Lintner has about 9 pounds

Jared Lintner has a 5-bass limit, but he hasn't cut far into the lead 5-pound, 2-ounce lead that Wesley Strader started the day with. Lintner estimated he's got about 9 pounds, according to Gettys Brannon.

Lintner said he's seeing more fish than he has all week, but he can't get them to commit to his bait. His main lure has been a bubble-gum colored Zoom Super Fluke, "twitching the heck out of it." Lintner has also used a Jackall Mikey wake bait to catch a few fish, and as way to attract followers before he follows up with the Fluke.

Page views

Strader camped on a rock pile

Just when it looked like Wesley Strader might be ready to leave the Lookout Shoals Dam area, he caught the 4-pounder reported earlier, and now it appears he’s going to stick around for awhile. Andy Crawford reports Strader has been “camped” on a rock pile and has had several strikes. But he’s still got 3 fish weighing 8-plus pounds.

Photo by Andy Crawford

Page views

Strader adds a 4-pounder

The area below Lookout Shoals Dam hadn't produced for tournament leader Wesley Strader nearly as well as it did yesterday. He told photographer Andy Crawford that he was thinking about Plan B if he didn't get another bite soon.

"I'm going to go fish docks," Strader said.

Then Strader caught a 4-pounder, giving him 3 bass for 8-plus pounds. When you've got it going like Strader does now, this is how it happens.

"The good Lord has just blessed me right now," Strader said yesterday, referring to his Kentucky Lake Elite Series win and the Day 2 lead at Lake Norman. "I don't know why, but I'll take it as long as He's giving it."

Page views

Strader adds another 2-pounder

Wesley Strader is pounding the current seams below Lookout Shoals Dam with his signature Stan Sloan Zorro Bait Co. spinnerbait. He moved to another seam near the bank and added his second bass of the day, a 2-pounder. He is moving back and forth below the dam in an area less than the size of a football field.

Strader is apparently going to stick with this for awhile, according to photographer Andy Crawford. Yesterday he was done by 10 o'clock. But Allen Brooks of Canton, Ga., stayed here all day Friday, and he caught what is the biggest bass of the tournament so far - a 6-5. Brooks' bag of 14-13 was second only to Strader's 17-6 yesterday. It almost vaulted him into the top 12 final today. Brooks finished 14th with 22-12 - seven ounces shy of 12th place.


Page views

Strader has No. 1

Wesley Strader has broken the ice with a 2 1/2-pounder. It came shortly after the current started ripping below Lookout Shoals Dam.

Photographer Andy Crawford is following Strader this morning and providing constant updates on the tournament leader.

Page views

Water is on the way

Wesley Strader heard the horn sound at Lookout Shoals Dam, looked to photographer Andy Crawford and gave the thumbs up sign just minutes before 9 a.m. Water is on the way, creating the current that Strader needs if he's going to repeat yesterday's 17-pound bag.

Strader said he's going to give this area another hour, then go to his backup plan - fishing docks - if he doesn't catch 'em here.

Strader doesn't have a fish yet. He broke off a 2-pounder in the rocks about 15 minutes ago.

Page views

Strader's game plan today

Wesley Strader's got only one seven-hour practice day on Lake Norman after winning the Elite Series event Monday at Kentucky Lake. The first cast he made was in the tailrace below Lookout Shoals Dam. And he caught a 6-pound bass on the same 5/8ths-ounce Stan Sloan Zorro Bait Co. Bango Blade Wesley Strader Signature spinnerbait that was his primary lure at Kentucky Lake.

"I just got fortunate and pulled up in the right place and made the right cast, and I really didn't realize what was there," Strader said Friday. "I just said, 'That's where I'm starting (on Thursday).' Anytime you catch a 6-pounder at Lake Norman in May, that's a big fish for this time of year."

That's how this bass fishing game unfolds when you're "in the zone," and Wesley Strader is definitely in the zone. He demonstrated that Friday with his 17-pound, 6-ounce bag that gave him a 5-pound, 2-ounce lead entering the final day of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open at Lake Norman.

"It's like a typical Tennessee River tailrace bite," said Strader, who is from Spring City, Tenn. "When I got there (Friday) the water wasn't even on, and I caught a good one. It's real weird. There's no shad there until the water starts going. When it does and the sun gets high, there's some shad there and they're spawning.

"I've just got three little current seams I'm fishing. I stay way back off of them and fish. You've just got to keep casting, same place every time, over and over and over and over, and then - boom - you'll catch one."

Strader was done by 10 o'clock yesterday. He's got a back up plan - fishing docks - if the tailwater bite fails this morning. He probably needs only 10 or 11 pounds to win this tournament. Only two other bags over 15 pounds have been caught this week, and Strader begins the day with a 5-pound lead.

Photo by Andy Crawford

Walters, Pike with little limits

The Day 1 leaders - Patrick Walters (15-12) and Cody Pike (15-6) both have small limits so far today - 5 bass weighing a total of 7 or 8 pounds. You have to wonder how many other anglers have the same thing in their livewells right now. Yesterday 160 of the 203 pro anglers caught limits.

It's hard to catch those 3-pounds-and-up difference-makers on Lake Norman, especially two days in a row. Walters and Pike may have done enough work already to get themselves into Saturday's Top 12 final.

There were only 18 bags weighing 12 pounds or more on Day 1. It appears a two-day total in the range of 24 to 24 1/2 pounds should be enough to advance to Saturday.

Pike has four keepers

Cody Pike has four keepers now, as he continues to bide his time productively, waiting for the start of what has been prime time for him this week - 11 a.m.

Photo by Andy Crawford