Preview: 2017 Challenge Cup Elimination Round 2 - Major League Fishing

Preview: 2017 Challenge Cup Elimination Round 2

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May 17, 2017 • Rob Newell • Cup Events

Another cool 60-degree morning greeted the 10 MLF Challenge Cup pros to the White Oak Creek boat ramp for the second day of the Elimination Rounds on Lake Eufaula. The second day zone will be the same as the first – the lower 22 miles of Eufaula from the 82 causeway to the dam.

Eufaula is a lake rich in tournament fishing history and tradition. One of the 10 anglers who is an integral part of that history is veteran pro Denny Brauer.

“I fished my very first B.A.S.S. event here in 1978,” Brauer recalled as he watched daybreak over the lake. “It was a B.A.S.S. Federation event that helped start my career.

“Over the years, this lake has been real good to me,” he continued. “I won two B.A.S.S. events here in the early 2000s. It’s a cool lake – I really like it. Of course, most of my previous fishing here was done more up in the river portion of the lake during the spring and now we’re putting in down the lake in the fall, so it will be like a whole new lake to me. But this lake has a lot to offer and I’m sure I can find something that will suit my style of fishing – I just hope it fits the fish’s style as well.”

MLF Select angler Ott Defoe of Tennessee has had some success on Eufaula as well, finishing in the top 10 twice in various FLW events held on the lake over the years.

“Yep, I know exactly where I am,” Defoe said. “White Oak Creek. I’ve put in here several times over the years when I have fished tournaments here. But most all my fishing was in the mid to late spring.

“I like the lake, I’m just not real enthused by the time of year,” Defoe continued. “In my opinion, this is really still summer time down here and typically the fish spread out so much this time of year that they are kind of everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

“I know that sounds weird, but this time of year the bait scatters everywhere and the bass sort of scatter with them. The water is mostly the same temperature and clarity throughout so they can pretty much do what they please and that makes it a little more challenging.”

Normally Defoe would be all about finding some current, but he says his previous experience on Eufaula have proven to him that the lower end creeks don’t contain much flow.

“I might start in that big creek over on the other side, it starts with a P [Pataula] but from what I remember it really doesn’t have much flow either,” he added. “After that, I’ll probably retreat to the main lake out here and see what I can find.”

Kevin VanDam has fished his fair share of events on Eufaula in the past as well and echoed Defoe’s sentiments about the time of year.

“Lake Eufaula is a great lake, it’s just that this a tough time of year to fish this far south,” VanDam said. “It’s late summer; plus, this part of the country has been in a drought recently, which usually means low water and low flow through the system. The good news is they have given us a monstrous zone, which is a huge plus. There are a lot of options in this zone and if I can get something going I’ll have a lot of room to run it, which is critical.

“It’s sort of the doldrums,” he said. “There is no condition, weather or biological reason for them to group up now compared to other times of the year. They can be doing most anything most anywhere.

“My primary focus today will be looking for shad. These fish got to eat and if shad is present somewhere, chances are there will be a bass around; maybe not many, but one or two here and one or two there – that’s how this thing will play out today – a fish here and an fish there.”

Veteran pro Gary Klein has made many trips to Lake Eufaula over the years as well. After being handed his map, he was stunned at the sheer size of the zone.

“Man, this zone is humongous – have we ever had a zone this big before?” he asked.

Interestingly, Klein’s concern with the zone size is that such a large zone renders the SCORETRACKER LIVE! useless in narrowing down patterns.

“With a zone this big, chances are we’ll never see each other out there,” Klein explained. “If a guy starts lighting up the SCORETRACKER, we’ll have no clue what he is doing, especially this time of year when patterns can be so varied. So in terms of using the Scoretracker as a tool, that’s probably not going to happen, which will make it all the more challenging.”