As with the previous two FLW Tour events, anglers seem to be specifically targeting one species or another.
Right now, largemouths are winning thanks to David Williams’ 18-pound, 11-ounce bag of them. Yet, when tallying up the totals for the rest of the top five, spotted bass take the lead 17-8.
How they arrived at those totals is a mixed bag in itself.
2. Capt. Blake Smith – Lakeland, Fla. – 16-2
Scorecard: 4 spots, 1 largemouth
Have you ever made a ridiculously long run up a creek arm, caught a quick limit, then made a 20+-mile run up another creek arm only to turn right around on a hunch after 45 minutes to make the same 20+-mile run back to your original spot, and it all worked out perfectly? Then you might be Smith.
In his defense, his fourth daughter, Ellalise, was born last week, causing him to lose some practice time. Thus, his options were limited as to what he felt he could do. Fortunately, what he found in practice was extremely promising. It just so happened to be at the far ends of two of Lewis Smith’s major creek arms.
He started the day on a school of spots he located in one arm and had 9 pounds in his first four casts and a limit by 8:30 a.m. That prompted him to make the long run to his second area, which he felt was primed for a kicker largemouth bite.
When he arrived, he felt the area had muddied up a little more than he would have liked. Plus …
“Something was telling me to run back to my first area,” says Smith. “I apologized to my co-angler, and then we ran back. Within 5 minutes I caught that kicker largemouth (which went 4-12).”
3. Clent Davis – Montevallo, Ala. – 15-13
Scorecard: 5 spots
Davis is known as a spotted-bass expert from Alabama. So obviously, this tournament sets up perfect for him.
“I fish the Coosa River a lot,” says Davis, who is coming off a top five at Cumberland. “Those spots are completely different from the ones here. This is a whole new world here.”
That may be true, but Davis has a pretty good game plan for how to handle Smith’s spots – figure them out every day.
“My practice was basically useless,” says Davis. “I figured out a little deal today, but we’ll see what happens.
“Smith is so finicky. What I’ve learned you do on this lake is you figure out how to catch them each and every day, because it can change each and every day. So you just keep moving and trying to figure them out.”
4. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 15-13
Scorecard: 5 spots
Arguably the top spotted bass angler on Tour, Meyer did what most expected, which was whale on Smith’s spots like he does those back in California. To do that means being comfortable with being random.
“I’m so comfortable fishing randomly,” says Meyer. “I may just see a point someone didn’t hit or a stretch I think should hold fish, and I stop and fish it.”
That lack of structure would drive most nuts, but it’s also what helped Meyer find a key spot to catch a limit and then cull up the rest of the day.
“I stopped on a spot I didn’t even hit in practice, but I thought it’s something spotted bass tend to like postspawn,” says Meyer. “I was actually just about to leave it when my co-angler caught a 4-pounder. Then I was like, ‘hmmm, there might be something here.’”
Turns out, there was a solid limit for 12 ½ pounds, which he continued to upgrade by randomly hitting various spots throughout the rest of the day.
Like most, Meyer is expecting the fishing to only get better.
“This is a herring lake, and we haven’t seen any herring or schooling activity, yet,” says Meyer. “I think we’ll start to once the sun comes out.”
5. Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 15-9
Scorecard: 3 spots, 2 largemouth
Like Beaver Lake, Smith offers the chance to run multiple patterns and catch multiple species. Arey did just that today.
Arey’s starting pattern focused on largemouth/spotted bass combo pattern, which netted him 10 or 11 pounds. He then switched gears and focused solely on spotted bass, where he culled up a couple more pounds. Finally, he switched back to largemouths – he only caught three in 3 ½ hours of fishing, but they were three good ones.
“I’m comfortable fishing patterns on highland impoundments in April and May,” says Arey. “All my best finishes have come that way. Well, this lake is like a highland impoundment, and it’s April.”