Felix: quite a story building

We’ve got quite a story building with Austin Felix.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie notched his first Top 10 on the Elite Series last week at Santee Cooper and fishing in the Top 10 on Semifinal Sunday has storylines building around this Minnesota rookie.

With Clark Wendlandt and a few others stumbling this week at Chick, Felix finds himself sitting second to David Mullins in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings by just seven points with six fishing days remaining in the 2020 season.

In another race, the Phoenix Boats Pro sits atop the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings just 17 points ahead of fellow rookie Kyle Welcher who goes out in fifth place today. “This is a race that I’ve paid attention to most of the year,” admitted Felix. “You only get one shot to win Rookie of the Year.”

The big stage is not unfamiliar territory to Felix. A former FLW College National Champion, Felix fished in four FLW Cups and earned nearly $300,000 at FLW before making the transition to the Bassmaster Elite Series. Felix won his FLW National Championship on Lake Keowee, an upstate South Carolina fishery.

Blaylock getting started

It seemed like forever for this day to get started. But it’s not taking Stetson Blaylock long to get the catching started.

Within just a few casts he hooked up and landed his first keeper. And on the next cast he caught another.

Both fish are in the 2-pound neighborhood and he should have somewhere on the high side of 4 pounds.

He’s off to a roaring start in this very tough derby. It’s actually the first time all week I’ve seen fish caught on back-to-back casts.

He’s likely widened his lead. And even with a fog delay, there’s still plenty of time left.

Livesay with a 4-pounder

Lee Livesay hammers his first one of the morning only minutes after the fog delay.

Throwing a topwater frog across grass mats, this 4-pounder marks Livesay’s largest bass of the tournament thus far.

Livesay's frog tactic

"What people are missing is the frog bite bass are shallower than they think."

And with that, Lee Livesay took the first lead of the fog-delayed day. Livesay has a no-brainer of a reason why he is fishing in 1 foot of water.

"The fish at that depth are feeding on bluegill," he said. "And, the fish can see and react to the frog better in a foot of water."

As opposed to the much deeper depth range other frog guys are fishing. The bluegill-shallower water equation pattern is clearly something different than what others are doing.

Meanwhile, guys fishing with frogs out in deeper water are competing with the hoards of tiny shad that are being fed upon by the bass, which are ignoring their lures.

BASSTrakk shows Livesay with a 4-pounder that pushed his overall weight to 30 pounds, 3 ounces.

Livesay goes big first thing

Lee Livesay, who plans to throw a frog all of this fog-shortened day, got on the board in a big way right off the bat.

"That's the biggest one I've caught all week," Livesay said. "Good start. That's a 4-pounder. I've been catching 2-pounders. It's like having two fish."

Livesay has been Mr. Consistency on a lake that hasn't allowed much of that. He was in 10th place with 13-0 on Day 1 and moved up to 3rd with 13-3 on Day 2.

Felix looking for back to back Top 10’s

Good Morning from Chickamauga Lake and the Guaranteed Rates Bassmaster Elite! The fog delay is over and 40 of the best anglers in the world are off to work.

Austin Felix, fresh off a Top 5 finish at Santee Cooper is looking for back to back Top 10’s to wrap up the three Elite Series events in three weeks.

The Siteline Fishing Pro is beginning Semifinal Sunday with 19 rods on the deck and he’s prepared to throw just about everything at the finicky Chickamauga Lake bass this morning.

Felix, a self-proclaimed Harry Potter fan, is hoping that he can wave the magic wand today and bring five to the stage and punch his ticket for Championship Monday.

Cox on the go

Being in the right place, and at the right time, seems to be key in this tournament. You must be on a prime spot when the feeding window occurs, which happens when the largemouth feed on shad.

But how do you know when to determine that timing? For John Cox, it comes down to staying on the move, just trying to line up the timing of a stop with the fish schooling and feeding on the baitfish.

"Yesterday, I didn’t move enough but today that’s going to change," he said. "I only got a few bites just after I got to a spot, and then they'd shut down."

Cox believed the shutdown was caused by these overly pressured fishing wising up to the fishing pressure.

"Today, I’m going to move more in order to stay in play about being in the right place at the right time."

It's go time

After a fog delay of nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes, it's go time.

Unlike any other fog delay that could occur during the season, this one has more significance. It's at the end of the season when every cast counts for the guys on the bubble of the Classic cutoff line. And the same applies for guys just needing to maintain their position in the point standings. Lost fishing time matters. A lot.

What else is notable is that just catching a limit is the only goal of the week. Normally, a guy would set his expectations for success on a projected weight he wants to catch. Now, that number is 5, as in a 5-bass limit.

Another thing to watch is how far guys will run, now that fishing time is cut short. I've got to think that guys like Matt Arey and Brad Whatley have already decided if they will make the long run up the Hiwassee River with less fishing time in play.

And finally, while the fog lifted elsewhere, it was very much unsafe for the takeoff. Fishing pressure from weekend anglers and the big tournament coming up will put the pressure on the fishing areas in play, such as the community holes.

As a former B.A.S.S. assistant tournament director, like Lisa Talmadge, we were instilled early on that there is absolutely no compromise when it comes to making a decision about a fog delay. Safety first, always, for our anglers and media teams, fishing second. Good job, Lisa.

Felix not down about the delay

The fog delay is over and the Elites have been sent to their boats. The first flight goes out at 9:55 am and check in times remain the same.

It’ll be a short day of fishing which means putting five fish in the boat in a smaller window of time is going to be the challenge today.

A massive fog

A massive fog has set in on Chickamauga Lake this morning and the Guaranteed Rates Bassmaster Elite is in a delay. It’s 9 am and many of the anglers are working on their second and thirds cups of Black Rifle Coffee.

While the anticipation is evident, the guys know that safety comes first and that’s numero uno with B.A.S.S.

There are plenty of fish tales going on along the banks of Chick this morning. Some of the anglers I’ve spoken with this morning don’t seem to mind the delay because their fish have been caught later in the morning closer to noon. Some have jokingly said that the locals will have the limits before lunch as we’ve seen a number of local boats put in and idle out.

However this plays out, everyone is on the same page as far as safety and the guys fishing today have all gained valuable points and a nice paycheck for their efforts so far in what has been a very difficult derby.

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