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

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The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland
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.

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Lake Cumberland

Takeoff is up the river, at General Burnside Island State Park. In the spring, when the FLW Tour has stopped at Cumberland the run down to the lower end of the lake has been harrowing, with plenty of floating debris from rising spring water to navigate through. In the fall, that should be less of a problem, but it’d be no shock to see some fog in some portions of the lake.

No matter if it is fog or something else that slows the run, it’s a significant time commitment to run to the lower end of Cumberland. However, history shows that wins come from the lower end, so it’s likely that quite a few anglers will pin their ears back and make the run. 

 

Justin Atkins

The upper end of the lake is more riverine and has dirtier water, and Nick Ratliff, who finished third in a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) event on Cumberland this spring says that it’s the more reliable option for medium-sized fish, but doesn’t have the top end size in it to build a bag in the high teens. However, it’s close, should have plenty of fish and has produced a number of high finishes before.

 

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland

The lower and mid-sections of Cumberland are where the party has gone down in major FLW events in years past, and there’s a good chance it happens again this time around.

“The last couple falls the lower end has been extremely tough, last year we were doing well in tournaments fishing 100 percent for spotted bass,” says Ratliff. “But because they’ve drawn the lake down so far this fall that has not been the case, the majority of the local tournaments with larger fields are taking 16 to 18 pounds to win, and for the most part that’s lower-end fish.”

The lower end of the lake is where the biggest smallmouths live and where the clearest water is, and it has everything the rest of the lake has.

 

Though there are differences between the upper and lower parts of Cumberland like most reservoirs, the lake has similar structure features throughout. It’s super rocky, with bluffs, steep banks, long creeks and fairly steep features. Unlike a lake like Dale Hollow, Douglas or Cherokee, which are similar in a lot of ways, Cumberland doesn’t have much offshore structure to speak of – it’s mostly very steep, and the fish that are off the bank feed on alewives and live a very pelagic lifestyle.

 

Lake Cumberland

Cumberland also has a bunch of standing timber in the form of small trees from when the lake was drawn down to work on the dam. That cover has led to a boost in productivity in recent years, making this version of Cumberland much better than the one that hosted the FLW Series Championship won by Brent Ehrler back in 2004. 

The standing trees are present through the lake, but most obvious in the backs of creeks and pockets where they grew thickest during the drawdown. A lot of the trees are out of the water now, but it’s still obviously very good cover, and what’s left will likely see quite a bit of pressure from anglers and give up quite a few fish.

 

Lake Cumberland

The major storyline now is the water level – currently, the lake is lower than it has been since before 2014, and running at slightly lower, but comparable levels to the fall of 2016. That lower water has some thinking the fishing could be really good, like it was in the fall of 2016.

“I think it concentrates the baitfish and the fish,” says Ratliff. “Cumberland is so big, in the spring they want to be on the bank, but in the fall they can be wherever they want. If they’re chasing bait and they don’t have any reason to go to the bank then they’re hard to catch. It was awesome in the fall of ’16, you could put the trolling motor on 70 and go down the bank and have a blast.”

The lower water doesn’t just limit the options of roaming fish, it also takes acres of standing trees and laydowns out of the water, especially in the creeks.

“It concentrates some of the bank fish too, a lot of the lines of timber that are deeper when the water is high are in 4-10 foot of water now,” explains Ratliff. “The fish in that are just dumb, it’s like catching spring fish.”

 

Lake Cumberland

Though Cumberland doesn’t have a ton of shoreline docks, it does have some really big marinas in various creeks. There are usually decent no-wake zones around them, and they could end up being players on the fish-catching side of things as well. Spotted bass love to hang around the marinas, and the manmade cover is going to get investigated heavily by pros this week.

Many of the marinas also have boat ramps near them, and running ramps is a legit pattern on Cumberland, despite the fact that there is more natural rock in the lake than you can shake a stick at.

 

Bryan Thrift

Other possible patterns semi-unique to Cumberland are fishing run-ins and trash mats. Depending on how much precipitation the area gets this week, someone could really catch ‘em on some running water, but that pattern requires very specific circumstances to play.

Cumberland also has plentiful trash and duckweed mats in the pockets and creeks, which can be a power-fishing dream at times. Most of the fish caught out of them will be largemouths, and, it’s going to be worth keeping an eye on that bite, especially under sunny conditions, which is when that bite can really fire.

 

Whatever ends up going down this week, it should be a fun time in Kentucky. The last time the FLW Series Championship was held on Cumberland a bunch of western pros showed out, and though the lake has plenty of Ozark and highland reservoir features, it’s not a bad lake for non-locals to fish, and skill seems to win out more often than not. With the smallmouth length limit lowered to 15-inches, there should be plenty of brown crossing the stage, and when you add in some largemouths and fall foliage, you’re in for a good time.

Tags: jody-white-and-rob-matsuura  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 »