The FLW Tour — professional bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament circuit — is returning to Jasper April 26-29 for the FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake presented by T-H Marine.
Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, the four-day event will feature 368 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
Lewis Smith Lake last played host to the FLW Tour in 2015, when pro Dave Lefebre weighed a 19 1/2-pound limit on the final day to overcome an 8 1/2-pound deficit to Rookie of the Year Zack Birge and win with a total weight of 65 pounds, 6 ounces. Lefebre’s strategy involved catching a decent limit in the morning targeting schooling fish before transitioning to pockets where the herring were spawning in the afternoon.
“There’s going to be a lot of different ways to catch fish in this tournament,” said Quaker State pro Scott Canterbury of Odenville, a nine-time Forrest Wood Cup qualifier. “I pre-fished at Lewis Smith Lake recently and there were largemouth spawning in every pocket I went in. I think we’re going to be competing at the tail-end of the spawn, but there’s still going to be quite a few fish on beds and somebody will catch them.”
In addition to the shallow bite, Canterbury said many spotted bass will be suspended in deeper water chasing blueback herring — a good option for anglers looking to mix up their day.
“We had a bit of a warming trend in Alabama about six weeks ago and water temperatures jumped, for a short time, from the low 50s to 70 degrees,” said Canterbury. “I’m pretty sure a lot of the spotted bass either spawned or tried to spawn. They’ll be chasing blueback herring – that’s the deal there now. Just find the bait and you’ll be able to find the fish.”
Canterbury said largemouth will be relating to buckbrush, logs and laydowns and spotted bass will primarily be hanging around points as they head back out to the lake.
“Swimbaits and jerkbaits will be good bets,” said Canterbury. “For largemouth, you’ll be able to catch them with a shallow crankbait. A (Zoom) Trick Worm or something similar will be productive for those still guarding fry. Anglers are really going to be able to fish their strengths.”
The Alabama veteran predicted that a four-day cumulative total in the 60- to 64-pound range should be enough to secure the win.
“Lewis Smith Lake is a really healthy fishery,” said Canterbury. “It’s going to be a great tournament.”
Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. each day from the Smith Lake Dam, located at 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the dam beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the dam, but will begin at 4 p.m.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake presented by T-H Marine is more than $930,000.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake presented by T-H Marine will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) June 6 from Noon-1 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Smith Lake Dam from noon until 4 p.m.
The Expo is the perfect opportunity for fishing fans of all ages to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Smith Lake Dam on Saturday from 9 until 11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to youth (18 and under) and Special Olympics athletes (all ages). Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The first- and second-place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros.
Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.
The full field of 368 anglers competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 30 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2018 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 10-12 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.
For complete details and updated information visitFLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the sport’s top anglers on the FLW Tour on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube andSnapchat.