Whenever our tour visits the St. Lawrence River, I know my chances for success are strong. I’ve been fishing there for decades, and in that time I’ve experienced all types of conditions. I was looking forward to this event more than any other on the schedule.
The Tour’s sixth stop was The Mississippi River (pools 7, 8 and 9) out of La Crosse, WI. The Mississippi is well known for its plentiful cover such as wood, wing dams, vegetation, backwater pools and docks. Our first day of practice found Jimmy and me with no bites, so we decided to make a run. We quickly found ourselves on a sand bar, stuck high and dry. Luckily, fellow Yamamoto pro Darrel Robertson happened by and pulled us out. (Thanks, Darrel!)
Lake Rayburn is big — 114,500 surface acres big! It’s the largest manmade lake in Texas and it’s full of bass, both numbers and size. Although I’ve fished there many times, it had been years and I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this event. The only thing I was certain of was that I needed a strong finish … to have any hope of making a run at the Bassmaster Classic.
Our fourth stop on this year’s FLW Tour was Lake Cumberland in Burnside, KY. Cumberland is a huge, clear water reservoir and the main lake is over a 100 miles long.
There are multitudes of creeks with bushes and standing trees as well as main lake areas with big rock and standing trees. It’s pretty easy on the eyes, too. The lake is very vertical with few flat areas. All three species of bass can be found here but there are minimums to take into account: an 18" minimum for smallmouth, 15" for largemouth and 12" for spotted bass. The fish were fat and in pre-spawn but with the smallmouth requiring an 18" minimum length, you sometimes ended up toss back a fish that weighs 3 pounds or more. Ouch!