ULM's Jackson Blackett has had a rough day so far. He's caught stripers and short bass, but has no keepers. He worked schooling fish early this morning, but didn't connect with any of them. To make matters worse, he's having to find all of his offshore spots all over. "When I went to transfer my waypoints to this new boat, none of them saved," he said. He's doing a lot if looking at his graph at the moment, searching for the appropriate brushpile.
Bethel's Matt Roberts is at the dam and has one fish in the boat. He's returned to the spot where he caught his only fish this morning, doing what many are doing: drop shotting brush. As I was leaving Giarla, who's fishing shallow, a fish inhaled his topwater. Giarla reared back on the fish, only to have it break his line immediately. The worst part? The fish then jumped in an effort to throw the bait. It was every bit of four pounds. "That one hurt," he said.
I came across Robert Giarla of Tennessee Tech, and he reports that he's got two fish, one about 2 1/2 pounds and a baby. He's running new water today and is after largemouth at the moment. "I'm just trying to get five right now, not really thinking about what he's (his competitor) doing. Anything can happen; yesterday I only weighed in three small fish, so I'm not done yet."
The top 4 teams from the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship divide up and head out to fish the Classic Bracket on Chatuge. One of these anglers will go on to compete in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
Whitaker thinks the sun might help put these shallow fish in the shade lines.
The top 8 collegiate anglers make their way onto Chatuge on the first morning of the 2014 Carhartt College Series Bassmaster Classic Bracket.
On the main lake I found Brett Preuett of ULM chasing schooling fish. As I pulled up, he was bug-eyed from what he'd just seen. "It was just stupid," he said of the 3- and 4-pound schooling fish. "I had one come off then caught another, but when I went to flip her in, she bounced off the gunnel and got off." He's got three in the box at the moment, including a good one.
Jake Whitaker is covering a lot of shallow water but has no fish yet.
Zach Parker of Bethel University has boated two 2-pounders so far, and expects the action to heat up even further shortly. "When I pulled up here, they were all sitting in 35 feet of water, but they're going to pull up here in a minute." He said he and his partner picked their first spot but they have so many different waypoints that they may never see each other today. He noted that changing the color of his bait was key to his getting bit. Photo by Shaye Baker
Jake Whitaker of UNC Charlotte starts his day with Hiawassee's Bell Mountain in the background.