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FLW Fishing Report: Techniques from the Pros at the Forrest Wood Cup

Fishing has really started to pick up lately. Maybe fish can sense that summer is almost done, and the lean days of winter aren’t that far away. For whatever reason, the bass are on the prowl on the ledges and starting to move in some toward the coves and points. Good catches have been reported on crankbaits, jigs and shaky heads on the ledges and main-lake points, and a few topwater fish are coming in the back ends of coves.

White bass are really hot now, too, and blade baits are catching them and largemouths in the same general areas in water that’s about 14 ft. deep or deeper. You just want to cast the blade bait out, let it sink, then rip it up and let it sink again. Also, swimming spoons should start producing as largemouths leave the ledges and start spreading out over the flats. Here again, just cast out a strike king sexy spoon or some-such, let it sink to the bottom, sweep it forward, and let it sink again. Bass will hit it on the fall.

I just got back from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Georgia, where 21-year-old Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis beat out all the old pros to claim bass fishing’s biggest prize: The Forrest Wood Cup and $500,000. Though Jacob isn’t from this area, he cut his fishing teeth on Kentucky Lake.

The tournament was interesting in that a lot of the pros were expecting Lanier’s deep-water spotted bass to be the hot ticket. It never happened. Wheeler fished shallow water way up the Chattahoochee River and used a topwater pro bait, soft-plastics and a chatterbait to catch enough largemouths to win. He caught a bunch of fish around bluegill beds. It got me to thinking that maybe I ought to pay more attention to bream beds when I go bass fishing around here, because spawning bluegills definitely attract bass looking for an easy meal.

Another trick I heard about at Lake Lanier was provided by a photographer following Glenn Browne of Florida around. He told me that whenever Browne got on a deep brush pile, he would rev up his outboard in gear for a split second and then move off easy and cast back to the bubble trail that marked the spot where the brush pile was. He would just make a drop or two with his drop-shot rig, then move on to the next one. Not only did the bubble trail mark the spot for Browne, but the agitation served to pull any bass below into the brush pile for cover.

It was pretty clever, when you stop and think about it, and Browne had a good tournament, finishing 19th.

That’s it for now. Fishing is good and getting better, especially with the cooler weather moving in, and the fact that the Tennessee River Valley is getting a lot more rain now and it’s going to activate the fish. So get out on the lake and wet a line.

By the way, the other day I ran into a fellow I know who always seems to catch fish and doesn’t mind bragging to anybody who’ll listen about it.

“Did I tell you about all the fish I caught last week?” he asked me.

“No, you didn’t,” I answered, “And I appreciate it.”

Scott Ellison is a lifelong fisherman and FLW College Fishing Promotions Manager.
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