Swindle targets spawning spots for Day 2 lead at Smith - Major League Fishing

Swindle targets spawning spots for Day 2 lead at Smith

Image for Swindle targets spawning spots for Day 2 lead at Smith
Two 15-pound bags added up to a Day 2 lead for Austin Swindle at Smith Lake. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Austin Swindle.
April 5, 2024 • Justin Onslow • Toyota Series

CULLMAN, Ala. – Unlike Day 1 leader Laker Howell, who weighed in five largemouth off beds for over 16 pounds, Austin Swindle has made hay on spotted bass this week at Smith Lake – though his keepers have been of the bedding variety as well. Both have enjoyed the result of their programs, and Swindle now finds himself in pole position heading into the final day of the second event of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Central Division season.

Prior to the tournament, Swindle, who hails from Parrish, Alabama, and who finished fifth in the Central Division tournament on Smith last year, said before the tournament that he thinks the winning fish will be spawning spotted bass caught near banks with a better-than-average concentration of spawners. He certainly proved that to be true on Day 1 with 15 pounds, and while he caught spots on Day 2 that were previously on the bank, he had to make some big-time adjustments on Friday.

“(Day 2) was a different story,” Swindle said. “I had to really abandon everything I did yesterday. It seemed like all the fish moved from on the bank to right off the bank, so I had to use a swimbait today to catch them.

“Pretty much staying close to the areas I know they spawn (was key). They pull off and they’ll either sit right off the first main ledge – or if the bait comes through, they’ll pull off and chase them. A lot of times it’s only two to four of them swimming together, so it’s not giant school or anything like that.”

On Day 1, Swindle caught his best fish on a Neko-rigged stickbait, blind-casting to banks loaded with spawning spots. He didn’t sight-fish any of those spots – there was really no need for it considering how concentrated and aggressive they were.

“When you get around a bedding area for a spot, you just know it,” he said. “You’re catching fish every other cast.”

With cooler-than-normal weather following warmer air and water temps last week, spawning bass (of both varieties) don’t seem to want to stay locked on beds like they might otherwise do this time of year. In addition, Swindle posits that Smith typically has two large waves of spawning spots, and the first wave is just at the point where they’re ready to pull off the bank and go into postspawn mode.

As a result, Swindle spent Day 2 off the bank, tracking those same concentrations of spots he targeted shallower on Thursday with forward-facing sonar and getting them to bite a 4-inch True Bass swimbait on a 3/8-ounce True Bass jighead. They’re not far from where they were on Day 1 – they’re just not as easy to catch.

“With seeing as many fish that pulled off in the areas I was in, if they’re still out there roaming around, I shouldn’t have to go anywhere else (tomorrow) – I hope,” he said. “They’re still out there swimming around. I just have to find them.”

In case he doesn’t, Swindle said his backup plan is to do what he typically likes to do at Smith this time of year (and might be doing right now if the weather were more agreeable) – catching bedding largemouth.

“Traditionally on Smith, I’m a largemouth fisherman; that’s what I’d rather do, but knowing the conditions that was coming into the tournament, it was just something I didn’t think I could do to win,” Swindle said. “My backup plan would be to go try to find some largemouth on beds or to fish on docks for some largemouth.”

Whatever Swindle has to do to catch the winning fish tomorrow, he’s certainly confident he’ll figure it out. And after weighing in 15 pounds on Day 1 and 15-10 today, he’s shown the consistency and the ability to adapt and adjust to make it happen.

Top 10 pros

1. Austin Swindle – 30 – 10 (10)            
2. Rusty Cooper – 29 – 12 (9)
3. Blake Knies – 29 – 11 (10)   
4. Jeremy Gordon – 28 – 7 (10)            
5. Flint Davis – 28 – 7 (10)      
6. Laker Howell – 28 – 2 (10)                 
7. Isaac Peavyhouse – 27 – 13 (10)    
8. Tristan McCormick – 27 – 12 (10)  
9. Caleb Kuphall – 27 – 5 (10)              
10. Brent Crow – 27 – 4 (10)

Complete results

Fishing Clash AOY

Toyota Series Central Division pros are competing for the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and a $5,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s been downloaded by more than 80 million people worldwide – will reward the pro AOYs in all divisions of the Toyota Series, and is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. 

Download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.