COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Rick Morris came off the stage after Day Two of the Carolina Clash presented by Evan Williams, he was enthusiastic about his big power baits and targeting larger fish.
As he stared up at perfectly clear skies and felt relatively no wind on Saturday morning, he started singing a different tune."I think I'm going to have to switch it up," said Morris, who holds a 10-ounce lead over Mike McClelland after two days. "I'll try my same patterns early, but probably (will) switch over to plastics."
Morris admits he catches fish a lot better in the wind, no matter where the tour stops, but the whitecapping force he had on Friday will be non-existent on Day Three. He's so discouraged by the change in weather that he talked more about making the 12 cut than wining the tournament."If I get a couple big bites early, that will give me the confidence to keep going on that big-bait pattern," Morris said. "But I figure I need 10 pounds to make the top 12, so that is a concern, too."
Brian Snowden had the biggest bag on Friday (18-11), and although he thinks the weather will definitely affect the bite in a negative way, he may already have his bag before the sun moves up and settles the fish.
"In the morning, the power-fishing pattern will hold up, but after about 10 (a.m.), the herring are going to quit moving around so much," he said. "You might have to slow it down and throw a Zoom finesse worm or a shaky head.
"I don't think the fish are going anywhere; I just don't think they'll be as aggressive as they were when it was windy. The first two or three hours in the morning are going to be real critical."
Morris should have an advantage, being the first boat on the water, but he said the locals can start fishing anytime they'd like. He's worried some of his best spots will be covered up."There's going to be a lot of locals on the lake today and that's going to make a big difference," Morris said. "Most places we go, they tend to go out to watch and end up fishing the best points they know of — and those are the points we found."
But all things considered, both Morris and Snowden were convinced the only way to win the Clash was to stay on the blueback herring (baitfish) bite. McClelland said Friday he planned to spend a good portion of Day Three fishing structure in 15 to 20 feet of water, but Snowden didn't think that would produce the kind of fish needed to win.Snowden said the fish might go a little deeper, but the bite will still be triggered by the blueback.
"It's going to be won on the blueback," he said. "The quality is just so much better. I haven't been able to catch that kind of quality doing anything else. I can catch fish around the docks and I can catch fish on a Carolina rig, but they're just not as big."There's a good chance if it's slick and calm, they might pull out to that 5- to 8-foot range. They won't be chasing the bait like they have been. If I'm not getting bites, I might try fishing deeper, but in those same areas."
Morris said it's going to take a combination of fishing main-lake points and points inside smaller pockets, but it will definitely be won on points. He hopes to put a respectable limit in the livewell on Saturday and then go find something nobody else is fishing."I'm definitely going to do some pre-fishing today," he said. "I get 10 pounds in the boat, I'm going to be fishing everything that I haven't fished before."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Carolina Clash, May 15–18, 2008. Thursday through Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 3:00 p.m. ET. On Sunday, "Hooked Up" will air at noon and 2:45 p.m. ET, with the final weigh-in and live streaming video to start at 3:15 p.m. ET.