I¹m off water and warming up. I have a few reflections of my morning chasing the Elite Series anglers on Bull Shoals.
We saw about a dozen pros. All but one was fishing in the upper half of various creeks. The anglers were spread out, but most were fishing the same types of banks.
Most of them are power fishing. Their techniques appear similar, although Jason Christie¹s approach is somewhat different from what the other anglers are doing. If he brings in a good bag, his strategy should continue to give him an advantage.
Alton Jones and Bill Lowen were fishing bottom bumping baits. Lowen was also fishing a different type of bank then the other anglers were targeting.
He¹s catching loads of bass, but they¹re running small. We left Lowen well before noon, so his bank may give up bigger bass
after the sun bakes it for a few hours. Despite the sun, the water was in no hurry to warm up. The warmest water we found was 57 degrees.
There¹s likely to be some better fish caught late in the day after the water temperature rises a few degrees. Last minute heroics could be crucial to doing well here. Never say die!
Many pros reported finding good numbers of bedding bass after practice ended. The water has come up 2 feet since then and it has dropped 10 degrees or more. That coupled with the strong and persistent wind will make sight fishing challenging, to say the least.
If pros that excel at sight fishing fair poorly today, say, guys like Dean Rojas, it¹s likely that they couldn¹t overcome these conditions.
Bassmaster Marshal Tony Harrison sent in this pic of Shaw Grigsby with a 2 lb. smallmouth.
Three anglers in today's field have won here before. Of course, Brandon Palaniuk won last year's Elite event, so Bull Shoals victory is freshest for him. In 1988, there were two Bull Shoals Invitationals on the schedule, one in April and another in October. Rick Clunn won the April tournament on a spinnerbait. Gary Klein won in the fall by doodling a Don Iovino Doodle King Worm. The October event was especially tough. It took just 30 pounds to win, and the average bass brought to the scales weighed less than 1.5 pounds.
Bassmaster Marshal Mark Woods sent in this sequence of Kurt Dove acquiring a 4 lb-er.
Greg Vinson just upgraded with a 4 1/2-pounder. He has a good sack -- about 15 pounds and change.
It may not feel like it today, but the wind is your friend in most angling situations. It's still gusting up to 20 miles per hour, although it has shifted more to the west than the north as the day has progressed.
Yesterday Alton Jones detailed how the wind can make a big difference, especially this time of year when rising water temperatures can trigger spawning activity.
"The sun warms up just that top inch or two of water," Jones said. "The wind stacks that warm water on the other side of the lake into a deeper column of warm water.
"Generally, the north and northwest banks warm up first in North America because our wind is predominately from the south and southwest. Occasionally, you'll have a warm day with a north wind and the south side of the lake will be warmer."
Nothing felt warm this morning, with a north wind howling in 39-degree air. But it's now 49 degrees at Bull Shoals with an expected high of 57 and warmer days ahead.
If you haven't seen this, it's a pretty cool "wind map" of the U.S. You have to give it a few seconds to fully load, but it's zoomable and fully illustrates what's sweeping across Bull Shoals Lake today.
The largemouth have shown up, which means that guys are starting to build some weight.
Our Marshal photos show us several 2- to 3-pound largemouth, which means the likelihood of stringers getting into the teens is strong.
All of that is expected. But it's my guess that there are some things not so expected taking place. Bull Shoals coming up 2-feet is significant. It takes a lot of rain to get this lake pushing up. We didn't get that much rain yesterday, so it's likely the rise in level has thrown a curve ball to some and been an answer to prayers for others.
The other big surprise, though, is the lack of color of the water. Anywhere else in the country and 2-feet rise and even the rain we had yesterday would have produced some dingy, if not muddy, water in parts of a lake.
But that's not the way it works up here. Bull Shoals is the bottom link to a chain of lakes that start with Beaver, then to Table Rock, then into Tanneycomo and finally to Bull Shoals. All of those lakes saw an influx of water yesterday with the big storm that pushed across the country and it's likely each of them is dumping water to make up for the other's excess water. All of that comes at the hands of the Corps of Engineers. They are likely bent on making sure the flooding in parts of the midwest don't take place here.
Regardless, being at the bottom means they are likely seeing water from Beaver, Table Rock and Tanneycomo, all of it coming out of the bottom of the dam in the form of clean, clear water.
Meanwhile, around the hills and valleys in this part of the world, rain hits rocks (lots of limestone) and very rarely sees any kind of dirt before it gets deposited into the lake.
It takes a borderline monsoon to muddy up parts of Bull Shoals like most people are accustomed to in lakes across the country.
Fred "Boom Boom" Roumbanis finishes his limit with a 3 lb. clone of his other fish. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Bob King.
We're off the water and making the drive back to the weigh-in. We'll drive back through the metropolis of Lead Hill, population 287.
The water level rose 2 feet from yesterday, which could change the pro's pre game strategies significantly.
We'll know more after the bass hit the scales.