Live now : TOYOTA SERIES 2020 Lake Cumberland

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 

Final Practice Day with Ratliff

Final Practice Day with Ratliff

Attending college at Campbellsville University just up the road from Lake Cumberland gave Nick Ratliff plenty of opportunity to fish the massive reservoir throughout the year, but especially in the winter. READ MORE »

Robinson Readies for Cumberland

Robinson Readies for Cumberland

After winning Strike King Angler of the Year in the Toyota Series Central Division, Ricky Robinson is now looking to see what kind of splash he can make at the Toyota Series Championship this week on Lake Cumberland. READ MORE »

Toyota Series Championship Preview

Toyota Series Championship Preview

The 2020 Toyota Series Championship on Lake Cumberland is going to be a showdown of epic proportions. Taking place December 3-5, the event brings together hundreds of pro and amateur anglers from FLW’s various championship events, the best from the eight Toyota Series divisions, plus some international contenders. READ MORE »

Breaking Down the All-American Roster

Breaking Down the All-American Roster

One of the longest-running championships in bass fishing, the All-American is often considered to be the pinnacle of the grassroots level and has launched the careers of anglers like Shaw Grigsby, Jacob Wheeler, Jeremy Lawyer and many more throughout the years. READ MORE »

Previewing the All-American

Previewing the All-American

Originally set for the beginning of May, the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP is now slated for November 11-13 on Lake Hartwell. The All-American brings together the best of the best from the Phoenix Bass Fishing League ranks as well as top anglers from the TBF, college and high school ranks.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Dale Hollow

Top 10 Patterns from Dale Hollow

There’s no way around it. Dale Hollow was fishing tough during the Toyota Series Central Division finale. Ultimately, it was Adam Wagner and a mega-school he found in 50 feet of water that got the job done. For the rest of the top 10, it was a little bit of everything. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Dale Hollow

Top 10 Baits from Dale Hollow

While Dale Hollow really featured a hodgepodge of different baits in the Toyota Series Central Division finale, the anglers who performed the best did so by targeting deeper fish that were either chasing bait or sitting on isolated cover. For the job, much of the field had a spoon and a drop-shot on deck. READ MORE »

Wagner Wins on Dale Hollow

Wagner Wins on Dale Hollow

Adam Wagner is approaching legend status in central Tennessee. Storming to the win from fifth place on the final day, Wagner put a limit for 16 pounds, 1 ounce on the scale for a 34-6 total and the win in the Toyota Series Central Division event on Dale Hollow. READ MORE »

Russell, 71, Earns First FLW Win

Russell, 71, Earns First FLW Win

Robert Russell has been fishing a long time, and he’s been fishing FLW tournaments for a long time, too. At Dale Hollow, from the back of the boat, he finally got his first FLW win. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 3

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 3

You’re not going to find a better day to be out on the lake in the fall. Unfortunately, the warming trend paired with bluebird skies, plenty of sun and very little wind hasn’t produced very good conditions for catching fish. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Dale Hollow is fishing tough. That’s about the only constant across the field in the Toyota Series Central Division finale. Everyone in the top 10 has made it to this point by finding a way to battle the difficult conditions and tricky timing, and many have done that extremely well. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 2

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 2

Despite some hopeful optimism that the cold front that moved in overnight might turn on the bite, day two of the Toyota Series Central Division finale on Dale Hollow has been as slow as – or slower than – day one, and that’s saying something. READ MORE »

Smith Stays Consistent on Dale Hollow

Smith Stays Consistent on Dale Hollow

Dale Hollow has been tough as nails this week for the competitors in the Toyota Series Central Division event. Only three of the top 10 have managed limits both days, and one of those limits was shy of 7 pounds. So, Blake Smith’s back to back limits of 11 pounds, 9 ounces, and 11-13 qualify as extremely impressive. Leading with a total of 23-6, Smith has more than a 3-pound edge on second-place Chris Malone and seems to be in prime position to bring home a win on Saturday. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Dale Hollow Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Dale Hollow was predictably tough, with few scratching above the 10-pound mark and limits hard to come by. Still, Jonathan Bowling waylaid over 13 pounds for the lead, and the pros behind him have put some actual patterns together. All that is threatened by much colder weather that’s on the way, but it’s nothing the pros in the top 10 haven’t seen before. READ MORE »

Bowling Leads on Dale Hollow

Bowling Leads on Dale Hollow

As tough as Dale Hollow has been fishing lately, it’s not really a surprise that only nine anglers managed to crack double digits after day one of the Toyota Series Central Division finale. What was surprising, though, was to see one angler – Harriman, Tennessee’s Jonathan Bowling – grab a lead of more than 1 1/2 pounds. Given the conditions, that’s a huge lead. READ MORE »

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 1

Dale Hollow Midday Update – Day 1

The rain that soaked the region all Wednesday hung around to start the morning of day one of the Toyota Series Central Division finale on Dale Hollow. By midday, though, the spotty rain started to move out and give way to a little sunshine ahead of sharply falling temperatures this evening and into Friday morning. READ MORE »

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

Challenges Ahead on Dale Hollow

It’s been an odd “fall” at Dale Hollow, mostly because there hasn’t really been one. Water temperatures are still hovering in the high-60s, which puts the typical fall transition well behind its usual schedule in terms of bass movement. READ MORE »

Previewing Dale Hollow

Previewing Dale Hollow

When the Toyota Series Central Division wraps up its season on Dale Hollow Lake next week – a lake known for its smallmouth fishing, thanks in big part for producing the world record smallmouth back in 1955 – its anglers probably won’t be weighing in masses of brown fish. READ MORE »

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

The Toyota Series Southwestern Division will wrap up its season this week at Sam Rayburn. Hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

The 2020 Toyota Series Plains Division will continue with a tournament this weekend in Osage Beach, Missouri, with the Toyota Series at Lake of the Ozarks. Hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »