Pilot Flying J's Fish for a Year Sweepstakes

Pilot Flying J has a fantastic offer for Bassmaster fans. Download the free Pilot Flying J app during the months of April or May, and enter the promo code BASS2019 for a chance to win a $5,000 Pilot Flying J gift card. Your entry will also give you an instant $5, redeemable at any Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. App users can continue to save in-store with access to daily offers on popular food and beverages.

“We’re excited to partner with B.A.S.S. to launch this $5,000 Fish for a Year Sweepstakes, naming one lucky grand prize winner but also rewarding all guests with a special $5 offer,” said Whitney Haslam, chief experience officer at Pilot Flying J. “Our customer base loves the outdoors, and many fishing and boating enthusiasts stop at our travel centers while en route to their favorite destinations. This sweepstakes is just in time for guests looking to get back out on the water this spring.”

For more information about the Fish for a Year Sweepstakes, presented by Pilot Flying J, Pilot Flying J’s mobile app and other amenities, visit pilotflyingj.com/bass2019. 

Download the app today! You'll be glad you did.

Davy Hite honored by South Carolina

Davy Hite received a special surprise on the Bassmaster weigh-in stage today. The former Classic winner, Toyota Angler of the Year champion, and current Bassmaster LIVE analyst was presented with a Resolution from the South Carolina State Senate, by S.C. State Representative Jay West. Here is in part what the Resolution said: 

"To recognize and celebrate Davy Hite for his exceptional angling skill, broadcasting ability, stewardship of the outdoors, and service to our country, and to congratulate him on his selection into the 2019 Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in Springfield, Missouri."

Davy, we at Bassmaster are proud of you! 

Cobb fishing his Hartwell history

Brandon Cobb was concerned after his pre-tournament practice that Lake Hartwell wasn't fishing like it ordinarily does this time of year. The 29-year-old Greenwood, S.C., angler knows what this lake is supposed to be like in April, as he's been fishing it since he was a kid. Obviously, the lake came around to form once the tournament began, as he has led it from Day 1. 

"What's worked out in my favor is the fish now are acting exactly like they're supposed to this time of year," Cobb said Saturday. "They didn't do it all of practice. But I'm kind of used to what they're supposed to be doing. It's like the fish are getting to normal April behavior."

But even knowing the lake as well as he does, Cobb says there's simply no way to target bigger bass here.

"I've had days out here this time of year when I'd catch 40 fish and have 11 pounds," he said. "You just don't ever catch a big one."

Cobb isn't having that problem today. While he's got no giants in his boat, he's got a limit of 3-plus-pounders in the 15 bass he's landed so far today. And he's been steady - catching a 3-pounder an hour from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Cobb's primary lures have been a Zoom Fluke Stick with a 1/8th-ounce Greenfish Tackle shaky head jighead and a Zoom Trick Worm, fished weightless with a 1/0 hook with a weedguard.

"Saves" important in AOY race

Similar to a “save” in baseball, when a relief pitcher comes in to quell an opposition rally, an angler needs some “saves” during the Elite Series season if he’s going to compete for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

In short, a “save” on the Elite Series is when an angler rallies from a bad first day and gets it together on Day 2. Drew Cook is a prime example this year. The Midway, Fla., angler, depending upon where he finishes today, could be leading and is going to be ranked at least in the top five of the AOY standings after three tournaments. Cook’s save came on the St. Johns River, where he was in 53rd place on Day 1 and rallied with 24-5 on Day 2 to eventually finish 18th. That’s a 35-point “save” in AOY points. 

Brandon Cobb, who could also be the AOY leader after this event, has an even more impressive save. On the first day at Lake Lanier, Cobb was in 63rd place. He moved up to 32nd to barely make the top 35 cut on Day 2, then jumped all the way to a 14th-place finish on Day 3. That’s a 49-point save.

Scott Canterbury, currently ranked 4th in AOY points, recorded a similar save at the St. Johns River. He was 55th after Day 1 when he caught only 10-3. He regrouped on Day 2 with 25-12 to jump to 17th place and eventually finished 9th – a 46-point save.

As for saves this week at Lake Hartwell, Cook has recorded another one, though not nearly as dramatic as the one at the St. Johns River. He was 25th after Day 1 at Hartwell before jumping to 3rd on Day 2 with the only 20-pound bag of the tournament through three days. He started today in 4th place. Stetson Blaylock, currently tied for 7th in AOY points, was 33rd on Day 1 and recovered to 10th place on Day 2. He began today in 3rd place.

Remember, it’s only in the final standings when AOY points are earned. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. But a bad start can get in your head and lead to a bad finish if you don’t keep your wits about you. It’s the stuff of which AOY champions are made.

Hartwell apples and oranges

Granted, the three previous Bassmaster Classics were held in February and March, so this is kind of an apples and oranges comparison. But in the three-day Classics, the winning weights were 49-7 in 2008, 50-1 in 2015 and 47-1 in 2018. After three days in April, Brandon Cobb's tournament leading total was 55-6.

Cook staying cool

Toyota AOY leader Drew Cook has been struggling to get bedded bass to cooperate this morning. But he finally broke the ice with a 2.1-pounder he just plucked from a bed, after working it for at least 20 minutes.

 “Do you know how worried I would be if I weren’t catching all my fish in the last two hours?” Cook said as he boxed his first fish of the day.

'I found the party bed!'

Chad Pipkens was working a little pocket when he spotted three big bass in the 3 to 5 pound range. He was so excited he was shaking. “That’s a party bed!” he said. Cast number one in their vicinity didn’t go well. He broke off. “That was a mental error, I should have retied,” he said. But a few casts later he caught “the medium one,” which he called 3-4. In it’s mouth he found the hook he lost minutes before. Then a few minutes later he caught “the small one,” a 3-pounder, and then one he didn’t plan on in the 2-12 range. Pipkens has used a dropshot on one and some kind of bug, or crawdad on the other two. “Three fish off one bed, that has never happened in my life,” he said. Now he’s after, “the giant.” He’s in third place in BASSTrakk with 14 pounds. 

Pipkens' cheering section

How cool is this? After breaking off a nice male largemouth coaxed off a spawning bed, Chad Pipkens lamented the loss to a fellow Bassmaster Elite Series pro. He was Derek Hudnall, who this week is performing the duties of a camera boat driver for photographer Steve Bowman and blogger Jim Sexton. Hudnall, who was disqualified prior to the tournament, felt the pain of his peer, offering him encouragement from just yards away.

Pipkens retied and moments later caught the largemouth, including the broken off bait that was stuck in the mouth of the catch. Hudnall and Pipkens shared the good fortune. Of course, Hudnall would have rather been there with rod in hand, but his true act of unbiased good sportsmanship epitomizes this new season of the Elite Series.

By the way, here are some details on Pipkens’ lures. He is using a 3-inch Damiki Air Craw on a 3/16-ounce jighead. Another choice is a weightless wacky rig with a 2/0 Eagle Claw Trokar TK137 Finesse Hook and 5-inch Lunker Hunt Lunker Stick.

Pipkins lands number 5

Chad Pipkens just put his fifth keeper in the livewell. It was a 2-8, giving him a 9-8 for the day and moving him up to third place in BASSTrakk. He’s been changing spots often this morning, but is now spending more time in a little pocket with downed timber. 

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