Gussy calling his shots

Bassmaster Elite Series newcomer Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson is on a productive pattern that paying out. He’s basically calling his shots. It should be no surprise that docks are a big part of that.

He’s seeing he fish before he casts to them—yes sight fishing, kinda—but with the high, sunny skies he is trying to draw them out to eat.

I’m not sure what separates a certain dock and a certain bass from the next, but something stands out to the Canadian angler  as he makes each precisely placed cast.

“This one will eat,” he just said.

And it did.

 

Gussy isn’t upgrading by much or that often, but he is occasionally adding a few ounces to his weight. And every little bit helps at this point in the game.

Whitaker lands 3-pounder

Steve Bowman, Derek Hudnall and I just spent an hour trying to find Jake Whitaker. The 2018 Toyota Rookie of the Year kept moving and we were beginning to think he was dodging us.

We finally found him and Whitaker immediately hooked up. The 3 pounder was under a dock and he had to carefully work the fish over a cable.

Whitaker pulled out his balance beam to cull and his two smallest fish both weighted 2-2.

The North Carolina angler has about 15 pounds now, putting him in eighth place in BASSTrakk.

“I need a 4 pounder now,” he said.

Exciting Anderson Expo kicks off at noon

All B.A.S.S. fans in reach of Lake Hartwell, make sure not to miss the Elite Expo starting today at noon. Today’s weigh-in will be pushed back to 3:30 p.m. 

With every Bassmaster Elite Series event, B.A.S.S. offers a family-fun free expo on Saturday and Sunday. The event includes fan favorites like:

  • Angler Alley: Talk with the pros one-on-one, get autographs and take photos. This event starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday only.
  • Elite Angler Clinics: Head to the Bassmaster stage from 1 to 3 p.m. (Sat.) for Elite Angler Clinics where the pros will be giving you insights on various subjects on how to become a better angler. 
  • Elite LIVE Watch Party: Join us at the Elite LIVE Watch Party on Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. to watch Bassmaster LIVE and hang out with special guests, plus, you could be on the show! Fill out the paper entry for a chance to win VIP seating at the Sunday weigh-in (you must be present to win) and automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip to the 2020 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods! See Official Rules at the LIVE Watch Party area or on Bassmaster.com.
  • Take a demo ride of a Nitro, Skeeter or Triton boat
  • See the latest from Toyota and win prizes
  • Snap a selfie at the Academy Sports + Outdoors big chair 
  • Explore the Berkley/Abu Garcia Experience trailer and test your knot tying skills
  • Join B.A.S.S. and buy official Bassmaster merchandise
  • Win prizes and more from Carhartt
  • Learn more about Yamaha, T-H Marine, Power-Pole and more
  • Food and beverage vendors
  • Kids' activities

With all of the great activities going on at the established Elite Expo, Visit Anderson — the host sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell — has gone the extra mile, bringing in local vendors for the Elite Expo. 

“Visit Anderson continues to show why they have hosted a Bassmaster Classic for three years,” said Jesse Dolan, B.A.S.S. events and host activation associate. “It goes beyond the water, they’ve brought in a large number of local vendors that showcase their town’s character and impact.” 

Dolan’s town, Greenville, S.C., is only a few miles up the road and has co-hosted the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the past with Visit Anderson.

“Being home is special, after traveling the road for as many events that we do,” said Dolan. “I encourage all of upstate South Carolina to come out.”

The local flare to the expo includes everything from the Clemson University Bass Fishing Team, arts and crafts, and even the Palmetto Distillery will have a presence.   

Anderson is once again making another B.A.S.S. event one you do not want to miss. 

Betting on the come

Today is a carryover of Friday when the anglers were faced with the quandary of committing to a bedding fish until it bites, or passing it up for another.

Here’s the situation. The shorelines are basically flooded with 2-pound class largemouth (males). Those fish most likely are prepping the beds for the females to come. They are coming but nothing like the sight-fishing-fests when the biggest females in the lake are the target. Or I might be wrong. It could happen today at any time, and if it does, it’ll be later this afternoon when the water warms and the fish are easier to spot.

Here’s what some of the guys had to say when interviewed prior to takeoff.

Patrick Walters: “On a big day like this it’s kind of tricky, because to catch the bigger fish you must cover a lot of water. You have to ask yourself whether or not it’s worth catching that 2-pounder, knowing you’ll only cull up a couple of ounces.”

And also blow the chances of catching a female after her spawning mate gets caught and disappears from the bed.

“The fish are constantly pulling up, males and females, so to me it’s a wiser move to cover water to keep your options open.”

Brandon Lester agreed.

“You have to keep covering water. There are a lot of 2-pound males already on the beds and I have marked a ton of those on the GPS. And I plan to go back today and check them to see if the females move up and pair up with them.”

A pattern emerged as I worked down the takeoff line at Green Pond Landing. Everyone agreed that covering water—at least early until the sun improves sight fishing visibility—is the name of the game. Then later today we might be treated to the sight fishing whack fest we all enjoy watching on LIVE.

What else came up was how many beds and 2-pound males have been discovered and GPS-marked as stated by Lester. Some of the anglers even left females behind yesterday, opting to save them for today.

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Weigh-in will begin 15 minutes later today

A traffic accident near Green Pond Landing delayed launch this morning by 15 minutes, which means Saturday's weigh-in will begin 15 minutes later than planned as well. First fish should be weighed around 3:30. No B.A.S.S. anglers or staff were involved in the accident. 

The Expo opens at noon, and Angler Alley, where fans can meet the Elites not fishing today, starts after 12:30. Come on down, it will be a fun afternoon! 

BASSCam: Davy Hite what to watch for

Davy Hite gives us an update on what to watch for on semi-final Saturday. See more BASScams of the Elites game plans. 

Cook found a five-bass bed

En route to his 20-pound bag yesterday, Florida native Drew Cook experienced a sight-fishing first - five bass on one bed. And he caught four of them.

"I pulled up on a bed that had a male and a female on it," Cook said at Friday's weigh-in. "I caught the male, then two more males moved up on the bed. I caught those two more males and the female. I caught four fish off one bed, and I left a three-pounder on it. It was unreal. I've never had anything happen like that before."

Cook said the female weighed about 4 1/2 pounds, and all the others were 3-pounders.

"I'm definitely going back (Saturday)," he said. "There might be five more on it. Obviously, it's like the Hilton or something."

Lowen already back in it

After a speedy repair job and a quick boat run back into his fishing spot, Bill Lowen made about 10 casts before catching his first keeper of the day — a 3-pounder, easy.

He was very excited, dropped the fish in the box, picked up his rod and went back to work.

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Close to a limit for Cook

Drew Cook just landed his fourth fish, a 2 3/4-pounder. He now has an estimated 8 pounds, 10 ounces in the livewell - enough to put him on top of the leaderboard, according to Basstrakk.

The Toyota Angler of the Year leader is primarily sight-fishing down toward the dam. Water temps are measuring just less than 64 degrees, so things are right for the tactic. And more fish should move up as the sun gets higher and pushes water temps up.

Lowen back at Green Pond

Bill Lowen started his day in fourth place, and had to make a 25-minute run to reach his first spot. But things didn’t go as planned.

Due to a serious wreck on the Highway 24 bridge, take-off was delayed by 15 minutes — so he was slowed down to begin with.

But it got worse.

As we were headed up to start our day shooting Lowen, we met him blazing his way back to Green Pond. After we caught up to him we learned his trolling motor was giving him fits, which is a critical tool to successful tournament bass fishing.

A repair job was essential to carry on. He put his boat on the trailer and headed to the service yard.

The techs began their magic with an obviously frustrated Lowen looking on. But he was smiling and joking the entire time. And they came through with lightning speed and accuracy like they always do.

A fine example of how to keep your head in the game in the midst of adversity. Fortunately, he caught some of his better fish later in the day. Hopefully the added delay won’t hurt Lowen’s day.

Lowen is back on the water.

More to come.

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