UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Day 2 Cumberland Practice with Austin Felix

In just his second year on the FLW Tour, Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, Minn., is seemingly starting to find his groove as he has already cashed two checks and sits 30th in the Angler of the Year race. One could argue that the remainder of the schedule fits perfectly into his comfort zone as clear water and smallmouths makeup a decent chunk of the four final events, and if that’s the case he’ll have a good shot at making it to his second Forrest Wood Cup. Being that Lake Cumberland looks to be right up his alley, I decided the jump in the boat with the 2014 YETI College Fishing National Championship winner and see just how he dissects this massive highland reservoir.


I meet Felix at the takeoff ramp at General Burnside Island State Park around 7 a.m. After Felix tosses on some rain gear and fires up his Lowrance units his practice partner Shayne McFarlin backs us into the lake.

While we wait for Shayne to walk down to the dock, Felix and his travel partner Andy Young (who also hails from Minnesota and is in his third year on the FLW Tour) go over a little game plan as to how they will approach the day.


Enough light finally breaks through the cloudy, gloomy morning and we idle out of the no-wake-zone and begin our travel down river. Felix spent the first day of practice on the lower end of the lake and wasn’t totally impressed by what he saw, so today he is going to sample the bite closer to takeoff. If after a few hours he isn’t impressed, he will likely head back down to the lower reaches of Cumberland.


It begins to rain almost immediately as we set down from our short ride to a creek arm not far from the ramp. Despite low light conditions, Felix notices the water is cleaner than he thought it would be and that is a good thing – for him at least. The upper portion of Cumberland is known to have dirtier water, so finding some cleaner water leaves the window open to find big smallmouths or largemouths.

After a quick couple of casts with a jerkbait Felix tags a baby smallmouth and almost immediately backs it up with a non-keeper spotted bass.

“If I can just catch a largemouth I’ll have a Cumberland hat trick,” laughs Felix. “They seem to be biting a little better today because where I was at yesterday I didn’t get a ton of bites, but they seemed to be a little better quality.”


The water on Cumberland has been steadily rising and the rain isn’t going to help things. Because of this there is floating debris all over the upper end of the lake. From trees to logs to sticks, it makes it not only hard to navigate your boat safely but also efficiently use certain techniques.


Felix keeps plugging away down the bank with the jerkbait, but also has several small Keitech swimbaits tied on to match the hatch. As you can see, there is no shortage of life between baitfish and predators in the area, but most of the bites he gets are small, non-keepers.


We make a move a little further back in the creek and Felix sticks a solid crappie on his jerkbait. His practice partner, Shayne, was a little upset he let it go but Felix continues along in search mode.

As he eases closer to a small pocket Felix hauls aboard a hefty largemouth. While it is a welcomed sight, he seems a little perplexed at the randomness of the bite. After snapping a quick photo he sends her back with hopes she might make another appearance come Thursday.


Waterfalls of all sizes and shapes can be found on Cumberland and while they are not only cool to look at, they also make a great place to catch a bass ambushing bait gathering around the inflow of water.

Felix skis this small largemouth across the water and into the boat for a quick measurement. The minimum size for largemouths on Cumberland is 15 inches and this fish barely touches. That’d make two keepers for Austin today if this was the derby.


As the rain subsided some, I took the time to tackle snoop throughout Felix’s Ranger and I come across the mother lode of Keitechs. They are his go-to when it comes to putting big smallmouths in the boat and I assume that he will put a dent in his stash by the end of the tournament.

Felix also takes the break in the rain as a sign to liven up the prefishing party.

“I know why we haven’t caught a fish for a while,” says Felix. “It’s because we don’t have any tunes playing, but I’ll fix that.”


Unfortunately, the music hasn’t helped the bite so Felix pulls the trolling motor and we are off to find greener pastures.

On the console of his boat, Felix sports a Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance decal. It is not only the place where he learned how to catch big bronzbacks, but also one of his favorite places to fish in whole country. He hopes that some of the knowledge he has gained over the years on Mille Lacs will be put to good use on some Cumberland smallies this week.


The new area we run to has some dirtier water so Felix grabs a Keitech to chunk around for a while. It doesn’t take long to get bit, but they just aren’t keeper size. He notes that he has probably caught more fish today than he did on day one, but with the fact only two have been keepers he feels the need to make another move.


Felix kicks the speed up on his Minn Kota to cover more water alternating between a jerkbait and a Keitech.

After another little lull in the action, Shayne hooks up with a decent largie on a jerkbait. A better average fish is no doubt a welcomed sight for the two, but I believe the lack of rain has them more excited than anything.


Felix eases back into a pocket where a large trash mat comprised of logs, dock parts and duck weed has formed. He thoroughly works it for a bite, but to no avail. This mat may not be the ticket, but for sure some good largemouth will get caught off of this pattern throughout the tournament.


Now that the rain has completely stopped, Felix busts out a midday snack. Andy Young bought him a pecan pie from the store yesterday and Felix couldn’t be happier about it. After devouring the tasty treat, we decide it is time to drop me off back at the ramp while we are still close.


It is early in the afternoon now and the boys decide they are going to continue checking out this end of the lake. While Felix hasn’t found any keeper smallmouths up here yet, he isn’t done pursuing them. He idles back out to the river with hopes of finding an area that could kick out a few keeper smallies each day, and may just be the ticket to fishing on the weekend and help keep his Forrest Wood Cup dream alive.

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2017-04-06-lake-cumberland 


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

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 »


Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Whether it was a canal or small sections of the lake, each pro in the top chose to hunker down in an area and milk it for all it was worth in the season opener of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole. Here’s a look at how the action unfolded. READ MORE »


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 »


Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee wasn’t her normal self in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener presented by Power-Pole. Bites were few and far between, but the top-10 pros dialed it in and got it done. Winner Nick Thliveros relied heavily on a crankbait and so did others, but Florida faithful’s like swim jigs, soft plastics and topwaters also fared well. READ MORE »


Niles Rallies for Co-angler Title

The Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole was a grind no matter if you were in the front of the boat or back. Bites were few and far between, and as a co-angler just catching a keeper or two kept you in the hunt. Niles started strong with an opening-day limit worth 18-9 to have him in the lead. On day two, he cooled off and brought a goose egg to the stage. Still, his day-one weight carried him to the final round where he started the day in fourth. Paired with Brett Preuett, Niles got to work Saturday. READ MORE »


Thliveros Brings it Home

Nick Thliveros led after day two on Okeechobee and after weighing his lowest weight of the week, he was able to seal the deal for his first Costa FLW Series win as a pro. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The third and final day of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole has the weather anglers have been hoping for since they started practice. A light breeze, plenty of sun and temperatures near 80 degrees have the top 10 pros and co-anglers licking their chops for a chance at the biggest bag of the tournament. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Fishing as a whole is still tough on the Big O, but there was definitely an improvement today – especially for the guys at the top of the leaderboard. READ MORE »


Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Nick Thliveros is one day away from taking the title in the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Every ounce counts in a tournament, and that will certainly ring true today. The second day of Costa FLW Series competition on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole may be off to a better start, but big bites are still few and far between. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Things are tough on Okeechobee, but these pros cracked some of the code to wrangle solid catches. READ MORE »


Roder Out Front on Big O

Okeechobee is normally the place of dreams. This week, however, it isn’t quite living up to its reputation. Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on the Big O saw plenty of fish, though the quality bites were hard to come by. Troy Roder of Brookeland, Texas, set the pace early with a 19-pound, 15-ounce limit to grab the lead in the season opener – presented by Power-Pole – with a lead of over 4 pounds heading into Friday. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Power fishing and flipping lead the charge for the first few hours of fishing on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »


A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »


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

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

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 »


How to Bass Fish High Water in Winter

High water isn’t unusual in the spring or summer, but dealing with rising water this early in the year was somewhat of a new experience for many of the pros – as it is for the weekend warrior. Therefore, the Rayburn Tour event is a case study on how to handle this situation and still put loads of bass in the boat. READ MORE »


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 »