GROVE, Okla.– It has been a soggy week thus far for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Regional on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. Heavy rain and storms swept through the area on Day 1 of the event, but anglers managed to catch plenty of bass throughout the day with 52 of the 80 boaters catching five bass limits and 42 non-boaters landing three bass limits.
While no 20 pound bags were caught, Oklahoma native Brandon Pedigo paced the field on Wednesday with 19 pounds, 7 ounces, the only angler to eclipse 19 pounds.
After a brief break during the weigh-in, more rain is anticipated through the overnight and well into Thursday. In fact, the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for a wide section of Oklahoma and Missouri, calling for 2 to 3 inches of rain total with some areas receiving as much as 5 or 6 inches of rain.
What that means for conditions on Grand Lake moving forward is unclear. Since mid-April, the lake level has dropped from around or just above full pool to about a foot below full pool. Pedigo said rain also moved through the area leading up to the tournament, but that did not cause much of a change.
“We got a lot of rain before the cutoff and I thought it was going to come up a lot and it never did. They had a high release,” Pedigo said. “I would like to see the hourly data for today because something (the Grand River Dam Authority) was doing clicked with what I was doing.”
While Pedigo said many of the bass are shallow, the water is low enough to where the willow trees and bushes that line many banks on Grand are not a factor.
“It’s more laydowns and docks,” he said. “I did notice the fish pulled out a little bit today. I really had to slow down.”
If water gets pulled from the lake and causes more current, Pedigo said he would likely have to change from what was successful on Day 1.
When rain moved through in practice, Doug Thompson of Arkansas said the fishing was slow and with an East wind, he wasn’t sure what to expect on Day 1. Fishing in places that have historically held bass, he landed several limits on his way to 18-11.
“I was a little surprised they bit as well as they did with the East wind and the water temperature doesn’t seem to be coming up any,” he said. “It may have even dropped a little.”
Clearer water has been the key to his bite and that will likely keep him from going further up the river in the coming days.
Joe Conway of Colorado has also put his previous experience on Grand to work so far this week, finishing in third after Day 1 with 18-7. Conway said this is the lowest he has seen the lake in several trips. Falling water paired with cold spells has pushed the bass out, Conway said.
“I’ve figured out where the fish might be if I wanted to better my chances of getting prespawners, spawners and post spawners. They criss-cross at the main channel swings of the lake and any flat adjacent to that,” Conway said. “The dropping of the water a foot and a half pushed everything back off a little bit. The cold temperatures and rain have pushed everything back out of the cuts.”
If water levels do happen to rise, Conway said that won’t likely affect his bite. He’s more concerned with the wind, which will shift to the South on Day 2.
“The overcast and the wind are my friend and it keeps them coming and cruising,” he said. “I was in a spot where I was taking on about every third wave over the front of the boat. I have two more flats just like it and the wind should be blowing on to them perfectly.”
Former collegiate angler Drew Porto of Arkansas also mentioned that Grand Lake is as low as he has ever seen it.
“I love this lake. It is a pattern lake and one of those lakes that will kill you if you don’t fish the conditions each day. The only thing consistent for guys right now are the spawning fish,” Porto said. “The other day we got a lot of rain and they already had 15,000 (cubic feet per second) running through the lake. This is the first time I’ve been here this time of year when it is this low. Usually the willows are in the water. For whatever reason they are trying to keep it down.”
Porto found bass spawning around the lake in practice, but took advantage of a gizzard shad spawn to land in fifth with 17-5 after Day 1. Catching all of his weight early on, he hunkered down in a marina for several hours to shelter from a storm. He anticipates with similar conditions tomorrow, he will be able to repeat the pattern.
“I got to save a lot for the next three days,” he said. “I think most of the fish in the lake are spawning, but in this spot I think they are actually post spawn. The fat ones I thought were prespawn are actually well done, they are just eating a ton of big gizzard shad.”
Day 2 begins tomorrow at 6:15 a.m. CT and weigh-in will begin at 2:15 p.m. on Bassmaster.com.
The City of Grove is hosting the event.