BassCam: Day 2 game plans

The anglers discuss their plans and expectations for Day 2 of the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #1. First up, Derek Hudnall.

Day 2 gets started on Oneida

Day 2 gets started at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Oneida Lake as 198 boats head out to catch the biggest 5 fish limit possible. Yesterday's action was incredible as there were 45 anglers that caught 16 pounds or more on the pro side. 14 pounds is very respectable in an Open, but on Thursday it only got you 102nd place. Oneida Lake is fishing fantastic and the weights are stacked up and down there leaderboard.

On the way to find the leader Alex Wetherell I found David Williams who was in 12th place after Day 1. He and his co-angler both have a keeper in the box so far this morning. He just noted there isn't nearly any mayflies out this morning compared to yesterday where there were thousands upon thousands on the surface.

BassCam: Machek at the tanks

Charlie Machek talks about his tough Day 1.

Oneida turning ugly

The once beautiful lake that was slick as glass is rearing its ugly head right now. After about 2 hours of calm conditions anglers settled into their areas and filled limits, but since 8 a.m. the east breeze has turned into a sustained wind, which has waves stacked up from one side of the 20-mile long fishery all the way to takeoff on the west side. Anglers who made a run to the other side of the lake during calm conditions will need to spare some extra time coming back. 

JT Kenney can't gauge smallmouth

The Floridian and seasoned Opens pro fishes for smallmouth every year during the summer months during his time in the Opens and FLW Tour, but he'll admit it; guessing a smallmouth's weight isn't his forte.

As we arrived he said "you missed the show."

I replied, asking how much weight he had and he said "Probably 17 or 18 pounds, maybe 20. Heck, I can't judge these smallmouth. Whatever they weigh, it was fun this morning, but the bite just slowed down."

We were with him for 15 minutes and both he and his co-angler landed a keeper. Kenney weighed his and said "Well a 3-7 won't help me cull" as he released the fish. If his smallest fish is at least 3 1/2 pounds then he is definitely having a good day.

Maybe this will be the year he punches his ticket in the Northern Opens points race. He's been very close numerous times. 

History at Oneida

Oneida Lake has been a big hit on the Bassmaster trail as it's been a common stop almost every year since 2011. In 2012 the Elite Series came here and Boyd Duckett took the title with 62-6, which averages out to 15 1/2 pounds per day. When it comes to Opens, they have visited four times since 2013 with the lone absence coming in 2014.

In 2013, Jim Bianchi won with 52-7 over three days, which is a 17 1/2-pound average per day and that event was during the first week of August.

2015 came along and Randy Howell took the title in what turned out to be a tougher event. It still took 49 pounds to win, which is 16-plus pounds per day, but it only took 24 pounds total to get a Top 40 check.

Compare that to 2016 when Wil Hardy punched his ticket to the Classic with a win and there were a lot more stacked weights. It took 29-9 to get paid and Hardy won with 53-13. Meanwhile the Top 100 all had 23 1/2 pounds and up.

With the uptick in the gobey population there are obvious reasons to why there are so many solid fish on Oneida now. This fishery is healthy and we will see evidence of that at the weigh-in today. 

Post-spawn bronzeback

That headline alone should get the heart thumping of any hardcore smallmouth angler.

Here’s the scenario at Oneida Lake. The smallmouth spawn came a little later than normal, pushing it nearly on top of the tournament. The already aggressive smallies are hungry and schooling up around the lake’s signature offshore shoals. For a double bonus the anglers get this, too. Not far away from any given shoal is largemouth territory. Those bass have spawned too, and they are aggressively feeding as well.

Read Ronnie Moore’s early blog post and you can find the evidence of what is panning out on the lake. At takeoff most of the boats headed east towards the numerous shoals, some of which are known community holes. Those are producing. Largemouth and smallmouth.

A couple of notable comments relayed to me this morning while shooting BASSCam videos. Brandon Palaniuk said the smallmouth are fatter, like those he loves to catch on the St. Lawrence River. Those are healthy fish that have the advantage of getting fat on the round goby that coincidentally live offshore, like the smallmouth. Oneida Lake has that exotic fish as well.

Charlie Hartley said catching 15 pounds won’t get you anywhere on the scoreboard. It’ll take more like 16 pounds to meet the benchmark with at least one kicker fish to push the limit up toward 18-plus pounds.

It that sounds familiar it should. Oneida produced such catches this very week last year at this Open. As a reference, Wil Hardy won it with 53 pounds, 13 ounces. That was an 18 pounds per day average.

Look for more of the same here, this year.

The pros have dealt all week with a low pressure system making it’s way across the Midwest. The main system arrives here today, and will be around long after the tournament ends. The storm won’t deter the anglers or make the bite tougher. What will be the challenge are the lightning-bearing storms and winds produced by those.

“Every angler in this tournament knows where every bridge is located,” said John Murray, one of 11 Bassmaster Elite Series pros here, of course, for a shot at the world championship. And most of all, the fantastic smallmouth fishing.