Card corrals the lead at Douglas Lake

JEFFERSON COUNTY, TN — Combining a quick start and a big finish, Jordan Card of Knoxville, Tenn., sacked up 14 pounds, 15 ounces and took the Day 1 lead by a whisper-thin margin at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Southeast Regional at Douglas Lake.

Heading into the second round, a mere ounce separates Card from second-place Kevin Walton of the Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation. Dalton Eury of the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation trails by only 2 ounces.

“I started out shallow and caught a limit by 9 in one spot then I started running a lot of spots throughout the lake,” Card said. “At the end of the day, I made two big culls with a 5-pounder and a 3 1/2.

“I really bumped up my weight at end of the day. I caught those two fish within 30 minutes of each other. It was around 2:30. I had to weigh in at 3:30.”

Card said he was able to catch some of his bass on a shad spawn, but not to the level he experienced in practice. A late boat draw prevented him from fully exploiting the action, which typically fizzles shortly after daybreak. 

After his early morning effort, Card went out deep and targeted the typical offshore structure. Marking bait schools on his Garmin LiveScope helped him dial in the productive areas.

“I’d say most of the fish are postspawn, but we have had a really late spring and I’m sure a lot of the guys caught fish shallow,” Card said. “Normally, this time of year, the deep bite is a little bit better, but I think the fishing pressure and the late spring has made the deep bite kind of tough. 

“I try to get creative and throw stuff that maybe the fish haven’t seen. It was a mix of baits; just things I thought no one else would be throwing.”

Card said he found the fish responded best to faster presentations early, but a slower pace worked better in the afternoon. As he explained, the day’s calm, sunny conditions were not ideal for his offshore bite, but saw the big-picture upside.

“I would honestly like it to be a little windier, but if it was windier, that could have made the overall bite better,” he said. “So, I guess it probably worked out better for me.” 

Hailing from Norfolk, Va., Walton is in second place with 14-14. Arriving on his spot in plenty of time to capitalize on the shad spawn activity, Walton got his work done in short order and then turned his eyes to Day 2.

“I had my limit by 8 and I had all my weight by 8:30 — it was a good day,” Walton said. “I spent the rest of the day practicing.

“I caught a few more fish, but they didn’t help me. I did locate another area where I can catch some flipping later in the day.”

Walton said he caught most of his fish on moving baits. He used several options to continually show the active fish a different look.

“We’d go through an area and if they stopped biting, we’d come back through with something else,” Walton said. “Tomorrow, I’m going to try the shad spawn and then I’ll go flipping. If the shallow stuff doesn’t work, I have some stuff out deep.”

Eury, who lives in Oakboro, N.C., is in third place with 14-13. He also got on a solid morning bite early and boxed a limit of largemouth in 10 minutes. Culling up with a couple of nice smallmouth gave him his day’s weight. 

“I spent most of my time on the lower end of the lake, within three to five miles of the dam,” Eury said. “I found a shad spawn early and caught them on a spinnerbait. I caught my biggest fish — a 4-6 — on a Spro Bronzeye Frog in the killer gill color in the same pocket.”

Around 10 o’clock, when the sunlight intensified, Eury transitioned to main-lake points. He caught his smallmouth there on a drop shot with a 6-inch Roboworm in the prism shad color.

“I couldn’t find them on the long points — only on points with steep drops,” Eury said. “I think it’s their in-between spots when they’re coming and going from offshore to the spawning areas (and vice versa).”

Chuck Howard of Elloree, S.C., is in the lead for Big Bass honors with a 5-6.

Larry Witt of Evington, Va., leads the nonboater division with 8-1.     

Dale Robertson of Ponchatoula, La., holds the Big Bass lead among nonboaters with a 4-3

The Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation team leads the team standings with 158-9. Kentucky is in second with 157-12, followed by South Carolina with 155-2, North Carolina with 153-4, Alabama with 150-9, Tennessee with 141-15, Georgia with 135-15, West Virginia with 135-8, Florida with 124-12 and Mississippi with 109-12.

Thursday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. ET at the Dandridge Dock Boat Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at the ramp at 2:30 p.m.

The tournament is being hosted by the Jefferson County, Tenn., Department of Tourism.