CULLMAN, Ala. – Bass fishing professionals from around the world set out on Lewis Smith Lake Thursday to begin their four-day competition for a shot to win up to $135,000 at the MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 – Lewis Smith Lake. Pro Kerry Milner of Fisher, Arkansas weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds even to take the early lead after Day 1. Milner holds a mere 5-ounce lead over pro Joseph Webster of Winfield, Alabama, who caught five bass weighing 17-11, good for second place.
Milner brought five spotted bass to the scale but said he boated a whopping 20 keepers on the tough day.
“I’m seeing a lot of people fishing the same stuff I’m fishing, but having different results,” Milner said. “I’ve been able to go right in behind people and catch them.”
Milner said he has two spots on the main lake with schools of fish that he feels are especially good because of the herring in the area.
“I’m seeing herring float up, watching them on the graph and seeing fish spit them up when I catch them,” said Milner. “There are multiple fish in those areas – you can just sit there and catch them all day.”
When asked if he thought his bait was the difference-maker, Milner was guarded, but said he believed it was the total technique.
“I’m doing something a little different than everyone else and I think the other guys are missing them on the depth by just a bit,” Milner said. “I figured out what I was going to do in practice – I instantly went to a spot that sets up like these two areas, and caught a 3-pounder. I tried a few other things, then came back to this same technique and was able to shake off fish in five different spots on the lake. At that point, I knew what I needed to do and let the fish and the areas rest until competition day. That’s what I plan to do until those fish abandon me.”
It was refreshing for Milner to start out with a bang on Day 1 of the competition, as he said his prior two trips to Smith Lake didn’t go nearly as well.
“The other times we were at Lewis Smith, it was a little bit too early for the technique I’m using,” Milner continued cryptically. “I had a pretty good first day of practice one year, that set up just like this, but they left and got on beds. It’s still a bit too cold for that though, so I don’t think they are going to move up this week.”
Milner would only say that he was “fishing the way he wants to fish,” noting it was very familiar and the way he typically fishes on Arkansas’ Norfork Lake, Lake Dardanelle and other fisheries.
“This is what I look for everywhere I go,” Milner said. “ My fans and followers back home know exactly what I’m doing.”
Perhaps if the spots hold and the technique continues, Milner will clue us in on his technique and what worked so well for him on Thursday.
The top 10 pros after Day 1 on Lewis Smith Lake are:
1st: Kerry Milner, Fisher, Ark., five bass, 18-0
2nd: Joseph Webster, Winfield, Ala., five bass. 17-11
3rd: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., five bass, 17-4
4th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., five bass, 16-13
5th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, five bass, 16-2
6th: Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 15-15
7th: Corey Neece, Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 15-3
8th: Tai Au, Glendale, Ariz., five bass, 14-15
9th: Ricky Robinson, Greenback, Tenn., five bass, 14-13
10th: Kyle Cortiana, Coweta, Okla., five bass, 14-8
For a full list of results visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Cox won the day’s $500 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, bringing home a bass weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces to the scale.
Overall, there were 544 bass weighing 1,273 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 163 pros on Thursday, which included 65 five-bass limits.
The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 – Lewis Smith Lake is hosted by the Cullman Area Local Organizing Committee.
In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 163 anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The Top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the Top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CT Thursday through Sunday from Smith Lake Park, located at 403 County Rd 386 in Cullman. Weigh-ins will also be held at the park Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .
The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 – Lewis Smith Lake will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 18 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-ins will be streamed daily and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Saturday and Sunday, March 13-14 on MLF NOW! beginning at 7:30 a.m. CT at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.