Since partnering with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) in 2016, General Tire has been the presenting sponsor of one Tour event each year. 2018 saw General Tire present stop No. 4 of the Tour, hosted at Central Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland April 12 through the 15th.
Lake Cumberland is a 50,000-acre mountain reservoir that features a maze of countless small coves and pockets, the best fishing is often on the lower end, a long distance away from the General Burnside Island State Park takeoff site where the 366 professional anglers and co-anglers launched from.
Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, weighed an 18-pound, 5-ounce limit of largemouth bass to take the lead on Day One of the Tour. Mark Rose led the day for the three General Tire anglers, weighing in a 14-pound, 12-ounce limit. Britt Myers weighed in a 12-pound, 3-ounce limit while Bill McDonald also reached the limit with a weight of 11-pounds, 13-ounces.
“It felt good today to get out and get some bites,” said Morgan, a three-time Angler of the Year who has logged two triple-digit Tour finishes this season for the first time since 2006. “I knew coming in here that I was going to fish my way. I didn’t care if the smallmouth were biting off the hook, I was going to fish exactly how I liked and I was going to do it all day.”
Morgan brought a 1-pound, 6-ounce lead into Day Two of the four-day event, and maintained his lead after Day Two, bringing a 15-pound, 12-ounce limit of bass to the scale Friday. His two-day total of 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 11 ounces gave him a 1-pound, 6-ounce advantage heading into the third day of competition. Rose again led the three General Tire anglers, bringing in a 15-pound, 7-ounce limit to give him a two-day total of 30 pounds, 3 ounces. Myers weighed in a 14-pound, 14-ounce limit and Bill McDonald rounded out the day with a 12-pound, 11-ounce limit.
The field was cut to 30 as anglers after Friday’s weigh-in, with only Rose continuing on for Team GT when competition resumed Saturday morning.
Reigning Angler of the Year Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, brought an 18-pound, 11-ounce limit of smallmouth bass to the weigh-in stage Saturday to overtake Morgan and vault to the top of the leaderboard. Thrift, who weighed 15 smallmouth totaling 51-8 over the first three days of competition, brought a slim 7-ounce lead into Championship Sunday over second-place Morgan. Rose weighed in a 13-pound, 3-ounce limit, but it wasn’t enough to stave him from Saturday’s elimination as only those in the top-10 would fish Sunday.
“I caught a lot of fish today and had a lot of fun,” said Thrift after weighing his 52nd consecutive limit in FLW Tour competition, extending the all-time Tour record. “The first two days were a bit of a struggle, but I went out today and caught 30 or 40. You never know when these smallmouth are going to quit biting, so I was just trying to catch as much as I could. I don’t know if they’ll bite tomorrow, but I’m ready to get out there and see.”
Thrift added to his ever-growing list of accolades Sunday, bringing another five-bass limit of smallmouth to the scale, this one weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces, to win the FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire and the top prize of $125,000 – his sixth career FLW Tour win. Thrift’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 70-2 gave him the win by a 1-pound, 10-ounce margin over second place Allen Boyd of Salem, Indiana.
“I’ve had a phenomenal week,” said Thrift, who moved into a tie for third all-time for most career FLW Tour wins. “I was starting down in Indian Creek and fishing my way back to Burnside each day.”
Thrift weighed in a limit of smallmouth bass each day by fishing points, bluffs, lead-in banks and the mouth of the creek. He credited his equipment setup as being the key to his win.
“I caught all of my fish this week on two main baits – a 3-inch Damiki Armor Shad (flash shad) and a 3½-4-inch swimbait (Tennessee shad),” said Thrift. “I used the Armor Shad when it was sunny the first two days. When it got cloudy, I started throwing the bigger swimbait. The Armor Shad is a more subtle swimbait.”
With four of the eight 2018 FLW events in the books, Rose leads Team GT in the Angler of the Year standings. He is ranked third with 699 points. Myers, 12th, has 608 points and McDonald is ranked 91st with 436 points.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lake Cumberland presented by General Tire will premiere on NBCSN May 23 from Noon-1 p.m. EST.