Shallow, deep or both?

There are three strategies playing out today on Lake Eufaula. Here they are.

1. Shallow. There is a solid bite going down on the bank. And it's only getting better for several reasons. First, there is plenty of it to go around without too much fishing pressure coming into play. Next, the water continues to rise. That adds new water to the shoreline to expand the strike zone while adding cover for bait and bass. And finally, the shallow bite is getting less angler pressure.

2. Deep. The classic pattern of fishing brushpiles on the ledges lining the Chattahoochee River and the creeks is solid. Brandon Lester just proved it after lighting up the BASSTrakk scoreboard with a 40-minute flurry that put nearly 23 pounds in his livewell. On the downside, after three days of fishing pressure, many of the best areas are fished out, or the bass have dialed into the scheme of the anglers trying to catch them. So, there's not as much water to go around.

3. Both. Most of the leaders are deploying a shallow and deep strategy. Some go shallow early; others begin the day in deep water. The trick is knowing when to make the switch. Another trick is being on the brushpiles when the fish feed. There is no best case scenario on the timing. This one is a gamble, but it offers a high level of success, by playing both games in shallow and deep water.

Which will win? That's the cool part. We really don't know, and it'll be fun to watch.

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Frank the tank is living large

We caught up with Frank Talley, the big man from Texas. He was feeling good about life, after making the cut, and joked around with us. He also caught a fish while we were with him.

Talley had 12 pounds in the livewell and had culled twice. He was flippin a Rage Craw.

“I need two more good ones,” he said. “And I need some wind.”

Congrats on fishing Day 3 Frank, and good luck with the rest of the day!

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Lester has moved again, back offshore

After saying the row of boat docks he had moved to “just didn’t feel right,” unofficial tournament leader Brandon Lester has moved to another offshore brushpile.

He’s already landed three fish, including one that helped him cull up just a little bit.

Menendez update: He's hurting, watching ESPN2

Mark Menendez practiced for three days, but didn't get to make a cast in the DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Eufaula Lake. As reported earlier this week, Menendez left in pain early Wednesday, headed for the Huntsville (Ala.) Orthopedic Clinic. In a phone conversation this morning, Menendez said, "I'm hurting. It's not fun."

But there is some good news: He didn't suffer what he thought to be a ruptured disc. "The doctor said the L3, L4 and hip are irritated, and I may have a pinched nerve. He recommended a week of rest and physical therapy for four to six weeks. So I'm out for at least six weeks, and I'm very, very concerned I'm not going to make the New York swing."

Menendez was referring to the Elite Series tournaments in New York at Cayuga Lake, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, which begin in mid July.

As for today, Menendez is resting in bed with his "guard dog" Caesar, watching ESPN2 as his fellow Elite Series anglers compete at Lake Eufaula.

Update on Jamie Hartman

Mid morning update for Jamie Hartman, offshore bite has slowed not sure if it is due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not pulling water, the calm to nothing wind, or the bluebird skies overhead. All that to say, it has sent a ledge fisherman to the bank with a frog in hand looking for a big bite to cull out some smaller fish.

BASSTrakk currently has Hartman in 4th place. 

Update by Bassmaster Marshal Andrew Alexander

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Lester has changed tactics

Brandon Lester, the current leader on BASSTrakk has changed tactics, leaving the offshore brush pile that has been so good to him for a stretch of nearby boat docks.

It must have been hard for him to pull himself away from the deep spot, considering he was still catching a fish nearly every cast. But for the last hour, it looked like he was catching the same 2 1/2-pounder again and again.

With an estimated 22-15 in the livewell, he needs a big fish to cull.

Combs swings in a 4-pounder

Before this tournament began, when everyone was expecting it to be won offshore, Keith Combs' name was mentioned by more than one fellow Elite Series angler as a likely contender. While Combs has not been that this week - 29th with 18-5 on Day 1 and 18th on Day 2 with 19-3 - he's been pretty solid. And he's got a solid 4-pounder in the boat today. The offshore bite seems to be heating up this morning, and it's way too early to count out Combs from making the top 10 cut for Saturday.

Lester lights it up

This morning at the ramp I talked to Brandon Lester. He was beaming with confidence, even in the face of frustration. Reason why? He is a ledge fishing expert.

Lester grew up and lives in southern middle Tennessee, just an hour's drive from Lake Guntersville, where ledge fishing is a popular summertime pattern, as it is on Lake Eufaula.

Coincidentally, Lester spent the days and weeks leading up to this tournament in training at Guntersville, Nickajack and Chickamauga, all on the Tennessee River.

The training is paying off. Lester has springboarded from 27th place on the official leaderboard to first on the BASSTrakk standings. Yesterday's weight was 35-4; now he's got 58-3

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Canterbury boats 5-pounder

Scott Canterbury just caught a 5 pounder, which gives him three bass for 11-4 and moves him back into third place on BASSTrakk.

“That’s the first cast I’ve made to that brush pile during the tournament,” he said. “I may have fished it in practice but I didn’t catch anything.

“Two more fish like that and I’ll idle the rest of the day.”

Canterbury is indeed focused on brush piles for now. He’ll spend 10 or 15 minutes on one, then move on to the next one. Minutes after catching the five pounder he departed.

“I like to show them different baits,” he said. Sometimes you’ll show them a worm and they don’t bite. Then you’ll show them a crankbait. You have to be flexible.”

Epitomizing the Bro Series

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote one of my "Bro Series" articles about Matt Arey and Scott Canterbury. The Q&A style series looks at how Bassmaster Elite Series anglers form unique friendship as running mates on the road--and the water.

It's worth a read and here are a couple of standout highlights, considering Arey and Canterbury are both in the top 10.

Canterbury: "We break down a lake before we even get there. Then, in practice we talk several times a day and then break it down at night. We do that every day. I feel like figuring things out together has advantages."

Arey: "We share everything. It helps us both in the long run. We try to maximize everything we learn in practice to maximize our finishes. Last season, there were several tournaments where we only placed one or two places apart."

Arey and Canterbury, who won 2019 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, are proving how that works this week on Lake Eufaula.

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