FLW Lewis Smith Lake Winning Baits, Gear & Patterns

Brent Erhler's Winning Pattern, Baits & Gear

It looked like Brent Ehrler had a real easy time winning the Lewis Smith Lake FLW Tour. He led every day and kept a cushion of at least 6 pounds between himself and the rest of the field from day 2 on. The Californian insists it was no cakewalk, though. In fact, he called it one of the most stressful tournaments he's ever fished due to the unpredictable nature of the staging spotted bass he was catching. Ehrler achieved his record-tying fifth Tour victory by averaging slightly more than 15 pounds a day at the northern Alabama impoundment. His 60-09 total for 4 days outdistanced runner-up Jacob Powroznik by more than 7 pounds and. On the heels of his runner-up showing in the season-opener at Lake Okeechobee, the performance gave him a solid lead in the Angler-of-the-Year race with a third of the season in the books. Ehrler said he didn't get onto anything really specific during practice. He pinned down about half a dozen locales, either on the main channel or in Ryan Creek, where hefty spots were staging in trees some suspended in the 15-foot depth range while others were as far down as 30. "I was looking for points and banks that had a little bit of brush - something to keep them there," he said. "It seemed like most of the fish were on the sides of the points and not really out on the ends. "I also had one or two stretches of bank that were in that same depth range, and then would fall off to 40 or 50 feet fairly fast." The point where he caught most of his big fish during the event didn't surrender a bite during practice. "I saw fish on it on my Humminbird and I waypointed it just because it looked good," he said.


Ehrler's boat was the 162nd out of 169 to leave the launch on day 1, so he wasn't altogether surprised to find another competitor already on the place where he wanted to start. Forced to go elsewhere, he had four fish in his livewell at 11:00 when he passed the good-looking point he'd marked in practice. He made a U-turn and pulled in, and promptly caught a 4 1/2-pounder, a 3 1/2 and a 3. "I went from having 8 pounds to 15 in 10 minutes," he said. He eventually added another 2 1/2 pounds to his haul and led Dave Lefebre by half a pound when the weigh-in had concluded. He pushed his lead to more than 6 pounds the following day as his big-fish point gave him a 5-pounder, and nobody would get any closer the rest of the way. Day 3 was considerably slower as the morning hours were entirely unproductive - he didn't have a single keeper at 10 o'clock. He weighed his lightest back of the event, by far, but actually added an ounce to his advantage as those closest to him in the standings struggled right along with him. The biggest bag in the field on that sunny, slick-calm day was the 13-03 weighed by Anthony Gagliardi. He carried a 6 1/4-pound lead into the blustery final day and had a 9-pound limit in just over an hour that proved to be all he needed to close out the win. He pulled several fish from the release area near the ramp before heading to his main stuff, where he added a couple more decent-sized keepers before the wind really picked up. He moved to one of his sloping banks and enticed a 4 1/2-pounder with the umbrella-style Picasso School E Rig at 12:30. With that one in the boat, he knew his work was done.

Winning Pattern:

About 75 percent of Ehrler's weigh-in fish were enticed by a Yamamoto Senko, which he fished weightless the vast majority of the time. He went to great lengths to keep his primary bait a secret until the event was over because few other competitors were onto it. He caught the release-area fish on the morning of day 4 on a dropshot setup. The only fish the School E Rig produced was the big one on the final day.

Winning Gear:

Senko gear: 7' heavy-action Lucky Craft prototype spinning rod, Abu Garcia Revo Premier 40 spinning reel, 12-pound Sunline SX1 braided line (main line), 8-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader (8'), 1/0 Gamakatsu Splitshot/Dropshot hook (with weedguard), 5" Yamamoto Senko (green-pumpkin).

Dropshot gear: 7' medium-heavy Lucky Craft prototype spinning rod, same reel and line, 1/4-ounce Picasso dropshot weight, 1/0 Gamakatsu Roboworm ReBarb hook, 4 1/2" Roboworm (morning dawn).

He threw the School E Rig on 22-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon spooled on an Abu Garcia Revo Toro casting reel. He used 1/4-ounce Picasso jigheads and unnamed 3" swimbaits (shad). Of the Toro, he said: "That's a bigger-body reel that handles the Rig a lot better than most. You can cast it farther and it's easier to wind. It's just easier on your body overall."

Main factor: "Keeping a level head. I was so nervous because the bites did not happen easily, but I never once panicked. Even on day 3 when I had no keepers at 10 o'clock, I didn't freak out. I took my time and ran my areas."

Performance edge: "My Humminbird electronics. I could literally see the fish in the trees on my sonar and that gave confidence even when I wasn't getting bites. I'd be about to pull up my trolling motor and go, but seeing those fish down there would make me stay longer and the next thing I know I'd catch a 3 1/2- or 4-pounder."

Lewis Smith FLW Winning Pattern Bassfan 3/12/13 (John Johnson)

Jacob Powroznik's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Jacob Powroznik was determined to fish offshore because he was certain the tournament would be won with primarily deep-dwelling spotted bass. He was right about that, and he came within one place of being the angler who pulled it off. He focused on long, tapering points that made their way out to a creek channel and he fished very close to that junction in the 40-foot range. He had about half a dozen such places, but one was more productive than the rest and he had it to himself all week. A dropshot setup was his primary offering, but he also caught quite a few fish on an umbrella rig. He was averaging a couple dozen keeper size spots a day far more than most of the field. "Once I caught them on the dropshot first thing in the morning, that would kind of bust the school up," he said. "Then I'd start throwing the (umbrella) rig and I'd catch them faster most of the time.

Dropshot gear: 7' medium-heavy Abu Garcia Verdict rod, Abu Garcia Revo Premier casting reel (7:1 ratio), 10-pound SpiderWire Stealth braided line (main line), 6-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon leader, 1/4-ounce Elite Tunsten dropshot weight, 1/0 Gamakatsu Roboworm ReBarb hook, Berkley PowerBait Hand Pour Finesse Worm (bold bluegill).

Umbrella rig gear: 7'11" heavy-action Abu Garcia Veritas or 8' heavy-action Abu Garcia Villain rod, Abu Garcia Revo MGX casting reel, 50-pound SpiderWire Stealth braid or 25-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line, Berkley Schooling Rig, unnamed 1/4-ounce jigheads, unnamed 3" swimbaits (shad).

Main factor: "Just keeping my head down and going out and finding a place like that."

Performance edge: "My Lowrance electronics. I could see so many fish out there that they looked like a big school of stripers."

Lewis Smith FLW Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 3/13/13 (John Johnson)

Andy Morgan's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Andy Morgan was the only angler in the Top 10 whose bags got heavier with each successive day. He played a weather-based hunch and it was spot-on. "The long-term forecast said the (air) temperature would be headed toward 70 degrees, so I rolled the dice and figured the fish would keep moving shallow," he said. "Slowly but surely, they showed up." The depths he keyed on went from 25 feet at the start of the tournament to 2 feet on the final day. "I mostly fished brush. I started out with deep brush, like if I could find some in the center of a pocket or on bluff ends or deep docks. Then when it warmed up the last couple days I started catching them much shallower." He caught his fish on two different jig setups and an umbrella-style rig called the Tip Rig (made by a friend of his in Tennessee named Marion Tipton).

Finesse jig gear: 7' medium-action Joe's Custom Rod, Shimano Chronarch casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 12-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce War Eagle heavy finesse jig (green-pumpkin), Zoom Super Chunk Jr. trailer (green-pumpkin).

Flipping jig gear: 7' medium-heavy Joe's Custom Rod, Shimano Core casting reel (7:1 ratio), 16-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon, 1/2-ounce War Eagle flipping jig (green-pumpkin), Zoom Super Chunk trailer (green-pumpkin). The swimbaits on his Tip Rig were Zoom Swimmin' Fluke Jrs.

Main factor: "I was real proud of my decision-making. I made the right adjustments every day and everything worked out."

Peformance edge: "My Bullet 21XRS. It's an extremely efficient boat for making long runs and the fishability is unbelievable."

Lewis Smith FLW Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 3/13/13 (John Johnson)

Jason Christie's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Jason Christie never ventured toward the deep water - he caught all of his fish from depths of 5 feet or shallower. "On the first day of practice, in the first hour of that day, I rolled into some shallow docks and the first bite I got was a 4 1/2-pounder," he said. "That told me that I was probably going to be able to fish shallow. One of the things I saw in practice was that I could catch spots or blacks doing that - I wasn't totally on largemouths. I mixed in three or four good spots as well (over the course of the tournament)." He would've finished even higher if he hadn't had such a poor day 3. "For the first 2 days I flipped docks, then I switched to bushes on day 3. I'd pretty much run out of shallow docks and I happened to run across some bushes, and they had fish in them."

Dock-flipping gear: 6'10" medium-heavy Falcon Cara Head Turner rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (7:1 ratio), 12-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce Booyah Bed Bug jig (brown), Booyah Craw Pappy trailer (green-pumpkin).

Brush-flipping gear: 7'3" medium-heavy Falcon swimbait rod, same reel, 20-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon, 1/2-ounce XCalibur tungsten weight, 5/0 Lazer TroKar Flippin' hook, Booyah Craw Pappy (green-pumpkin).

Main factor: "That first bite in practice told me what I needed to do."

Performance edge: "The Lowrance HDS-12. This is a big lake and I was able to use it to find the water I needed to run to to catch fish."

Lewis Smith FLW Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 3/13/13 (John Johnson)

Koby Kreiger's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Koby Kreiger logged a 24th-place finish at the Guntersville Southeast EverStart the week prior to this event. He threw an umbrella rig pretty much non-stop throughout both derbies. "I've got a blister on the inside of my index finger from throwing it," he said. "It's time for a well-deserved break." He primarily ran it through visible trees that were hanging off the bank. Some of the trees were over 30 feet of water, but on most occasions he saw the fish take the bait as they came up through the limbs to get it. "I got hung up about 8 million times," he said. "I needed the braided line so I could get it back every time.

Umbrella rig gear: 7'5" heavy-action G. Loomis GLX 894 rod, Shimano Chronarch 200E6 casting reel (6.5:1 ratio), 50-pound Power-Pro braided line, Powell's Tackle Mini Frenzy Rig, 1/8- and 1/4-ounce Strike King Squadron jigheads, Reaction Innovations Little Dipper (bad shad green) and Zoom Super Swimmin' Fluke Jr. (pearly white) swimbaits. He put the 1/4-ounce jighead and the white Super Swimmin' Fluke Jr. on the center arm of the Mini Frenzy Rig.

Main factor: "Just getting some key bites. I got two big ones the first day and one great big one on the second day with 45 minutes to go that allowed me to make it to the third day. Otherwise I would've been going home."

Performance edge: "It would have to be the Mini Frenzy Rig."

Lewis Smith FLW Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 3/13/13 (John Johnson)

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