Toyota Angler of the Year leader Justin Lucas just landed two small keepers, each in the one pound range. Unofficially, and the points aren’t final until the tournament is complete, Lucas has opened up a 53 point lead on Josh Bertrand who sits in second place. For the season Lucas has 821 points and Bertrand had 768.
More than an hour into Day 2 of the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship our AOY leader Justin Lucas has not caught a fish. We haven’t seen him get a bite. He’s working hard, just like he did on Day 1, running from spot to spot. He’s already hit seven different areas.
Day 1 he had 13-4 which put him in sixth place. His only competition for the AOY title, Josh Bertrand had just three keepers for 3-15, which landed him in 50th place.
James Elam has about 7 pounds now with four fish in the livewell. He’s working his second point thoroughly with a soft-plastic jerkbait, moving back and forth. Fish are schooling around him, but his bites haven’t come from actively schooling fish.
"These fish are focused solely on blueback herring," Elam said. "They're always looking up. And you'll be surprised how far they'll come to hit a bait."
James Elam's move away from his starting spot proved wise. He just bagged two bass, the largest of which was about 2 pounds, on back-to-back casts.
And he just missed another fish that blew up on the soft-plastic jerkbait he’s using.
Leader James Elam pulled up to his starting spot to find Micah Frazier already fishing. The anglers were fishing almost rub rail to rub rail, casting to pretty much the exact spot.
Elam lost one fish halfway to the boat but didn't get another bite.
Frazier, on the other hand, has the hot hand. He has boxed four fish, with two of the bass topping 2 pounds. Frazier has caught his fish on a jerkbait.
Elam just pulled up stakes and moved a hundred yards to another point.
Elite Series rookie Jake Whitaker has fished Lake Chatuge many times in his 26 years. He sums up the bass fishing as follows: "This lake is known for 'here one minute, gone the next.'"
That would describe the much-discussed Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race on Day 1, when Josh Bertrand was closely tailing leader Justin Lucas, then he was gone by the end of the day with a 50th-place finish.
Can the first-day results reverse themselves on Day 2? It's certainly possible, especially on Lake Chatuge, which is dominated by the fickle nature of spotted bass chasing blueback herring. That left a lot of guys shaking their heads yesterday, none more so than Bertrand.
Forty-five of the 50 anglers caught five-bass limits ranging from James Elam's 16-pound, 10-ounce tournament-leading bag to Jordan Lee's 5-pound, 14-ounce 48th-place limit. The average bass brought to the scales Thursday weighed 2.14 pounds. Keith Poche caught the biggest example of the game-changers swimming in Lake Chatuge - a 5-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass.
If you've heard AOY leader Justin Lucas on "Bassmaster LIVE" lately, you know he's a bit, um, exasperated. BASSTrakk indicates he has a limit weighing 9-4, which has him 19th place, unofficially.
"It's starting to get a little frustrating how many people are out here," Lucas said late this morning. "It's just too small of a lake."
Lucas reiterated that just now, noting, "It seems like there are 500 boats out here. During practice, it seemed like it was just us."
Lucas would be a lot less frustrated if he knew the day Josh Bertrand was having, which he does not. BASSTrakk indicates Bertrand's got only three bass in the boat and is in 46th place. To win the AOY title, Lucas simply needs to finish eight places above Bertrand, who trailed by nine points entering this event.
This feels like the most important day of the three-day tournament. Several anglers have noted that they expect the weights to go down as the fishing pressure goes up on Lake Chatuge. Lucas may be frustrated, but he may have taken a big step toward an AOY title today.
Brent Chapman has already had an excellent day. He's leading, according to BASSTrakk, with a limit of spotted bass weighing 13 pounds, 15 ounces. Chapman puts his fish on a digital scale, so his BASSTrakk weight is always close to his official weight for the day.
Now Chapman has switched gears, according to photographer Andy Crawford. He's gone shallow in search of one big largemouth bass - or more.
“I had a pretty good bag (of spots), and I wanted to come up here and try this," Chapman said. "Try to top it off with a 7-pound largemouth.”
Chapman is throwing a frog around docks and casting a buzzbait along dock-less banks.
Justin Lucas just landed another big spotted bass, in the 3-pound range. This should add at least a pound to his five fish limit. BASSTrakk is showing him with 8 pounds. Thomas Allen and I are saying 9 and a half.
Toyota Angler of The Year leader Justin Lucas just caught a 2-pound spotted bass for a nice upgrade. BASSTrakk has him with 7 pounds now, but we think he has between 7 and 8 pounds. That would put him inside the top 10 for today. Josh Bertrand is showing three keeper for 3-4 and 33rd place. To win AOY that’s the only guy Lucas has to beat.