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


Get to Know Lake Cumberland

(Editor's note: This story was first published and 2017 and updated in 2018.) 

Stop No. 4 of the FLW Tour presented by General Tire hits Lake Cumberland at a time when winter seems to be finally breaking. Taking out of General Burnside Island State Park on the upper end, the pros have miles and miles of fishy water to dissect. The Tour stopped on Cumberland in 2017 and fished under dramatically different conditions - then the lake was low and clear, now the lake is about 3 feet over full pool and stained almost throughout. 


The sheer amount of water to cover in Cumberland is one of its defining features. Though there are fish to be caught up near takeoff, the lower end of the lake is historically where anglers find the best fishing, especially for smallmouth bass. Where exactly the lower end starts is a bit nebulous, but the area around Conley Bottom Marina or Wolf Creek and Caney Creek is a decent approximation. A little farther down the lake, Beaver Creek and Otter Creek could be considered the epicenter of the lower end. To get there is about a 40-mile run from takeoff and takes almost an hour in perfect conditions.


The biggest factor in travel times in Cumberland is floating debris. Though it’s a big enough lake that it can get rough, the waves rarely approach the size you can get on a place like Kentucky Lake. Instead, floating debris from rising water can clog the channel, forcing pros to idle for long stretches or risk severe boat damage. It’s not uncommon for water to come up quickly overnight on Cumberland, and if that happens, the pros will face very different conditions and greatly increased travel times. The two sections to watch out for the most are from the Highway 90 Bridge (known as the “iron bridge”) to Fishing Creek and from Conley Bottom Resort to Fall Creek. Conley Bottom is a pretty long way from takeoff, but the iron bridge and Fishing Creek are minutes from the ramp.


The lower end of the lake is known for smallmouths and clear water (which is currently fairly stained). Largemouths and spotted bass aren’t uncommon, but more than likely any pro venturing so far from takeoff will be looking for hefty bronzebacks. The lower end got a lot of pressure in 2017, and it figures to get just as much this year. One possible sweetener is the new limit in effect for this event. In 2017 smallmouths had to be at least 18 inches to keep - this year any bass over 12 inches is fair game. 


The upper end of Cumberland is much more riverine, and it boasts high bluffs that resemble the James River arm of Table Rock. Like the lower end, it doesn’t have a whole lot of shallow water, but it does have consistently dirtier and warmer water. It also has more spotted bass and largemouths. In 2017, most of the action went down in the lower end, but enough pros cashed checks and made the cut from the upper end that it will surely be considered again this time around. 


Up or down, one feature that anglers will no doubt keep in mind is inflowing water. From a creek or drain in the back of a short pocket to a waterfall tumbling off a bluff, inflowing water can be a real target. If it rains during the tournament, fresh running water can concentrate the bass. The influx of nutrients and edible critters is always welcome, and hungry bass and the anglers who follow them would do well to pay attention.


Once you get down to fishing, Cumberland doesn’t look that different from any other mountain reservoir. If you’ve ever been to Table Rock Lake, Beaver Lake, Norris Lake or Dale Hollow you’ll quickly recognize similarities. One of the primary types of cover is rock, but a lot of it is going to be submerged and hard to dial in on this week. With the water a few feet over the banks, it isn't nearly as easy to quickly distinguish what kind of rock you're dealing with. 


Cumberland was drawn down from 2007 to 2013 for dam repair, and that low water enabled many trees to grow up in what used to be open water. Some of the trees grew to more than 20 feet tall, and with the water back up they now provide a ton of cover for fish. In 2017 those trees made access to the banks difficult in the backs of pockets and were prime tagets. Though they still top out of the water in some cases, most of the trees are now submerged entirely and living trees are flooded up on the bank. 


Cumberland sports a healthy mix of largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass. As usual, the largemouths tend to live shallower and like to get around whatever cover they can (in many cases). Though Cumberland doesn’t have any grass, it does have mats made up of sawdust and debris or duckweed. It’d wouldn't be surprising to see someone get on a flipping pattern that centers around shade cover provided by these mats. Of course, there are also tons of flooded trees on the bank this year, so that could take some of the juice out of the sawdust pattern. 


Despite a frigid practice, spring has sprung at Cumberland. The redbuds around the lake are beginning to pop, the water is warming into the mid-50s and the grass in the fields is greening up nicely. A few bass have undoubtedly started to spawn, but the makeup of Cumberland will make targeting bedding fish a little tricky this week. The lake is dirty enough that it’s going to be very difficult to see any on beds in most places, and the cold spring has many of the fish running a bit behind. Of course, that just means there will be more fat prespawn bass to go around. 


Tags: lake-cumberland  jody-white-and-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 »


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

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 »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 »


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 »


Guntersville Lake Tour

Winding through Tennessee, north Alabama and Kentucky, the Tennessee River is studded with some of the most legendary reservoirs in bass-fishing history. Many would argue that Lake Guntersville is the best of the bunch, and though that is up for debate on any given year, Guntersville’s place in fishing history is undeniable. This week, the lake is under heavy pressure from a local championship event, anglers out to have fun and the 198 pros and co-anglers in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Here’s a look at what they’ll encounter on the water. READ MORE »


Guntersville Showing Out for Costa Finale

Few things are certainties in life, but you can certainly count on anglers catching a ton of huge fish when the Costa FLW Series Championship rolls into Guntersville this week. With bass settled into fall patterns and gobs of vegetation still giving plenty of cover to fish feeding in the shallows, there’s a good chance the lake produces 20-plus-pound limits early and often in the championship event. READ MORE »


Costa Championship Fact Sheet

Up to 430 of the world’s best bass anglers will descend on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville Nov. 1-3 for the no-entry-fee 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »


Dock Talk All About Docks at Ozarks

Greg Bohannan, the 2017 Central Division Angler of the Year, believes the warmer-than-usual weather as of late will make the topwater bite a secondary tactic. In his opinion, it’s going to be docks that deliver the winning fish this year. READ MORE »


Question Marks Abound at Fort Gibson

Fort Gibson Lake has the quality and quantity of fish to churn out massive bags nearly all year long, but finding those fish might be harder now than it’s been all year. That’s not great news for anglers ahead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division tournament on Oct. 4. READ MORE »