UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

Bubble Watch: Lake Cumberland

Bubble Watch: Lake Cumberland

With three tournaments left in the 2018 FLW Tour season, it’s high time we take a look at the race for the Forrest Wood Cup. The Cup, with its $300,000 top prize, can change a career, but qualifying for it is also a major achievement and the mark of a very successful season.

The top 40 pros in the FLW Tour standings will qualify for the show, which is being held Aug. 10-12 on Lake Ouachita. Like in years past, the cut will extend a few extra places down the Tour standings due to double-qualifying pros who previously made it in through other means but also finish the season inside the cut. Currently, Jason Abram, Sheldon Collings, Todd Hollowell, Justin Atkins and Bryan Thrift are pre-qualified due to their accomplishments in 2017. Right now, everyone but Todd Hollowell is either inside the cut or so close to it that it’s reasonable to expect the Cup cut to drop down to at least 43rd or 44th place.

The final three events are quite diverse and will transition the season from Florida and a pair of prespawn events to postspawn fish and the North. First up is Lewis Smith Lake, which should feature clear water and mostly postspawn largemouths and spotted bass. Kentucky Lake could be a bit of a toss-up depending on the water levels, but it’s probably going to be an epic ledge-fishing event like usual. The season finale at St. Clair will be amazing. The smallmouths won’t be as fat and summery as they are in August, but the fishing is going to be pretty great regardless.

For now, we’ll look at the folks on the edge of the cut in an effort to gauge their Cup prospects.

Complete standings

 

43. Bryan Schmitt – Deale, Md. – 526 points

In his fourth full season on Tour, Schmitt is looking for his third Cup qualification in a row. He finished 24th in the points in 2016 and eighth in 2017, so it seems likely that he’ll march his way up the standings and be inside the cut by the end of the season. None of the remaining lakes are necessarily in his wheelhouse, but he’s expanded on his tidal roots to become as versatile and capable as anyone on Tour.

 

44. Bradley Dortch – Atmore, Ala. – 526 points

After winning the Rookie of the Year title in 2017, Dortch is off to another solid start. He has had some good success on Lewis Smith Lake in the past, but he’s lacking in first-hand experience the rest of the way. Nonetheless, he’s good enough that he ought to be able to find some consistency, and that will give him a great shot at qualifying.

 

45. Jamie Horton – Centerville, Ala. – 524 points

The second half of the season looks pretty good for Jamie Horton. Lewis Smith isn’t exactly his style, but it’s close to home. Horton is well-versed on the Tennessee River and should do just fine on Kentucky Lake. If he can figure out how to wrangle some smallmouths at St. Clair (or maybe go all-in on largemouths for a check) then he’s a shoe-in for his third consecutive Cup qualification.

 

46. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 522 points

If Felix hadn’t had mechanical issues on day two at Cumberland there’s a pretty good chance he’d be well inside the cut already. As is, it looks like he’s got a good shot to move up the ranks. He’s had success that is at least tangential to everything left on the season, and the final stop at St. Clair could give him a great shot to make up some ground. Felix is an exceptional smallmouth angler and figures to do very well on the border.

 

47. John Devere – Berea, Ky. – 522 points

Devere hasn’t finished above 46th in the standings since 2010, so improving over the stretch run is going to be a big challenge for the veteran angler. That said, he has done well on both St. Clair and Lewis Smith in the past, so it’s not entirely out of the question. The next tournament is probably going to be make-or-break for him. If he can build off his 54th-place finish at Cumberland he may be able to make a run for his first Cup since he qualified four years in a row from 2007 to 2010.

 

48. Braxton Setzer – Montgomery, Ala. – 521 points

Setzer’s first two seasons as a pro were not great, but he’s on track this year for sure. He’s had an odd season, making two cuts at the Harris Chain and Lanier, and finishing below 100th at Okeechobee and Cumberland. He’ll need to avoid another triple-digit finish the rest of the way, but it looks pretty good for him. He’s a versatile guy, and he’s had plenty of success as a co-angler or a pro on Lewis Smith, on ledges and on smallmouths.

 

49. Shane LeHew – Catawba, N.C. – 521 points

It’s hard to imagine LeHew not making the Cup. He’s made it three years running now, and though he’s off the pace a little this season, he’s finished 36th or better in the standings each of the last three years. Lewis Smith could be right up his alley, as it has a fun mix of spots and largemouths, plus blueback herring. He’s conquered Kentucky Lake before in college and on Tour. The main issue is probably St. Clair. Historically, LeHew and smallmouths haven not mixed well in competition.

 

50. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 519 points

Consistency is key for making the Cup, and Upshaw has been very consistent this year. His best finish so far is 43rd at Cumberland, and he’ll need to replicate that at least a couple of times the rest of the season to move up and make the Cup. Upshaw has a very up-and-down relationship with the Tennessee River, but Kentucky Lake looks like his best shot at a really good finish. Heading up north to St. Clair could be a big challenge, and it’s certainly new ground for the Oklahoma pro.

 

The comeback kids

There are some big names sitting outside the cut at the moment, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see any or all of them go on a tear the rest of the way. Larry Nixon (51st, 516 points) and Michael Neal (52nd; 516 points) are usually sure things, and they could both move up with good performances the rest of the way. In 59th with 498 points, Andy Morgan seems to have broken out of his slump and looks poised to run up the ranks. In 64th, JT Kenney has made the Cup each of the last two seasons and is in danger of missing it for only the third time since 2007.

 

Tags: jody-white  post-tournament  2018-04-12-lake-cumberland 

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

Catching 25 pounds in a single tournament day is a pretty rare feat, and catching five bass for 30 pounds in a tournament has been done fewer than 200 times in FLW history. Knowing just how special those giant limits are, we decided to dig into some of the top bags from years past. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Pickwick

Top 10 Patterns from Pickwick

Pickwick Lake greeted Toyota Series anglers with high, stained water and stronger than normal current last week. While the last week of May usually means fishing to depths of 25 feet on Pickwick, some anglers felt Pickwick’s bass were a little behind in their summer migration to the deep ledges. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Pickwick

Top 10 Baits from Pickwick

From shallow bars to deep ledges, the offshore bite on Pickwick was the deal for the majority of the field in second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division. Because the offshore bite reigned supreme, it’s no surprise that the lures thrown by the top 10 pros were standard issue for the Tennessee River this time of year. READ MORE »

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

The expanded field list for the new Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournaments brings with it some very fun matchups and the potential for some record chases to reignite. Because many of the newly added Major League Fishing anglers have had longer careers than those at the top of the Pro Circuit, they’re in a unique position to chase down some records that otherwise may not have been touched this year. In other cases, it’s simply going to be a pleasure to watch the best of the best duel on some epic bodies of water. READ MORE »

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

The second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division ought to be a really good one. Set for Pickwick Lake in late May, the offshore bite ought to be in full swing, with plenty of shallow fish as well. READ MORE »

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

When the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season picks back up, it will be with a new schedule, some new anglers and a lot more money in the pot than originally planned. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Across the country, May is a great time for fishing, with tons of bass in and around the spawn and a lot of baitfish species spawning as well. With warming water, it’s a great chance to throw a topwater for the first time, or really to do just about whatever you want in some parts of the country. READ MORE »

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

One of the key aspects of buzzbait fishing is the sound, and Bradley Dortch modifies his with a file and some pliers to get the most squeak he can. READ MORE »

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Fitting larger swimbaits into a tournament arsenal is a goal that a lot of anglers never hit. Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Kurt Mitchell has gotten it done, and actually earned a lot of money with some of the more specialized and larger swimbaits over the past few years. READ MORE »

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Thrift had a superlative career while climbing the ranks in FLW and competing on the FLW Tour. With more than $3 million in earnings in basically 15 years, Thrift has been on the leading edge of the technical side of fishing and an overpowering competitor since the start. READ MORE »

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

Schooled on tough Western fisheries with clear water and smart bass, Wade Strelic knows a thing or two about getting the most out of baits. One of his favorite modifications for super-clear water is to add a strip of holographic tape to each side of his jerkbaits. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley Frittside

Review: Berkley Frittside

Berkley’s take on a flat-side crankbait is the Frittside, a plastic bait that is designed to have the same action and attraction as balsa baits. Designed in part by David Fritts, who is one of the best crankbait anglers of all time, it seems to be a good bait at a good price. READ MORE »

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

In his time guiding in Florida, Brent Anderson has learned a lot. From adding standard Florida techniques to his arsenal to adapting his topwater program to the Sunshine State’s bass, he’s intentionally broadened his horizons a fair bit. Picking up big swimbaits was a bit of an accident. READ MORE »

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

There are a ton of different Ned heads on the market now, many of which are quite good. The Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head was designed by Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Josh Douglas, and having used it pretty extensively this spring, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. READ MORE »

Review: Blade Runner Turbo Tail

Review: Blade Runner Turbo Tail

The Blade Runner Turbo Tail is a very cool variation on the standard tail spinner. READ MORE »

Florida Topwater Tips

Florida Topwater Tips

Since spending as much time on the water in Florida as he has, Anderson has applied a topwater a lot more than he expected to. READ MORE »

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

The reservoirs strung along the Tennessee River are tremendous fisheries, but they perhaps don’t get as much shine for being smallmouth producers as they should. READ MORE »

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Matt Becker recently shared a great video that details the three patterns he used to earn a fourth-place finish at the season’s third stop on Lake Martin. Becker, who’s currently second in the Angler of the Year race, caught both largemouth and spotted bass and capitalized on a variety of tactics for a top finish. His patterns included targeting staging and spawning spotted bass on shoals, skipping docks and sight-fishing for spawning largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Spotted bass dominated the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Lake Martin, but they didn’t win it. Sure, the sheer abundance of spotted bass in Martin left most pros’ thumbs bloody and raw from catching so many fish. Yet, it was the key largemouth that really separated the field, and what helped Jason Abram earn his first victory. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »