FLW Costa Series/Northern Division: Lake Erie – Buffalo, NY
- WHEN: Early Bite was Best
- WHAT: Rigs – TOP 5 PATTERNS…Drop Shots and Tubes were effective
- WHERE: Sand/gravel and rock/gravel bottom areas held fish
- Fishery: 4lbs-4oz separates top 44 places!
- Big Bass of Day: 6lbs-6oz
by Colin Moore/Courtesy of FLW
EDITOR NOTE: Day 2 and Day 3 of this contest were cancelled. The leaders shown here on Day 1 are the contest winners and placements for day 1 are the final placements. Congrats to all the competitors. Lake Erie can offer windy days that are dangerous to bass boats and FLW chose to be safe to protect the anglers and their gear from any possible tragedy. Hats off to Ron Lappin and FLW Tournament Management. Dave Barus, Editor
July 26, 2018- Buffalo, NY: Lake Erie’s exceptional fishing was on full display in the opening round of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Polaris and hosted by Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission. Forty-four limits weighing at least 20 pounds each were caught. Even co-anglers got in on the smallmouth bonanza, as nine of them brought back limits that totaled 20 pounds or better.
Though Neil Farlow of St. Catherines, Ontario, leads the 169 pros fishing the event with 24-4, there’s not much daylight between him and the rest of the top 50. Farlow is one ounce ahead of Ben Wright of Peru, N.Y., and a difference of 4 pounds, 4 ounces separates the Canadian from Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.Va., who’s in 44th place with 20 pounds.
Farlow didn’t provide many details about his day, except to say that he fished spots in Canada and the U.S. and culled a couple of times.
“I used drop-shot rigs and tubes, and tubes seemed to work better when the wind got up in the afternoon,” says Farlow, whose 6-6 smallmouth was the big fish of the day. “I’m running a Ranger 522D deep-V, so the wind wasn’t that big a problem for me. Tomorrow [Friday] I’m going to do what the wind lets me do. Either I’m going to run my spots or stay longer on some and really fish them out.”
Farlow says mixed bottoms of rock and gravel, or gravel and sand, produced best for him. Perhaps even more critical is the timing of the bite. Many of the anglers with the 20-pound-plus sacks were in the first few flights and reported that the smallmouths started eating as soon as the anglers reached their first destinations. As the day progressed, however, the bite got slower.
Though the wind was manageable Thursday morning, it built during the day, and by late afternoon 6-foot waves could be seen crashing over the seawall that shelters the harbor from the wind’s main force.
Stronger winds ranging to about 15 mph and gusting to more than 26 mph caused Friday fishing competition to cancel.
Tournament director Ron Lappin said, “Current plans call for the tournament to continue Saturday morning with all of the 169 boatloads of pros and co-anglers fishing. That presumes the weather forecast will be better and the heavy waters topping 5 feet on Friday morning will subside. As it now stands, Saturday’s round will determine the final standings.”
With the change in schedule, Saturday, July 28th will be the final fishing day with weigh-in’s starting at about 1:00 p.m. at Buffalo Harbor State Park and Safe Harbor Marina, not Cabela’s. Check this link for other possible updates: https://www.flwfishing.com/tournaments/costa.
Day 1: Top 10 pros
- Neil Farlow – St. Catherines, Ontario – 24-4 (5)
- Ben Wright – Peru, N.Y. – 24-3 (5)
- Charles Sim – Nepean, Ontario – 23-3 (5)
- JT Kenney – Palm Bay, Fla. – 23-2 (5)
- J Todd Tucker – Moultrie, Ga. – 22-15 (5)
- Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 22-12 (5)
- Moo Bae – West Friendship, Md. – 22-8 (5)
- Travis Manson – Conshohocken, Pa. – 22-6 (5)
- Philip Jarabeck – Spout Spring, Va. – 22-5 (5)
- Jason Kervin – Auburn, Maine – 22-3 (5)
- TJ Lacey – Selwyn, Ontario – 22-3 (5)
Top 5 FLW Angler Patterns from Lake Erie – Day 1
Buffalo Harbor State Park, Safe Harbor Marina – Buffalo, N.Y.
Neil Farlow – FLW Photo
Neil Farlow – St. Catherines, ON. – 24-4
Even under the best of circumstances Neil Farlow isn’t much of a talker, but he let his fishing do the talking for him on day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division derby presented by Polaris and hosted by Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission on Lake Erie out of Buffalo, N.Y.
Farlow, of St. Catherines, Ontario, was tight-lipped about his spots and his lure choices in the opening round, but probably he’s not doing a lot differently from the rest of the field. Drop-shot rigs and tube jigs, in that order, seemed to be the approach du jour among pros and co-anglers alike. Farlow also indicated that bottom composition changes were key and attracted more smallmouths.
Friday’s semi-final round is expected to produce more exceptional stringers, and perhaps changes in the top 10, where only a pound and an ounce separate 10th place from first place. Meanwhile, here’s a look at some of the anglers trying to tip Farlow out of the top spot.
Ben Wright – Peru, N.Y. – 24-3
The New York angler brought in one of the biggest smallmouths of the day, a 5-pound, 7-ounce fish. He caught it and others dragging a drop-shot rig around the Waverly Shoal area. Wright culled five times and says the fish he was on didn’t show any particular preference to the bait color he was using.
“I was fishing a shoal with a lot of rock and where the bottom changed from gravel to chunk rock,” he says. “There was also a breakline in 31 to 39 feet down. The fish bit pretty good early in the day, but it really slowed down around midday.”
Wright was fishing with a Lew’s reel with Seaguar Finesse Fluorocarbon.
Charles Sim – Nepean, Ontario – 23-3
Sim hedged his deep-water bets by trying to get a shallow jerkbait bite going along the Canadian shoreline. It didn’t work, so he did what just about everybody else was doing: He fished a 30-foot-plus breakline that featured a rock-to-sand transition.
“I wound up with a drop-shot rig in my hand. I culled about five fish during the day,” he sats.
JT Kenney – Palm Bay, Fla. – 23-2
A lot of people have mistaken Kenney as a shallow-water specialist more accustomed to flipping and pitching jigs and rigs into shallow cover. Kenney fished like a local on day one and was culling fish by midmorning. His best spot was a rocky bottom in 30 to 33 feet of water.
“I could see all kinds of bait at the bottom, and when the drop-shot got around the bass they ate it,” says Kenney. “The slower I fished it, the better they liked it. I thought they would bite better later in the day when the sun came out and the wind got up, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.”
J. Todd Tucker – Moultrie, Ga. – 22-15
“I caught about two dozen keepers today – all of them on a drop-shot rig,” says the Georgia pro.
Tucker went against type as one of the few U.S. anglers to travel into Canadian waters to catch his limit. He ran about eight miles from the takeoff point at Safe Harbor Marina to fish a rock bottom in about 35 feet of water. Isolated rocks were critical to his approach.