Friday, October 30, 2015

FLW Rayovac Championship Ohio River Day 1: Barnes Leads with 21 Pounds of Smallies!

Smallmouth produce for leader Barnes.
(Photo: FLW)
First, David Barnes Sr. of China, Maine showed up with an eye-popping limit of smallmouths that weighed 21 pounds. Then, red-hot Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, who won all three Texas Division tournaments this year, proved he is still in the fish-catching groove with a limit that hefted 19 pounds – all bronze. For them at least, it was the perfect end to a perfect day.
After four rainy days of practice, Rayovac Championship qualifiers were greeted with bluebird skies and chilly temperatures down into the middle 40’s on opening morning. And apparently that fall weather tripped the big smallmouths’ trigger as Barnes and Hanselman are working similar patterns in swift river currents.
“I only caught six fish and lost another big one,” says Barnes, who qualified from the Northern Division. “I caught them all from a 200-yard stretch that has three big holes in it.”
Barnes found the productive area in practice when he caught a 4- and a 2-pound smallmouth in close proximity. When he returned to the area on day one, his co-angler boated two 4-pound-class smallmouths on a shaky head. That’s when Barnes dialed the smallmouth program in.
“He [co-angler Randy Gardner] caught his two big ones from current boils,” Barnes explains. “I could see the boils really well because the wind and current were opposing each other, causing big riffles over the boils.”
As it turns out, the riffles gave away the locations of three very distinct deep holes in the flat.
“The flat was maybe 8 to 10 feet deep, but in two places it dropped to about 15 feet and in the other it dropped to 19 feet,” Barnes says. “The hard current was backwashing in the holes, creating the rough riffles on the surface. Once I figured out where they were, I picked up a Carolina rig and just sort of floated the bait down into the holes with the current. I never felt the bites, the line would just get heavy and a big one would have it.”
After one of Barnes’ smallies puked up a big shad, Barnes picked up a crankbait and immediately caught another brute.
“I had to keep the trolling motor on 8 or 9 just to hold in that current today,” Barnes adds. “I’ve got the holes marked on GPS now, so I’ll know where they are tomorrow.”
Going into day two, Barnes has a 2-pound cushion over Hanselman and a whopping 6-pound, 10-ounce lead over third place angler Brian Holder (14-6). 
Top 10 pros
1. David Barnes Sr. – China, Maine – 21-0 (5)
2. Ray Hanselman – Del Rio, Texas – 19-0 (5)
3. Brian Holder – Belmont, N.C. – 14-6 (4)
4. Bill Chapman – Salt Rock, W.Va. – 14-3 (5)
5. Dicky Newberry – Houston, Texas – 13-15 (5)
6. Brandon Perkins – Counce, Tenn. – 13-10 (5)
7. Tyler Suddarth – Valdosta, Ga. – 13-6 (4)
8. Glenn Browne – Ocala, Fla. – 13-2 (5)
8. Wade Curtiss – Meadow Vista, Calif. – 13-2 (5)
10. Brandon Medlock – Lake Placid, Fla. – 12-15 (4)

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