Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published April 2, 2018
The FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, returns to the water next week, April 12-15, with the FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire. Hosted by the Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission, the tournament 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.
The FLW Tour has visited Lake Cumberland two times previously, with 2018 marking the third visit in the Tour's 23-year history. When the Tour visited the Central Kentucky mountain reservoir in 2017, some of the biggest names in the sport ended up competing on Championship Sunday, including two former Forrest Wood Cup champions (Scott Martin, Anthony Gagliardi) and three former Pennzoil Marine Angler of the Year (AOY) winners (Martin, Gagliardi, Clark Wendlandt). Martin won the event, weighing 20 bass totaling 60 pounds, 1 ounce, focusing on creeks on the lower end of the reservoir with a deep-diving jerkbait and flipping a jig.
Different this year, anglers will be able to keep any bass above the statewide size limit of 12 inches. Normally, Lake Cumberland has a 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass and an 18-inch minimum size limit for smallmouth bass. However, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources recently announced a study on the impact of allowing anglers participating in fishing tournaments to keep shorter bass in lakes with special regulations. The three-year test is limited to two spring and two fall tournaments each year on Lake Cumberland, and will help fisheries biologists determine if these limited exceptions to the bass size limits will significantly affect the overall fishery in the lake. The FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire is the first tournament to be a part of the test regulations.
"I think the tournament weights will be higher this year, throughout the field, because of the new length limits," said three-time AOY Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, who has two top-10 finishes on Lake Cumberland in his two career visits. "We're going to see a whole lot of spotted bass caught, but I still think that largemouth and smallmouth are going to dominate the event."
Wendlandt said the he expects some fish could be on beds by the time the Tour event starts, but that the timing is a little early for a full-on bed-fishing tournament.
"The conditions should be fairly similar to last year," Wendlandt said. "The spawn will be close - we may see some bedding fish - but with water temperatures in the mid- to upper-50s and I think the majority will be prespawn. I think it's going to take a four-day total in the mid-60-pound range to win."
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EST each morning from General Burnside Island State Park, located at 8801 S. Highway 27, in Burnside, Kentucky. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins, April 12-13, will be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's weigh-ins, April 14-15, will also be held at the park, but will begin at 4 p.m.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire is more than $930,000, including $10,000 through 60th place in the Pro Division.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) May 23 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.
"We are excited to welcome FLW back to Somerset, Kentucky, for the second consecutive year," said Leslie Ikerd, Director of Tourism with the Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission. "Since raising the lake levels in 2014, Lake Cumberland has seen an abundance of new vegetation that has truly created a fisherman's paradise. We were thrilled to hear that many of the FLW Tour pros that competed in last year's event agreed with us and shared a new-found love and appreciation for our lake. Somerset offers many hotels, restaurants, shopping and family-friendly activities, making it the perfect tournament venue."
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at General Burnside Island State Park from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans 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 Pulaski County Park, located at 1200 State Highway 3189 in Nancy, Kentucky on Saturday, April 14 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to anyone under the age of 18 and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
As part of the FLW Tour's community outreach initiative, FLW Tour pro anglers will visit patients, guests and staff at the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, located at 305 Langdon St., in Somerset on Wednesday, April 11 from 8:30-9:45 a.m. to interact with guests, snap photos and sign autographs for patients, give away some goodie bags and share fishing stories.
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.