UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

On the Cup Bubble

On the Cup Bubble
Cory Johnston

There’s one event left on the 2018 FLW Tour schedule, and it’s sure to be a doozy. The season wraps up on Lake St. Clair June 28-July 1.

Lake St. Clair, along with the Detroit River, Lake Erie and the St. Clair River, comprise one of the best smallmouth fisheries on the planet. The volume of productive water available for pros to fish makes it a premier tournament destination. There’s a lot of strategy involved in this derby, too. Everyone should catch plenty of beefy bronze bass, but if one area is producing slightly better quality, that’s where pros will need to go if they want to contend for the win. Of course, if the best area requires running open water in windy conditions (and it’ll almost certainly blow hard at least one day), then pros will be left to wonder whether they should risk it for the win or play it safe for points.

For guys comfortably in place to make the Forrest Wood Cup this August on Lake Ouachita, playing it safe is probably the best option. Anyone on the bubble will have a tough decision. And anyone out of Cup contention should probably shoot for the win.

As we consider the options and dream about smallmouths leaping, here’s a look at who’s on the edge of Cup qualification.

Complete standings 

 

Just barely in

Cup cutoff is 40th place, but there are a few pros pre-qualified from 2017 FLW tournaments. You can expect FLW to extend a few additional Cup slots down the standings.

As of now, Matt Becker and Cory Johnston hold the final two spots in 39th and 40th place, respectively. They’re both accomplished smallmouth anglers. Johnston, in particular, is a big-water smallmouth expert who should probably be on everyone’s Fantasy Fishing team for St. Clair. Don’t expect either of them to blow it and miss the Cup.

Becker has 797 points, and Johnston 796.

 

Just outside the cut

JT Kenney and Tyler Stewart just barely trail Johnston, with 795 and 793 points, respectively. JT has made the top 10 at the Detroit River before and is experienced chasing smallmouths up north. He should understand the risks and rewards of dealing with big water, and will likely have a good enough showing to make the Cup. Stewart, of West Monroe, La., is a rookie on Tour and has never fished an FLW tournament up north. He has a lot of work to do to prepare for the finale.

Behind them are Kerry Milner in 43rd place at 789 points and Brandon Mosley in 44th with 786. Justin Atkins, in 45th, is pre-qualified as the 2017 Cup champ, so he’s in. Andrew Upshaw is 46th, and Joe Thompson is 47th. They have 772 points each. Not one of those anglers has made a top 10 at a Northern smallmouth fishery, and their collective experience up north is slim. There might be a few doors left open if any of the folks in this group slips up.

 

People to watch

While there are several pros in the top 40 whose track records suggest they’ll have a tough time at St. Clair, we’re not going to speculate who might flop bad enough to drop below Cup qualification. Someone will, and while that’s unfortunate, pro bass fishing is a dog-eat-dog sport. You have to catch them every week to make the championship, else the werewolves behind you will wave as they pass you by on the way up the standings.

There are a number of top guns eyeing the finale as their last chance to get to Lake Ouachita this August.

Anthony Gagliardi sits at 49th place with 767 points. With double-qualifiers ahead of him, Gags has a really good chance to make it in. Chad Morgenthaler trails by one spot with 759 points. Gags has a better track record up north, mostly on Champlain, as Morgenthaler has never made a top 10 with FLW or B.A.S.S. on a smallmouth-dominated fishery.

Larry Nixon has won on the Detroit River/St. Clair system twice in Tour events. He’s 69th with 712 points and has a ton of ground to make up if he wants to fish the Cup in his home state. If he’s going to make a last-event comeback, St. Clair is probably high on his list of desirable fisheries. 

 

Tags: curtis-niedermier  article 

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing tournaments in general is obviously a blast, but we like to think that fishing the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is especially fun. READ MORE »

BFL Registration Now Open

BFL Registration Now Open

Boaters and co-anglers interested in fishing the Hoosier, Michigan, Music City and Volunteer divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can begin registering today, Dec. 9. READ MORE »

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him. READ MORE »

Registration Starts Monday 

Registration Starts Monday 

This year, things are better than ever for anglers looking to get in on the action of the Bass Fishing League, which is the premier grassroots tournament circuit. MLF and FLW are rolling back entry fees – now just $200 per boater and $100 per co-angler for one-day qualifiers and $300 per boater and $150 per co-angler for two-day Super Tournaments. Those are the lowest entry fees since 2014.  READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to coast and around the world. READ MORE »

2020 High School Fishing Details

2020 High School Fishing Details

Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice. READ MORE »

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

FLW has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective immediately, Phoenix will assume title sponsorship of the FLW Bass Fishing League, which recently announced decreased entry fees to offer grassroots anglers the best payouts at the lowest cost available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Bryan Thrift and David Dudley will be joining the 2020 Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

Jacob Yelton and Richard Thornburg, both of whom fished as co-anglers in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League this season, are each proud recipients of a brand new Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS ATV as winners of the Polaris Sportsman Giveaway. READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water. READ MORE »

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

The most exciting thing I have going on currently is that I just picked up my 2020 Ranger 520L, and the prepping and rigging happens on the weekends. I’m hoping to get out on the water sometime after Thanksgiving to test it out. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 5 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

The schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season are now available, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla., and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American and the FLW Series Championship. All teams also now have the freedom to add as many nonconference tournaments to their schedule as they like.  READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »