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Day #2 For Major League Fishing On Cayuga Lake

June 7, 2023 • Mason Prince •

UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. – The smoky haze made it hard to see much farther than the length of a 20-foot bass boat Wednesday at Cayuga Lake during Day 2 action at Favorite Fishing Stage Five Presented ATG by Wrangler. But while the horizon was enveloped in smoke, most of the field fishing in Group B seemed to see their largemouth and smallmouth targets with crystal-clear vision: 19 anglers posted 20-plus-pound bags, led by Idaho pro Cody Meyer’s 26 pounds, 11 ounces.

Largemouth were definitely in play on Cayuga, with the Berkley Big Bass of the day going to Greg Vinson’s 6-14 largemouth. However, it’s becoming a trend after two days of competition on Cayuga that a heavy bag full of smallmouth might be the key to victory here.

Meyer’s spawning smallmouth the leading formula

Wednesday was the first time in his Bass Pro Tour career that Meyer has finished a day in first place. His cushion over second-place Spencer Shuffield is 10 ounces thanks to Meyer’s bag of smallmouth, all weighing over 5 pounds.

The Idaho pro came into the day with a couple of patterns in mind, but it turned out he only needed one — fishing for spawning smallmouth.

“I had a couple of smallmouth marked on beds from practice, but I really didn’t plan to focus on smallmouth all day,” Meyer said. “I thought I would catch a few spawning smallmouth then move to the grass for largemouth, but the smallmouth I found were just too big to pass up.”

Meyer plans to head south in search of smallmouth on Friday. Photo by Garrick Dixon

The Daiwa pro caught all of his smallies with a Yamamoto Shad Shape worm on a drop-shot on the southern end of the lake. While he was focused on spawners, it turned out that the smallmouth didn’t necessarily care about the bottom composition of where they built their beds; it was more about the general area, according to Meyer.

“I caught one on a bluff and one on a boat dock, but it was more about this 5-mile stretch of water,” Meyer said. “These fish were all massive and anchored down hard in that area. If you could find them, there was a good chance you could get them to bite.”

Meyer will try to de-smoke his clothing on his off day as he prepares to head back out on Friday with a similar plan to make the cut.

“I want to get down south again and keep trying to look for smallmouth,” Meyer said. “It was just so windy and rough today that it was really hard to go looking for them after the second period. Everyone is catching them so well right now I’m going to need another really good day just to make the cut.”

Smallmouth the focus, but largemouth still in play

The question coming into the event was whether smallmouth, largemouth or a combination of both would be the key to winning. In 2022, Dustin Connell earned his win catching exclusively smallmouth, much to the surprise of his fellow pros and even locals.

Four out of the top five pros on SCORETRACKER® on Wednesday caught all smallmouth and Shuffield caught four smallmouth and one largemouth. Meyer believes that what Connell did in 2022 was far from a fluke.

“Once we saw how Connell won here last year with smallmouth, I think it opened everyone’s eyes to the quality of smallmouth here,” Meyer said. “The smallmouth are spawning now and the largemouth aren’t yet. The smallmouth are locked down in their beds, they’re big and aggressive.”

Not so fast, though.

Sure, smallmouth are the leaders in the clubhouse, but the green fish have proven to be the dominant force on Cayuga over the years and can still keep anglers well in contention. Chris Lane finished seventh with 23-4 of largemouth, as did ninth-place Ott DeFoe (22-14). Lane’s believes that going after largemouth is more sustainable for a six-day event than looking for sporadic spawning smallmouth.

“A lot of guys are fishing the same stuff for that smallmouth bite and I think it’s going to continue to dimmish a little bit,” Lane said. “I love catching largemouth and I have the right areas to do it. I think things are starting to change a little bit more towards the largemouth.”

Jonathon VanDam placed fifth on Wednesday with five bass weighing 24-10. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Still, there’s no denying how important these smallmouth have been over the first two days and how they will continue to be. Jonathon VanDam had five smallmouth for 24-10 and ended the day in fifth. The Michigan pro knows that smallies may be key now, but a lot can change in two to three days.

“I think there’s more of a population of largemouth in the lake because the smallmouth are really scattered,” VanDam said. “I think either species could win you the event, but I have a feeling this lake is going to fish pretty small once the Knockout Round comes around. There’s not enough smallmouth for all of us.”

What’s next

Stage Five continues on Thursday with Group A’s second Qualifying Round. The 40 pros will fish for three periods to try and make it inside the Top 20 and earn a spot in the Knockout Round. Smoky skies are expected to continue with wildfires still ongoing in Canada. Coverage begins on MLFNOW! on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MLF app at 7:45 a.m. ET.

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