UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

Spots rule as sight bite dies

Spots rule as sight bite dies
Duracell pro Michael Bennett of Roseville, Calif., leads the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake after day three with five spotted bass weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As the second Wal-Mart FLW Tour event of the season completed its third leg Saturday, yet another Western pro appeared well on his way to making a killing in the bass-fishing rich state of Alabama.

In 2004, Chevy pro Luke Clausen won $500,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup on Logan Martin Lake. Two years later it was National Guard pro Brent Ehrler’s turn. Fast forward to the present, and it looks as though Michael Bennett has the spotted bass figured out – possibly to the tune of $125,000.

Day three on Smith Lake was considerably tougher – mainly because of a cold front. The high temperature was only 60 degrees, a near 30-degree difference from day one. Yesterday’s rainstorm ruined some of the best spots from day two, leaving Glenn Browne and Greg Pugh scratching their heads.

When the fishing gets this tough, leave it to a Western stick to rise to the top.

Bennett caught nine keepers and five shorts throughout the day. All his fish were spotted bass on day three, but on the opening day he sight-fished for largemouths. He wanted to use largemouths to make the top-10 cut and spots to win it. Thus far, the plan looks brilliant.

“I’m fishing prespawn stuff like points and docks,” said the Roseville, Calif., native. “I’m using Berkley finesse worms, and I’m mainly fishing deep.”

Bennett had his limit in the boat at 11 a.m. and was done upgrading at 2 in the afternoon.

“My first day in practice I had about 13 pounds, and I felt really confident that the pattern was working. Right now, I’m fishing about a dozen different spots.”

The Duracell pro said he is wetting a line 10 minutes from the Smith Lake Dam toward the Duncan Bridge.

“I grew up spotted-bass fishing in California. In fact, the lakes I fish close to home were actually stocked from Smith Lake. It’s the exact same species. Anytime we have a spotted bass tournament in California, I do pretty well.”

If the third-year pro does well tomorrow, he will claim his first tour-level victory and a six-figure payday. 

Canterbury gunning with largemouths

Scott Canterbury is in second place in the Pro Division after catching 12 pounds, 7 ounces on day three.

Odenville, Ala., pro Scott Canterbury had a large cheering section in attendance at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Saturday. With a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces, he gave his fans plenty to cheer about. Anchoring that stout stringer was a 4-pound kicker largemouth.

“I didn’t have a good practice, so I’m just covering as much water as I can,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential in this lake. I don’t know where any more fish are, but I didn’t know where any were this morning either.”

Canterbury is sight-fishing, but that isn’t his main pattern. His bread and butter is a buzzbait, and he’ll also occasionally throw a spinnerbait. If he finds a bass on bed, he’ll stop and pitch a green-pumpkin tube. Throughout the tournament, he has caught only largemouth bass despite calling Logan Martin and the Coosa River his home water.

“I’m not fishing for spots, but I’m not prejudice.

“There’s potential there to catch an 18- or 19-pound sack of fish if I could get five quality bites.” 

Kreiger, Clausen, Robertson bunched up

Florida pro Koby Kreiger is in third place with 11 pounds, 1 ounce.

Behind Bennett and Canterbury, the weights drop off somewhat. In third place is Prilosec pro Koby Kreiger with 11 pounds, 1 ounce. Clausen trails Kreiger by 5 ounces with 10-12, and Castrol pro Darrel Robertson is fifth with 9-15.

Kreiger has a similar plan to Canterbury. Instead of throwing a buzzbait, he uses a Bomber Long-A as a search bait for bedding bass. Occasionally spawners will eat it, but they’re mainly just showing themselves. Once he has the fish located on bed, he will pitch an 8-inch Zoom lizard. If the water is muddy, he’ll use a Texas-rigged 4-inch white Gambler Bacon Rind.

“I saw a lot more big fish,” said Kreiger. “There were several over 4 and 5 pounds, so I’m pretty excited about tomorrow. If the sun comes out, that will help a lot.”Former Forrest Wood Cup winner Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., is in fourth place with 10-12.

Clausen is certainly one to watch tomorrow. Perhaps no one, including Bennett, understands Alabama spotted bass better than the Chevy pro.

“I’m happy with what I’ve got,” he said. “I fished some new water, but the same pattern. I tried to fish release fish for three hours today and only caught three shorts. Tomorrow I expect to catch more now that I have a better grasp on what’s going on.”

Clausen said he’s catching fish mainly on the north end of the lake with a Berkley Shaky worm and a Fat Dover crawler, both in green-pumpkin color.

Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., is in 5th place with 9-15. Robertson, a Jay, Okla., pro, caught a ton of fish on day three, but they weren’t the right size. Using spinning tackle, it took him all day, but he did manage a five-bass limit.

“I had a lot more bites today than any other day I’ve been here,” said the Castrol pro. “I still think 25 pounds will win it, and I had some pretty decent fish on that I didn’t get in the boat.”

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros heading into Sunday’s final-round action at Smith Lake:

6th: Pugh of Cullman, Ala., 9-11
7th: Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., 7-11
8th: Danny Pierce of Greenbrier, Ark., 7-10
9th: Browne of Ocala, Fla., 4-5
10th: Brandon Coulter of Knoxville, Tenn., 3-15

Final round Sunday

Day four begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from the Smith Dam at 7 a.m. Central time Sunday. Saturday’s weights carry over to Sunday, and the $125,000 Pro Division winner will be determined by two-day combined weight.

Tags: lewis-smith-lake  michael-bennett  prespawn  sight-fishing  buzzbait  brett-carlson  headline-story  2008-04-03-lewis-smith 

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