Fishing Tips

Birge Takes Lead in FLW Tour on Smith Lake

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Fishing in just his second event as a professional, FLW Tour rookie Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., brought a five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to take the lead at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake. With less than 6 pounds separating 1st place from 10th place, the tournament is still very much up for grabs.

Birge’s two-day total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 13 ounces gives him a 1-pound lead over day-one leader Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., who brought five bass to the scale Friday totaling 15-1, for a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35-13.

“I didn’t get my first good bite until around 11 a.m. today,” said Birge, who is the reigning Rayovac FLW Series champion. “The sun came out around noon and the water temperature rose about three degrees. Then the fishing gradually got better.

“I caught my first fish in about a foot of water on a frog, way back in the bushes,” Birge continued. “That’s Oklahoma fishing, and that’s what I’m comfortable doing. I’m fishing shallow, flat pockets and flooded bushes.

“I’m throwing a Santone Lures buzzbait and a frog and bouncing back and forth between them. Yesterday they were tearing up the frog, but today they wouldn’t really touch it. I stopped at a creek today where I had caught some fish yesterday on the frog, but I didn’t get bit. Something didn’t feel right, so I went back through with a buzzbait and ended up catching eight keepers.”

Birge said that he caught around 10 keepers Friday, and his five-bass limit that he brought to the scale consisted entirely of largemouth.

“Tomorrow I’m going to go and try to catch five spotted bass in the morning and try to take some of the pressure off,” Birge went on to say. “Then, hopefully the sun will come back up and warm the water up a little bit. I’m going to have three rods on my deck tomorrow – a buzzbait, a frog and a drop-shot rig. I hope I can get a few largemouth bites later in the day.”

The top 20 pros that made the Buck Knives Cut and will fish Saturday on Lewis Smith Lake are:

  1. Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 10 bass, 36-13
  2. Drew Benton, Panama City, Fla., 10 bass, 35-13
  3. Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, 10 bass, 33-8
  4. Tracy Adams, Wilkesboro, N.C., 10 bass, 31-12
  5. Scott Wiley, Bay Minette, Ala., 10 bass, 31-10
  6. Ishama Monroe, Hughson, Calif., 10 bass, 31-7
  7. Clayton Batts, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 31-6
  8. Jason Reyes, Huffman, Texas, 10 bass, 31-6
  9. Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 10 bass, 30-15
  10. Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 30-14
  11. Jayme Rampey, Liberty, S.C., 10 bass, 30-6
  12. Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., 10 bass, 30-6
  13. Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 10 bass, 29-12
  14. Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 10 bass, 29-11
  15. Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 29-10
  16. Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 10 bass, 29-9
  17. Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, 10 bass, 29-9
  18. Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 29-5
  19. Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 29-5
  20. John Cox, Debary, Fla., 10 bass, 29-4

    For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Kentucky, won the Bridgford Big Bass Award on the pro side Friday with a bass weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces to win the $500 prize.

Overall there were 742 bass weighing 1,715 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 153 pros Friday. The catch included 141 five-bass limits.

Brad Roberts of Faubush, Kentucky, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by hometown angler Todd Lee of Jasper, Alabama, in second place with 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces worth $7,500.

“Fishing this tournament was a really great experience,” said Roberts. “To come down to Alabama and get a win here against these great anglers really means a lot to me. This feels awesome.”

The top 10 co-anglers finished:

  1. Brad Roberts, Faubush, Ky., 10 bass, 32-1, $20,000
  2. Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., 10 bass, 26-12, $7,500
  3. Cody Hammontree, Flat Rock, Ala., 10 bass, 23-13, $5,000
  4. Lee Black, Danville, Ala., 10 bass, 23-5, $4,000
  5. Nick Thliveros, St. Augustine, Fla., 10 bass, 22-11, $3,000
  6. John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., 10 bass, 21-14, $2,500
  7. Mike Devere, Berea, Ky., 20-15, nine bass, 20-15, $2,000
  8. Casey Laughlin, Rowlett, Texas, 10 bass, 20-9, $1,800
  9. Jimmy Kowalski, Lake Placid, Fla., 10 bass, 20-5, $1,700
  10. Joey Cifuentes, Clinton, Ark., 10 bass, 19-11, $1,600

For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Roberts also caught Friday’s Bridgford Big Bass in the co-angler division weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces to win the $250 prize.

Overall there were 541 bass weighing 958 pounds, 10 ounces caught by co-anglers Friday. The catch included 69 five-bass limits.