UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. – The smallmouth bite proved strong once again as the Knockout Round is set at Favorite Fishing Stage Five Presented by ATG by Wrangler on Cayuga Lake. Spencer Shuffield added 24 pounds, 9 ounces to his total on Friday to give him 50-10 and the Group B victory by 10 ounces over Matt Becker (50-0), leading the way as 20 more anglers advanced to Saturday’s Knockout slugfest.
Andy Montgomery caught a 6-8 in the final period to push him into the Top 20 as the last man in, putting an exclamation point on a day in which 35 of the 40 anglers fishing (88%) cleared the 20-pound mark.
It was all smallmouth for Shuffield on Friday, completing a two-day qualifying run in which nine of his 10 scored fish were smallmouth, a trend that is quickly proving just how critical brown fish are for a potential run at the Top 10. Shuffield knows that if he wants to have a shot to win on Cayuga, it’s going to have to be with smallmouth.
“There’s no way you can win this event just with largemouth,” Shuffield said plainly. “You can catch 24 to 26 pounds of smallmouth a day and I just don’t think you can do that with largemouth. A lot of the guys that started fishing for largemouth on the north end have now switched to smallmouth on the south end.”
Shuffield caught all his fish on a drop-shot with a Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too, and a Z-Man Finessee TRD on a Ned rig. He admits that he may have figured out how to catch them a little faster than the rest of the field, but the Arkansas pro says that he needs some sunshine to find new and unpressured fish if he wants to keep his name near the top of SCORETRACKER® over the next two days.
“We haven’t had a day yet of calm, slick water and sunshine,” Shuffield said. “If the sun comes out at all, guys are going to start finding fish that we’ve missed over the last four days. The ones you can see now have been caught so many times. I’m starting on a 6-pounder tomorrow I know has been caught at least eight times over the past four days. It’s going to be about who can find new beds.”
The quality and quantity of smallmouth on Cayuga is nothing short of astounding. Each day the fishing seems to get better and better as the aggressive smallmouth — and even some largemouth — continue to bite in bunches.
Out of the 40 anglers fishing in Group B on Friday, 35 of them caught bags over the 20-pound mark, eight of those were over 25 pounds. Mitch Crane caught the biggest bag of the day with 27-7, but he’ll miss the cut after focusing mainly on largemouth for his first day and only catching three for 12-1.
The Top 20 anglers in Group B scored 65 smallmouth and 35 largemouth. The top seven anglers caught all smallmouth while the highest-ranked angler who caught all largemouth was Ott DeFoe in 13th place, 6-7 behind Shuffield. Largemouth can keep you in the game, but a win will more than likely come from the smallmouth contingent on the south end of Cayuga Lake.
The Top 20 anglers from both Group A and B will meet for the first time in the Knockout Round on Saturday. All weights will reset to zero as the 40 pros will fish for three periods on Cayuga Lake. Only the Top 10 anglers will advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. Coverage begins at 7:45 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MLF app.