by Rob Newell
FLW PRESS RELEASE
The smallmouth smackdown on the Ohio River continued on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship in Paducah, Ky., hosted by the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Paducah.
Heading into Saturday’s championship round, the top-5 positions on the leaderboard are dominated by big smallmouths caught from the same 15-mile section by anglers targeting mostly offshore current breaks. The bites in the area are generally scarce, but the quality of the fish is well worth the lack of quantity.
|Smallmouth key to Championship leader Hanselman. (Photo: FLW)|
Going into the final day as the leader, Hanselman is poised to do the unthinkable in FLW history: win an unprecedented four Rayovac FLW Series events in a row. He has already won all three Rayovac Texas Division events this season and he’s eyeing the grandest of grand slams – a Rayovac Championship win.
Friday Hanselman took the lead with an 11-pound, 14-ounce catch of smallmouths that gave him a two-day total of 30 pounds, 14 ounces, which constitutes a 2-1/2-pound lead over second-place Barnes.
“It was a harder day today,” he says. “Yesterday I had eight bites; today I only had five bites. Yesterday I caught big ones; today I really only caught one good one. So, yes, I’m leading, but things went downhill a bit today and it was much more of grind for what I weighed in.”
Hanselman is dialed in to the big smallmouth program. He is throwing large reaction-type baits and he says he can virtually predict when he’s going to get a strike by the tug of the current in the stretch of water he’s running.
“I can feel it when I’m about to get a bite,” he explains. “I’m fishing offshore current breaks and most of the time I can feel the current pulling on my bait. But then the bait will get sucked in behind one of those rips and it just goes dead – when that happens my hair stands up because I know I’m fixing to get slammed.”
“And the cool thing about it is those rips and voids in the current change minute to minute based on how the water is flowing and wavering around,” he adds. “I might throw at a spot for 10 minutes and suddenly hit one of those rips that was not there previously. That’s where those big ones are set up waiting to feed.”
Though Hanselman is not quite ready to reveal his list of productive baits, one thing’s for sure: there are no spinning rods, light line, drop-shots or shaky heads in his arsenal. He is all in with the big baits that, to his way of thinking, get the big bites.
Top 10 pros
1. Ray Hanselman – Del Rio, Texas – 30-14 (10)
2. David Barnes Sr. – China, Maine – 28-7 (7)
3. Brian Holder – Belmont, N.C. – 27-10 (8)
4. Tyler Suddarth – Valdosta, Ga. – 27-7 (9)
5. Brandon Perkins – Counce, Tenn. – 27-5 (10)
6. Nick Prvonozac – Warren, Ohio – 22-11 (8)
7. Bill Chapman – Salt Rock, W.Va. – 22-9 (9)
8. Denny Brauer – Del Rio, Texas – 21-6 (10)
9. Jeff Hippert – Hamburg, N.Y. – 21-2 (9)
10. Trevor Fitzgerald – Belleview, Fla. – 20-10 (6)