2:12 That’s a wrap
We’re rolling to weigh-in now, so we’re putting a lid on the blog for the rest of the afternoon. There are plenty of mysteries left to unravel, and lots of stars and local favorites that we haven’t found on the water. With that in mind, weigh-in should be pretty interesting, especially if you like spotted bass. It all starts at 3 p.m. CT, and if you want to come out and watch in-person the weather should actually be pretty nice.
2:02 Johnston is on pace
Chris Johnston says he’s got five 2-pounders. That’s pretty par for the course today.
1:50 Hammerbury, weather
Scott Canterbury has about 10 pounds like everyone else. We’re going to see plenty of limits, but the big ones are sure hard to come by today.
Also, it’s clearing up very nicely. So the pros with a late check-in should have lots of sun to fish with.
1:45 We’ve got a tentative leader
Matt Arey is having a really good day. He says he’s got 13+, and it’d be no surprise to see him pull up to weigh-in with 15+. It’s been a bit of a slow day by usual Smith standards, so what he’s got may work out very well for him.
1:33 The struggle is real
Alex Davis says he was getting 30 bites a day in practice and that he’s had seven bites today. That’s the same problem Dudley has had, so something has definitely changed.
1:32 Gross update
Buddy Gross has a small limit.
1:25 Davis upgrades
Alex Davis just upgraded his limit to get over the 10-pound mark. He fishes down here a ton in the fall, and really could be a contender this week if things break right for him.
1:15 Billy McDonald has a limit
Billy McDonald has a couple decent ones in the ‘well, but he’s filled out with just dinks. He says he’s trying to “supersize” a few of them before weigh-in.
1:00 Reese culls
Jimmy Reese just added about a pound on a California Roll. He actually called his shot on it and swapped from a blade to the worm for his fish.
12:47 Reese and Cortiana
Jimmy Reese has a similar limit to Brandon Mosley – one good one and a bunch that he’d be happy to cull. Kyle Cortiana has a 10-pound limit as well.
12:37 Latimer and Mosley
We saw Brian Latimer early and watched him box one keeper – no word beyond that though. Brandon Mosley is off to a solid start with a limit for around 11 or 12 pounds.
12:30 The Carolinas
Todd Auten says he’s got four for about 7 pounds and Brandon Cobb has a limit for around 7 pounds.
We had another round of rain roll through, but we’re getting close to it breaking for good.
11:49 Real Deal and Wendlandt are alright
Michael Neal and Clark Wendlandt are both on some good fish today and have filled out limits for about 11 pounds now. Once you extrapolate that out to the end of the day, they should be in pretty good shape.
11:40 A limit for Mitchell
Kurt Mitchell started out going for largemouths and struck out. Now he’s boxed up a small limit of spotted bass.
11:25 Setzer and Mansfield
Braxton Setzer has a decent limit for 11+ going now. Up in Ryan, Greg Mansfield has filled out his limit for about 8 pounds.
11:10 Birge and Cory Johnston
Zack Birge has five, but they’re all small so far. Cory Johnston only has three.
The water in the lake is actually backing up now – you can see it on the pilings of the bridge in Ryan. So, it looks like the lake is definitely rising again.
10:59 Poor Dudley
“I have no clue what’s happened, my heart is hurting right now,” says David Dudley, who was getting 50+ bites a day in practice. Word on the street is that water level fluctuations tend to cause lockjaw at Smith, and Dudley may have run right into it. Either way, he’s just got three so far.
10:53 Another limit
It seems like most everyone we pull up on now has a limit, or at least most of one. Jason Meninger is one of those folks – he’s got five for around 9 pounds.
10:47 Meyer with a big
Cody Meyer just caught a big one. That’ll push him up past the 10-pound mark. It’s awfully early, but considering the lake and the conditions it’ll be a big surprise if he isn’t fishing on the weekend.
10:39 McDonald boxes a kicker
Billy McDonald only has four, but his fourth is a dandy. He’s drop-shotting out deep and just pulled up a nice 3+ spotted dog.
10:33 Color and techniques
The water color in Ryan and elsewhere in Smith is a little greener than normal, with some stain in some pockets, but by and large it’s in pretty good shape still. According to the gauge, the water level has dropped a little since takeoff, but the incoming water is definitely compensating now. Additionally, the rain has started back up again.
We’ve seen some spinnerbait action out of Andy Morgan, but the majority of anglers are fishing finesse. Shaky heads, drop-shot rigs and little swimbaits seem to be the order of the day.
10:30 Jocumsen and Batts
Carl Jocumsen has just two keepers at the moment. Clayton Batts has just one.
Also, it has come to our attention that not nearly enough people know who Roo is. So, be sure to educate yourself if need be and follow her on Instagram.
10:23 More updates
Scott Martin has a small limit now for less than 10 pounds. Chris McCall also has a limit and is “more than ok” with Baker Mayfield going to the Browns. Greg Mansfield has three in the box.
10:19 Morgan and Dunkin
Andy Morgan and Luke Dunkin both have small limits. Morgan is chunking a blade and seems to be enjoying himself a great deal despite the bad weather.
10:10 Gags and Meyer
Anthony Gagliardi has had a “terrible” morning and has a small limit. Cody Meyer has his limit now as well.
10:05 Meyer and Ponds
Pete Ponds has four keepers in the ‘well, but none of them are special. Cody Meyer just boxed up his fourth keeper – a chunky 2-pound spot that he plucked off a bridge piling.
10:00 Blaukat with five, Meyer with three
Randy Blaukat has a limit and he say’s “they’re not much.” Also, co-angler Mark Guhne just caught a 4-pounder behind Cody Meyer, who now has three keepers.
9:55 Davis and more
Clent “Big Baby” Davis has four now and three are “good ones.” That’s a good start – usually catching limits isn’t the problem on Smith. Two folks with small limits are Jimmy Brewer and Kyle Weisenburger.
9:40 JoJo and JJ
Joseph Webster has pretty good morning going – he’s got a limit for about 10 pounds in the boat and one of them is a 4-pounder. Jason Johnson has three small spotted bass.
9:30 Davis and Meyer
Darrell Davis has four keepers now and is having some trouble with his bilge pump. Considering the weather, today is not the day for pump issues. Cody Meyer only has one, but he says they’ll start biting soon.
9:25 Cifuentes, Colson, Martin
Joey Cifuentes is not sporting his cowboy hat in the rain today, but he does have two keepers. Ramie Colson is also on the board with four fish. Scott Martin has three and they’re all small.
9:15 It looks like the rain is clearing
The rain seems to be clearing out west to east now, which is a little earlier than we expected. There should still be some scattered stuff coming, but the bulk of the water has probably fallen now. Interestingly, the water level in the lake is still falling, but it isn’t falling as slowly now.
9:00 Sprague and Moynagh
Jeff Sprague boxed up his third keeper a minute ago – no word on the size front from the Texas pro. Jim Moynagh has at least one 2-pounder, but he boxed it and left before we could get a total from him.
8:55 It’s a little slow
Jason Abram and James Niggemeyer are both sitting on goose eggs at the moment. Fishing behind Niggemeyer, co-angler Mark Howard has four.
It is still very wet, so actually getting photos and updates back through Smith’s sketchy service can be a bit of a challenge. That said, we’re probably not going to have too many more lulls like this unless some lightening moves through.
8:30 Our first limit
Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson has the first limit of the day. He says it only goes about 9 pounds, but that’s a fine spot to be starting from.
8:19 Thrift has three
Bryan Thrift has three small ones. He’s two away from extending his limit streak one more day.
8:18 Huff and Lambert
Rex Huff is on the board early with three keepers. Jason Lambert has just one, but it’s a largemouth, so that’s kinda fun.
8:03 Technique notes
Early on a lot of the anglers are fishing offshore or on points and the like – basically, they aren’t fishing the flooded bank. That’s not to say that the flooded cover won’t be useful today, it might, but right now it seems like the spotted bass are behaving as though the water level is completely normal.
7:53 Morgenthaler, Scanlon, Rose
Chad Morgenthaler has one in the boat and Casey Scanlon has two keepers early. Mark Rose just added a third that’s about 2 pounds.
7:39 A handful of updates
Clent Davis doesn’t have any. He’s fishing a swimbait and says he’s gotten some good bites but they are hitting it funny and not hooking up. Todd Hollowell and Wade Curtiss each have one.
7:27 Rose with two, Ryan is empty
Fishing near takeoff, Mark Rose just caught his second keeper.
Oddly enough, the upper end of Ryan is pretty empty today – only about 10 boats ran that far. Usually, that arm is a big player, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see so few folks up there this morning.
7:16 McCall gets on the board
Chris McCall has one in the boat so far. He’s alternating between a spinnerbait, a buzzbait and a shaky head.
7:08 Nothing for Setzer
Braxton Setzer started out in the mouth of Rock Creek and hasn’t put anything in the boat yet. There are a bunch of other boats rolling up into Rock as well, and we’ll have updates on them as we get to ‘em.
6:56 It’s wet and Gussy is on the board
Our first fish catch of the day goes to Jeff Gustafson – he’s boxed up a 2-pound spotted bass to get things started. It’s not pouring, but it’s raining very steadily and figures to for much of the day.
6:30 Time to chase some spots in the rain
Stop No. 5 of the FLW Tour on Smith Lake is presented by T-H Marine and hosted by The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County. Though the weather for day one is decidedly wet, it sure looks like the final three days will offer great weather and great fishing in the hills of Alabama.
Smith is rocky, deep highland reservoir that has a good population of largemouths and a spotted bass fishery that has gone from good to great in the last few years. The Sipsey Fork, Rock Creek and Ryan Creek are the three main arms of the lake, and they’re all good. That said, Ryan Creek is a little flatter and known for its ability to kick out more largemouths than average.
The big story at the moment is the high water. On day two of practice, Smith came up about 4 feet, and it began coming back down Wednesday afternoon. How much it will fall during the tournament is anyone’s guess, especially considering the new water coming in from today’s rain. What the water level and water color do will be of prime importance to some, but a lot of the fish, especially postspawn spotted bass, will likely be somewhat unaffected.
Though today is going to be wet and difficult, the fishing should be pretty good every day of the event. Most of the bass are postspawn at the moment, and there are going to be a lot of ways to catch them. From fishing flooded cover with moving baits and flipping stuff, to topwaters and swimbaits near the bank for spotted bass. Of course, fish will be caught deep as well, on all the usual finesse offerings that Smith and spots are known for.
Temperature at takeoff: 56 degrees
Forecast high: 66 degrees
Precipitation: 100 percent chance of rain
Wind: south at 8 mph
Water level: 514.06 Feet (tracker)
Folgers Morning Takeoff: 6:30 a.m. CT at Smith Lake Dam Access, 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road, Jasper, Ala.
Weigh-in: Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. CT at Smith Lake Dam Access and 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Smith Lake Dam Access
FLW Expo: 12 to 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Smith Lake Dam Access
FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. CT