UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

Better to see you with

Better to see you with
Snickers pro Greg Pugh of nearby Cullman, Ala., checks his glasses before a day of sight-fishing on day one of the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake.

JASPER, Ala. – Modern-day bass boats are armed with thousands of dollars worth of fish-locating equipment: depthfinders, GPS, side imaging units and subsurface sound technology that “attracts” fish.

But the most important piece of fish-finding equipment at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event this week on Lewis Smith Lake just might be a pair of polarized sunglasses.

With water temperatures hovering right at the 60-degree mark, bass are just hours away from moving up and making beds.

Although the FLW Tour has never visited Lewis Smith Lake (the FLW Series did stop here in November 2006), this event is very reminiscent of the years when the Wal-Mart Open was held on Beaver Lake in early April and fish were moving from prespawn to spawn during the event.

By comparison, Lewis Smith Lake and Beaver Lake are both deep, clear highland impoundments that contain a mix of both largemouth and spotted bass.

Also, both lakes share a minimum size limit of 15 inches for largemouth bass. Spotted bass, however, must be 15 inches on Smith as well, making 15 inches the legal keeper mark across the board.

On lakes with such stringent length limits, like Beaver and Smith, sight-fishing offers an advantage because it allows an angler to target keeper bass directly. Pros can literally troll down the bank, “shopping” for 15-inch fish over nonkeepers.

At the day-one takeoff this morning, the general consensus among anglers was that there are a few fish up on beds – but just how many remains to be seen.

Snickers pro Greg Pugh of nearby Cullman, Ala., says there are a few fish up on beds, but he does not believe it’s enough to go around.

“I’ve got one cove that’s got about 20 pounds of bass laying around in it, but I don’t know who else has found them,” Pugh said. “Put another boat or two in there and they can get divided up pretty quickly.”

What has puzzled Pugh the most about his practice is the lack of spotted bass he has seen.

“All I’ve seen is largemouth; I don’t know where the big spots are,” he added. “They’re out there somewhere, and whoever taps into how to catch the keeper spots consistently is going to be in contention.”

Pugh added that, in addition to sight-fishing, there will be some other patterns at work as well.

“The shaky head, of course, will be a big factor here,” Pugh noted. “There’s usually a pretty decent crankbait bite up in the stained water this time of year, too. Also, there are some fish Two-time Wal-Mart Open winner Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas prepares for a day of sight-fishing.schooling pretty hard out in open water right now. You might have to wade through some stripers and nonkeepers to get some solid keepers, but I’ve got some schooling holes that I’ll be keeping an eye on periodically.”

“This is a very similar scenario to Beaver Lake,” said Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt, who has won the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake twice.

Wendlandt continued: “Interestingly, the biggest difference in this event is the off-limits day we had yesterday. At Beaver, I would stay on the water until dark the day before the tournament, and I’d know the exact fish I was going to start on the first morning based on its demeanor.

“But this year, with the lake being off limits the day before the tournament, a lot could have changed with some of the fish I’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong, I like having the day off before the tournament – I think it’s good for the lake. But it adds an interesting twist, because I’m kind of torn up over which fish to start on this morning.”

Sight-fishing fanatic Wesley Strader is also anticipating a sight bite this morning.

“That’s how I’m going to start my day, anyway,” Strader said, while putting a shine on his sunglasses. “I might do it all day, or I might do it for five minutes. But I think you better get what you can get off the bank today, because come tomorrow, there might not be many left on beds.” Coppertone pro Wesley Strader shines up his fish-finding sunglasses before takeoff

Weight predictions for the top-10 cut on the pro side vary widely from angler to angler.

Pugh is estimating 23 to 25 pounds for the final-round cut. Local co-angler Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala., offered up 25 to 26 pounds for his guess. And Prilosec pro Koby Kreiger, no slouch of a sight-fisherman himself, believes it’s going to be as high as 28 pounds.

“I’ve seen enough fish up to believe that 14 pounds a day is possible here,” Krieger added. “It all depends on how many more fish the weather pulls up.”

Speaking of the weather, it does not look like the sun is going to shine like some pros had hoped. But the good news is no cold weather is expected for the next few days.

Logistics

Anglers will take off at 7 each morning from Lewis Smith Dam located at 640 Powerhouse Road in Jasper. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will also be held at Lewis Smith Dam beginning at 3 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, located at 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N. in Birmingham, beginning at 4 p.m.

Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex from noon to 6 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator.

Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Sunday will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last, and one lucky member of the audience will win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in on Sunday, April 6. Admission is free and you must be present to win.

Thursday’s conditions

Sunrise: 6:33 a.m. Much needed sunshine breaks out at the day one takeoff of the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake.

Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees

Expected high temperature: 75 degrees

Water temperature: 60 degrees

Wind: SSE at 10 to 20 mph

Day’s outlook: warm, cloudy, 60-percent chance of thundershowers

Tags: lewis-smith-lake  sight-fishing  spawn  sight-fishing  rob-newell  morning-story  2008-04-03-lewis-smith 

Top 10 Patterns from Seminole

Top 10 Patterns from Seminole

The top-10 pros fishing the final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole in the first week of November were divided up into three distinctly different areas of the lake. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits From Seminole

Top 10 Baits From Seminole

Topped-out, matted grass and dropping water temperatures were the fall backdrop to the Toyota Series Southern Division event held on Lake Seminole. With that, it’s no surprise punching baits and shad imitators were the most common lures seen on the top pros’ front decks throughout the event. READ MORE »

Grant Takes Seminole Co-angler Title

Grant Takes Seminole Co-angler Title

Ricky Grant, a retired Captain for the Sheriff's Office in Citrus County, won the co-angler division of the Toyota Series on Lake Seminole with a three-day total of 33 pounds even. READ MORE »

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 3

After two spectacular sunny days at the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole, the final day brought heavy low clouds and an east wind. The cloudy weather seemed to be exactly what Dillon McMillan needed to prolong his jerkbait bite in the Spring Creek channel. READ MORE »

Poche Wins on Seminole

Poche Wins on Seminole

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole was tough on the folks heading down the lake and fishing around the grass. It was not tough on Keith Poche, who turned his small aluminum boat up the Flint River each day of the event to target shoal bass and largemouths north of Bainbridge. READ MORE »

Dillon McMillan Smashes 24 Pounds on Seminole

Dillon McMillan Smashes 24 Pounds on Seminole

Walloping 24 pounds, 4 ounces on day two, Dillon McMillan surged into the lead of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole. With a 37-4 total, Dillon is ahead of Jared McMillan, his older brother, by a hair more than 4 pounds going into the final day. READ MORE »

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 2

A head-scratcher. That’s the best way to describe the day two morning at the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole. If you wonder why so many pros talk about how sensitive Lake Seminole is to fishing pressure, look at the second day of just about any event held there. For some reason, Seminole fish are just smart like that. They might bite well the first day, but they clam up the second day. READ MORE »

J-Mac Sticks 21+ on Seminole

J-Mac Sticks 21+ on Seminole

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Jared McMillan dropped 21 pounds, 10 ounces on the scale to kick off the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole. The only pro to cross the 20-pound barrier, McMillan is ahead of Jason Smith, who weighed 19-3, and MLF Bass Pro Tour pro Keith Poche and Mikey Keyso, who both brought in 17 pounds or better. READ MORE »

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 1

There was plenty of fish catching happening on day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole; the problem was they were not the size fish Lake Seminole is known for. Instead of 5- and 6-pounders, there was an unusual number of line-burners being deposited in livewells READ MORE »

Tricky Times at Table Rock

Tricky Times at Table Rock

Though the calendar says fall is here, it sure doesn’t feel like it for the final stop of the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Table Rock Lake. Rain and cold temperatures nearly a week ago have given way to highs in the low 70s and things don’t look to change much for the event, making it more than comfortable to fish in but not near the conditions needed to flip the switch for bass to put on the fall feedbag. READ MORE »

Fall Time on Seminole

Fall Time on Seminole

The Toyota Series Southern Division is wrapping its 2020 season with the third and final stop at Lake Seminole out of Bainbridge, Ga., this morning. Lake Seminole is normally a springtime venue for the Toyota Series, but was rescheduled for the first week in November this year. While most anglers would prefer to fish the remote Southwest Georgia impoundment in the spring, the fall months are not a bad time to visit the lake either. READ MORE »

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

It’s been an odd “fall” at Dale Hollow, mostly because there hasn’t really been one. Water temperatures are still hovering in the high-60s, which puts the typical fall transition well behind its usual schedule in terms of bass movement. READ MORE »

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Norman

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Norman

Fall fishing in the southeast can be a challenge. Cold fronts, rainfall, rapidly cooling water and turnover can shake things up and make getting a bite much harder than normal. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Brown Tops Co-Anglers on Norman

Brown Tops Co-Anglers on Norman

Derek Brown of Charlottesville, Va., has fished the Toyota Series as a co-angler for about seven years and during that time has racked up five Toyota Series top-10’s. He has finished nearly everywhere in the top 10 except first. That all changed in a big way today when Brown won the Eastern Division event on Lake Norman with a three-day total of 20 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

Morrow Squeaks Out Norman Win

Morrow Squeaks Out Norman Win

Weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, Troy Morrow squeaked out the win by 4 ounces over Todd Walters. With a 32-3 total, Morrow earned the win on a super tough week and pocketed $24,795 for his efforts. The win is his fifth with FLW and his first since 2018. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 3

It didn’t take the top 10 pros long to start catching fish on the third and final day of Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman. Despite the coolest morning of the event at 44 degrees and a chilly northeast wind, the fish were biting. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Bass seemed to be a bit more cooperative on day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, especially in the largemouth department. READ MORE »

Morrow Slips Ahead at Norman

Morrow Slips Ahead at Norman

Day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman felt like fall all day, and it seemed to have the bass chewing. Improving from day one, Troy Morrow popped 12 pounds, 6 ounces on the scale for a 22-12 total and the lead. Going into the final day, Morrow is one of seven pros that have scraped over the 20-pound mark – essentially the entire top 10 is in the hunt for the win. READ MORE »