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

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go
Bryan Schmitt

It’s only mid-April, but already we can see the finish line for the 2019 FLW Tour. There are just two events left, which means there isn’t much time left for pros to compete for the Angler of the Year prize and spots in the 2019 FLW Cup. 

This season, the top 40 pros on Tour will qualify for the Cup. In a typical year, at least a few pros double-qualify, extending the cutoff down the standings. It looks like that won’t be the case this season. 

The only FLW Tour pro currently qualified for the Cup is Ryan Salzman, who’s in 60th place. He could certainly shoot up the standings at the next event on Lake Chickamauga and bump the cut line back a spot, and if he does then FLW would extend another invite. 

That said, because 2018 Cup winner Clent Davis and 2018 FLW Tour AOY Mark Rose are not fishing the Tour this season, they have forfeited their Cup qualifications in this year's event. Those two spots will be granted to the 41st and 42nd pros in the 2019 standings.

Here’s a look at the current crop of FLW Cup bubble boys vying for a spot in the field at Lake Hamilton Aug. 9-11.

 

Darrell Davis

36. Darrell Davis – Dover, Fla. – 693 points

In vying for his second Cup appearance, Darrell Davis has had an up-and-down season, finishing as high as third and as low as 127th. He was probably cruising toward missing the Cup until he put together an impressive tournament at Cherokee to finish 38th. He’s in decent shape now. 

While he’s finished worse than 100th at Chickamauga before, Davis finished in the top 10 the last time the Tour visited Dayton, Tenn., and the timing this year bodes well for him. There’ll be fish offshore, but Davis should have no trouble finding a shallow bite, which is where he excels. 

For Davis, the season will probably come down to Champlain, a lake that hasn’t been kind to him. If he can unlock a shallow largemouth pattern in Ticonderoga he’ll get back to the Cup for the first time since 2015.

 

Matt Stefan

37. Matthew Stefan – Junction City, Wis. – 691

Wisconsin pro Matt Stefan’s 2019 season has been one of steady improvement. He opened the season with a 124th-place finish at Rayburn, then followed with finishes of 57th, 49th, 55th and 29th. If Stefan’s season continues to peak, he’ll waltz right into the Cup cutoff without a problem. 

His track record on Chickamauga and Champlain suggest he’ll do just that. Stefan has three top-30 finishes combined on the two lakes in Tour competition. Don’t expect him to fall very far, if at all.

 

Darrel Robertson

38. Darrel Robertson – Jay, Okla. – 689

What a remarkable career Darrel Robertson has had. The Oklahoma veteran has been on Tour since 1997 and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. He’s hoping to make the Cup for the 11th time and could hit the $2 million career earnings mark in the process.

Robertson has made two checks this year on Tour, but has had a few stinkers, too. It’s tough to predict how he’ll finish out the season. Robertson has fished six FLW Tour events on Champlain and never finished higher than 52nd, with an average finish of 94th. On Chickamauga, he’s finished 29th, 55th and 32nd. If he stays on pace at Chick, he’ll be fine, but Robertson probably needs to finish near the higher end of his historical range on Champlain to avoid missing out on a trip to Hot Springs.

 

Dylan Hays

39. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 687

Dylan Hays did a lot of good for his Cup chances by finishing third at Cherokee Lake last week. Now he’s on the cusp of making his first Cup and getting the chance to compete for FLW’s highest prize in his home state.

Hays’ season has been as up-and-down as you can imagine, with finishes of 34th, 150th, 29th, 102nd and third. If he can stay on the upswing in the remaining events, he can avoid the same pain he felt last season when he finished 45th in the standings and narrowly missed out on the championship.

Hays hasn’t fished a Tour event on either of the remaining lakes on the schedule, but he’s fished them both at the Costa FLW Series level. He finished 47th at Chickamauga back in March, and has finished 39th and 32nd at Champlain.

A top-50 finish at Chick should be good enough to stay above the cut. If Hays can hang at Champlain, he’ll get to go to the Cup for the first time.

 

Bryan Schmitt

40. Bryan Schmitt – Deale, Md. – 685

Bryan Schmitt started the season with back-to-back top-20 finishes before finishing 129th at Lake Seminole and failing to make a check at Grand and Cherokee. With an average finish of 64th place, he can’t afford to slip at the next two derbies. Don’t expect him to, either.

When the Tour last visited Chickamauga in 2015, Schmitt finished 16th. He should be able to power-fish there this time, too. The finale on Champlain bodes even better for Schmitt. He has two top-10 finishes there on Tour and seems to flourish anywhere bass live around vegetation. 

Expect to see Schmitt competing for the top prize on Hamilton. 

 

Joey Cifuentes

41. Joey Cifuentes – Clinton, Ark. – 684 

Joey Cifuentes is a protégé of Larry Nixon. The two used to travel together when Cifuentes was a co-angler. Now, they’re duking it out for a spot at the Cup in their home state. You can expect either one of them to be a favorite should he make it.

Cifuentes has never fished a Tour event as a pro on either of the remaining fisheries, but he has fished them both as a co-angler and even made the top 10 at Chickamauga in 2015. In two and a half seasons as a pro, Cifuentes has had his best finishes on Northern fisheries and lakes with mixed bags, so he’ll probably do just fine at Champlain. His Tennessee River track record isn’t so hot. If he gets through Chickamauga OK, he’ll probably make the Cup. 

 

Larry Nixon

42. Larry Nixon – Quitman, Ark. – 682 

Larry Nixon, especially, is one to watch. He finished 15th at Chickamauga in 2015 and has been to Champlain enough times to know how to survive there.

More importantly, this Cup could be a big one for him. While we all hope the General will compete on Tour forever, you have to expect that before long he might consider retiring. To win the Cup at home on the same lake as where his longtime friend George Cochran won it in 2005 would be a fitting way to cap what has to be one of the five best pro fishing careers of all time. 

Speaking of 2005, Nixon finished 11th that year. He should do well this year, too, if he makes it. The Cup on Hamilton won’t be a power-fishing showdown. It’ll probably be a finesse worm-fest, which means, at age 68, the legendary worm fisherman shouldn’t be at any physical disadvantage and should feel quite comfortable competing for five bites a day.

 

Jamie Horton

43. Jamie Horton – Centerville, Ala. – 681 

Horton, a veteran, hasn’t done great up north in his FLW Tour career, but he’s seen enough and is consistent enough to not bomb. He's probably going to feel most at home at Chickamauga, and a good finish there should bump him up into Cup range. Then he just has to survive at Champlain.

 

Austin Wilson

44. Austin Wilson – Citrus Heights, Calif. – 672 

Austin Wilson is somewhat of a wild card because this is his rookie season. However, most California pros bring a diverse set of skills and feel at home fishing clear smallmouth waters. Like Cifuentes, if Wilson can hang tough at Chickamauga, he has a good shot to get into Cup range at Champlain.

 

Jared McMillan

45. Jared Mcmillan – Belle Glade, Fla. – 670

Jared McMillan has to make up some ground to get in the Cup, but his deficit isn’t insurmountable. He’s 15 points back of Schmitt, who’s on the bubble. Historically, Florida pros have done well at Champlain (see: Glenn Browne and Scott Martin). Perhaps they feel comfortable on a natural lake with grass. Chickamauga bass have Florida-strain genetics mixed in, and there should be plenty of shallow hawgs for him to target. Don’t count the young pro out. 

Tags: bubble-boys  flw-cup  lake-hamilton  curtis-niedermier  article  2019-08-09-flw-cup-lake-hamilton 

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Except 2020 will be different for the General. He’ll miss the season opener on Sam Rayburn and stop No. 2 at the Harris Chain. In fact, he might not get to launch a boat for the 2020 Pro Circuit until stop No. 4 or 5 in April. READ MORE »

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

When the VMC Tokyo Rig first debuted at ICAST in 2018, a lot of folks didn’t know what to make of the weird-looking contraption. Some thought of it as a gimmick. I kind of felt that way at first until some industry friends told me about their success with it. It didn’t take long before I had a few in hand and was ready to take it for a spin. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

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 Delaware pro Kurt Mitchell.  READ MORE »

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 Gator, Piedmont, Savannah River, Shenandoah and South Carolina divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can begin registering today. With the addition of these final divisions, registration for the Bass Fishing League is now open for everyone who wants to fish in 2020.  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 »