That’s more like it

John Cox just put his second bass in the livewell, and this one has more heft.

The 3 1/2-pounder brings his current total to about 5 pounds, so he’s got plenty of work to do.

But at least he knows there are bigger bass still in the area.

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Cox on the board

John Cox has caught two smallmouth already, but only one was a keeper.

The fish isn’t what he’s looking for, putting just 1 1/2 pounds on the board.

He’s working a drop shot along sea walls and in cuts along the St. Clair River.

He told me last night he’s going to hang out here for a while because it’s where he caught most of a 20-pound limit yesterday morning.

Ito: from the bank to the top

Like many dreamers from Japan, Taku Ito began his quest to come to America and become a Bassmaster Elite Series pro on the bank. That was where he competed in Japanese tournaments as a pre-teen. At the age of 15, he bought a Humminbird fishfinder graph and rigged it on his father's boat. Remarkably, that is how the now 34-year-old Elite Series rookied learned the nuances of electronics.

Until this year, Ito had never caught a smallmouth bass. In 2019, he qualified for the Elite Series from the Bassmaster Central Opens. None of the fisheries supported viable smallmouth fishing.

After two successful events in New York, he is bringing his smallmouth game to Lake St. Clair. Ito currency leads the BASSTrakk and Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, an impressive feat.

He told me this morning on the docks that he plans to mix up his game plan with crankbaits and dropshots, focusing his lure presentations on isolated rocks. There aren't many of those to be found on the bottom, and the rocks where he is fishing are receiving heavy angling pressure. The effort is worth it. Ito said his best fish are coming off those rocks.

And believe it or not, yesterday he told me 21 pounds was his goal. His weight? 21 pounds, 11 ounces. Today he felt confident in catching 20 pounds.

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Taku Ito leading everything now

Japanese first-year Elite Series angler Taku Ito came into this tournament leading the rookie of the year standings. After one day at Lake St. Clair, he's leading the Angler of the Year standings. And after one hour this morning, he's leading the YETI Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair.

In the first hour today, Ito caught four bass conservatively estimated to weigh 14 pounds, 12 ounces. He started the day in 4th place after weighing 21-11 Thursday.

He's had a great northern swing on smallmouth bass fisheries. But he's going to be strong all year long, based on his record in Bassmaster Opens, like his second-place showing at Toledo Bend in 2019. Here's his record in the previous four Elite Series events this year: 21st at the St. Johns River, 42nd at Lake Eufaula, 6th at the St. Lawrence River and 10th at Lake Champlain.

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Sunrises on St. Clair

As a photographer lighting is absolutely everything. Saint Clair has been really good to us over the last few years gifting us with incredible sunrises.  Talking about starting your day off right!

Another interesting day on the lake

Doesn’t matter where we go we see similar type things.

We are sitting in the middle of five anglers. A pod of us all separated by 100 yards apiece.

Then this guy in the white boat plows through the middle, waving to everyone like we were happy to see him.

We are on a 400 square mile lake and he wanted to go right through the middle of everyone, so close all I could get in the frame was the nose.

He didn’t impact the fishing too much. But the 4-footers he rolled across everyone had a lot of heads shaking and a lot of “why” being asked.

It’s what makes a day on the lake interesting.

Eight anglers set for Bassmaster LIVE Day 2

The weights were great on Day 1 of the YETI Bassmaster Elite at St. Clair. There were 18 bags of 20-plus pounds. Here are your Top 8 to watch for on Day 2 of Bassmaster LIVE. ⁣
1. Pro Angler John Cox (24-12)⁣
2. David Mullins (24-2)⁣
4. Shane Lehew (21-13)⁣
5. 伊藤 巧 - Taku Ito (21-11)⁣
6. Chris Johnston Fishing (21-11)⁣
7. Cory Johnston Fishing (21-11)⁣
8. Chad Morgenthaler (21-10)⁣

The view from my office

One thing about this job is the view from my office never gets old. Great to see God’s glory this way.

This is the view from the middle of Lake St. Clair, east of the Metro Flats where we were yesterday.

We are on David Mullins this morning. And there are plenty of others as well. Chris Johnston, Shane LeHew, Garrett Paquette, Greg DiPalma are all in the area.

Like yesterday, they are drifting and looking. Unlike the Flats, which is a well-known community hole, this area is one where you have to search and find to get here.

Interesting that so many smallmouth hands have settled close. Obviously a lot of fish here. In the first 20 minutes Mullins has landed his first keeper as has Johnston.

The others are too far to see.

Cell service is real spotty here. So I hope we can continue to blog and get video for the live show.

Yelas goes practicing on day 1

By noon on Day 1 Oregon Elite Jay Yelas had more than 20 pounds of Lake St. Clair smallmouth in his livewell. Four of them were over four pounds. And he didn't want to beat up his primary area, a huge shallow flat with a grassy bottom. 

So Yelas decided to go practicing, testing new waters for big bass. 

At times his casting seemed random while he fired out shots in every direction. But Yelas had a method to his madness.

"These smallmouth are roamers," he said. "They never seem to stop swimming. They're not like largemouth, who are typically fixed on some kind of cover." 

Yelas caught most of his keepers using a Chatterbait with a Yamamoto Zako trailer. In fact he threw it so much his right arm got tired. Yelas has a strategy for that. He simply picked up a left handed reel to give his right side a break. 

"It's a rare day when you can cast the same bait all day," he said. "I haven't done that in a long time." 

Yelas finished the day with 21 pounds and 1 ounce, good enough for 10th place. If he could finish the YETI Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair inside the 10 cut he would accomplish a rare feat. That would give him a top 10 finish in each of the past five decades. Yelas began fishing Bassmaster tournaments in 1989, at Lake Mead. 

"I'd be proud of that," he said.