PREVIEW: Don't Fall on the Largemouth Sword - Major League Fishing

PREVIEW: Don’t Fall on the Largemouth Sword

Image for PREVIEW: Don’t Fall on the Largemouth Sword
February 15, 2017 • Rob Newell • Cup Events

The Major League Fishing operations staff relishes the opportunity to keep MLF pros confused about their fishing locations from day to day, which is exactly why day two of the Elimination Rounds at the Summit Cup began with a 25-minute drive to the north followed by several miles down a narrow dirt road into the Chippewa National Forrest to reach Lake Wabana.

Lake Wa-ba-what?


Lake Wabana is a remote 2,200-acre lake with a maximum depth of 115 feet. One look at this gem in the middle of nowhere and the mind can’t help but wonder just how many bass it could possibly hold. And more importantly, which species of bass would be dominant player.

These were the questions burning in MLF anglers’ minds as they sat on their hands waiting for the official call to launch the boats.

Previous MLF Cup winner Kelly Jordon of Texas was the first to address the largemouth-versus-smallmouth question.

“I’ve learned my lesson in these MLF events on mixed species lakes,” Jordon warned. “Don’t fall on the largemouth sword. Trust me. It’s a bad deal.”

Jordon has been “stabbed in the back” by committing to largemouth in other mixed species MLF events in Alpena and Maine, he said.

“It never works for me on these kinds of lakes,” Jordon said. “If there are smallmouth present, they are hard to beat in an every-fish-counts contest.”

Despite his own words of wisdom, Jordon confessed that he would still test the largemouth waters at Wabana, at least briefly.

“I’m going to start my day looking for largemouths, but if it does not happen quick, I’m out,” he continued. “I see some largemouth stuff on the map. This lake has a few flats and a couple of shallow bays, but it also has a lot of deep, deep water and that usually means smallmouth.”

In an effort to avoid falling on the largemouth sword, Jordon has rigged up far more rods for this day of fishing than he usually does.

“I had to tie all my smallmouth stuff on last night so now I’ve got rods everywhere,” he said.

2016 MLF Challenge Cup winner Bobby Lane was eyeing the lake for largemouth potential as well.

“I have no clue where we are,” Lane blurted out. “We’re in Minnesota and that’s all I know. As I’m looking at this lake for the first time here I see it has some good-looking vegetation so I’ve got to start out fishing for largemouth.

“Hey, I’m from Lakeland, Florida, what do you expect me to do?” he asked while cracking a smile. “Do you really think I’m going to look at all that gorgeous vegetation up there on the bank and turn my back to it to go dink a drop shot around in the middle of the lake? I’ve got to try those veggies first – at least for a little while. Then I’ll go out there and catch them off my graph if I have to.”

Incidentally, Bobby’s brother, Chris Lane, who qualified for the Summit Cup by winning a day at the 2017 Summit Select on Lake of the Ozarks, will be in the day-two mix as well. Together, they will make up a small piece of MLF history as being the first two brothers to compete against each other at the Cup level.

With just minutes before his first Cup experience, Chris Lane was a man of few words. He wouldn’t even take the bait on running a little smack on his brother.

“There might only be nine other guys in this thing, but they’re all hammers,” he said. “I’m ready to go. Like with any MLF event, the goal is to get off to a fast start.”

Former MLF Cup winner Brent Ehrler was still stacking rods on his deck as the boats crept closer to the ramp for launch.

“I went down to look at the water when we first got here and it looked rather largemouth-y to me,” Ehrler said. “I saw lily pads and pencil reeds, but the water was pretty clear, too, so I’m putting rods for both species out on the deck.”

Ehrler, too, was weary of the largemouth sword.

“In Maine last year I started on largemouths in the first period and that put me in dead last place,” he recalled. “I got behind so fast it killed me. In the second period I went smallmouth fishing, found a wad of them and ended up winning the day – that just proves how species dependent this format is on these kinds of lakes. You pick the wrong species to fish for and it can leave you high and dry.”

One angler who seemed totally at peace with how to start his day was South Carolina’s Andy Montgomery, who earn a permanent ticket to the Cups through the Select points this year.

“I looked at that map they gave us, saw a couple of roads coming down to the lake, so I know exactly what I’m going to do,” Montgomery said. “Roads usually mean lake houses and lake houses usually mean docks. Hopefully I’m right about that. Which ever species lives under those docks is the species I want to catch.”

Which species will prevail in Wabana? That question will be answered as soon as day two of elimination begins.