to break it down as quickly as possible to get some sort of pattern established.  Instead of doing a bunch of research like I usually do, I decided that for this one I would just try to fish the moment and figure it out as things were happening.  We basically launched the boat and started fishing: starting shallow, then trying some deeper water, then moving to shallow water again. We fished the main channel of the lake as well as several creek arms.

We caught a good number of fish on the first day of practice, including several in the two- to three- pound range by casting crankbaits on main lake points in three to six feet of water.  My best bait was a Jackall MC/60 MR crankbait in the Ghost Bluegill color.  My Dad was throwing this bait and was laying a beating on me so we quickly figured out that this was a lure that the fish wanted.  We probably caught twenty keepers that first day—which was a great start.

The second day of practice was tougher, we stayed with the same pattern and tried to cover a little more water in hopes of finding as many fishing spots as possible.  We didn’t catch nearly as many fish so I wasn’t sure if my pattern was dying or if I had just found a good area that first day.  I generally don’t like to fish the same places in practice because it’s so important to keep looking for new water all the time in order to find as many areas as possible.

On the last day of practice we went farther south on the lake and tried a large creek arm that I had not been into over the first couple days.  Almost immediately we started catching fish, including a couple of large four- and five- pounders.  Now I was getting excited!  I had a large area that had what seemed like good numbers of big fish in it so I was ready to get the tournament started.  We caught these fish on a wacky rigged Jackall Flick Shake 5.8″ worm.  They wanted a slow presentation and this worm was out-fishing everything else that we tried.

The first day of the tournament I caught a few fish on the Flick Shake worm in the morning and managed to catch a couple of big ones at the end of the day on a Jackall Iobee Frog.  I caught these fish during my last twenty minutes of fishing and they helped me out significantly.  My co-angler also caught a five pounder, which helped him land a tournament leading catch of 15-03 in his division.  My limit of 13-06 landed me in 38th place, which I was very happy with.  More importantly I felt like I had learned a lot heading into day two.  I was optimistic there were more big fish in the shallow grass area where we caught the big ones at the end of the day.

Day two turned out to be a nightmare.  The weather was not significantly different from day one—it was hot with a light breeze.  For whatever reason, the fish just didn’t bite. I caught a bunch of “short” fish (under 14”) and had two big blow ups on the frog which I didn’t connect with.  After a while I started running around to some of the places where I thought I could catch numbers and just couldn’t make it happen.  When you don’t have fish in your livewell the day goes by quickly, so before I knew it, it was time for weigh-in.  I fished my butt off all day long and just didn’t get the bites.

So, I’ve decided to absorb what I’ve learned here, move on to the next one and forget about this event.  Next stop on the schedule is Grand Lake, Oklahoma, June 6 – 9.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

A line up of the Jackall Baits that Gussy caught fish on during the week at Eufaula.

A line up of the Jackall Baits that Gussy caught fish on during the week at Eufaula.

How to Become a College Tournament Angler

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

There are many ways to get started fishing college tournaments. The best way is to start before you enter college by competing in small and local tournaments.  Your first tournaments should focus on lakes that you are already comfortable fishing and know well. This will allow you to remain confident while using your knowledge of different spots on the lake to adapt your strategy during the tournament—because the fish always seem to change their patterns on tournament days. Local clubs and youth programs are also a great way to start.

Michaela with her mentor, Mark Fisher.

Michaela with her mentor, Mark Fisher.

Youth & High School Fishing

For kids, youth programs offer an amazing learning experience. Now some states even have high school fishing as a varsity sport! There are a few different organizations that have state tournaments that provide kids with the opportunity to fish in regional and national tournaments in other states. The best way to find these organizations is to look for information on your DNR page, or the FLW and BASS pages, or of course you could just Google it! One other option you have is to email your local TBF contact to find out where the nearest youth club opportunities are located.

Youth tournaments provide a lot of opportunities such as college scholarships and experience traveling to fish in other states. During youth tournaments you do not need to provide your own boat—you just need to show up with a life jacket, rod and reel. The boaters become amazing mentors and help teach kids during the day out on the water. You are able to make many new friends and many connections for the future. Unfortunately, at 18 you become too old to fish the youth tournaments and you must move to adult and college tournaments.

Stepping up to College Tournament Angling

College tournaments provide a great opportunity to travel to many different lakes across the country and learn a lot about other types of fisheries. Many schools have clubs, which allow you to fish in the FLW, BASS, and Boat USA college tournaments. There are also a few schools that have bass fishing teams and some offer scholarships for fishing! Each tournament trail is run a little differently but the basic format is that you fish in the qualifying events in hopes of making it to the National Championship. These tournaments take your angling to a whole new level and test your skills on lakes across the country. It is a great way to make new friends and to establish a strong network.

Becoming a Professional

Once you graduate you have a few choices. In Minnesota, and most states I have traveled to, they have many local tournaments— you could fish a tournament every weekend if you wanted to. If you want to take a step up to another level, check out Rich Lindgren’s blog about getting started in the BASS and FLW leagues.  These tournaments will test your skills against some of the best anglers in the country—so it will give you a good idea of your competitive skill level.

One key reminder I would give you is that the best way to learn is to be out on the water. The more you get out fishing the more you will learn. Force yourself to learn new techniques and practice even the basic skills like casting. If you work hard at building your skill level, and take advantage of the resources and links I mentioned earlier—you can have a fun and rewarding experience as a college tournament angler like I have. It’s definitely worth the effort!

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing.

Michaela and her team mate, Brian, at the 2012 B.A.S.S. National Championship

Michaela and her teammate, Brian, at the 2012 B.A.S.S. National Championship

A Path to Professional Tournament Bass Angling

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Many enthusiastic anglers often see professional anglers on television and are intrigued by the potential of fishing as a career path.  At the same time, most people have no idea what it takes to be a professional bass tournament angler.  Beyond the long hours and thousands of miles of travel every year, it is not the easiest profession to break into.  For the major circuits, like FLW Tour and Bassmasters Elite Series, there are qualification requirements.

Fish your Way to the Top

Rich at TBF Tournament

Rich at TBF Tournament

The most important step to take on your way to professional angling is to get out on the water. Along with doing this outside of tournaments, participating as a co-angler in the FLW EverStart, FLW Tour or Opens is a great way to get exposure to new lakes and different fishing techniques from extremely good anglers. But with the reward, you also run the risk of running into a boater that will back boat you—meaning they position the boat in a way that makes it impossible for you to cast to a spot. With this in mind, when you fish as a co-angler you need to go into the tournament just looking to learn something new rather than looking to get the biggest bite.

For each tour there are different levels to start out at, but let’s assume you are just getting started.  And for simplicity let’s focus on the FLW Tour side of the sport.  The first tournament stepping stones for the FLW Tour would be hosted by your local TBF Bass Club and the BFL that have divisions all over the United States.  These are for the most part single-day weekend events. These tournaments can qualify you for regional and national events—ultimately helping you build a name for yourself and win money to invest in larger tournaments.  As an alternative, BASS comparable events are the Bassmaster Weekend Series and BASS Nation tournaments.

Once you succeed in these events, the next level tournaments are the FLW Everstart Series and Bassmaster Opens—these are comparable to Triple A baseball leagues.  Once you succeed at these levels, you can move onto the Tour level or the Majors. This is where the money and time commitment increase, as well as the level of competition.  At the tour level, entry fees and travel expenses can easily exceed $50,000 every year just to play.  Very few anglers do this all with their own money or make a living off tournament winnings alone.

Gain Sponsorship

The second half of the tournament fishing equation is sponsorship and marketing.  To have a long successful career you must be talented and marketing savvy. By combining these assets with your angling skills you’ll be able to form mutually beneficial relationships with sponsoring companies that can assist with tournament entry fees and other expenses along the way.  As part of these sponsorships, when you’re not fishing, you will often write articles and blogs or spend time on the road fulfilling sponsor obligations at sport shows and speaking engagements.

It can be a great life—who wouldn’t want to fish for a living, right?  But behind the fishing tournaments that you see on the television on Sunday afternoon, there is a lot of work and commitment.  If you are passionate about being a tournament angler, my best advice is to start fishing as much as possible!

If you’re interested in becoming a college tournament angler be sure to check out Michaela Anderson’s blog on how to get into the tournament scene.

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Rich at EverStart Central Division Tournament

Rich at EverStart Central Division Tournament