UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice
Russell Cecil

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.

 

Cecil and I meet at a gas station at 6:45 a.m. CT, and from there he heads to a nearby ramp just above the TX-147 bridge. Before putting the boat in, Cecil unloads some rods from his truck, makes a few tackle changes, and meets up with Todd Castledine and Luke Dunkin, who are both rooming with him on Tour this year.

 

After slipping the boat in, Cecil runs south under the TX-147 bridge and stops at a nearby point where he picks up a Carolina rig and settles down to drag around some scattered grass. 

“I’ve never been here this time of year when it’s this high,” says Cecil. Rayburn is about 9 feet above full pool. “A lot of my waypoints are pretty much useless. They’re in, like, 30 feet.”

Of course, through two days of practice, Cecil thinks he knows what the deal is going to be.

“Generally, they’re hard to find this time of year, but those big ones group up,” he says. “When you do get on ’em, you can end the party in five casts. I think fishing the grass, the inside and the outside, that’s the way to win. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go up shallow some, but this is the way to win. This is where those big ones are.”

 

After dragging his rig all along the outside of the point, Cecil moves in a bit closer and into more grass. Soon after, he gets a bite and swings hard. Hard enough to break off, in fact.

“My leader had a knot in it. I saw it yesterday. I was like, ‘Aw, it doesn’t matter, it’s practice,’” says Cecil. “That wasn’t a giant, but it sure wasn’t a spotted bass.”

He sits down to re-tie, rigging up nearly a carbon copy of the Carolina rig that Castledine described for an FLW article in the fall, just with a lead weight instead of a tungsten one.

 

Cecil keeps at it. He drags the rig around the shallower grass for a few more minutes, apparently enjoying the mild morning and focusing on his graph between drags.

In 2018, Cecil finished 149th in the standings, far off his usual pace in the Costa FLW Series and well below expectations. Fishing a lake this week where he’s won piles of money before should be a good way to get the season rolling for him.

“I was looking forward to the home cooking for sure,” says Cecil. “I came over and pre-practiced in December, and it was really good. This high water has changed all that though.

“Fishing is a game of momentum, and I never got going last year,” recalls the Texan. “I couldn’t string days together, and when I did something would happen. The Harris Chain would have been my best event, and I couldn’t weigh my fish on day one because of a mechanical issue.

“What I’m saying is, I think it’s important to get the year off to a good start.”

 

After a few more drags and a re-fish of one specific clump of hydrilla, Cecil stows his rod and cranks the Evinrude, running across the lake to his next spot. It’s a similar stretch of grass off the bank, but the water is quite a bit dirtier. There’s a bunch of pine needles and other junk floating around, so Cecil is far from crazy about it.

 

Cecil says his employees tell him that he “only has one squirrel cage,” and he admits to being single-minded, but he’s really taking it to impressive levels on the water. Though the conversation ranges broadly, he literally never picks up anything but a Carolina rig. The other Falcon rods on his deck stay exactly there.

 

After dragging the C-rig around with no bites for a while Cecil fields a call from Castledine, his team partner and fellow Tour sophomore. They swap a bit of information, and Cecil decides to make a move. It’s time to look for clearer water.

 

Running down the lake, Cecil takes a slightly winding route, avoiding the patches of standing timber out of habit.

He stops on an offshore flat and idles for a bit without a hint of a bass. The bottom is hard and there’s the occasional stump, but at almost 30 feet deep, the spot seems to have been abandoned by the fish. So, he abandons it too, running back closer to the bank to another point with grass.

 

Dragging the rig around as usual, Cecil again mentions that he thinks the winning wad of bass is relating to the grass, but he feels like he has a few other things he could do to catch a fish. In Texas, his strengths are multiple, but on Tour around the country, he recognizes that he still needs to grow to get on the level of the pros that make the FLW Cup year in and year out.

“I want to win, but I’ve got to get better at saving myself,” says Cecil. “Fishing regionally, you want to knock it out of the park. I’ve got to get more well-rounded to be able to save myself when I’m not on ’em. I’ve got to figure out how to do good in tournaments when 10 or 12 pounds is a good bag. Even in Texas I never do well in those.”

 

After making another move to a similar point, Cecil idles around to ID a hard patch on the inside of the grass and then begins dragging. Shortly into it, he loads into a bass, but after a brief glance around he opts to shake it off. With a handful of other boats in sight, he doesn’t want to reveal the location of the fish.

He finishes out the point with a few more casts and prepares to make a big move. Cecil has a few Hail Marys to throw at the lower end of the lake, and it’d be a heck of a ride back to drop me off after that.

 

We buckle up and roll back north, under the bridge and to the ramp. There’s no telling how Cecil will do in the tournament, but his history suggests he’ll have a good finish, and he’s for sure one of the anglers that isn’t going to be totally crossing his fingers come Thursday morning. With any luck, the home cooking will get him started off on the right track.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2019-01-10-sam-rayburn-reservoir 

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

Smith says that the best time for fall largemouth fishing happens after the first big cold snap, when the water finally drops below 60 degrees.   READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

The 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship brings together anglers from all over the world to compete for a top prize worth $100,000 on the pro side and $35,000 on the co-angler side. Qualifying from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, the International Division and five standard FLW Series divisions, a total of 193 pros and 193 co-anglers will descend on Lake Cumberland for a fall showdown to wrap up the fishing season. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »