Safety first

Trip Weldon and the team go above and beyond to make sure the Elites are taken care of - even checking on boats in the pit area. 

Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Rob Darter

Lake Hartwell forecast: Less funk

After falling slightly the past two days, Lake Hartwell’s water level will be stable over the weekend, rising slightly with very little power generation today and Sunday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecast. That and warming weather should kick-start the spawning activity that has gradually increased during the first two days of the tournament.

“Anytime (the water) is falling it puts ‘em in a funk,” said Bill Lowen after Day 1. “If this thing would stable out, I think you’d see fish just crash to the bank.”

South Carolina veteran angler Shane Lineberger didn’t make the two-day, top 35 cut yesterday, but he did make a few spot-on predictions before the tournament began. For one, he said it would take 12 ½ to 13 pounds a day to make the top 35 cut. Elite Series rookie Luke Palmer of Colgate, Okla., was the last man in yesterday with a 35th-place total of 25-11, an average of 12 pounds, 13 ½ ounces per day.

And in picking the favorites to win, Lineberger first mentioned Brandon Cobb, the Greenwood, S.C., angler who grew up fishing Lake Hartwell, saying, “I’ve competed against Brandon since he was old enough to walk. He’s a heckuva fisherman.”

Okay, that prediction was shared by many, and Cobb has been the tournament leader the first two days. But in the next breath, Lineberger mentioned several Florida anglers, noting, “The guys from Florida tend to be better sight-fishermen than most because they get to do it all the time. We only get to do it about a month, and they get to do it for three or four months every year. Naturally, they’re a lot better at it.”

So who catches the first 20-pound bag of the tournament? Elite Series rookie Drew Cook from Midway, Fla., with 20-6 yesterday. Cook said he caught every bass he weighed by sight-fishing, and it came on a less than ideal sight-fishing day with all the clouds and rain.

“I think it’s going to be a matter of survival to the weekend,” Lineberger said Wednesday. “Then it’s going to be a full-blown bed-fishing tournament.”

So far, Lineberger has been the Nostradamus of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell.

The following is a comparison of the first two days of the tournament:

Day 1Day 2
Big bag19-920-6
Big bass5-95-13
5-bass limits7269
Avg. bass weighed2.65 lbs2.49 lbs.

Forecast update for Lake Hartwell

Looks like we'll start off the day on Saturday with some fog possible over and around Lake Hartwell with temperatures in the lower 50s at takeoff. We'll have mostly cloudy skies throughout the morning hours but some of those clouds will dissipate during the early afternoon hours. We stay dry with the afternoon high reaching around the 70-degree mark. Winds will be out of the northeast then shifting out of the south by the afternoon at 2-7 MPH. Dewpoints will rise from the lower 50s to the upper 50s as moisture levels begin to increase.

Rain chances will be on the rise throughout the day on Sunday, but it looks like for now the morning hours will remain dry. Skies will mainly be cloudy throughout the day with temperatures starting off around 60 degrees and warming up into the lower 70s by 3:00 pm. Rain chances will rise from 20% around 10:00 am to around 40% by the end of the fishing day. Dewpoints will be up in the lower 60s all day long. Winds will be shifting from the northeast to the southeast at 2-7 MPH.

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A game of whack-a-mole?

Jamie Hartman discovered something very interesting in his livewell at weigh-in on Day 2 of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell.

Now we all know that bass eat all sorts of things from baby turtles to baby ducks; but I have never in all my life seen one of these. It was a mole! You know the kind you see burrowing up dirt in your yard. We both walked away laughing and shaking our heads.

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Takeoff delay, set for 7:15 a.m.

Due to a traffic accident that occurred on the bridge crossing Lake Hartwell and near Green Pond landing the Saturday takeoff is delayed.

Tournament director Trip Weldon announced that all competitor boats remaining on the bridge have been turned around by first responders and will launch at Portman Marina. They will idle across the lake and join the boats already lined up at Green Pond Landing.

The new takeoff time is tentatively 7:15 a.m. ET.

Lunch before the weigh-in

Some of the wives and girlfriends got together for lunch before weigh-in.

Anna Fraizer, Kayla Palaniuk, Kimberly Lester, Lindsey Blaylock, Emily Arey, Jennifer Lowen, Kelly Card, Emily Watkins, Patty Wendlandt, Trait Zaldain, Alicia Hightower, Bernice Manion

Run or stay?

After Hank Cherry spent an hour tempting a 2-plus-pounder to take his bait we have this question to ponder.

Do you let the minutes tick away trying for one bass, or do you keep moving to intercept fish that are moving up to the shoreline?

Brandon Lester eluded to the answer moments before Cherry caught the stubborn fish. On LIVE, Lester remarked that he thought bass would continue moving up, along with the water level. Another answer might come tomorrow with yet again another change in this roulette wheel of a weather forecast. Partly cloudy skies and a high of 77 is in mix for Saturday. It will be the most ideal day of the weekend for sight fishing. Clouds and approaching rain are on the horizon for Championship Sunday.

It’s too soon to tell which is the better move. But one thing is for sure. The conditions will not pan out for an all-out sight fishing-fest, the likes of which anglers do spend an hour on a trophy-sized female largemouth.

Frazier returns to Classic spot

Even though he tied Hank Cherry for second place with 17-9 yesterday, Micah Frazier sounded like anything but a confident angler.

"I had a terrible practice, and I may have another terrible day (Friday)," Frazier said after the Day 1 weigh-in. "I wasn't expecting to do very well. I just ran new water. I caught some sight-fishing, some on topwater, one or two on a dock. It was just junk-fishing 101. But that's what you do here sometimes."

Frazier has been running new water today too. Well, not completely new. He's returned to what he called "his favorite pocket on the lake," where he caught several key fish in his 14th-place finish in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. And it has produced a few key fish for him today as well. Frazier is in contention for the lead with 15-2 today, according to BASSTrakk.

Hudnall on his Hartwell DQ

Jim Sexton Interviews Elite Series rookie Derek Hudnall on why he was DQed from Lake Hartwell, his father’s fishing career, and what it’s like to be a spectator at this event. 

Cherry's adventures in bed fishing

Hank Cherry, 2nd, 17-9

You win some and you lose some when fishing for bass on spawning beds. Hank Cherry missed one on "Bassmaster LIVE" at 12:30 p.m. But he had an interesting success story on Day 1. Cherry tossed a green-pumpkin colored soft plastic into a bed yesterday, set the hook when he saw the fish suck in the lure, then noticed a white bait come out of the fish's mouth.

"When I reeled in, I had two baits," Cherry said. "There was a (white) Strike King Structure Bug and 12 feet of line wrapped around my bait. Apparently, one of our guys had broke it off earlier. The next cast I caught it."

That 4-pounds-plus bass was Cherry's largest in his second-place bag of 17-9.

P.S. Cherry stayed on the bedding bass he missed at 12:30. He landed the 2-plus-pounder just after 1 p.m.