All around the hills and valleys of Lewis Smith Lake, the Bradford pear trees are full of snowy white blooms, the arrival of which usually signifies one thing to serious bass fishermen: Bass are just starting to spawn.
Pro and co-anglers alike tested that correlation on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Lewis Smith Lake today and proved it to be true.
In fact, Bagley pro Drew Benton brought in 20 pounds, 12 ounces of spawning bass – most of them fish that he could see – to take the day-one lead.
“The first five fish I caught today came off beds,” Benton says. “I caught three largemouths and two spots off beds, so both species are spawning. In fact, the biggest fish I weighed [a 4-10 spotted bass] came from a bed in about 6 feet of water.”
Benton would later cull two of the bass from his original sight-fish limit with bigger spotted bass that came on topwater.
He says he had about 25 beds marked at the start of the day. The beds were not clustered in one specific area, but rather single beds spread from Rock Creek to Ryan Creek. First thing this morning, Benton hopped around to the five biggest fish he had marked and caught every one of them. As he cruised down the banks looking for victims, Benton cast a topwater along the sides of the bedding pockets, which produced his two culls.
Benton admits that he probably got the best of the “low-hanging fruit” that was the easy-to-find bedding bass today.
“I still have some left on beds, but they’re not as big,” he adds. “I can probably catch another 12 to 14 pounds off beds tomorrow, but that would be about it. Once I pluck those, I’ve got a couple other things I can do to catch fish, but probably not 20 pounds worth.”
Water temperatures hovered at the 60-degree mark on a warm, balmy day one, allowing bed-fishing to play for a few other leaders as well. The warm conditions helped light up the leaderboard with 18 limits surpassing the 15-pound mark, and mixed bags were common among the top 10. But a big cool-down is in the forecast for the rest of the week, which could significantly throttle back the number of fish making beds. As a result, several other patterns – including targeting schooling fish and bass chasing herring – might move up through the standings as the week wears on.
Top 10 Pros
1: Drew Benton – Panama City, Fla. – 20-12 (5)
2: Clayton Batts – Macon, Ga. – 19-9 (5)
3: Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 18-15 (5)
4: Tracy Adams – Wilkesboro, N.C. – 18-9 (5)
5: Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 18-6 (5)
6: Ishama Monroe – Hughson, Calif. – 17-14 (5)
7: John Cox – Debary, Fla. – 16-7 (5)
8: Andy Morgan – Dayton, Tenn. – 16-3 (5)
8: Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 16-3 (5)
10: Lendell Martin Jr. – Nacogdoches, Texas – 15-11 (5)
Bridgford Big Bass: Shawn Murphy – 6-06
Roberts Leads Co-angler Division
Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition.
Top 10 Co-anglers
1: Brad Roberts – Faubush, Ky. – 13-4 (5)
2: Lee Black – Danville, Ala. – 13-2 (5)
3: Todd Lee – Jasper, Ala. – 12-15 (5)
4: Mark Schlarb – Atwater, Ohio – 12-10 (5)
5: Joey Cifuentes – Clinton, Ark. – 12-00 (5)
6: Kyle Raymer – Brandenburg, Ky. – 11-12 (5)
7: Joshua Weaver – Macon, Ga. – 11-03 (5)
8: Ken Keirsey – Owasso, Okla. – 11-00 (5)
9: Cody Hammontree – Flat Rock, Ala. –10-08 (5)
10: Mark B. Denney – Somerset, Ky. – 10-06 (4)
Bridgford Big Bass: Mark B. Denney – 4-11
Click here for complete results.