Share this Story

Tournament Analysis

Published: February 4, 2016

Scanlon Hopes Weather Changes Leads to Survival Round Victory

MLF competitor Casey Scanlon makes final preparations before the launch of Survival Round 2. (MLF/Lynn Burkhead photo)

By: Lynn Burkhead,

2016 Summit Select SURVIVAL ROUND 2 Competitors

Keith Poche

Kevin Short

Gerald Swindle

Cliff Pace

Ott DeFoe

Casey Scalon

For most of the event, the action at the Major League Fishing GEICO Selects event near Cookeville, Tennessee, has been a bit pressure-packed.

As in the sunny and stable conditions high-pressure weather systems can often bring in the early summertime.

While such conditions may be best described as Chamber of Commerce weather, it can put the local fish into a bluebird weather funk, making for tough fishing action out on the water.

And as most anglers know, those high and bright fishing conditions aren't always conducive for making the SCORETRACKER LIVE leaderboard sing during a round of MLF Select action as Outdoor Channel television cameras record nonstop.

But on this final day – Survival Round 2 – at the 2016 Bass Pro Shops Summit Select in the Volunteer State, there was a noticeable change as anglers slickered up in their Huk rain gear, made their way towards the MLF boats and looked skyward.

The change was thanks to Tropical Storm Bill, a 60-mph system that stormed ashore with blustery winds and copious rains near Matagorda Island, Texas, earlier in the week before then curving towards the eastern U.S.

With the remnants of the storm passing through middle Tennessee in the overnight hours, MLF Select anglers were hopeful the fishing action would heat up as the barometric pressure dipped, clouds obscured the sun and scattered rainfall moved through the area.

"I'm just going to go out there and run some water; we've got a lot different conditions today (than earlier in the week)," said Casey Scanlon, looking for a win and the last golden ticket invite to the 2016 Summit Cup.

"Once we get there to the lake, I'll just have to go out there, see what things are like and get out there and get after it," he added.

"But it should be different today than anybody else has had this week (because of the weather). Or at least you'd think that."

With even more showers on the radar as the morning launch prepared to go off, a window of unsettled weather was expected during the first and perhaps the second period before the storm remnants swept through the area and the wind turned to the west.

"It should make (the bite) more consistent," said Scanlon as a shower picked up in intensity and he buried deeper into the Huk rain suit.

"As long as it's not lightning and stuff, I think it ought to be a good day. We've got quite a bit of wind, more than we've had this week (and that should help)."

Standing in the motel parking lot, Scanlon didn't know yet where he was going or what the day would bring, but he added that the change in conditions certainly couldn't hurt his chances.

"The last lake we went to was real clear water," said the Lenexa, Kansas, bass angling pro.

"Clear water, cloudy skies and wind are always a good thing," he added. "It should make them active all day. Hopefully, that's the case. You never know until you (get out there) and actually see the lake (though)."

"(But) the wind is definitely going to help. We were super calm the last day I was out."

Will the changeable weather alter Scanlon's game plan for this final day of action?

"The other day, I caught them pretty deep," he said. "I caught them around boat docks, which are generally better in high sky, sunny conditions. So (the conditions today) will probably make the fish looser to cover and react better to reaction baits like topwaters, spinnerbaits, things like that."

Scanlon noted that on a morning like this, a topwater bait definitely was in his future.

"I love throwing a topwater bait," he smiled. "I've got four or five different ones rigged up here in the boat. I had the same amount rigged up the other day, but you go with what's out in front of you and the other day (for me at least), it was fishing out deep."

With the remnants of Bill ushering in more unsettled weather, Scanlon predicted a walking style topwater or a buzzbait could be the ticket to shallow water fish catching success.

When I noted he had mentioned spinnerbaits and buzzbaits and that the two baits aren't used that often by anglers in MLF competition, I couldn't help but ask Scanlon why there seems to be a lack of love for the two baits.

"Those are baits that produce big bites," he said. "But they don't generally produce a ton of bites.

"And in Major League Fishing, it's about catching. Size is always good, but it's about catching numbers and putting fish on the SCORETRACKER LIVE consistently.

"So I think a lot of guys use smaller baits and more finesse presentations, certainly in the part of the country that we're in right now. I finesse fished the other day and saw a lot of guys with similar stuff tied on in the group that I fished with the other day.

"I think guys are just going for more bites in this thing, but if you get the right conditions, you can (still) catch a lot of fish on those two lures."

Scanlon had indeed pointed out a key difference in the MLF format versus other tournament circuits – the catching of as many scorable bass as is possible during a day of action on the water versus the five biggest bass that an angler can find.

So I asked Scanlon if he thought maybe he and the other anglers were getting away from their fish-catching DNA a bit as they learned to play the MLF game in only the second season of Select competition.

Scanlon said maybe he did last season, but during this year's events, he's going more with what he normally does out on the water.

"I try to approach it just like any other tournament," said the Kansas pro. "I try to throw the things out there that I believe are going to catch fish. I'm going for tournament quality fish (here).

"I've tried a few techniques here and there that generally produce smaller fish or are good for numbers fish. But now, I try to approach it like any other tournament."

Meaning that he is fishing the baits he typically would for the seasonal patterns and current conditions at hand, baits that give him the most confidence out on the water.

"I have the same lures tied on (here) as I do at most of them (other tournaments)," said Scanlon. "I think that you're quicker to resort to those finesse type presentations in these (MLF) tournaments when things aren't working."

With Scanlon having been close to winning on several occasions during MLF Select competition, he noted it is important for him to keep an open mind as the day moves along.

"I need to keep moving, always hunting down more fish," he smiled. "That leaderboard is always changing.

"Really, you've just got to go out there and do your best," he added. "I've tried hard, really, really hard, every single time to put one of these away and it just hasn't happened for me (yet).

"So I'm just going to keep plugging away and hopefully, today is my day."

Even as the blustery skies spit rain and an unruly fellow named Bill rolled through the area.