Walters moves are paying off

Walters made another move and a few minutes later added his second keeper of the day. 

This one is pushing 3 pounds. Again not the beasts that were biting yesterday. But at least they are growing. 

Since a little spurt of misty rain pushed through. The sun is trying to break through. 

It’s a actually warmer at the moment than it was this time yesterday. With a little more sun things could start heating up. The St. Johns, though, appears to be a bit stingy this morning. 

It’s done that before and then all of the sudden the flood gates open. We are hoping for the opening of the gates. 

The Spinnerbait Wizard

Arguably, Mark Menendez is the best spinnerbait fisherman on the planet. And for good reason—nobody is as meticulous and concerned with every little detail, such as color, weight, rate of fall, ideal speed of operation, blade color and size, vibration,  flash, placement, etc, than Menendez.

Change my mind.

At this event, he’s been heavily relying upon two spinnerbaits—and for good reason. Most of the fish he’s targeting are transitioning between prespawn and actually moving up onto beds, and that often requires a moving presentation like a spinnerbait. 

One of his go-tos this week has been a 3/8-ounce custom spinnerbait with a black, brown and purple skirt accented with a couple strands of chartreuse. The blades are painted gold to his exact specifications: Just enough color to garner attention, but enough bulk to entice a fish once they commit to further checking it out. 

He added the few strands of chartreuse after several fish missed it early on. Since, his color tweak has worked well. 

He’s also occasionally picking up a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait with a similar blade color, but the entire skirt and head is chartreuse.

“Only the big ones that aren't yet ready to spawn will eat the big gaudy bait,” he said. “If one bites it though, it’ll be a grown one.”

While rotating between spinnerbait and a Strike King Rage Craw, his pattern has been largely focused on docks and the shoreline between docks. Whether he’s casting the blades or pitching the Rage Craw, he’s making sure to swim his offering passed every dock piling at multiple angles—leaving no possibility untouched. 

“It takes a lot of time and patience to hit every angle, and I may be sacrificing numbers of fish,” he said. “But this approach is producing big ones, and that’s how you win a tournament. Little fish don’t count, especially here on the St. Johns River. And the spinnerbait has been a crucial tool for me this week.”

In today’s modern fishing era, the spinnerbait may seem old school and less productive than in years past. Don’t be fooled, it still holds a valuable place on bass fishing’s most prestigious tournament series, and it will continue to do so.

Especially when a spinnerbait wizard like Mark Menendez continues to prove its viability. 

Change my mind.

Menendez faces prespawners and a hill to climb

Mark Menendez is starting his final day in third place, a position that was earned after a late-day flurry during Saturday’s semi-final round. He managed back-to-back 5- and 6-pounders respectively. 

While those two big fish may have been on beds, Menendez felt as though they just moved in to where he plucked them from. His pattern has largely been effective on the middle to ends of docks extending into the St. Johns River proper, which is about a mile north of Lake George. 

“My program is not producing many bites, less than 10 per day, actually,” he said. “But, they’re the right bites. I’ve been catching a couple early, but end up culling up to the low to mid 20-pound range later in the day. The right kicker has been critical each afternoon.”

He’s facing a near 7-pound deficit behind the leader, Chris Johnston, but with completely different weather conditions today, calm, overcast with rain likely, it’s hard to say how the fish will react.

Yesterday was a very impressive day at the scales with two bags eclipsing the 32-pound mark, and several others over 25 pounds. To win, Menendez will need all of 25+, and for the leaders to stumble. 

Not necessarily likely, but possible. The St. Johns River is showing out, no question about it.

Walters is finally on the board

Walters is finally on the board.

After about six misses, he sets the hook and reels in a 1 1/2 pounder. Not the ones he’s hoping for. But it’s a start. 

Meanwhile a misty rain has started to fall. 

Five newcomers in Top 10

There are almost as many new faces on the Elite Series this year as there are veterans. And that's how the first Top 10 of the season broke down - 5 newcomers and 5 veterans. They range in age from 24-year-old rookie Patrick Walters to 72-year-old B.A.S.S. legend Rick Clunn. Average age: 42.

Interestingly, those newcomers occupy five of the top seven spots in the Day 3 standings: 1st place - Chris Johnston, 29 years old; 2nd - Patrick Walters, 24; 4th - Cory Johnston, 33; 6th - Lee Livesay, 33; and 7th - Scott Canterbury, 42.

Watch the wild Day 3 weigh-in again

Yesterday's Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in in Palakta, Fla., was a wild affair! The best bass anglers in the world brought unbelievable limits to the weigh-in stage on Day 3 of the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. 

The only thing bigger than the crowd of excited B.A.S.S. fans were the huge bags of bass the Elites caught. Watch the weigh-in again to see all the big bags including Cliff Pirch's unbelievable 34-pound limit!

Walters and Livesay area

The area where Walters and Livesay are fishing is not that large. If you took the whole of the point they are on or nearly on, it’s not more than 120 acres. 

But the interesting part of the  area with the standard reeds and buggy whips with a smattering of dollar pads, is it’s about the only place around this part of the world that also has rocks. Huge limestone rocks. 

You can’t see them sticking out. But they’re big and  hard enough to bust a skag. I imagine they also hold a lot of heat, which may be one of the contributing factors for so many big ones showing up for Walters and Livesay. 

Chris Johnston catches No. 1

Chris Johnston spent the first hour slowly working through patch of reeds where the St. Johns River meets the north end of Lake George with only one swing and miss until about 8:45 a.m. After a brief battle, he lipped a bass that he estimates at 5 pounds. 

The catch maintains his first-place position, according to BASSTrakk. Scott Canterbury is estimated to be in second place with four bass for 7-4 today, with Bassmaster Elite Series legend Rick Clunn in third with two fish for 8-11.

Conditions have really changed, with heavy clouds moving in the wind switching from yesterday’s north wind to east-southeast. And the difference can be seen on BASSTrakk, with no limits logged at this point. Two anglers — Robbie Latuso and Patrick Walters — have  yet to catch a bass.

Pirch: Welcome to LIVE!

Clifford Pirch, he of the 34-pound, 9-ounce bag yesterday, just put his first lunker of the day in his livewell - a 7-pounds-plus largemouth caught on a Whopper Plopper topwater bait.

"I may have figured out what phase they're in," Pirch said. "Welcome to (Bassmaster) LIVE!"

Walters on the move

Walters is making the first move. “I’m not going to sit here and die,” he said. 

He added the fish in the area have been migrating about 100 yards each day. With that in his head and the wind rolling, he’s moving to a more protected area, about 100 yards away.