UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass. READ MORE »

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

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Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris.  READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

One of the windier tournament days in recent memory did a lot to reshape the leaderboard of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The run south to Ticonderoga was not impossible, but the wind up north kept a lot of pros from effectively fishing their best stuff. That made weights drop pretty much across the board on day two. READ MORE »

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Thrift Still Ahead on Champlain

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Champlain featured a bunch of wind and a lot of turnover on the leaderboard. Though he struggled to replicate his massive day-one success, Bryan Thrift still managed 16 pounds, 6 ounces for a 38-12 total to retain the lead. Behind him, Scott Dobson rose from ninth to second with a robust bag of smallmouths worth 18-10 for a 37-14 total. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Champlain Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Polaris on Lake Champlain is going to be quite a swing from day one. Typically turnover in the standings is common on Champlain because the weights stay so tight, but today’s turnover is going to have a lot to do with the weather. READ MORE »

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Champlain Midday Update – Day 1

Takeoff was a little blustery, but overall, it’s been a perfect start to the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. The event is the kickoff of the Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, and the tournament itself is presented by Polaris. READ MORE »

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Champlain Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Last year, every event in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division, which is presented by Gajo Baits, was won entirely with smallmouth bass. This season, the kickoff event on Champlain, which is presented by Polaris, looks destined to involve some largemouths. Everyone in the top five weighed green ones on day one, though somewhat surprisingly, the south end down by Ticonderoga didn’t play an overwhelming role, as only three of the top 10 anglers made the long run southward. READ MORE »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

Less than three weeks removed from a third-place finish on Lake Champlain in the FLW Tour’s 2019 season finale, Bryan Thrift hauled 22 pounds, 6 ounces of green fish to the weigh-in stage to take the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener, which is presented by Polaris. In second, Brandt Tumberg weighed 21-10, and Joe Wood is just an ounce behind him with 21-9 for third.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

Check-in Time: Brian Latimer 

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Brian Latimer.  READ MORE »

Summertime on Champlain

Summertime on Champlain

For three years running now, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits has kicked off on Lake Champlain. The tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but it’s going to be far different than the last two FLW Series tilts on the big Northern lake. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Champlain

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June is a fantastic month to be on Lake Champlain, as the FLW Tour pros showcased at last week’s season finale, which was presented by T-H Marine. Smallmouths were spawning all over the place, but the winning pattern was catching postspawn largemouths down at Ticonderoga. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is the kind of fishery that forces pros to make difficult decisions about where to go and what color of bass to target. This time around, in the FLW Tour 2019 finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, on the big Northern fishery, the decision was more interesting because there were spawning smallmouths everywhere up north, but the forecast was favorable for making the long run south to Ticonderoga to catch largemouths. READ MORE »

Nelson Wins ROY

Nelson Wins ROY

Ron Nelson blanked on the first day of his first FLW Tour event. Then he got things on track – so on track that he finished the season ninth overall in the standings and above every other rookie to earn the Polaris FLW Tour Rookie of the Year award. Winning ROY is typically a career-setting accomplishment, and to go with the hardware Nelson will also receive a Polaris Sportsman® 570 ATV. READ MORE »

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Living about as far as possible from Champlain, Wade Strelic is looking to finish his rookie season strong at the FLW Tour finale. Hailing from Alpine, Calif., near San Diego, Strelic is sitting 28th in points and has made the check cut in three out of six events so far – another good derby will lock him in to the FLW Cup. READ MORE »

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Ron Nelson is easily in the group of favorites in the event and a bonafide Northern expert, so I was eager to hop in the boat for a morning with the smallie snatcher. Champlain isn’t fishing quite like it was the years he won, but Nelson is still guaranteed to have a lot of eyes on him come day one. READ MORE »

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Over the years, a lot of anglers have established impressive records on Lake Champlain, but few have done it as quickly and authoritatively as Austin Felix. READ MORE »

Get to Know Lake Champlain

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Lake Champlain is a giant of a lake. It stretches 100-plus miles from its beginning down south at Whitehall, N.Y., and runs all the way up to the Canadian border between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks in New York. Though the competitors aren’t allowed to venture into Canada, there is still plenty for anglers to break down for the final event of the 2019 FLW Tour season. READ MORE »

High School Championship Top 10 Baits

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June is typically ledge-fishing season in the Tennessee Valley, especially at Pickwick, but the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship was a more diverse event than most folks might have expected. Patterns ranging from junk-fishing the bank to targeting docks and other shoreline cover to working the main-lake ledges all worked. Here are the baits used by the top 10 teams during the week. READ MORE »