John Garrett, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series representative on the Opens trail, caught 18-4 on Day 2 and gave him a 35-2 two-day total. It should have him in the Top 12 for the second time in as many events.
Photo by Chris Flint
Zack Birge of Oklahoma started the Northern Open season with 17-0 on Day 1, but with the obviously tougher fishing he hasn't done as well.
With 4 fish in the box he has around 10-11 pounds. His four consist of a 3, 2 3/4, and two around 2 1/4. He said that fish weren't committing to his bait this morning and had numerous missing it.
He needs keeper number 5 to be a good one, or he hasn't to get a couple culls before the end of the day.
With 17-0 he sat in 22nd and was just three-quarters of a pound above the check line. Expect that mark to be around 31 1/2 to 32 pounds based on yesterday's weights and accounting for a slight drop because of the toughness.
He said he only had one deal coming into the week, but he has rode it to a good position and a couple more fish could have him with a Top 20 finish or better, a possibly Top 12.
Fabian Rodriguez and his co-angler have limits on the board.
Photo by Brandon Johnson
Scott Siller with a nice cull.
Early reports from the water trend toward slow fishing. I believe that to be an indicator of two key factors.
First, fishing pressure is coming into play. Oneida Lake is an amazingly healthy and prolific smallmouth fishery. Yet when the numbers of fish that got caught on Day 1 come off prime areas it takes time for those spots to replenish. And more anglers are honing in on those prime areas. There is less shared water. That makes the strike zone shrink for a given angler and location. Not as much water to go around is the clue.
Second, is my prediction we will not see the high numbers and weights caught yesterday spread so wide up and down the scoreboard. Only 2.5 pounds separated the top of the leaderboard from 40th place. I see that tightening up some today. Here are the reasons.
The most skilled anglers are dialed in on something unique, a detail overlooked by the masses. That could be a subtle difference in lure presentation, boat positioning or just understanding the nit picky details of a given area, such as a sweet spot. Those intricate details will be closely guarded secrets.
What else is coming are two rounds of heavy rain. You can see those on this screen shot of the latest radar. The anglers have fished in those conditions all week. The heavy rain will make mental focus, boat handling and control, and lure mechanics more challenging.
Again, the anglers who can master the changing stages of the weather, along with all of the above, will be the movers on the scoreboard.
Josh Douglas got off to a great start on Day 1 at Oneida Lake with 17 pounds, 14 ounces and was tied for 5th place overall.
Today is his birthday and he is looking for a burthday bag of fish that will get him to Championship Saturday. He has four good ones in the boat so far and needs one more to have a pretty good day for the standards so far.
The best we have heard from the guys today was just two fish so for Douglas, having 4 of the right kind is big time. He just filled his limit at 9:40 with a 2 1/4 pounder.
According to his scales he is at 15 1/2 pounds, which would give him roughly a two-day weight of 33 pounds and change, which isn't a guarantee but a rock solid weight to fish Saturday. Like I imagined earlier, the bites aren't coming fast and furious, but to those at the top that are patient they can still get 5 good fish today.
One solid cull of that 2 pounder and Douglas will be in the thick once again.
From what we can tell, today's weather is very similar to yesterday's conditions. The first hour or two of the day was calm and overcast giving anglers a great shot at catching fish on topwater. Once everyone settled in to their areas the wind started to blow some.
Today is no different. I just felt my first breathe of breeze and it's been slick calm thus far. Yet today hasn't yielded a fraction of the weight that I saw yesterday. Anglers seem a little puzzled so far and some blame it on the lack of mayflies in their area while others believe the fishing pressure will make it tough today, but yesterday showcased this fishery and the largemouth and smallmouth that live here. I wouldn't expect any different today.
Of the 45 anglers that had 16+ pounds, I would bet that at least 12 can match what they did on Day 1. They may be the 12 that make it to Saturday, but you have to imagine that great anglers on a great fishery will end up putting something together.
So far 4th place Charlie Machek is feeling the slower day. It's been somewhat of a gut punch as he had 3 fish by this time yesterday. He was one of the anglers getting less than 10 bites, but with 18-0 he was on the right ones.
He just jumped off a 3+ pounder right in front of us. It jumped at the boat and his swimbait didn't stay buttoned up. He said he will just have to grind it out. Being from the James River, he has the 2nd Northern Open on the schedule in his backyard. A good finish here and another one in a month and he will be sitting pretty in the points. In the meantime, he is trying to get his limit started.
Yesterday the anglers reported the bass feeding on a smorgasbord of food. Mayflies by the thousands dropped into the water at some places. Elsewhere, the smallmouth, their bellies fat from feeding on goby, were retrieved from deep water. Perch regurgitated by largemouth floated in the livewells of some anglers.
All of the above defines the reason why Oneida Lake produced such impressive catches on Day 1. There is an abundance of food of all kinds to fill the dietary needs of smallmouth and largemouth. The habitat is flourishing. The bass are healthy. And all looks good for another repeat of Day 1.
The Day 1 numbers are impressive. A five-bass limit caught by 150 of the 190 pros. Only 2.5 pounds between 40th and 1st place. Eighteen pros weighing 17-pound or better limits. Another two dozen pros crossing the scales with bags weighing 16 pounds.
As the numbers indicate this tournament is wide open for anyone. The key will be catching a kicker largemouth or smallmouth. For the smallmouth that might be a challenge. The overabundance of 3.25-pound smallmouth makes finding an area with bigger bites nearly impossible. The bigger fish are there, however you must go through so many average sized smallmouth to get a bigger bite. And then the day is over.
For the average angler that’s a good problem to have. But at this tournament the ounces separating the Top 40 make that one kicker fish a game changer. And maybe even a tournament winner.
What else has happened is the most popular areas are now receiving high pressure, as more anglers hone in on spots fished by the leaders.Those places have become community holes by virtue of success and popularity.
Heavy rain is on the way by mid-morning. The system is approaching from the West, and most of the best fishing areas are on the far eastern side of the lake. That will make for a rough, time consuming commute back to the weigh-in.