Largemouth, spots or both?

Day 1 of the Bassmaster Central Open at Lewis Smith Lake served to be a challenge for the majority of the field. Only 39 limits were brought to the scales on a shortened Day 1 due to a nearly two-hour fog delay.

On a lake that has a healthy population of both largemouth and spotted bass, the majority of the anglers inside the Top 10 brought mixed bags of both species to the scales. With that said, is there one species that will be more consistent to target, or are anglers even able to distinguish fishing for one or the other?

Day 1 leader Nick LeBrun brought in a limit of three spotted bass and two largemouth that weighed 15 pounds, 2 ounces and feels like he’s been able to target one or the other fairly distinctively.

“I’ve got one particular pattern that is technically a largemouth pattern, but if I point my Active Target out there you can stumble on schools of spots,” LeBrun said. “Most of the largemouth are related to the bank or docks, but those spots are out there related to the bait.” 

Given that all bass have to be 15 inches long on Smith Lake to keep, the Louisiana pro feels as if a keeper spotted bass will weigh more than a keeper largemouth on average. 

“The section of the lake that I’m fishing, the spots definitely weigh more,” he said. “If you catch a keeper spot, it’s hard for it to not weigh at least 2 pounds.

“Those spots are just out there eating shad, so I think they’re just thicker because they’re out there working for their food.”

The big bass on Day 1 was a 5 pound, 15 ounce largemouth that was brought to the scales by Brandon Ackerson who weighed in three largemouth and two spotted bass. The Oklahoma native is taking a different approach than LeBrun by not specifically targeting one species versus the other.

“They’re both living together where I’m fishing,” Ackerson said. “I’m not targeting anything specifically as far as species goes. I’m just targeting bites and a certain depth range.”

History would tell you that targeting solely largemouth for multiple days on Smith Lake is a recipe for disaster, but that’s not stopping second place pro Cody Bird from doing so. The former Bassmaster Classic qualifier was one of the few anglers who weighed in all largemouth on Day 1.

“I know how fickle the largemouth can be,” said Bird. “I might not even be able to catch one tomorrow. I just don’t think the spots will get you anywhere but a 7- or 8-pound limit, which might be good for one day.”

Over the next two days of competition, we’ll find out if one species is going to be more consistent or if it will continue to take a mixture of both.