Going through my notebook here are observations worth watching for on Thursday (and into Friday).
- Weather: As I reported earlier, it's about to change, big time. Light levels will remain low with the overcast skies. The forecast calls for up to 1 inch of rain overnight and through an expected rainy, stormy Friday. How will the weather change the game plans of the anglers?
- Topwater bite: Nearly everyone is casting topwaters, and most notably the pencil-popper style baits that are popular here. What stood out in my Wednesday interviews was lure cadence. The phrases, "burning it" and "retrieve as fast as possible" were repeated multiple times by the top anglers. Second place angler Bobby Stanfill was doing both. He told me that speed was necessary to trigger strikes from reluctant bass. Will the topwater bite hold up? Or will the weather force Top 12 anglers into a completely different strategy?
- Fishing pressure: 179 boats are rotating through a milk run of cane piles positioned on main lake points. The bass aren't going anywhere, unless a school of baitfish passes by, and then it's game on. I was told by several locals about how wary and educated the fish are during this time of year. Will they lock up as the pressure builds?
- Rising water: It's going up and the temperature is dropping, at the rate of 1 degree each day. Will that combination hinder or help the bite on the rainy Friday?
- Largemouth: Hitting the scales on Wednesday were largemouth weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces and 6 pounds, 3 ounces. Those were caught by leader Cody Hahner and accounted for over 13 pounds of his overall weight of 20-4. Now, we see how beneficial adding a largemouth kicker (or two) to a Lake Hartwell spotted bass limit can be. Will largemouth be a player on Friday? Could largemouth dominate the weight of the winner?