It’s been a long dry spell, Skeet Reese finally got another bite. He capitalized on it to add his fourth fish to his livewell. He’s putting a lot of miles on his Mercury today, spending no more than 30 minutes in any one spot.
Shaw Grigsby had the unique bag of the day for sure, probably for the tournament and maybe for the year on Day 2 when his 20-pound, 13-ounce limit included both the big bass of the day - a 7-11 - and one of the smallest of the day - a 1-12. The small bass illustrated how Grigsby felt about his continuing opportunities to catch fish off spawning beds this week.
"I can't guarantee I'm going to catch one doing that tomorrow," said the Florida native, who will celebrate his 62nd birthday on May 11. "The water has come down. They're real antsy, real jittery. The ones you do catch are really tough.
"So I've got to figure out something else, and right now I really don't have a clue. I've caught 'em for two days, but I'm clueless. I can't guarantee I'm going to catch 5 pounds tomorrow."
Grigsby, who started the day in 3rd place with 40-9, has exceeded his low expectations. And he did it with one fish - a 5-1 at 9:25. Added to a 2-pounder he caught earlier, Grigsby is still within striking distance, in 12th place on BASSTrakk.
Kelley Jaye is having a good day, in fact, probably better than the 17-12 limit that's showing on BASSTrakk. But it hasn't been all good. Gettys Brannon reports that Jaye just lost a 5-pounder that threw his jerkbait, and it shook him up a bit.
However, this sunshine should cure any ills Jaye is suffering over the miss. A post-spawn jerkbait bite is right in his wheelhouse. He demonstrated that on Day 1 with the third-place bag of 22-0. He's getting close to another bag like that today.
Yesterday I blogged about Skeet Reese brushing off the thought of needing to go flipping after putting nearly 20 pounds inside his livewell using moving baits. That happened by midmorning, and now he just brought out the long rod. The forward-thinking Reese surmised the bass on the move bite would go away with the sun.
This morning I asked Reese about his comment yesterday about practicing for today. Here’s what he had to say.
“By 10 o’clock I’ll know whether or not it’ll work,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing about tournament fishing, which is abandoning something the’s been working, but there is a time and place for all of it.”
That time is now, although the place remains the same as yesterday. Coincidentally, I am writing this at 10 a.m. The shad spawn, in Reese’s mind, is over, and that makes the timing right to make the change now.
“All I want to do is survive until the next round, avoid crashing and burning just based on what worked yesterday."
He added, “Instead of force feeding a reaction or winding bite I know the change is necessary."
Fred Roumbanis was desperate for a bite yesterday, so he picked up a spinning rod with a shaky head jig and caught a 3-pounder and a 2-pounder. Then he came to his senses.
"This is why I haven't made the (Bassmaster) Classic the last couple of years," Roumbanis told himself. So he put the spinning rod down and picked up a baitcaster with his signature Optimum BoomBoom 6-inch swimbait tied on the line. And the puzzle pieces started falling into place shortly after. "It has taken me all week to figure this out," Roumbanis said. "The waypoints started adding up. You compile your puzzle pieces by marking every time you catch a quality fish."
Here's what the complete picture looks like now: Roumbanis has found two "sweet spots" where bass are transitioning to and from spawning areas.
"You've got to have bait," he said. "If you see bait and some bigger blobs on the (Garmin) Panoptics, those are probably bass. If you don't see bait and see a lot of blobs, those are probably carp. I'm using the bait to distinguish the species of fish I'm fishing for. That's the key element."
When Roumbanis caught a 5-pounder at 8:30 this morning, it confirmed everything he learned yesterday. No spinning rods for "Boom Boom" today.
Tournament leader Skeet Reese has switched gears in the last hour, which paid off a few minutes ago with his third keeper of the day. And he just missed another bite. The morning definitely wasn’t a numbers game for him, but perhaps he’s found a secondary pattern that will push him through to the finish line.
Today on Kentucky Lake there is enough going on to make the head spin of any hardcore Bassmaster tournament junkie. Consider this list.
1. Let the sun shine: The sun has come out, finally, for the first time during the competition. That is mostly good for everyone, since the bass will become more concentrated on structure.
2. Prespawn/spawn/postspawn: All phases of the spawn are in play, although the falling water level has all but eliminated the sight fishing bite. This morning I watched the king of sight fishing, Shaw Grigsby, tying on square bill crankbaits. “My beds are on dry ground,” he said.
3. Water up, down: For the most part the water is still falling but more stable than previous days.
4. Shad spawn: There’s a shad spawn but it needs low light conditions for the best success. Yesterday the overcast skies and rainy conditions prolonged the bite. Today, that bite ended early.
5. Leaderboard shuffle: Already significant changes have occurred on the scoreboard. As of 9:15 a.m. local time the newcomers were Kelley Jaye, Wesley Strader, Brent Chapman and Ott DeFoe. Look for more shakeups as the day goes on.
At 8:15 Fred Roumbanis caught his first keeper, and it was a good one— the judges in this boat estimated the largemouth bass at 5 pounds.
Boom Boom started the day in second place here at Kentucky Lake. He had 17-11 on Day 1 and 22-11 yesterday for a total of 40 pounds 10 ounces. As of last night, he sits in fifth place in Toyota Angler of the Year standings after finishing 63rd at Lake Martin and 11th a Grand Lake. Roumbanis did not make the 2018 Bassmaster Classic and told us earlier he’s really focused on qualifying for the big dance in 2019.