– MODERATOR COMMENT –
Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., who recently took home the top prize of $125,000 after winning the 2012 FLW Tour Major on Kentucky Lake.
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With his most recent FLW Tour victory, Dave Lefebre now boasts nearly $1.5 million in career earnings since he began fishing FLW events back in 2001. Lefebre has also qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup nine times and has already booked his ticket for this year’s main event, slated to take place on Lake Lanier Aug. 9-12. Lefebre also has a whopping 44 top-10 finishes to his credit, including an FLW Tour victory on Old Hickory Lake in 2004 and an EverStart Series win on the Potomac River in 2006. Lefebre is currently ranked 15th overall in the 2012 FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings.
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Today, Lefebre is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let’s get started.
Q (MODERATOR): Dave, you hadn’t had a win on the FLW Tour since 2004 so I’m sure your Kentucky Lake victory felt pretty sweet. Overall, though, how does this win stack up with your other career highlights?
A: Well, I’ve had a couple of different wins in between – I had an EverStart win in 2006 for example – but the last one is always the sweetest. It’s always exciting to win something. That’s why we do what we do. And to win with that caliber of a field was pretty special.
Q (MODERATOR): Dave, you said that your inability to pull out a victory on the Potomac River served as a big motivational force for Kentucky Lake. Could you elaborate a bit on that?
A: Yeah, you know that was one of those tournaments where I felt like when I realized what was going on, I felt like I hadn’t had my big day yet. I knew I could catch 3 1/2-pounders all day long, but on that final day I didn’t have any fish close to that late in the day – it just set me up for some extreme disappointment. So that was in the back of my mind at Kentucky Lake – I don’t think I worked any harder. On that last day I never felt like it was in the bag but the Potomac River made me calm down and made me mentally ready for what I was going to face on day four. That was one of the most challenging days of my career and had the Potomac tournament not happened, I’m not sure I would have been able to pull it out.
Q: Dave, congrats on your win. Can you tell me how you approach locating schools of suspended, open-water smallies on lakes like Erie? Those type of lakes generally give me fits because I can’t seem to find fish when they suspend in the summer. How do you do it?
— Liam Campbell (Albany, N.Y.)
A: Well, I don’t focus on suspended fish. I fish for them sometimes when it evolves into that. You just don’t run around looking for suspended fish. On Erie, look for those humps and ridges that hold fish. Most of the fish are going to be related to some kind of structure. Some will roam off of that structure and “suspend” but they’re generally around some of that structure. For suspended fish, I’d use a drop-shot because that’s the best way to catch them. Use a 3/8-ounce weight and keep your bait (minnow, worm) close to the weight. You’re basically target fishing when they’re suspended like that. It’s like a video game. The other thing is that the suspended fish, if they’re relating to cover, they’ll usually be at the depth at the top of the structure you’re fishing. The main thing is that I don’t park over suspended fish.
Q: Hey Dave, congratulations on your win on Kentucky Lake. But how do you wind up picking the ledges you wanted to graph? And how did you locate the shell beds? Thanks.
— Gary (Georgetown, KY)
A: All of the ledges I picked, I narrowed down to an area (I got rid of Barkley lake before I even got there) and I limited myself to a 12-mile area. After that, it really opened things up. So I had a chance to analyze that whole stretch. The ledges I picked were the obvious places on the map – a creek, a drain that came into the main part of that river ledge. I looked for something a little bit different than what people were looking at in the community spots. I spent a lot of hours near community spots trying to find fish near those community spots but not on them. For the shell beds, I threw a crankbait (Rapala DT-6 and DT-10) and when you drag those baits across those rocky areas, if you were on shell beds, you’d pick those up on your crankbaits. And that’s how I knew they were there because they really didn’t show up on my graph.
Q: Hello, I bought my first roll of braid the other day and am having trouble with it snapping when I set the hook. I think it might be my knot. Hence, I was wondering what you think is a good knot to use with braid? Thanks
— Will Herrin (Picayune, Miss.)
A: First of all, I used Suffix 832 line. Braid has no stretch at all so depending what you’re using it for you have to match it to the conditions. I used a palomar knot and I never ever have any trouble with it. There are also some hooks that have a bigger gap around the eye and that can pinch and cut your line. But I think if you use a palomar knot and you’re snapping your line, you might be using too heavy equipment for your braid.
Q: How did you get your start fishing as a pro?
— Justin Fowler (Port Leyden, N.Y.)
A: I just fished a lot, you know. I fished BFLs, Federation tournaments and team tournaments. I just fished every chance i got. I fished on a lot of different types of lakes. Being from New York, you have a lot of diverse water so you can learn a lot of different types of fishing. It’s a good area to train yourself in. After fishing a lot of tournaments, I started winning. I spent a lot of time with writers and photographers to build up a portfolio. I put in 10 years buidling that up. I also always made myself available to writers. And it’s also important to set yourself apart. There are a lot of aspects to being a pro. You need to know what goes into it and work on everything, not just fishing. You have to work on the social media part, the speaking, appearances, etc. There are a lot of good anglers out there who all know how to catch fish, so you really have to differentiate yourself from the rest of the field if you can.
Q: How did you go about locating your fish on Kentucky Lake?
— Pete Thomasson (Paducah, KY)
A: I had a relatively solid first day of practice. I had a good day out deep so it gave me two extra days to try different things. It gave me the opportunity to find fish shallow. The way that I found my main spot and secondary spots shallow were with those Rapala DT crankbaits covering a lot of water. I just put the trollling motor down and covered a lot of water. It took a lot of time and it’s kind of boring. But after finding those fish out deep and be confident with that area, I was able to really look around and try to increase the number of places I could fish in the tournament.
Q: I wear glasses every day and was wondering if there are glasses out there that I can use to see changes in the water so that I can see fish better?
— Wayne Hebblethwaite (Republic, Mo.)
A: I’ve worn Solar Bat sunglasses since 2003 and that’s all that I know. I use amber lenses 99.9 percent of the time because everything looks more natural. So that would be my recommendation. Don’t get lenses that are too dark or too light.
Q: What type of structure were you keying on; and about what depth were most of your fish caught at on Kentucky Lake?
— John Chaney (Evansville, Ind.)
A: I had a swimbait bite going on and all of those fish, the bulk of my winning weight, came in 5 to 6 feet of water. On the first day all of my fish came on a jig in 10 to 12 feet of water. I caught five the first day on the jig, I weighed in all my fish on day two with a swimbait, on day three I got three on the swimbait and two on the jig and the exact same thing on the fourth day. As far as structure, everything revolved around shell beds, with rocks and super hard bottoms.
Q (MODERATOR): How do you feel about the upcoming Lake Champlain FLW Tour event? Would fantasy fishing players be wise to include you on their list?
A: I would definitely put me on my team. I won’t really know for sure until I get there. I like that lake and have more history there than any other tour stop. I’ve had top-10s on the north end and the south end. I like big waves and I hope the wind blows 50-mph.
Q: I just wanted to know your take on the Alabama rig. I personally do not like it.
— Buddy (Spottsville, Ky.)
A: I personally don’t like it either Buddy, so we’re on the same page.
Q: When fishing Lake Champlain, what is your favorite go-to lure?
— Chris Heckard (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)
A: Normally I could answer that question on any other body of water but on Champlain, I can’t. The south end and the north end are like two totally different lakes. Throw in the fact that you have largemouth and smallmouth and it makes it even tougher to answer. I’ve had some success on a jig and if I was forced to pick one bait, that would probably be it.
Q: During the Kentucky Lake tournament, how much time did you spend on average at each spot you fished?
— John Chaney (Evansville, Ind.)
A: The place where I caught most of my weight, a ramp about a mile away, I spent less than an hour there each day, every day, with the exception of day four where I spent three hours. All of the other spots, it was a quick hit deal. If I didn’t get a bite, I’d leave after like two casts. If I did get a bite, I’d stay maybe 20 or 30 minutes. But overall I was fishing pretty fast and really didn’t wait around a whole lot.
Q: Congratulations on your recent victory. I am an avid yet novice fisherman. I would like to hear your thoughts on how someone starting out sorts through all of the variety that bass fishing has to offer such as lures, reels, rods and techniques. It can be quite daunting at times. How does someone on a budget progress in the sport?
— Clint Dickerson (Dixon, MO)
A: It can get incredibly complicated, even now for me getting ready for Champlain. It is what you make it. For a novice, the key is keeping it simple. One time I asked David Dudley about jig colors and he said, “Are there more colors than black-and-blue and green-pumpkin.” So the point was that you can have lots of success keeping it simple. You don’t have to get all mixed up with the new stuff coming out now. Just master a few things and get comfortable with a few techniques. When you put it into perspective, basically the bass eat minnows, worms and crawfish so if you keep it simple, it makes it a lot easier.
Q: What line were you using with your crankbaits?
— Gene (Lemont Furnace, Pa.)
A: I was using 10-pound fluorocarbon line.
Q: Hi Dave, congrats on your win at Kentucky Lake. I just bought a 2012 Z521 with Lowrance HDS 8 and HDS 5 both Gen 2 and I also got the Structure Scan. Any tips for finding offshore spots and fish with these graphs? Feel free to use Kentucky Lake as examples. Thanks.
— Richie Marsh (Excelsior Springs, Mo.)
A: One tip is to get them rigged up in a series (so the waypoints you push on the front, go to the back and vice versa). I use the Structure Scan/Side Scan and Down Scan at the same time. Just idle around and look at the spots you’re interested in. It’s pretty easy to understand once you get used to it. I’m usually looking at 80 feet in both directions at any one time. Also, the more time you spend on the water the easier it will be for you. On a side note, you got the perfect package. Congratulations.
Q: When fishing topwater lures what is your go-to bait?
— Gene (Lemont Furnace, Pa.)
A: It depends on what species. For smallmouth I tend to like walking-type baits most of the time (a Rapala Skitter Walk). For largemouth they’ll bite that same type of bait but I’ll also throw in popping type baits (like a Pop R and Skitter Pop). There’s an old bait that Jensen makes called the Johnny Rattler that is one of my all-time favorites. I use that a lot but it’s a bait not too many people throw.
Q: When you fish a lake such as Lake Champlain, that has both largemouth and smallmouth, do you prefer fishing for one species over another or do you let the conditions dictate what you target?
— DAVID BLANKENSHIP (Plattsburgh, NY)
A: It depends on the time of year. When we’re up there in the fall, I like to fish for smallmouth. Every other time of year, I target largemouth. If you can put together a nice limit of largemouth it will always beat a limit of smallmouth. In the fall is about the only time a smallmouth limit can actually win.
Q: Hi Dave and congratulations on your FLW win. My wife and I were watching you from our boat dock when you caught a big bass on Sunday around 1:15 pm. After catching it, you immediately quit fishing and headed toward Kentucky Dam Marina. Can you tell me what was so special about that fishing spot? Thanks. Dan
— DAN EDINGTON (MADISONVILLE, KY)
A: I had just caught a 3-pounder and the wind was calming down at that exact time. Basically, I didn’t want to miss that calm water in my other good spots. I wanted to give myself a full hour on my best spot and it worked out because the first cast when I left I caught a 6-pounder.
Q: Congrats on your big win, great comeback! So what are your thoughts on Champlain – grass fisherman or mixed bag like last year with Wolak? Thanks and good luck!
— Todd Moore (Springville, AL)
A: Grass fisherman and no mixed bag like Wolak. It’s not to say I won’t weigh in some smallmouth but I’m 100 percent going for green fish.
Q: About what point in your career did you start looking for sponsors or did they come to you? What was your approach to get them to sponsor you?
— ROBERT WADE (Jackson, MO)
A: I started looking when I was 19-years-old. I turned pro when I was 30 so there was a lot of hard work in between. I really focused so much on that because I didn’t have a lot of money and knew I couldn’t fish as a pro without a sponsor. At first they didn’t come to me. Over those early years I sent out a lot of resumes and I got a lot of rejection letters. But the first ones I got weren’t paying sponsors, I just got product. One of my very first sponsors was Stanley Jigs and I’ll always appreciate that. I really didn’t get paying sponsors until I turned pro in 2003. But none of those came to me either. I basically just went to the companies whose product I was using. Over time, it just happened to work out. I also kept meticulous records – everything I’ve been involved with. That’s the biggest part, not what your sponsors can do for you, it’s what you can do for them. If you work hard, things should work out in the end.
Q: Did the spectators on Kentucky Lake give you ample room to fish your spots? I followed a couple of guys including you and felt that, at times, people were getting too close to the competitors.
— Matt (Kittell, KY)
A: I never had an issue with a single local person the whole time I was there. That’s one of the reasons I like going to Kentucky Lake. And on some lakes that can be an issue. But I’ve never had a problem like that on Kentucky Lake. I’ll go a step further, when I went close to a local, that local angler would pull up their anchor and give me space. There were a lot of spectators on the last day, and some were close, but they never got in my way.
Q: Dave, what’s it like to be so awesome?
— Jamey Black (Sheridan, Ark.)
A: Jamey, I’m just trying to be like you bud.
– MODERATOR COMMENT –
Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have to chat with Dave Lefebre today. Thanks, once again, to all the fans who tuned in and participated in today’s Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Dave Lefebre, the recent FLW Tour winner on Kentucky Lake, for giving us his time and insights into bass fishing.