Wal-Mart FLW Series
Lake Cumberland, Somerset, Ky.
Opening round, Wednesday
Look-alikes … This morning before takeoff, pro David Walker compared Lake Cumberland to Beaver Lake, an annual stop on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. Therefore it is no surprise that famed Beaver Lake stalwart Clark Wendlandt is performing well on this plus-sized Beaver Lake twin. Wendlandt, who has two Beaver Lake victories to his credit, is currently in second place with 16 pounds, 14 ounces. “I like this lake; it fits my style,” Wendlandt said. “It’s a lot like Beaver Lake, and I’ve had a lot of success there. They both have all three species of fish, but the thing that’s better here is that it’s a lot bigger. There are more places to fish in general.” Wendlandt said what also makes the lakes similar is how an angler can approach it. “I would anticipate this being a really good pattern lake, similar to Beaver,” Wendlandt said.
Revenge is the color purple … Poor Ott Defoe. Not only is he mired back in 131st place in the pro standings after day one on Lake Cumberland, but he had to fish all day in a cast – a purple cast. “I fell at work and broke my wrist,” he explained of his new, brightly colored accessory. “I’ve been in this cast for two days.” Defoe said he can’t blame his subpar performance on the injury, attributing that to a lack of practice time. But he can blame the unique color of the cast on his wife. “My wife told me if I got to go fishing, she got to pick the color of the cast,” Defoe explained. Good choice. At the very least, you got your husband some publicity.
Back for more … Kevin Koone was an unknown co-angler with only two Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League starts to his credit when he took a surprising victory at the inaugural FLW Series event on Lake Lanier in March. Now, after day one of the second FLW Series event, Koone is once again the man on top, leading the Co-angler Division with a three-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 1 ounce. So who is this guy? Turns out he’s a college student on the cusp of graduation, a young man trying to make his mark on the bass-fishing world – and succeeding. “I’ve just been getting good draws and taking advantage of opportunities,” Koone said as he explained his success. “Both times, I’ve practiced and got confidence, and then guys got me on fish.” Indeed, co-angler success can be hit or miss, as they do depend on where their pros take them almost as much as they depend on their own natural ability. In the meantime, Koone will fish this week before heading back to Arkansas Tech, where he awaits graduation May 13 with a degree in agribusiness. “I’ll just keep fishing and see where it takes me,” he said.
The long and short of it … Fog delays are not uncommon along the professional fishing trails, but this morning’s two-hour, 40-minute setback did seem a bit extreme. Though sitting in a boat while your adrenaline is primed for action is never a fisherman’s preferred scenario, most of them seemed to take today’s long delay in stride. “The fog was really bad, and I appreciate FLW for keeping us back,” said pro Sean Hoernke, who caught 14-11 despite the shortened day and ended today in third. Said pro Ron Shuffield, “That was the right call this morning. I’m glad to be in an organization that respects the fishermen.” … Despite the understanding, there were plenty of pros who said they could have used the three hours they lost. Said No. 13 pro Steve Wright, “I’m waiting on a longer day.”
Three’s company … Anglers say that one of the best things about Lake Cumberland is its population of all three bass species – spots, smallmouths and largemouths – and competitors seem to be catching them in that order this week. Most of the bags that contained more than one bass were mainly filled up with Kentucky spots, with a smallmouth or two as a kicker. Largemouths seemed to be a little more rare. “It’s an interesting lake; I’ve never seen one quite like it,” said No. 9 pro Jay Yelas. “I’m using spots as my limit fish, and I’ve had better luck catching big smallmouths than largemouths.” No. 24 pro Curt Lytle agrees that the spots are good for fleshing out a limit, but he is one of the pros hoping to score with largemouths. “I only caught spots,” he said. “Personally, I ignore the smallmouths because an 18-inch size limit isn’t feasible. The largemouths are what I am going to pay attention to tomorrow.”
Slim pickins … Though 162 pros did weigh in fish today, and a few posted very solid stringers, there was still no doubt the fishing was tough today on Lake Cumberland. Anglers carrying bags of one to two fish seemed a lot more common than those with a limit of five. In fact, only 31 pros caught a limit on day one, and one lone co-angler, No. 2 Jim Smith, brought in five. Co-anglers seemed to have a particularly rough time of it, as only 72 of 200 weighed in. So what’s the problem? “One thing is the three-hour fog delay,” pro Craig Powers explained wryly. Powers is among those bringing in a single bass today, but the fog delay wasn’t the only issue. “The lake has come up 16 feet in two weeks,” Powers explained. “We’re not showing how good this fishery really is. Everything that could go wrong is going wrong.” … Powers also explained that unstable weather is also messing with the bite. “This is the first sun we’ve had in a week,” Powers said. Concurred pro Ray Scheide, “I’m with you, brother, I need some clouds.” They may get what they wish for, but at a price – the rain is expected to roll in tonight, but it could come in the form of severe thunderstorms.
6: Weight, in pounds, of the heaviest bass brought in today, caught by pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark.
1: Number of co-anglers with a day-one weight that registered in the double digits – leader Koone, who brought in 10 pounds, 1 ounce.
3: Number of Texas pros in the top five – Wendlandt, Hoernke and Mike Hawkes.
2: Number of Bassmaster Classic winners in the top 10 – Yelas and Luke Clausen.
“It’s a good start for an old man.” – Fishing legend Guido Hibdon, who ended day one in the enviable 17th-place position with 9-15.
“I could have caught as many eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the hotel.” – Pro Tommy Stiles, bemoaning his 97th-place day-one performance.
“Get stark-raving, lunatical mad.” – Sgt. Frank O’Laughlin, SFC of the National Guard, encouraging the audience to make a difference – thus the m-a-d – and inventing a new word in the process.
Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Eastern time at General Burnside Island State Park, located Highway 27 South in Burnside.