A different day for Cory Johnston

Yesterday the fishing action was basically nonstop in this area up the Cooper River where anglers such as Cory Johnston, Jesse Tacorante and John Crews have managed to earn their spot in the Top 10.

Today is different for Johnston, however. The wind is stronger and out of a slightly different direction than the previous three days. It’s more cloudy and the tide is another hour later then yesterday.

Knowing these fish key in on the tide, I’m willing to bet the fishing picks up as the day goes on, but will it get right in time? Remember Johnston needs to be driving back to Georgetown by 1:15.

That’s only a few hours away. Really, to have a shot at winning he’s going to need 17-pounds or better.

I say that, and the remaining Top 10 anglers are all having a slower day. But then again, once the tide gets right things could really turn on.

Yesterday there was several anglers in this area, and they were catching and filling fish at the same time numerous times.

The fish are still here, but things must get right first. I’m betting it’ll be soon.

Johnston has two small keepers for maybe 2 1/2 pounds total.

Two for Kreiger

Koby Kreiger just put another bass in the boat, and he was pumped. 

“That’s the kind we need, boys,” he said. 

The bass wasn’t a giant, weighing roughly 1 1/2 pounds, but it makes two in the box for him. 

Things might be starting to happen, as Kreiger missed a bite just minutes earlier. 

Blaylock's baits

Normally the interviews I do for the top lures gallery are pretty normal with nothing unusual in the lineup. Last week was an exception for second-place finisher Stetson Blaylock at Lake Hartwell. He pulled out a far-out, old school Rebel Pop-R P70 that was so well used the finish was all but gone. It was nearly bone colored, or down to the plastic body.

This week he went with another vintage P70, this one in much better condition.

“I found it and it still was in great shape. All it needed was a new set of hooks.”

The vintage P70 has a single-rattle knocker; the limited edition remakes do not.

Other carry-overs from last week include a Yum Dinger stickbait. He is fishing it weightless and wacky-rigged on two hook styles. Those are the Gamakatsu G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook and Gamakatsu G-Finesse Weedless Wacky Hook.

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Fishing 'the fingers'

Koby Kreiger is sharing a canal system locals call “The Fingers” with Day 3 leader Stetson Blaylock, although he stayed out of Blaylock’s starting banks for the first hour or so of the day. 

Kreiger missed two bites before moving into the same pocket as Blaylock. 

“Fish 2, Kreiger 0,” he said. 

Shortly after easing into Blaylock’s pocket, Kreiger watched as Blaylock catch what looked to be a 3-pounder. 

Kreiger adjusted to another section of the canal, and quickly set the hook on his first fish of the day. It wasn’t heavy, but it broke the ice. 

Cory's familiar baits

Cory Johnston is using baits and techniques that have paid off twice in Championship Sundays here and at the St. Johns River. He likes to sight fish and is getting another shot at it here on the Cooper River, among other techniques.

Cory is fishing weightless, wacky-rigged 4- and 5-inch Original Yamamoto Senkos on 4/0 Gamakatsu B10 S Stinger or a 3/0 Gamakatsu Superline hooks. He is also using a Zoom Magnum Speed Worm with 4/0 Gamakatsu Superline Hook and 1/8- and 3/16 weights. A Reble Pop-R is another choice. The Senkos were a top producer at the St. Johns.

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Blaylock's second keeper

Stetson has just landed his second keeper. It’s nicer than the last. But we didn’t get a good look at it. 

With Kreiger 50 yards away. And the rest of looking like we are filling up a parking lot at a local restaurant, he quickly boated it and placed it in the well. 

I’m confident at just the pieces of the fish I saw that it is in the 2-pound neighborhood. 

That’s a nice addition. And strengthens his lead for the moment. More than that it might help minimize the distractions of everything else going on around him. 

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Blaylock has company

Stetson Blaylock has had a little company this morning. While he’s trying to stay focused it’s hard when you are in a small area and all of the sudden the solitude switches.

First came a local boat with three anglers, either throwing shiners or break fishing with really big corks. In a bed fishing scenario that can really hurt.

Then came Koby Kreiger. That was enough to have the local boat turn around and head out. But now there are two anglers in the same 30-acres with two photography boats in tow and one spectator boat.

It doesn’t take long to get crowded when things work out like that.

Day 4 went south in 2016

All week we've been comparing the two Elite Series tournaments at Winyah Bay - the first in 2016 and this one. We'll have a final comparison after this one is over, but a look back at the final day in '16 shows just how unpredictable this tidal fishery can be.

After three days in '16 Brett Hite was leading with 50 pounds, 2 ounces. Yesterday Stetson Blaylock's Day 3 first-place weight was 41-12. While that might indicate Winyah Bay was fishing significantly better then, it doesn't account for Day 4 in '16 when the bottom fell out, so to speak. One angler zeroed, Hite caught only two bass, two more of the top 12 finalists failed to catch a limit and big bag of the day, which two anglers accomplished, was 11 pounds, 10 ounces.

All indications are that bass fishing has been getting better each day at Winyah Bay this week. But this place can go south overnight as we saw in 2016.

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Blaylock on the board

Stetson Blaylock is now on the board. After losing his first fish moments ago, he’s hooked up and brought in a keeper that will weigh around 1 1/2 pounds.

He’s on his way. But then three casts later he hooks up and loses one.

He’s still confident but he says the fish seem to be way back in the cover. With a wacky worm, light line and a spinning reel that creates problems.

But he is getting bit. And it’s still 30 to 45 minutes from when a big part of the field will start fishing.

Blaylock still looking for his first catch

Stetson Blaylock has had two bites in the last few minutes. One measured 11 1/2 inches and went back in the lake.

The other was certainly a keeper. After about a 10 second tussle, it jumped and threw his wacky worm.

He thinks it’s on a bed and will be able to come back and catch it later. But it’s still a disappointment to not get the first fish in the boat.