The spawning bite has been in full swing this week at Lake Norman, site of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open. In the days leading up to the competition, daytime temperatures remained steady in the high 70s, sending waves of fish to shallow water. On the second competition day, a frontal passage delivered a one-two punch of steady rain and falling temperatures.
Here’s a look at how the top five qualifiers faired going into the final morning and their expectations for the day.
1. Tracy Adams (34-10)
Key pattern and strategy so far: The first day I caught three sight fish on jigs and swimbaits. Yesterday I caught them all on a small finesse worm. I didn’t do any sight fishing yesterday. So maybe today I’ll get them like I did on the first day.
Game plan for today: Yesterday after the weather came through it shut down the sight fishing bite. So today I’m going back and look for bedding fish.
Biggest challenge in making the cut: I can’t say there really has been a challenge. I’ve fished this lake a long time, and I’ve never caught 20 pounds like I did on the first day.
2. Bradley Roy (25-11)
Key pattern and strategy so far: I’ve been keying on post-spawn fish. The fish I’ve caught so far have been guarding fry. I’ve been fishing weightless soft plastics around the beds at those fish guarding the fry. I’ve got a backup pattern catching pre-spawners on main lake points.
Game plan for today: I’m going to take a gamble. I’m going to go deep and try and catch some bigger fish, try to bring back 15 pounds.
Biggest challenge in making the cut: I’ve struggled to catch quality fish. This lake has a lot of smaller fish. The big bass are hard to catch right now because they are unpredictable and in some phase of the spawn.
3. Pete Bejte (24-1)
Key pattern and strategy so far: I’ve been catching all my fish suspended. It’s been an afternoon bite so far.
Game plan for today: I’m going to try and run the same pattern and hope the sun comes out sooner than it did yesterday.
Biggest challenge in making the cut: I really struggled on Friday. I drew the second boat out and had to be back at 3 o’ clock. Thursday was a really good day for me. I had a late boat draw and it gave me an extra hour to go fishing.
4. Kevin Hawk (23-11)
Key pattern and strategy so far: I’ve been sight fishing and working around docks. I’ve been using a very slow technique with a Yamamoto Senko. I’ve also been fishing with a Roboworm on a drop shot rig.
Game plan for today: I’m going to do some of both. The first day I had five good sight fish. Yesterday I didn’t find any sight fish. So today I’m going to put the trolling motor on high and cover as much shoreline as I can and work the docks in between.
Biggest challenge in making the cut: I’ve been stressing out over only having 2 ½ days of practice. With that in mind I just stuck to the lower end of the lake instead of trying to run all around the lake.
5. Gerald Swindle (23-3)
Key pattern and strategy so far: The first day I went sight fishing and caught bass guarding fry. I caught them on a Zoom Super Fluke and Top Shelf Swimbait. Yesterday I backed off and caught nearly all my fish out in deep water. I was throwing a big jig and crankbait.
Game plan for today: I’m going to go back out deep and crank, throw a big jig for the first four hours. Driving down here this morning I was looking at the full moon and remembered the water temperature has cooled down from all the rain and the front that came through yesterday. So after I go fishing deep I’ll move shallow and see if I can find some spawning fish that have moved up.
Biggest challenge in making the cut: Being number 177 of 184 boats on the first day. By the time I got out there everything was gone. Every place I wanted to fish had either a boat on it or another boat nearby. It was about trying to make the very best of a bad boat number during a sight fishing bite.