Big water presents challenges

When Bassmaster LIVE showed Timmy Thompkins cranking his big motor, the South Carolina pro wasn’t leaving his Lake Ontario spot — he was trying to get back to it.

No question, the easternmost Great Lake is guarding its smallmouth bounty with an increasingly insistent south wind. We’ve seen worse — in particular, last year’s SiteOne Bassmaster Elite — but the big waves confronting Championship Saturday competitors have definitely complicated the game.

For one thing, boat control becomes more difficult when strong winds push and tug, while the constant up and down of building waves fluctuates trolling motor efficiency. Precision is key when dropping on wary smallmouth, so managing the conditions becomes as important as bait selection.

Conditions like today’s also complicate fish fighting. Carefully moving around the front deck — often guiding a cantankerous fish around the trolling motor — can become a real test of balance.

Also, scooping a big fish at boatside is never an easy task, but add the dynamics of a rocking boat and things can dicey in a hurry.

Bassmaster Elite angler Cory Johnston has managed today’s conditions well and currently sits atop the unofficial BASSTRAKK leaderboard with 76 pounds, 10 ounces. His estimated Day-3 weight is 26 pounds.

Adam Neu, who entered the day in fifth place, has an estimated total of 75-7 and trails Johnston by 1-3.

With about an hour and a half of fishing time remaining, there’s plenty of time for key moves and day-maker catches. Whatever the outcome, the winner will have well earned the victory.