Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Blog

Montgomery still has four

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.

Star-studded top 12, plus one

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?

Cherry, Williams in same pocket

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.

Teal signal that fall is in the air

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.

And they're off - Day 3 at Lake Norman

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.

No drowned rats yet

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.

Morgenthaler's plans

12:51 pm EDT, Oct 3, 2014

After weighing in yesterday and claiming third place with 13 pounds, 8 ounces, Chad Morgenthaler told me that he had caught 20 bass. Only one of them was a largemouth. It weighed 3 ½ pounds, which qualifies as a kicker fish in this event.


Morgenthaler said he would spend more time fishing for largemouths today. Just what that entails he didn’t say.


Does that mean fishing farther up the lake where the odds for catching largemouth bass are better? Or, could he mean changing baits and what he is casting to in the same area where he is catching spotted bass?


The reality is that any angler could stumble into a kicker largemouth anywhere on the lake. And, it could be when they least expect it.

Tournament leader David Williams also caught only one largemouth bass yesterday, which weighed 3 pounds, 12 ounces. He was casting to schooling spotted bass when the bigmouth engulfed his bait.

Joey Nania's foggy fish

12:05 pm EDT, Oct 3, 2014

One of which is the right species!

Tactical details

11:45 am EDT, Oct 3, 2014

Now that the anglers are on the water, we can provide a few more details about how the bass are being caught, provided we don’t get too specific.


The competitors can’t read our blogs until after they weigh in. And, those that make the top-12 cut aren’t likely to change what they are doing tomorrow based on the blogs. They’ll be tuned into what’s working for them and will be content to dance with the girl they brung.


Having said that, topwater baits, including buzzbaits, produced some quality fish yesterday, especially in the morning. They’ve also nailed some good bass this morning.


It’s no secret that many bass are being plucked from Norman’s copious boat docks. Chad Morgenthaler,who started the day in second place, is dock fishing. He didn’t mention what he’s throwing at them. Morgenthalerdid tell me yesterday that several of the anglers near the top of the standings are fishing “his” water.


The good news for Morgenthaleris that this confirms he is on good fish. The bad news is that he has to share them. The worst news is that Elite Series pro Andy Montgomery, who was fourth yesterday, is fishing some of his docks.


If there is anyone that can skip jigs and chattering baits under docks with more precision than Montgomery, I’ve never seen them. I doubt than anyone is better than Montgomery when it comes to this challenging presentation. If the bass are hanging under docks today, Montgomery will surely weigh in at the Bass Pro Shops tomorrow.


There are also schooling bass to be caught, as well as bass on offshore structure. Cliff Pace is fishing offshore today and has a limit in the box. 

Swindle struggling

11:39 am EDT, Oct 3, 2014

The pair of Moores (father Ron, son Ronnie) and I just found Gerald Swindle. He gave us the "zero" sign, when asked how he was doing today. At Thursday's weigh-in, Swindle mentioned fishing 5,000-something docks, and he's doing the same today, but it has yet to payoff.


He started the day in a tie for 38th place with 9-6.


"For whatever reason, today has started off weird," Swindle said. "It's like they're not even there. I've fished docks that I got 15, 18 bites on in practice, and nothing. It's like they've moved deep, and I don't want to go out there and fish for them."


Swindle is echoing a sentiment we've heard often this morning.


"This is the way it should be won fellas," said Swindle, as he switched to a crankbait. "A (Rapala) DT-14 on a brushpile. And I can't get a bite."


There's a dog on the bank that's continuously barking.


"Timmy's done fell in the well," Swindle said.


For you youngsters, that's a "Lassie" TV show reference.


Never a dull moment around Swindle.