11:16 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
It's no fun at all running around Lake Norman searching for anglers now. The northwest wind that has been blowing steadily at 10-plus mph since takeoff has the white caps rolling.
We got to experience the joys of boating in these conditions as we searched for another angler. Thankfully, we've found one - Hank Cherry, but he was not particularly happy to see us. Hank's just not happy, period, because the bass aren't cooperating.
"They're just not biting," said Cherry, who has one keeper.
The sun is plenty high in the sky now, and that's when Cherry thought his bite would turn on.
11:06 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
Stop by and see Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle at the Walmart located at 5825 Thunder Road, Concord, NC 28027.
He'll be there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET; he loves to talk about fishing and sign some autographs.
11:00 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
I’ve been a big fan of the Bassmaster blogs since they started. They make me feel like I have a ringside seat to the action. Nobody covers a tournament like B.A.S.S.
A downside for me is that I can’t stop reading the blogs, even when I should be writing to meet a deadline. My computer screen bounces between whatever article I should be working on and Bassmaster.com.
Besides the excitement of the tournament, a huge plus is that the blogs reveal tactics that help you catch more bass. I love it when I read blogs about competitors that are sacking bass doing something I wouldn’t have done.
Such is the case here at the Norman Open. When I think of Lake Norman, the first thing that comes to mind is shaky heads followed by jigs. What surprises me from reading the Norman blogs is that a white buzzbait is one of the dominant lures.
I’m jotting that information down in a notebook I keep called "Tournament Tips." I refer to it before I fish a tournament to help me keep an open mind.
Since I’m covering this event for BASS Times and Bassmaster.com, I’ll be interviewing the top finishers today after they weigh in. I’ll do my best to find out which buzzbaits were big hitters.
I may even pass that information along in my article that will be posted on Bassmaster.com this evening. If I do that, just remember, you owe me.
10:09 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
You don't have to go far in Mountain Creek to find a Southern Open finalist. Andy Montgomery is doing some running and gunning from dock to dock, where we've seen him throw a buzzbait some, but he's mostly fishing a jig. Montgomery said he burned 34 gallons of gas yesterday, which is a lot for this lake.
We've moved to Chad Morgenthaler again. He's got two keepers now. He's throwing a variety of baits, including a crankbait and a Texas-rigged soft plastic of some sort. He's still picking up the white buzzbait on occasion.
Basically, Morgenthaler is flipping docks and throwing moving baits in between the docks. He started the day in third place, 2-11 behind David Williams. In the past two days, Morgenthaler's fish catches have been spread pretty evenly throughout the day. He appears locked-in for another long grind.
9:52 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
Your Lake Norman reporting crew today - the pair of Moores (Ronnie and Ron) and me - will be bouncing around all day. We left Hank Cherry a few minutes ago. He has only one small keeper, but he's confident he will start sacking 'em after the sun gets further up in the sky.
We're now following Andy Montgomery, who confirmed our earlier report that he has four fish, but he said they weigh only about 6 1/2 pounds. Montgomery started the day only 8 ounces out of first place.
He said he doesn't have a particular weight as a goal today, "Just as much as I possibly can catch."
This could boil down to a one-day shootout between Montgomery and David Williams. But I've got a feeling somebody is going to whack 'em today. There was a lot of confidence among the finalists at Friday's weigh-in.
9:18 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
Ron Farrow from Rock Hill, S.C., is undoubtedly the most interesting story among today's 12 finalists at the Southern Open on Lake Norman. This is his first-ever B.A.S.S. tournament.
Farrow admitted being "overwhelmed" on Day 1, when he caught 3 bass weighing 5-6, which put him in 100th place out of 146 pros. But Farrow caught the biggest bag of the tournament Friday - 16 pounds, 10 ounces - to jump all the way up to 10th place with 22-0.
"I could have done that the first day, if I hadn't rushed everything," Farrow said.
In a world where increasingly it seems that every man who has ever caught a bass wears a tournament jersey, whether on the water or off, Farrow doesn't own one. He entered this event only two weeks ago.
Farrow, 41, has been hanging drywall for 25 years. This might mark the birth of a second career.
Consider the rest of the field today: five Elite Series anglers (Andy Montgomery, Chad Morgenthaler, Hank Cherry, Greg Vinson and Cliff Pace, the 2013 Classic champ; another angler, Jordan Lee, who will be on the Elite Series next year and qualified for the Classic last year; David Williams, who fished the 2009 Classic; and four other anglers who all have significant accomplishments on their fishing resumes.
No wonder Farrow admitted being nervous this morning. Who wouldn't be?
8:52 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
There's a lot of bass fishing talent in this one little dock-filled pocket in Hagar Creek. Leader David Williams and Elite Series angler Hank Cherry are working docks on opposite sides of the pocket. They both live in Maiden, N.C., which is just a few miles from Lake Norman.
Williams just now moved on. We're going to follow Cherry for a while. He was convinced he'd found a potential tournament-winning pattern during the final two hours of Day 2.
It's a fall phenomenon that has to do more with lake level than weather, which is why he thinks it will hold up today, even though Cherry caught his fish in the rain Friday.
Cherry doesn't have a "keeper" yet. He said he caught a 2-plus-pounder earlier but let it go.
"They've all got to be 3s today," Cherry said.
Cherry is one of the guys trying to grab a Bassmaster Classic spot today. He had an uncharacteristically tough Elite Series season. Cherry almost won in his first-ever Classic two years ago at Oklahoma's Grand Lake.
8:34 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
A flock of teal buzzed by as we motored across Lake Norman this morning. With the sunrise behind them, a positive ID wasn't possible, but undoubtedly they were bluewings, a sure sign of an autumn cold front.
We've seen a few fish caught already. Shane Lehew had one within 15 minutes of launch. Andy Montgomery already has four that total about 8 pounds. We followed leader David Williams for a bit, as he worked docks with a white buzzbait. Williams didn't have a keeper yet, but then it was 10 a.m. before he had one yesterday.
Chad Morgenthaler has one "pretty good spot" in the livewell. We've watched him work a white buzzbait too. In fact, we've seen a lot of white buzzbaits this week.
7:32 am EDT, Oct 4, 2014
For the third day in a row, there's a weather change in the air at Lake Norman. The conditions at the 7 a.m. start are predicted to stay the same all day long: 59 degrees, clear skies, 8- to 10-mph wind out of the northwest, and gusting higher.
That wind may pick up a bit and shift more to the north during the day. But the temperature is predicted to be the same - all day long - before this cold front plunges temps into the 30s tonight.
Some bigger bags and bigger bass, like Jordan Lee's 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth, were weighed yesterday. There's a feeling that this final day might be wide open, even though one of the best anglers on Lake Norman - David Williams - has held the lead for two days.
1:47 pm EDT, Oct 3, 2014
It’s well into the afternoon on the second day of the Norman Open. The sky is darkening, but it has yet to unleash the wet stuff. The barometer continues to plummet, which should kick the bass into gear.
With a little luck, the rain will hold off until after the weigh-in. As someone who has fished many Bassmaster Opens, I’d much rather fish in the rain than weigh my fish on stage looking like a drowned rat.
Then again, if you’re lugging a heavy limit to the scales, you wouldn’t notice if you were in the middle of a hurricane.
Early blogs from the lake indicate that the bite was off this morning compared to yesterday morning. I still believe the bass will turn on this afternoon. However, the anglers may have to change tactics to catch them.
This sport is more cerebral than chess. As always, the anglers that adjust to the conditions and determine the right strategies and will do well.
I expect to see some big grins and kicker bass when the later flights show up today
Don’t go away.