The word of the day Thursday at the FLW Tour event presented by T-H Marine on Lake Cumberland was smallmouths – at least for the day one leaders.
Despite having an 18-inch minimum size limit, smallmouths were the day one shining stars of the species for many pros in the top 10.
Raw weather, which included gusty winds, drizzly rain and temperatures in the 40’s, all seemed to have spurred the smallmouth bite, and even those who were a little reluctant to commit to smallmouths Thursday did so based on the weather.
Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., took the early lead on Cumberland with a catch of 19 pounds, 7 ounces, which included four smallmouths and a stout largemouth.
“Based on this weather, I decided to start the day by targeting smallmouth,” Martin says. “And after I caught two, I figured I’d just keep rolling with it to see how many overs (18 inches) I could get. As it turned out, I caught a couple more and then a nice largemouth.”
Martin hinted he made a long run by saying he did have to stop for fuel. Some of his smallmouth water and largemouth water are in close proximity, so he bounced back and forth between the two later in the day.
“All those years of going to Beaver Lake finally paid off,” Martin laughs. “That lake taught me to fish loose, and that’s what I did today. What took me so long to learn at Beaver is that you have to keep running new water. Going back to try to catch them where you had bites in practice or the day before seldom works. And I have applied that approach here.
“I tried a couple of places where I caught some smallmouth in practice and I never got a bite. So at that point I decided to treat this lake like Beaver – just keep fishing new water that fits the pattern. As a result, I caught some of my best fish today off places I’ve never fished before. I just fished the weather I was given today and ran with it.”
Martin says he will continue to run the weather in the coming days.
“We are supposed to have wind again tomorrow, which is good – I like that,” Martin says. “Where I’m a little concerned is if I make it to day three because it’s supposed to get slick with high skies and that could be a problem for the way I’m fishing. So I might have to change things up quite a bit should I make it to the weekend.”