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I may have been stir crazy this offseason in anticipation for the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series to get underway. To stay excited and competitive like I normally am 24/7, I decided to make a Fantasy Fishing league. Little did I know that over 450 people really wanted to beat me. Once I saw an immediate interest I opted to name the league Beat Ronnie Moore.
Close friends, co-workers, followers and Bassmaster LIVE lovers joined in with one goal in mind; beat me to a pulp. Lake Martin, the first Bassmaster Elite Series event, is in the books and I didn't win week one, but it's a long season and I'm primed in the top echelon of fantasy fishing fans in my group.
First off, congratulations to my friend Robbie Moore (Bigrobm3385) for absolutely bringing his A-game and taking the win at Martin and an early lead in the league. Like me, he is a college fishing alum and he competed for UT-Chattanooga during college. His lineup of Ott DeFoe (13th), Jesse Wiggins (18th), Justin Lucas (6th), Takahiro Omori (1st) and Wesley Strader (31st) was almost as stout as it gets! He registered 1,294 points and is actually 12th overall in the entire Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing spectrum.
Excited for passionate fans of fishing and their interest in my league. If you want to join, search "Beat Ronnie Moore" and the password for the league is "BeatRonnieMoore"
If you trust BASStrakk, which you shouldn't, it looks as if Takahiro Omori is a sure thing for the win at Lake Martin. But, this ain't over yet. With under 2 hours of fishing remaining, a big fish is not an impossibility, just unlikely.
After spending the last four days in the boat with John Pollard, a local hammer with his own reputation of catching big bass from Lake Martin, I learned that there are plenty of big fish in this lake. "Big" as in fish at and exceeding 10 pounds. They are just few and far between, and hard to catch. Pollard caught one over 10 several years ago, so it can be done.
What's it going to take to climb ahead of Omori? The Top 5 in BASStrakk would need to catch a 7- to 8-pounder--or better--to make a run at it. In a lake dominated by tons of 12-inch spotted bass, a big largemouth is a typically a game-changer in tournaments like this.
At this point, Mark Menendez is fishing the most-likely water for a fish like that. But you can't predict where lightning will strike. Ever.
It's not over yet, and amazing comebacks have been made before.
There have been some ups and downs during the day, but essentially the leaderboard is where it started. For example, Roy Hawk was in second place 4 pounds, 2 ounces behind leader Tahiro Omori after Day 3, and at 11:30 a.m., he's 4-4 back.
Four anglers - Adrian Avena, Mark Menendez, Jared Lintner and Hawk - have basically stayed even with Omori. All five men at the top of the leaderboard have kept pace with 11- to 12-pound limits.
There are three hours left for someone to hit a home run in the form of one of those 6-pound game-changers.
Add Jared Lintner’s name to the list of anglers using retro baits. In Lintner's case the choice is an original Luhr Jensen Speed Trap.
“They still make it but the original action is different than the current versions,” said the California native. “I started using it years ago and it’s got a very unique action for a square bill.”
Coincidentally, the 1/4-ounce oldie is the last he owns.
“I would go swimming for it should it get hung.”
Also in use is a lipless crankbait and another retro action lure. That choice is a Storm Original Wiggle Wart. Alternatively, Lintner is using a Jackall TN/60 lipless crankbait.
As I noted before, Mark Menendez is using a unique skirt color on a homemade spinnerbait that he first used in the early 1990s. The skirt color was first used by former world championship contender Elroy Kreuger in the 1970s.
Originally the weather gurus called for a drenching 100 percent chance of rain for Championship Sunday. That has not been the case, at least in the area immediately over Lake Martin. However, last night it rained enough to send plenty of runoff into an already dingy upper lake. And there is more on the way. As you can see by the radar most of that precipitation is southeast of us and moving northeast.
For the most part, whatever rain factor that will influence the fishing strategies is coming from last night and the previous days. Hopefully, we’ll be spared a drencher at the final weigh-in. Come on out and join us!
Scott Rook keeps his active limit streak alive. Rook caught a limit in everyday of competition last season and finished 51st in the AOY race. Rook brought a limit to the scales both days of competition he fished at Lake Martin, even though they were only enough for 75th place.
Roy Hawk just landed a 3 pound spotted bass and culled up more than two pounds. He’s got 8-15 in BASSTrakk now, moving up to third place. He caught this one off a natural rock wall on a lake point. He’s still using the Duo Realis crankbait on 12 pound test line.
“At first I thought it was a 6 pounder,” said Hawk, who was still breathing hard several minutes after landing the big spot. “But the line was wrapped around her at first, so it was all resistance. I need more like that one!”
Mark Menendez is probing the soup looking for bigger largemouth bass. But the mud is moving deeper into the creeks he’s been focusing on. Right now he’s found the warmest water of the week, 56, almost 57 degrees.
But he knows the right fish are here, it’s just getting the right bait in front of the right fish.
“They are holding tight to the structure right now, and need an easy opportunity,” he said. “Because the water is so dark, this is when a spinnerbait really shines. All things considered, this is the right spot with the right bait. It could happen here.”
Roy Hawk continues to upgrade his catch using a most unlikely variation of a lure. Since the beginning innovative tournament anglers have improvised when faced with running short of a hot lure. Marker pens and even nail polish are used to color baits in short supply.
Elite Series rookie Hawk is a case in point. The Arizona angler is using a Duo Realis Crankbait M62 5A. The color is a Scarlet pattern. “I ran out and had to go with nail polish to make it close to the original color.” No word on what color nail polish he chose.
Hawk also is using a 1/2-ounce Pepper Custom Baits Casting Jig, alternating between Yamamoto trailers. Choices are a 5-inch Double Tail Grub and 3.75-inch Flappin Hog II.