UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - California Delta

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 

Top 10 Baits from the St. Lawrence River

Top 10 Baits from the St. Lawrence River

Regardless of how far anglers ran, whether 95 miles or 5 miles, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River presented by Gajo Baits really came down to a battle of deep versus shallow. Here’s a look at the baits that helped the top 10 get the job done on the St. Lawrence. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River

Top 10 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River

There were two big choices anglers had to make this week: how far should they run and should they fish deep or shallow. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

“I’m pretty wild on color selection,” says Schmitt. “I always have my shad colors. I always have my black and blues. But I fall in love with trying to find a niche color. Especially when you get into the fall of the year on the Potomac. I love to find a crayfish pattern, and I feel like then a crayfish-imitating ChatterBait out-fishes anything else. And I also like to find a bluegill pattern at times, so I play with the colors.” READ MORE »

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

STIX Fishing is a relatively new company started by FLW Live host Travis Moran and Nick Smith that sells fishing rods with a bit of a unique plan. Instead of picking and choosing a rod or two at a time, STIX wants to sell you six rods at a time (the STIX PAX) for $500, which comes out to about $83 per rod. According to the company, the STIX PAX is a complete set of bass rods and will do everything you need rods to do. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

On the Potomac, hands down, I want to fish grass. The grass holds the numbers. But if you look at the event this week on the Potomac, the tournament was won on structure. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

The Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River was not the slugfest the season opener on Champlain was or the season finale on the St. Lawrence River is almost sure to be. As has been the case in many of the FLW events on the Potomac this year, the fishing was pretty stingy, and hard cover played an outsized role. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Late summer on the Potomac is often tough fishing, so the contenders in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event had to pull out all the stops. Fishing everything from grass to docks and rocks, the anglers mixed up all sorts of power and finesse presentations to get the job done in the second stop of the season presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

Short Tops co-anglers

Short Tops co-anglers

Weighing a limit on day one and two bags of just four fish each over the next two days was enough to earn Jim Short the co-angler title in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River. Weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day for a total of 29-9, Short took home a new Ranger Z175 and $5,350 in cash. READ MORE »

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

The final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac was one of the most intense of the season. In the end, with just enough to hold on, Marvin Reese weighed four for 8 pounds, 5 ounces to earn the win with a 38-15 total. For his win, which was his first on the boater side, Reese earned $38,026. Finishing second, Troy Morrow rocked up from tenth with 14-7, which was the biggest bag of the day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has offered chamber of commerce weather and some up and down fishing. The event, which is presented by Lowrance, has featured pretty tough fishing overall, and it seems like some of the top 10 may fall victim to it today. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition on the Potomac in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event the weights haven’t been nearly what the river is capable of kicking out. That said, all the top pros have managed to put at least one good day together, and some have maintained really strong consistency, just at a lesser pace than would be the norm in June or some other time of the year. READ MORE »

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

A lovely morning gave way to a dismal afternoon on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River, but despite the difference in conditions, Marvin Reese kept on plugging. Weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on day one, Reese added 15-14 on day two for a 30-10 total. With his day two bag, Reese has now weighed the two biggest bags of the event, which is presented by Lowrance, and he’s widened his lead over Justin Atkins to nearly 4 pounds. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has been quite a swing from day one. However, despite dramatically different weather, some of the top pros are still catching, and it looks like a tight race is setting up for the final day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

As is so often the case, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River wasn’t quite as bad as some predicted in practice. Though it was hot and humid as all get out, plenty of limits hit the scale and enough pros weighed 12 pounds or better to make things really interesting READ MORE »

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Day one of the Potomac River event, which is the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, featured plenty of limits, but getting quality bites was definitely an issue for some. In the lead after day one, Marvin Reese of Randallstown, Md., weighed 14 pounds, 12 ounces to get things underway. Behind Reese, Justin Atkins and Jason Kervin both weighed 14-5, and Robert Grike rounded out the 14-pound brigade with 14-4. Overall, just 11 pros cracked the 12-pound mark on day one of the tournament, which is presented by Lowrance, but 8- and 9-pound limits weren’t too hard to come by.  READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

As predicted, day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River has been fairly tough. Though most folks have a fish or two, and many will undoubtedly fill limits by weigh-in, it certainly hasn’t been a catch-fest. READ MORE »

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Osborne spent the early visit graphing for brush in Hamilton’s lower end. In practice, it was more of the same, as Osborne spent only a couple of hours beating the bank. READ MORE »