UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A Morning with Nixon on Cumberland

Larry Nixon has had a pretty storied career, but it doesn’t include much action on Lake Cumberland. His one previous trip was back in 2006 for an FLW Series event, and it didn’t go well. He knocked out his lower unit on a floating log about two hours into the first day and limped to the finish from there.

This week, for the FLW Tour event presented by T-H Marine at Lake Cumberland, he’s looking for better results. On day one of practice, Nixon was kind enough to let me tag along for a look at how he breaks things down.

 

Slipping the boat in at about 7 a.m. ET at Beaver Creek Resort & Marina, Nixon is one of the first five or so pros in the water, beaten only by JT Kenney and Joe Holland at this particular ramp. Back in 2006, he launched here every day of practice, so he’s already got some familiarity with the location. Nixon pulls out a few rods and idles out through the marina before making a short run toward the lake.

 

Nixon starts on a steep, rocky island in the middle of a horseshoe bend and makes his first cast of the day with a jerkbait. On maybe his second cast he hooks up, and a feisty smallmouth blasts to the surface. After swinging it into the boat (the fish would surely demand a net in competition), Nixon quickly pulls out his board for a measurement. Smallmouths need to be 18 inches to keep on Cumberland, and this one ticks about a quarter-inch past the mark – a solid keeper.

 

Sliding around the rest of the island, Nixon loses another fish, presumably a smallmouth, and also loses a jerkbait. A few more casts with a new jerkbait result in no bites, so he pulls out a spinning rod with a Ned rig tied on and makes a few casts with that before moving on.

 

Moving over to where a channel swing transitions to a more gradual bank, Nixon picks up a football head with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog trailer and begins to lift and drag it over the bottom and around some of the plentiful standing trees in the lake. A few casts in, Nixon sticks one, wrestles it out of a tree and lands his second keeper of the morning, another healthy 18-inch smallmouth. Moments later, he swings in another. Though a quality fish, this one is shy enough of 18 inches that it goes right back in the lake without a measurement.

“I like clear lakes,” says Nixon, who has caught ’em at nearly every kind of lake in the world by now. “The only thing I don't like about these lakes is you may have to run 50 pockets a day to catch five largemouths. That's just not my style anymore. I'd rather go somewhere and put the trolling motor down.”

 

Nixon continues down the same bank, away from channel, and shuffles between a small purple and brown jig and a jerkbait. Along the way, he explains that the only surprise so far is the trees in the water. Since his last visit to Cumberland, the lake was drawn down for a significant period of time for dam repair, and that allowed a pile of hardwoods and some cedar trees to sprout up, almost like what pros encountered earlier this season at Lake Travis. At Cumberland, some of the trees are more than 20 feet tall, and they certainly seem like prime bass cover.

 

Nixon works without a bite to the end of the gradual bank, where it breaks off at a point. He puts down his rod and makes a short move to a small cove about a quarter of the way back into one of the many side creeks. There, he picks up a tube and begins flipping it into the treetops as he works toward the back of the pocket. After each flip, Nixon expertly feeds line, then engages his reel and gives the bait a hop or two before reeling up.

From the sounds of it, it’s not necessarily his favorite thing to do.

“You kind of take yourself out of smallmouths doing this,” relays Nixon. “I don't think they're back in here anyway, but that's why it's called practice.”

After flipping through the back and out of the pocket, Nixon picks up and heads onward.

 

Still in Beaver Creek, Nixon’s new target is a chunk rock bank that looks pretty perfect. Scott Suggs runs past as we fish down it, and there’s a striper angler nearby, as well, but that’s about it. Though a decent number of pros have run past us toward the main lake throughout the morning, the lake isn’t crowded at all. Cumberland is a vast reservoir with endless coves and shorelines. It can easily swallow up a field of 165 boats, plus some recreational traffic.

 

After a short idle across a cove, Nixon sticks one with a jerkbait. It fights like a giant for a moment – so hard that Nixon elects to dip it out of the water instead of flipping it. Unfortunately, the battle was deceptive. It’s a quality smallmouth, but it needs to grow about an inch before the Arkansas pro could cart it back to weigh-in at General Burnside Island State Park.

 

Moments later, Nixon lands his second species of the day, a spotted bass that would easily be a keeper. Like on many lakes with a mix of all largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass, Cumberland has plenty of spotted bass that can be welcome limit-fillers, but are rarely the winning fish.

 

Moving on, Nixon stops at a long, shaded 45-degree bank with an awesome combination of chunk rock and stair-stepping rock.

It looks perfect for a crankbait, and that’s what he pulls out.

“I'd just as soon not get a bite here,” says Nixon as he parallels the bank. “This is not one of my fun things to do.”

Before he gets a bite, we come upon a River2Sea Whopper Plopper stuck in a tree. Nixon flips his tube up and snags the bait on his first try, pulls, breaks the line and adds a Plopper in nearly perfect condition to his collection. It almost makes up for losing the jerkbait earlier.

 

Shortly after retrieving the Plopper, Nixon hooks up with a smallmouth that explodes out of the water. Leaping all around the boat, the fish goes wild. Finally, Nixon digs out the net and lifts a Cumberland special of a smallie into the boat. She goes 5.6 pounds on the scale – a worthy kicker for anyone this week.

The only downside is that Nixon thinks now he might have to crank a little in the tournament.

 

After releasing the giant smallmouth, Nixon picks up the trolling motor and makes a run away from the section of the creek where he started and into Otter Creek. He picks up a spinning rod again and works over a point. With rock and standing trees scattered around, it looks great, but he comes up empty.

 

Moving back into a pocket, Nixon swaps the tube for a Texas-rigged Yamamoto Senko. Though he’s working into a pocket, he’s just flipping, not taking any time to get right on the bank and look for possible beds as he works along.

“I didn't see any dogwoods blooming, and that's usually my clue that they're starting to spawn,” says Nixon.

Spring has certainly sprung, though. The redbuds are starting to show, the grass is green in most of the fields and some of the trees are starting to get a little leafy.

 

Nixon works all the way into the narrow back of the pocket, where he sticks a feisty 2- or 3-pound largemouth on his Senko. The fish thrashes off a tree and across the surface, then quickly into the boat. Cumberland isn’t known for largemouths, but they will no doubt play this week, and could win the tournament. This fish is not the equivalent of an 18-inch smallmouth, but nobody in the field would mind having it.

 

After a few more flips, Nixon straps his rods down and rolls back toward the ramp to drop me off before continuing his day. As it stands, his plan is to finish out the day in the lower end, but he’s not committed to fishing there yet.

“I hope I don't have to run this far,” says Nixon. “I don't want to run 50 miles. Too many things can happen when you run that far. Back in 2006 I didn't realize how much of the lake I missed. I'm going up there [near takeoff] tomorrow. I know what to fish down here already.”

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2017-04-06-lake-cumberland 

AOY Update: Lake Toho

AOY Update: Lake Toho

 With the first two events of the 2019 FLW Tour season in the books, it’s time to take a look at how the Angler of the Year race is shaping up. At Sam Rayburn and Lake Toho the pros were tested with very different conditions, and the standings include anglers different specialties and skill sets than at this time last year, when the Tour’s first two events were both held in Florida. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Hailing from Minnesota, Josh Douglas is in his third year on the FLW Tour and looking for his first FLW Cup qualification. Were it not for a disqualification in the final event of the year at St. Clair in 2018, Douglas would have sailed into the Cup. After a tough start to the year at Rayburn, he’s planning to get back on track at the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »

A Look at Lake Toho

A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous. READ MORE »

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Florida is a familiar place for FLW competition, and Lake Okeechobee is probably the best-known fishery the Sunshine State has to offer. So there shouldn’t be many surprises when the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division kicks off the season Jan. 31–Feb. 2 on the Big O with an event presented by Power-Pole. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

The FLW Tour season opener on Sam Rayburn was a slugfest for sure. Fortunately for fans and anglers alike, the second stop of the season could be just as good, as the Tour heads to Central Florida and Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Kissimmee, Fla., on February 7. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Toho Preview

2019 Lake Toho Preview

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short) is the first of four lakes on the menu for pros in the second stop of the FLW Tour. At the south end of Toho, a lock and a series of canals leads to Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch) and Lake Kissimmee, which are all fair game for the pros. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Fishing deep-diving crankbait, dragging Carolina rigs and working finesse baits such as drop-shots were the keys to success at the FLW Tour opener at Sam Rayburn. Here are the bass-fishing baits that the top pros used. READ MORE »

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Russell Cecil is one of a number of standout Texas anglers fishing the FLW Tour opener this week on Sam Rayburn. After a lackluster rookie campaign in 2018, fishing near home is a great opportunity for the Willis, Texas, pro to get the year started off strong. Though the conditions are far from normal, a few hours on the final day of practice reveal that Cecil certainly has a read on the bass. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Live seasons kicks off on the big bass factory of Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas. Watch your favorite stars such as Scott Martin and Bryan Thrift weigh-in at the FLW Tour season opener, and then follow the weekend action live with the top pros. READ MORE »

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Hensley Powell has quickly and quietly amassed quite a record with FLW. In just three years fishing the Costa FLW Series, he’s earned over $90,000, and he got a win at Table Rock in the Central Division in 2018. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

This year, the FLW Tour kicks off in Texas with a showdown presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. Big Sam hasn’t hosted too many FLW Tour events in the past, but it’s loaded with bass and bass fishing history. The lake is much higher than normal right now, which will no doubt produce different fishing than is typical for winter on Rayburn. READ MORE »

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Day one of practice for the FLW Tour presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn started this morning. We hung around takeoff to see friends we haven't seen in months and to get the season underway.  READ MORE »

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Jay Childs caught two giant largemouths on day one, along with a smaller keeper, to take the early lead at Lake Amistad. Then he survived today for the win with a pair of keepers that included one smallmouth. READ MORE »

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

Typical winter fishing on Sam Rayburn would call for a lot of lipless crankbaits, Carolina rigs and a focus on offshore structure and submerged grass. However, for the FLW Tour opener January 10-13 a lot of that may be out the window – or at least a lot different than many of the Rayburn sticks in the field are used to. Sam Rayburn has risen steadily since December 10th, and as of January 3, the lake is at 171.43 feet, which is 7 feet over full pool of 164.4 feet. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Tour takes to the waters of Sam Rayburn Reservoir Jan. 10-13 for the opening event of the new season. Rayburn can produce some absolute giants in January, and if the weather cooperates, there’s potential for an abundance of massive bags. READ MORE »

2019 Rookie Rundown

2019 Rookie Rundown

No matter how you get to the FLW Tour, you’re only a rookie once. This year, 34 pros are taking their talents on Tour for the first time. READ MORE »

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Lake Amistad might not kick out quite as many massive stringers of largemouth bass as it used to, but the legendary south Texas border reservoir is still a factory for big fish. According to local guide and always tournament favorite Ray “Hanselmania” Hanselman, there are some real giants to be caught at Amistad, but they’ll be at a premium when the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division rolls into Del Rio to kick off the 2019 season on Jan. 3 READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

Some of the best fishing of the year in the South occurs on the reservoirs with spotted bass in Georgia and the Carolinas. As a guide on Lake Lanier, FLW Tour pro Rob Jordan is adept at staying on the spots all winter. He knows when to fish deep or go shallow, and how to apply a jigging spoon, jig, underspin and crankbait to take full advantage of the opportunities. READ MORE »