Topwater Takes Birge to the Top - Major League Fishing

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

Rookie pro's consistency, largemouth pattern are keys to success
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Zack Birge weighs 17-14 on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour on Smith Lake to take the lead. Photo by FLW. Angler: Zack Birge.
March 27, 2015 • MLF • Archives

Day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude was some 25 degrees colder than day one. In some areas the water temperature dropped 8 degrees. But the drastic change seemed to have little impact on the predominant patterns from day one. Though the leaderboard shifted a bit, eight of the top 10 pros from day one stayed within the top 10 on day two.

Zack Birge, who is quickly making a name for himself across all FLW levels, moved into the lead on day two with a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which gives him a two-day total of 36-13.

For the second day in a row, Birge brought in all largemouths for his limit, though he had to wait them out a bit more today.

“I knew nothing would really happen in there until about noon,” Birge says of his best area. “At 11 o’clock I got my first good bite. Then I caught another one at noon, and another good one an hour after that. The water temperature did drop a few degrees in there overnight, but it gained those degrees back by noon with sunshine. That helped.”

Birge is from Oklahoma, and he is fishing in a classic Okie style – big baits for big bass in shallow flooded bushes.

“I’m using a Santone buzzbait and a frog,” Birge says. “When the sun gets on that stained water, it heats the surface up a few more degrees, and I think those largemouths like to pull up right to the surface to warm up. When something comes by overhead, they clobber it.”

Birge does not believe the largemouths that he’s catching are actually spawning just yet, but are perhaps just a day or two away from doing the deed.

“I can see them in there swimming around,” he says. “It’s not really spawning behavior, but they are close.”

Birge has three or four areas that have the right ingredients of shallow, stained water and bushes. But one of those areas is much bigger than the others.

“The key stretches in my other places are pretty small,” he says. “I can cover them in a couple of passes. But my best place is bigger with a lot more room and opportunities.”

The only piece of the puzzle Birge needs to fit together to reach total perfection is finding something to do in the first few hours of the day when the largemouths are not as cooperative.

“It’s such a waiting game with these colder mornings, and it might be even more so tomorrow [today’s temperature at takeoff was 41 degrees; tomorrow’s forecast is 34 degrees],” he says. “I think I might try to get a limit of spots before I try to force the largemouth bite. Having a little something in the well always helps.” 


Top 10 Pros

1: Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 36-13 (10)      

2: Drew Benton – Panama City, Fla. – 35-13 (10)           

3: Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 33-08 (10)        

4: Tracy Adams – Wilkesboro, N.C. – 31-12 (10) 

5: Scott Wiley – Bay Minette, Ala. – 31-10 (10)    

6: Ishama Monroe – Hughson, Calif. – 31-07 (10)           

7: Clayton Batts – Macon, Ga. – 31-06 (10)          

8: Jason Reyes – Huffman, Texas – 31-06 (10)    

9: Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 30-15 (10)      

10: Andy Morgan – Dayton, Tenn. – 30-14 (10)  

11: Jayme Rampey – Liberty, S.C. – 30-06 (10)   

12: Dave Lefebre – Erie, Pa. – 30-06 (10)

13: Adrian Avena – Vineland, N.J. – 29-12 (10)   

14: Luke Clausen – Spokane, Wash. – 29-11 (10)           

15: Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 29-10 (10)

16: David Dudley – Lynchburg, Va. – 29-09 (10)

17: Shinichi Fukae – Palestine, Texas – 29-09 (10)        

18: Wesley Strader – Spring City, Tenn. – 29-05 (10)    

19: Anthony Gagliardi – Prosperity, S.C. – 29-05 (10)    

20: John Cox – Debary, Fla. – 29-04 (10) 


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