What to watch for on Thursday

On Wednesday afternoon myself and Andy Crawford gathered winning weight predictions from the pros. Andy shot the photo gallery and I recorded how they equated the weights. Curiosity also got the best of me, considering the warming conditions, so I dug deeper to find out what’s going on with the spawning cycle. Here’s what I found out.

To set up the conditions the weather has noticeably moderated the past several days, and especially on Wednesday when the temperature hovered around the high 60s with full sun. The overall mood was that the river will be best early in the morning. Brad Whately just revealed on LIVE that he watched 35 or more boats head up the river. So lines up with the predictions.

Why not go down south and search for spawning fish?

A possible reason is waiting for the water to warm up to its optimum temperature and put eyeballs on bedding fish. The later it gets, and the higher the sun rises, the closer it’ll get for that sight fishing magic to appear.

“The fish are really in that period where they have moved up but not feeding,” observed Chris Zaldain. “It seems like we are beyond the prespawn feeding mode, and I’m seeing a lot of fish but they are lazy.”

Zaldain said he’s seeing a lot of fish in the 3- to 4-pound class on the shoreline. That explains why most of the daily predicted weights to stay in the game averaged 16 pounds.

“I’m going to fish California style, which is using either a big or small swimbait,” added Zaldain.

He was among the final anglers to arrive for the mandatory angler meeting yesterday at 4:45 p.m. The reason?

“Later in the day it really stared warming up and the fish started coming up,” he said. “Man, I marked 35 beds on the GPS.”

John Crews had a similar game plan in play.

“It’s right on the edge of breaking loose, they want to spawn but they in that prespawn funk, just not feeding but about to make the move,” he said.

Brandon Cobb, who grew up fishing Hartwell, echoed the comments of many anglers about the spawning stage where it is right now.

“The water temperature is right for the all-out spawn, and there are fish on bed, it’s just we’ve had a late early spring,” he explained.

Cory Johnston knows the conditions of today will only get better as the sun warms the water even more.

“I had a great practice and spent a lot of time looking for shoreline fish, which I found,” he said. “Most of those fish average about 3 pounds, so the challenge is going to be catching one weighing over four pounds.”

Johnston’s game plan sounds like what I heard from his peers. Begin up lake, try and catch a limit of small fish, wait for the warmup and then go sight fishing.

“That’s the plan but it’ll change tomorrow with the all-day rain,” he added. “You will need a backup plan for Friday and I have one.”

Regardless of what shakes out you can be assured there will be an all-out bed fishing assault later in the day, because it’ll be a 100% washout on Friday.

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Blaylock with 6 pounds

This morning Steve Bowman and I are following Arkansas pro Stetson Blaylock. The young Elite has four bass for about 6 pounds, all caught here in the same little cove. Blaylock is slowly working his way through a series of docks. “I can’t really see them,” he said, “but I know they’re here.” 

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Getting started with Chris Johnston

Beginning his day leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler If the Year race, Chris Johnston started out working a bedded bass. He caught it with little effort.

A good start.

While it’s early in the season, and the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell being the third points event of the regular season, it’s too early to make any sort of predictions on AOY.

Having said that, the dominance of the new crop of Elite Series anglers is evident. They came to play.

He’s got one in the boat, picked up and moved to the next bed. A likely morning pattern for Johnston.

Today is supposed to be bright and calm, making it ideal for sight fishing. But as the week wanes on, the weather deteriorates. So they need to make the most of the time they’ve got.

More to come.

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Lake Hartwell first forecast

Thursday looks to be a mild day with increasing clouds on Lake Hartwell. Temperatures will start off in the lower 40s at the 7:00 am take-off with winds out of the east at 1-5 MPH underneath mostly clear skies. Temperatures will rise into the mid-60s at noon and will top out in the lower 70s just before the weigh-ins begin at 3:15 pm. Winds will be out of the east-southeast at 2-10 MPH throughout the late morning and into the afternoon hours. Dewpoints will be in the lower 40s throughout the day.

Friday will be a day that features rain likely through the morning hours with rain chances dropping during the afternoon hours. You won't see much in the way of sun throughout the day as skies will be cloudy. Temperatures will start off in the lower 50s at take-off with showers likely. By the noon hour, temperatures will be in the lower 60s with rain chances dropping to around 50%, and topping out in the mid-60s by 3:00 pm with rain chances down to just less than 40%. Winds will be out of the east to northeast at 5-10 MPH throughout the day, with dewpoints rising from the lower 50s to the mid-50s.

Saturday will feature more clouds than sun but there will be enough sunshine to help make the day brighter than Friday. There will be a very small chance of a passing shower or two, but those chances will be less than 20%. Temperatures start off in the lower 50s at take-off, rise into the lower 70s by noon, and top out in the mid-70s by the 3:00 pm hour. Winds will be very light and variable throughout the day, and dewpoints will rise from the lower 50s to the upper 50s.

We'll have mostly cloudy skies once again on Sunday and a small chance of a shower during the early morning hours before rain chances increase and we introduce the possibility of some thunder throughout the late morning and into the afternoon hours. Temperatures will start off in the upper 50s at take-off with rain chances only at 20%. By 12:00 pm, we are looking a showers and thunderstorms possible with rain chances at 40% and temperatures in the lower 70s. By 3:00 pm, those shower and thunderstorm chance have increased to just over 40% with temperatures topping out in the upper 70s. Winds will start off out of the southeast less than 3 MPH, but will change to out of the south at 2-7 MPH by the afternoon. Dewpoints will rise from the upper 50s to the lower 60s.

MOON ALMANAC

THURSDAYMoon rises at 7:11 amMoon set at 7:23 pm Illumination at 0.6%
FRIDAYMoon rises at 7:41 am Moon set at 8:19 pmIllumination at 0.3%
SATURDAYMoon rises at 8:11 amMoon set at 9:18 pmIllumination at 2.2%
SUNDAYMoon rises at 8:44 amMoon set at 10:17 pmIllumination at 6.2%

Videos: Elite predictions and more

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Cobb wishes he didn’t have local knowledge

Brandon Cobb 44-5 (14th)

Brandon Cobb lives in Greenwood, S.C., so he is no stranger to Lake Hartwell. One would think his extensive knowledge of the lake would benefit him during the Bassmaster Elite Series being held there this week, but he almost wishes he didn’t know anything about the fishery.

“The way Hartwell’s fishing right now, the water temp is warm enough for spawning — the water temps are comparable to what it normally is this time of year,” Cobb said. “But the fish are not even remotely what I’m used to. Because of that, the things I know to do on this lake this time of year are not working.

"I feel like I’d be better off not knowing the lake, really."

Breaking down BASStrakk

Dalton Tumblin breaking down BASStrakk for the Marshals.

Photo and update by Bassmaster Marshal Charlie Baker

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