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

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Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship
Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland is a big lake and an even bigger code for anglers to crack, especially if forecasted weather changes are to be believed.

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.

While Cumberland is currently about 31 feet below full pool of 723 feet, it doesn’t take much rain to cause noticeable increases in water levels. Should that happen, pulling water throughout the practice period and into the tournament will be a very real possibility.

Given that bass in the Mid-South are already moving into their fall transition, finding a sustainable pattern or big group of fish for three tournament days could be a tall task.

 

Lake Cumberland

Cumberland Overview

The 65,530-acre reservoir spans seven counties in Kentucky and constitutes the 9th-largest reservoir in the U.S. It’s about 100 miles long and a mile across at its widest point with 1,255 miles of shoreline at normal pool.

Impounded in 1952 with the construction of the Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland serves as both a flood-control reservoir and a source of hydroelectric power generation. While Cumberland experienced issues with low water levels due to repair work being done on the Wolf Creek Dam back in 2011, water levels have returned closer to normal in the last five or so years with dam repair work having been completed.

Still, lake levels can fluctuate enormously given time of year and weather conditions, like in April 2018 when the FLW Tour last visited Cumberland and water was up in the bushes. That tournament turned into a spinnerbait fest that Bryan Thrift won targeting smallmouth offshore.

Cumberland offers great opportunities for targeting both largemouth and smallmouth (as well as spotted bass, though they aren’t likely to anchor anyone’s bag), and this time of year, it might take mixed bags to make the cut.

Jake Morris, who won the Costa FLW Series Central Division Angler of the Year title this season and lives just an hour from Cumberland, seems to think so, anyway.

“I think it’ll be primarily largemouth, but there’ll be several anglers that will have mixed bags,” he says. “I don’t think spots are going to play a large factor. I don’t think somebody’s going to come in with three days of smallmouth, but I could be totally wrong.”

Morris also believes the upper end of the lake is going to ultimately provide most of the big bags for the tournament, despite the FLW Tour top 10 staying midlake or lower back in 2018.

“For the last two or three years, the upper end has played a bigger role,” he posits. “About 10 years ago, the lower end was a lot better than the upper end. A lot of the top 10 will be fishing on the upper areas of the lake.”

As for cover and structure, Cumberland is fairly straightforward. You won’t find grass, but there’s plenty of timber to target, as well as steep banks, bluff walls and typical reservoir offshore structure.

 

Bryan Thrift

Techniques and Tactics

Morris believes topwaters are going to be a major factor during the tournament, as bass are feeding up and chasing around large schools of shad.

“It’s going to be shad-related I think,” he says. “Mainly, guys can catch them on topwaters and shad-type baits.”

That means topwaters of all varieties, as well as swimbaits, crankbaits and potentially jerkbaits for suspended fish in deep water will see action. In any case, covering a lot of water is going to be key for finding the right fish.

FLW pro Ryan Davidson, who fishes Cumberland as part of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League Mountain Division every year, also thinks covering a lot of water is going to be key.

“I don’t think this tournament will be a spot-specific tournament,” Davidson explains. “We’re going to have to see a lot of water and fish for both smallmouth and largemouth. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anglers will have to fish super shallow for largemouth or out deep for smallmouth – the fish set up on a lot of the same stuff.”

Some of that “stuff” includes standing timber and laydowns, which are abundant throughout the lake. If conditions line up right, the flipping bite might be a big player, in addition to target-specific moving baits like spinnerbaits.

All that to say, anglers are going to be able to do a little picking and choosing what they want to fish and what areas of the lake they want to target.

 

Ryan Davidson

Weight Predictions  

Morris and Davidson are familiar enough with Cumberland in the fall to have a pretty good idea of what winning weights will look like, though a field as large as this Championship adds a layer of variation.

“I think it’ll take a minimum of 16 pounds a day – 48 total – to be there at the end, but it could be as high as 52,” guesses Davidson.

Morris’ expectations are slightly more tempered, though maybe not by much.

“I think it’ll be an average of 14 pounds a day,” he says. “That will be very, very strong I think. Somebody’s going to have a big bag one or two days and not have a big bag one day. I think it’ll be up and down. I don’t think anybody’s going to come in with 15 or 16 pounds all three days.”

The Mountain Division BFL back in May was won with a mixed bag weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces. It’s a different time in the season now, to be sure, but that seems to be a pretty good estimation of what we could see for a winning weight spread out over three days.

 

The Field

The Costa Championship field is about as big as you’re going to find for a multi-day event. The top 40 pros from each of the five U.S. divisions (Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western) will fish alongside pros from FLW’s international divisions from Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Zimbabwe with a co-angler in every boat. Finding ways to negate fishing pressure and effectively managing fish will be key throughout the event, even on a fishery as large as Cumberland.

Up for grabs to the winning boater will be a $100,000 package that includes a new Ranger Z518L boat with a 200-horsepower outboard. Co-anglers will be competing for a $35,000 package that includes a new Ranger Z175 with a 115-horsepower outboard.

 

Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 8 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: General Burnside Island State Park, 8801 S Highway 27, Burnside, Ky.

Weigh-In Time: 4 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: General Burnside Island State Park

Complete details

Tags: justin-onslow  pre-tournament  2019-10-31-lake-cumberland 

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Smallmouths dominated at the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Oklahoma’s Andrew Upshaw led the way with brown bass caught on a jig and a Ned rig on bluff bank transitions in the reservoir’s lower end. Behind him, only a couple of pros hedged their bets on targeting largemouths. The rest fished for smallies and considered green bass to be bonus fish and spotted bass to be limit fillers on the tough days. READ MORE »

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

In classic Southern smallmouth fashion, crankbaits and jigs dominated the top 10 at Lake Cumberland during the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship. The only exceptions were a few finesse baits and the tackle used by two pros who targeted largemouths. Here’s what worked. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Oklahoma's Upshaw Wins Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Oklahoma's Upshaw Wins Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – Strike King pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit to the stage weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces, Saturday to claim the title of 2019 FLW Series Champion at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Upshaw, with a three-day total of 15 bass for 42 pounds, 15 ounces, won by a 1-pound, 10-ounce margin over second... READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW media staff provides unofficial weight estimates for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »

Upshaw Leads at Day Two of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Upshaw Leads at Day Two of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – Strike King pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, crossed the stage Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce, for a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 30 pounds even, to lead after Day Two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Upshaw now holds a 1-pound, 13-ounce lead over pro Rob Burns of Plano, Texas, who weighed... READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Championship proved to be about as challenging as many anglers anticipated after a tough practice period, but it wasn’t all bad. Zimbabwe’s Roger Cousens certainly wasn’t complaining. His tournament-leading 17-pound, 2-ounce bag was exactly what he had hoped for as the tournament kicked off, and he’s gunning for another big stringer today. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe Angler Cousens Leads Day One of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

Zimbabwe Angler Cousens Leads Day One of Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland

BURNSIDE, Ky. – A tournament field of 193 boats – each featuring a pro and a co-angler – began their three-day competition for a top cash award of $100,000 at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, in Burnside, Kentucky, Thursday. The no-entry fee bass-fishing championship, hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside... READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

With rain early and a cold snap forecasted to move in this afternoon, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland could present some unique challenges for the 193-boat field, especially after a fairly mild and pleasant practice period.  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 »

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live is back for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky. The event will feature daily weigh-in broadcasts, as well as the full FLW Live studio broadcast, with live feeds from top anglers' boats, on the final two days. 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 »