Immediately after winning his second GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods, Jordan Lee talked to Jim Sexton, Bryan Brasher, Louie Stout and Steve Wright about his victory.
Classic champ Jordan Lee talks to Thom Abraham about his big win.
Jason Christie makes one last stop a few hundred yards from the ramp.
It has been a tough day.
Interesting thought came from yesterday’s post-weigh in press conference at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods: The first two hours on Lake Hartwell would be bonus time, with the more predictable action to come once the sun reached its mid-morning angle. More light certainly helps and anglers ability to pick out subsurface hints like grass lines and wood, but that’s actually of minimal concern, compared to the essential benefit.
“It’s a unique situation at Lake Hartwell; it seems that the first couple of hours, you have fish feeding on those herring really hard, but then those docks become the key,” said Elite Series newcomer Wesley Strader. “In the morning, those largemouth get down under those docks and they don’t bite very well. And then, as the sun warms up, they come closer to those black floats, which radiate the sun’s heat. That’s a big thing for the females for warming their eggs.
“You’ll see from, like 11 o’clock on — sometimes, 1 o’clock on — those largemouth start biting really good. It’s just all a matter of them positioning under those docks the way they need to be.”
Strader said this principle may prove particularly relevant following a dim day two.
“Yesterday, everybody thought they would knock their lights out with it being cloudy like it was, but it didn’t materialize,” Strader said. “We’re in that time of year when they like the sun. A bass is a cold-blooded creature; the warmer the water, the more his metabolism increases. They’re feeding up; getting ready for the spawn and that sun is what triggers them.”
After fishing his way back out, Jordan blasted off around the corner to a single dock. He caught a quick fish that didn't help, and off we went again back to his juice.
But Day 1 might offer some clues as to whose official weights and BASSTrakk weights will be in or out of sync. For example, Matt Lee was the only angler whose BASSTrakk and official weights matched exactly - 14-1. His brother Jordan was one of the sand-baggers, showing 16-0 on BASSTrakk and officially weighing 18-10. Brent Ehrler sand-bagged some as well, registering 15-13 on BASSTrakk and 17-8 officially. Jason Christie is one of the biggest sand-baggers on the circuit, but he simply doesn't have much to underestimate today.
Elite pro Timmy Horton has watched a lot of anglers fooling bass with bladed jigs during the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. He’s also a fan of this bait; especially this time of year.
“One thing that’s happening this year is that there’s a lot of cover in the water that’s normally not there and those fish are up there using it,” Horton said of Hartwell’s high water level. “When you’re at two weeks before the fish move up to spawn, they’re more aggressive than they’re going to be all year long. You take a lure that’s also aggressive and it’s just a great combination.”
For this time of year, Horton offers a couple of tips for bladed jig success: “When I’m going through the area where I know they are, this is the 50-yard stretch of catching them, I’m going with a 3/8-ounce Chatterbait with a big trailer so I can slow it down. I really want to be methodical in those areas.
“If I’m looking for fish in a new area, I’m probably going to go to a 1/2-ounce and a smaller trailer so I can cover more water until I start finding a few fish.”
Horton also notes that after a couple days of heavy fishing pressure, shallow fish become accustomed to hearing certain baits, like bladed jigs. If bites trail off, he’d suggest mixing in a couple different baits like jigs or other slower presentations.
Five minutes after catching No. 3, Jason Christie added No. 4 on his next stop.
It appears that his window of opportunity has opened. Will he have enough time to climb through it?
Ehrler entered today in 9th place, 7-7 behind leader Jason Christie. He put a 3 1/2-pound spotted bass in the boat at 2:22 p.m. to give him 14 pounds, and he's back within two pounds of leader Jordan Lee. Of course, Ehrler has no idea he's that close, which is probably a blessing. He's swinging free and easy, feeling no pressure at all.
We’ve heard and seen a lot about several of the top producers targeting drains leading into Lake Hartwell’s spawning pockets during the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. This deal has clearly been working for those who pursue it; but there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez explains: “The back of the creeks here aren’t flat until the very back so it’s a V-bottom that leads these fish in. You have docks, you have cover on both sides, but in these colder situations, everybody is focusing right down the middle — the fastball.
“We get this on other reservoirs that we go to, but the way Hartwell sets up, it’s just a geography deal and these guys have picked that up really quickly.”
Referring to the drains as highways that fish follow on their seasonal migrations, Menendez said the drains present year-round appeal.
“These are long fingers that go way back to the spawning areas, so they live there a long time,” he said. “They may be in the mouth of the drain all winter where the water may be 30-40 feet; and as the spring warms, they start moving right up that drain.
“It’s the quickest route. They don’t have quote-unquote creek channels here. You have that little, bitty drain and that is the direct street route that they take.”
The benefit for anglers is a well-defined target area.
“You can fish right in the middle of that drain and the fish tend to stay right on the bottom most of the time,” Menendez said. “The depth is the key; that’s why you get the one-two.
“You can start at the mouth of the drain with an underspin, move a little farther in with a plug, move in a little farther with a bladed jig. As it becomes shallower, you just change your tool to the correct depth to stay in that strike zone.”