After an extended period of unseasonably warm temperatures, the Lake Cumberland area cooled off considerably Wednesday, with cloudy, rainy skies and temperatures that topped out in the high 60s. The chilly air made Cumberland’s population of largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass reluctant to bite, but Sumpter outwitted them to lead the second-place pro by more than a pound.
“I’m fishing 10 to 30 feet deep, but some may have come out of a lot deeper water – maybe 50 feet,” said Sumpter, who entered the tournament from the Eastern Division of the EverStart Series. “I got a limit and then just ran after smallmouths. I fished all day, and I’m burning a lot of gas.”
Sumpter, who caught seven keepers Wednesday and weighed in two smallmouths and three Kentucky spotted bass, said he fished eight to 10 spots with a jig to catch his limit. “I always deer hunt and don’t fish much this time of year,” he said. “The water’s turned over, and now is the slowest time of the year. I look for it to be a lot tougher tomorrow because it’s hard to catch them two days in a row on this lake. This little cold front will lock them up, I’m afraid.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Stratos pro Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz (five bass, 12 pounds, 5 ounces); Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J. (three bass, 12 pounds, 3 ounces); Mark Fletcher of Palmetto, Ga. (four bass, 11 pounds, 11 ounces); and Lloyd Pickett Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn. (five bass, 10 pounds, 6 ounces).
Fletcher caught the day’s biggest bass on the pro side, a 5-pound, 11-ouncer that earned him $625.
Earl Dalton of Jackson, Calif., caught two bass that weighed 8 pounds and leads the Co-angler Division after day one. Dalton ranked 16th in Western Division points standings to advance to the championship. In typical Western fashion, Dalton caught his tournament-leading bass on finesse rigs.
“I caught both my big ones on a spoon,” Dalton said. “I drop-shotted and had a good time. It took all day. I only got four bites today. I’ve been up here pre-fishing for a week and a half, and I did figure something out. I feel great about the week.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Edward Adams of Egg Harbor Township, N.J. (four bass, 7 pounds, 6 ounces); Mark Everett of Tyler, Texas (four bass, 6 pounds, 6 ounces); Andy Bailey of Beckley, Calif. (five bass, 6 pounds, 3 ounces); and Gary Collins of Moorpark, Ariz. (four bass, 5 pounds, 12 ounces).
Tony Sarkis of Phoenix earned big-bass honors in the Co-angler Division and $250 thanks to a 4-pound, 14-ounce bass.
Anglers will take off from General Burnside State Park in Somerset at 7 a.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held there beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will take place at the Wal-Mart store in Somerset beginning at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
The EverStart Series is comprised of four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – with four regular-season events each. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, and the top 40 from the Eastern, Central and Northern divisions and the top 30 from the Western Division based on year-end points standings earned a ticket to the championship.
Following Thursday’s competition, the top 10 pros and co-anglers will advance to Friday’s semifinal round and start over at zero. Co-angler competition concludes Friday, and the 10 pros continue competition Saturday to determine the winner based on his two-day accumulated weight.
The EverStart Series features a pro/co-angler format with pros supplying the boats, fishing from the front deck against other pros and controlling boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers.
Coverage of the EverStart Series Championship will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on “FLW Outdoors.” The show will air Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. EST and again Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. EST.
FLW Outdoors is the industry’s premier provider of sport-fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world’s most lucrative bass-fishing circuit; the EverStart Series, known as the gateway to the FLW Tour; the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League for weekend anglers; the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail; the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, the world’s most lucrative walleye-fishing circuit; the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League for weekend anglers; the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, the world’s most lucrative kingfish series; and the Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. For more information, visit FLWOutdoors.com.