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Top 10 Patterns from Lewis Smith

Got her! Clark Wendlandt picks one off a bed on day four of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake.

The Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Lewis Smith Lake featured a mishmash of springtime patterns that ranged from targeting bass feeding on blueback herring to catching spawning fish to dropping in on deep schools of spotted bass. Here’s a breakdown of the patterns of the top 10 pros.

 

1. Lefebre Wakes and Spins for the Win

Dave Lefebre’s remarkable come-from-behind win on Lewis Smith Lake has already been documented in his winner’s story. Here’s a closer look at the specifics of the tackle he used.

Lefebre essentially had two patterns going: a schooling pattern in the mornings and a wake baiting pattern in the afternoons.

In the schooling areas he used a 1/2-ounce Sworming Hornet Fish Head Spin teamed with an albino Yamamoto D-Shad. The Fish Head Spin was tied to 12-pound-test Sufix fluorocarbon and fished on a 13 Fishing Omen 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy rod.

He used the Rapala BX Waking Minnow wake bait in a variety of colors (he had a total of five wake baits on the deck) tied to Sufix 832 braid and fished on a 13 Fishing Envy medium-heavy rod.

“The first day I used mono on the wake bait, and I lost way too many fish because it just has too much stretch,” Lefebre says. “So I switched to the Sufix 832 and landed a lot more of them with the braid.”

 

Clark Wendlandt drops a spotted bass in the tank. He came closest to surpassing Lefebre and finished second with 63 pounds, 7 ounces.

2. Sight-Fishing and Swim Jigs for Wendlandt

Clark Wendlandt put together a potent one-two punch combination in the Rock Creek section of Smith Lake for his runner-up finish. He caught 63 pounds, 7 ounces in four days.

Wendlandt’s primary plan at Smith Lake was sight-fishing. But as he trolled the banks on high speed looking for beds, he decided he needed something to chuck and wind quickly while covering water. He picked up a 1/4-ounce white 4X4 swim jig teamed with a white Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper tied to 20-pound-test Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon and used it as a search bait, skipping it under piers and boathouses and around laydowns as he went. The swim jig became part of his program when he realized the bigger females staging in the pockets were more apt to bite it.

“I’m of the opinion that catching females off beds – especially largemouth females – is pretty hard to do on these kinds of lakes,” he says. “So I felt like throwing the swim jig while I was looking gave me the best opportunity to catch bigger females staged up around docks.

“The combination worked well because I could cover water quickly with the swim jig to get bonus bites,” Wendlandt continues. “If I came across a fish on bed that would help me at the time, I would fish for it. If it would not help me, I’d mark it for the next day.”

When sight-fishing, Wendlandt used a standard white tube. The bright color made it easy for him to see if the fish had completely engulfed the bait before setting the hook.

 

3. Reyes Waited Out Blueback Herring

Jason Reyes played the dicey blueback herring game primarily in two pockets on the lower end of Smith Lake to catch 62 pounds, 4 ounces. When the fish would come up and school on the herring, Reyes says it was pure chaos as he watched 3- and 4-pound spotted bass thrash the bait on the surface.

“When they came up like that, I could catch 15 pounds in 10 minutes,” Reyes says. “It was complete insanity.”

To catch most of his fish Reyes relied on a 2 1/2-inch bluegill flash-colored Keitech Swing Impact swimbait threaded onto a 1/8-ounce hand-poured jighead. He would swim the lure through the school on 6-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon on a Shimano Stella reel.

When the schooling ended and the fish went down, Reyes fooled them with a Zoom Finesse Worm on a 1/8-ounce shaky head on the same 6-pound-test line.

“It was really just a waiting game,” Reyes says. “I could pluck one or two with the Finesse Worm, but the real show happened when they would come up schooling and I could fill the livewell in a hurry.”

 

Tracy Adams made an impressive run into the top 10 but fell short of the win on the final day.

4. Flick Shake and Sight-Fishing Combo Worked for Adams

Tracy Adams had initially planned to sight-fish for most of the tournament, but when he skipped a Jackall Flick Shake under a dock and was rewarded with a 4-pounder on day one, he began to focus a little more on skipping docks. The combo produced 61 pounds, 3 ounces.

“The dock-skipping deal sort of developed for me the first day of the tournament,” he says. “I tried it in practice, but it didn’t really work. I think after those cold nights in the tournament, the surface around those bigger docks would warm up faster during the day, and they started suspending around those floats better.”

During periods when the sun shined bright, Adams ducked into the pockets to see if he could spy any spawners on beds. When the sun hid behind clouds or the surface ripple was too strong to see into the water, he popped back out to bigger, dominant piers on points over 40 to 60 feet to skip the Flick Shake.

“That combination allowed me to maximize the conditions at any given time,” Adams says. “I could bounce back and forth between the docks and pockets based on what the conditions would give me to work with.”

Adams’ sight-fishing lure was a watermelon Zoom Centipede rigged with a 1/4-ounce weight and tied to 20-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon on a Cashion 7-foot medium-heavy casting rod. For his dock skipping he used a watermelon Zoom Trick Worm wacky-rigged on a 1/16-ounce Jackall Flick Shake jighead, which he tied to 6-pound-test XPS fluorocarbon on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-action Cashion spinning rod with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier spinning reel.

 

5. Martin Tossed a Wake Bait and Caught Bedding Bass

Scott Martin caught a combination of schoolers and bedders for his top-five finish at Smith. His four-day total was 60 pounds, 12 ounces.

In the mornings Martin worked schoolers by the dam with a wake bait and a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer on a 1/4-ounce jighead. He used P-Line 15-pound-test monofilament on an Okuma 7-foot TCS rod for the wake bait and P-Line 8-pound-test fluorocarbon on a 7-foot, 11-inch TCS rod for the Swimmer.

Later in the day he switched to sight-fishing with a white craw pegged to a Trokar TK130 flipping hook that he fished on P-Line fluorocarbon.

“When sight-fishing, I probably could have caught them faster with more natural looking green and brown colors,” Martin says. “But I used white at Smith to make sure the fish had the bait entirely in its mouth before I set the hook. The fish were bedding so deep it was hard to see, so the white was a guarantee they had the bait.”

 

Day-three leader Zack Birge loads his fish into the scales. He stumbled to sixth on the final day.

6. Buzzbait Key for Birge

Zack Birge was the star of the Smith Lake show as the tournament leader on days two and three. For the first three days his strong largemouth bite in the back of Ryan Creek looked like the winning ticket. But on the final day, the largemouths snubbed Birge by refusing to cooperate. He caught only four keepers and finished with 59 pounds, 10 ounces.

When they did cooperate, the fish fell victim to a 1/4-ounce white Santone buzzbait tied to 14-pound-test Sunline fluorocarbon. He fished the bait with a Falcon 7-foot, 4-inch heavy-action rod with a Lew’s reel. His secondary bait was a floating frog fished on 60-pound-test Sunline braid. Birge fished both lures in flooded bushes in creek ends where largemouths were funneling in to spawn.

 

Andy Morgan ended up seventh after the final day of competition on Smith Lake.

7. Morgan Opted for Finesse

Ever consistent Andy Morgan used a spinning rod in the Ryan Creek arm to do most of his damage for the week. Morgan caught 59 pounds, 10 ounces.

His primary setup was a green pumpkin Zoom Finesse Worm rigged on 1/8- and 3/16-ounce shaky heads that he tied to 8-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon. Morgan used a 7-foot, 6-inch iRod spinning rod and a Lew’s reel.

“I targeted spawning spotted bass all week,” Morgan says. “I was hitting those little short pockets off Ryan Creek. I couldn’t see the fish, but I’m sure a lot of them were spawning or getting ready to. If it got really cloudy or windy, I’d pick up a Livingston Jerkmaster 121.”

Morgan finally grew weary of the finesse fishing on the final day and moved to largemouth water where he pitched a Zoom Z-Craw to bushes.

“I culled out four of my spotted bass with largemouths, but I really don’t think they helped me that much,” Morgan says. “The average spotted bass is starting to rival the average largemouth in Smith.”

 

8. Benton Began Strong by Bed-Fishing

Drew Benton started the event as the tournament leader with a day-one catch of 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Most of those fish came from beds that Benton had found during practice.

As the week wore on, the bed-fishing dried up, and Benton had to resort more to fishing for largemouths in the back of the Ryan Creek arm with a crankbait and then to catching spotted bass from deep schools on the final days. He finished with 57 pounds, 14 ounces.

For his sight-fishing Benton used a green pumpkin Bass Assassin Pure Craw on a Phenix Ultra MBX heavy-action rod. When largemouth fishing in the backs of creeks he cranked a Bagley Sunny B on a Phenix X11 cranking rod and flipped a 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Angler Assets jig.

 

9. Batts Tossed Topwater

Clayton Batts started his week with a 19-pound, 9-ounce catch on day one and rode a topwater pattern for three days until it fizzled on day four. His final weight was 50 pounds, 15 ounces.

Much of Batts’ success came from targeting bass schooling on blueback herring. His primary lure was a Reaction Innovations Vixen topwater fished on 65-pound-test braid, and his follow-up bait was a SPRO McStick jerkbait in the SPRO blue color, which he fished with 12-pound-test Gamma copolymer.

 

John Cox is always happy - especially so because moved up into eighth place and is fishing on the final day.

10. Cox Caught Largemouths with Jig and ChatterBait

John Cox focused on largemouths in the Ryan Creek arm during the week. Though Cox is known for his sight-fishing skill, he actually did not employ much sight-fishing at Smith Lake in catching 45 pounds, 15 ounces. Cox didn’t weigh any fish on Sunday because he withdrew from the event after being involved in a single-boat accident on the water.

“I pretty much stuck to fishing bushes with a ChatterBait and a Dirty Jigs 1/2-ounce jig,” Cox says. “I found some fish on beds in the area, but they were so spooky I just couldn’t make them bite. Given the number of fish moving into the area to spawn, I figured I’d be better off just fishing for them around the bushes where they were staging than to waste time sight-fishing for uncooperative fish.”

Cox fished his baits on custom-made MHX rods.

Tags: lewis-smith  flw-tour  rob-newell  post-tournament  2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake 

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