Cobb mopping up

South Carolina shad spawn expert Brandon Cobb is mopping up after the shad spawn ended, at least in his area, because the shad are not spawning everywhere on the lake. Before switching gears and doing something else he wants to raise his weight with a rogue three- or five-pounder. Wind and clouds, both of which we haven’t seen today, would’ve prolonged what Cobb said ended around 11:30ish this morning.

He just succeed after speed winding back a 4.4-pounder that blew up on his topwater frog. 

Pipkens on board, now what?

Chad Pipkens just broke the jinx spell with a 1 1/2 pounder, and just about any other time and place that would be a yawner of a tournament blog post. But why is this a big deal? It is notable because fish of even that size go on the scoreboard in this catch-weigh-release format event. Pipkens has room to grow, of course, and all it will take is another 8-pounder (the going weight for a lunker) like he caught on Friday.

Anything can happen here with this format and the wide-open size of these Lake Fork fish. Pipkens has to be frustrated, though because he expressed confidence in having developed the skills needed to make adjustments with postspawn transitional bass.

Pipkens breaks the ice

Chad Pipkens has finally broken the ice that has seized his morning. It comes across at 1 pound, 8 ounces.

Pipkens said after that catch “You know what’s amazing - I got chills (catching) a pounder and a half.”

That fish, as small as it is, could actually be one of the more important fish of this derby.

One, it gets the monkey off his back.

Two, and more importantly, it could actually turn into the fish that keeps him in the top 10. That would be huge if it works out that way and the timing of his honey hole actually works in his favor on the final day.

While much of the talk has centered on the giant bass of Lake Fork, it would be something if one of the key fish of this event is actually a 1 pound, 8 ounce squeaker.

Blaylock making a move

Stetson Blaylock just added a 5-11 to his weight. He now has 18-12 for the day with plenty of room to move. His smallest is 2-11.

But that last fish was big in other ways. It moved Stetson to 11th place, just 1 ounce from moving into the top 10 and fishing on the final day. With the way big fish are moving and shaking up things, getting in that top 10 is important.

The prevailing feeling is it’s anyone’s game until the last cast is made. Stetson, you will recall, won the last event on Winyah Bay. And he does guide on this lake from time to time.

He has the knowledge on the lake and the all-important element of knowing how to win could play dividends by the time this is over.

Setting up for explosiveness

If you want to get an idea of the explosiveness of this lake you only have to look at the top 10 in the standings.

Coming into this event, there was considerable talk about who could break the century mark in weight. A lot of pundits knew it would be a palooza of 100-pound plus stringers. The locals, though, weren’t so sure. We are about a week or two too late for the unbelievable weights a spawning event can provide, and we are about a week too early for the consistency of a post-spawn bite.

Still, as Lake Fork always does, it’s showed out as the premier lake it is.

After Day 2, a cursory glance at the weights, and thinking all things would stay the same (even though they never do) it appeared as if only the top two anglers had a shot at breaking 100.

Those two, Chad Pipkens and Drew Cook, have for the moment fell way off the pace. But judging by what we’ve seen this morning, there’s a whole new crop of guys who could hit that mark. They would, of course, have to continue to catch them today and really catch them tomorrow, which is possible.

As the sun continues to beam down on the lake, and more and more fish make the moves to the anglers off-shore, things could really start setting up for a real explosion by the time this derby is over.

Timing is everything

Timing has been a catch word all week on Lake Fork. When you have fish that are transitioning and weather that has been constantly changing, being in the right place at the right time when everything comes together has been a constant theme.

When it happens as it did on Days 1 and 2 for Chad Pipkens it can be a great and wondrous thing. I can remember following Keith Combs on Day 1. We started on an off-shore point for an hour with nothing to show for it. Then we burned a half tank of gas hitting a myriad of other places. Two hours later, we stopped on the place where we had started and he caught his limit in four casts, two of those were 3-pound class fish that were reeled in together on the same cast.

When the timing is right, you can get well in a hurry on this lake; That’s exactly what is going through Pipkens’ mind we are sure.

He captured lightening in a bottle for two days, because his timing was perfect. We expect he will keep trying to hit his honey hole multiple times all day. If he hits it right, then he will get well fast. But as he keeps working on that, the remaining 34 anglers are doing the same thing.

We all know all too well, there are multiple honey holes on this lake. Timing is everything, but unfortunately, time is constantly ticking away.

Mueller catching a few

Paul Mueller is hanging around in the middle of the standings and catching a few fish like the one in this video. He obviously wants them to be bigger, but his presence in the semi-final round is good for him.

While, it could be argued he’s having a great season (he won at Lake Lanier) that’s really not the case. He had a sub-par start at St. Johns with a 62nd place finish. He won at Lanier, but finished in 46th at both Hartwell and Winyah.

He’s assured of being in the top 35 here. Currently he’s in 17th in this event and just inside the top 30 in AOY. He only has four in the well at the moment, and that last one needs to have some shoulders on it if he wants to gain AOY points and keep him in the Classic running.

This is just an example of all the little races that are taking place, besides the one where a winner is crowned.

Could this happen?

Chad Pipkens has moved from hero to zero in the BASSTrakk standings. After starting the day in first place he is now in fifth with no fish in the livewell. Meanwhile, Brandon Cobb has caught consecutive 8 pounders to take the lead. And just when it couldn’t get worse here is a photo taken by Andy Crawford of a fish lost by Pipkens at the boat.

That begs the question: Can Pipkens make the cut without catching a fish? Not likely but you never know.

Big bass stars of the day

This event is starting to really take shape with big bass being the stars of the day.

Brandon Cobb has just landed the largest fish of the day with an 8 pound, 13 ounce monster.

That follows the second largest fish of the day, an 8 pound 8 ounce giant caught 1 hour and 30 minutes ago. In that time span, Cobb has landed over 17 pounds of fish in two casts. And that is the reason Lake Fork is the number one destination for bass anglers in this country.

Cobb now has 25 pounds, 14 ounces for the day. He’s sitting in first with a 4 pound, 11 ounce lead on Micah Frazier who has jumped into the top of the standings. And he has more than a 9-pound lead on Pipkens, who has yet to catch a keeper today.

Frazier has made his move by catching a total of 24-9 today on the strength of five really solid fish. His smallest is 3 pounds even, and the largest is 7-4, which is no slouch in the realm of big fish.

Lowen and LeHew: Near but far

Having covered these events for more years than I want to admit, I’m always amazed at the ebbs and flows of when fish are caught in relation to the anglers on the water.

A case in point is Bill Lowen and Shane LeHew. Both are separated by miles of water but at virtually the same time of the day, less than a minute separated their last catch, they each boated almost identical fish.

Lowen started it at 9:37 a.m., with a 7 pound, 1 ounce bass. A minute later LeHew caught a 7 pound fish several miles away. These little trends are cool.

About 20 years ago, I was tipped off to things like this in the Bassmaster Classic at New Orleans. It was one of the first Classics where there were multiple cameramen on the water and before BassTrakk. The cameramen would call me when a fish was caught so we would have information on how the tournament was playing out.

The phones would be silent for an hour. Then in a 3- to 5-minute span, each of the cameramen would call and report a catch, often they were similar weights. But they would be scattered from Bayou Black to Venice, an area that encompassed many, many miles. And the weights would be similar.

The screen grabs with this shows you how far Lowen and LeHew were from each other.