Cappo in the wind

This photo just taken by Andy Crawford sums up the current situation for Quentin Cappo.

He's fishing the wind--Andy estimated the waves at 2 feet--but it's to his advantage. He wants the wind-driven current, waves included, to push shad against the shoreline where they get ambushed by the bass.

He switched from the squarebill crankbait to a soft plastic swimbait, which he is slowly winding through the strike zone.

Yelas moves from 90th to top 10

Jay Yelas has been a full-time pro angler for 33 years. The 55-year-old Lincoln City, Ore., resident has seen it all. Maybe that’s the key to not hanging your head after a 90th place finish on Day 1 at Lake Fork this week. Yelas weighed an 11-pound, 2-ounce limit to finish 90th Thursday. He moved up inside the two-day cut yesterday with 21-5 that left him in 48th place. That’s an achievement in itself. But Yelas is making a bid to fish in Sunday’s final. At noon today, Yelas has 28-1 and has moved into 9th place.

Card cracks the code, finally

Day 2 leader Brandon Card was calm, cool, and collected this morning early, in spite of the fact that what he’s been calling the “Hammer Hole,” was quiet. “That’s fishing for you,” Card said. “You have to crack the code. I’m not going to get in too big a hurry. Throw some different baits.”

With great patience, Card has seemingly "cracked the code” with a hair jig. “Working a little Tennessee River action, folks,” he said. Card didn’t have his first keeper until 9:09 a.m. He caught his fifth keeper at 10:27. Card’s 17-13 limit has him back in first place.

Felix struggling early

Austin Felix is having a hard time settling in on Semifinal Saturday. The Minnesota native has been sight fishing over the first two days to have him sitting in seventh place coming into the day.

The biggest obstacle Felix is facing today is water clarity. After a big rain last night, the fish that he has been able to see are no longer visible with the dirtier water.

The reigning Rookie of the Year is going to keep bouncing around until he can find the right water clarity it appears. The sun is out today, so if he can find the right water clarity it’s likely he’ll continue his sight fishing success.

Livesay going barefoot

Lee Livesay

It's getting serious when Lee Livesay removes his flip-flops. He's barefoot now and the evidence is on the BassTrakk scoreboard. He just added a largemouth weighing 5 pounds, 1 ounce to his score, while making this comment as the horns blew from his large on-water gallery.

"They are schooling out there," he said on the FS1 broadcast. "There's a nine-pounder!"

As a longtime guide on Lake Fork, Livesay has more experience here than his peers. Will it matter? Only time will tell.

The wind is about to be a key player in the game. Quentin Cappo's best timeframe was in the afternoon when the wind was at its strongest. Cappo also reasoned the water temperature increases by a few degrees, thereby stimulating more bass activity. The same theory applied to Brandon Card, who is finally beginning to catch fish from The Hammer Hole.

Meanwhile, on the other scoreboard

Have you seen the new features in BassTrakk? I'm referring to the multiple tabs across the top of the scoreboard that include real-time scores for Phoenix Big Bass, Catch Times and AOY. The latter tab is worth a look, considering what is unfolding right now on Lake Fork.

In the Bassmaster Angler of the Year lead is Seth Feider with 437 points and just behind him is Patrick Walters with 433 points. Now, you can even dial into how an angler is doing in a given tournament. So far, Feider has gained 96 points, with 100 points for Walters. Both anglers are battling it out at the top of the BassTrakk standings for Saturday.

What is so telling is that Feider and Chris Johnston, two "northern" anglers, are inside the Top 5 after five events, with two days remaining in this tournament.

Feider and Johnston have shed the expectations that they have the potential to be at their best and charge up the AOY scoreboard on the "northern run" of the two final events. They still can, but look at what they have already achieved in the southern events.

Those final two derbies are at Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, where Johnston won in 2020. With two consecutive Alabama events before the two final events, they have more time to gain points, before going into familiar territory.

This proves anything can happen, regardless of how we sometimes profile guys based on where they are from.

Ito catching ‘em on a baitcaster

Taku Ito put on quite a show yesterday in totaling a five-bass limit weighing 33 pounds, 3 ounces, all caught on a spinning rod. His best five included an 8-14, an 8-12 and a 7-10. That big bag zoomed him from 73rd place on Day 1 into 4th place on Day 2. Ito seemed genuinely shocked on the weigh-in stage yesterday upon hearing he was in 4th place.

Ito continues to be full of surprises. The second-year Elite Series pro from Okegawa, Japan, is catching bass this morning on a crankbait with, wait for it, a baitcaster in his hands. Ito has caught two bass - a 4-4 and a 3-8 - this morning early.

Lake Fork's super-charged food chain

Seth Feider just caught and released, a bass with the tail of a shad protruding from its mouth, confirming what we already knew. Patrick Walters is ahead of where he was this time yesterday on the BassTrakk scoreboard. And so is Taku Ito.

The abundance of gizzard and threadfin is a reason why. Bass fishermen often judge a fishery by its forage base. More baitfish mean better fishing. What happens at Lake Fork extends beyond the shoreline.
A lake cannot support a healthy forage base without the food to feed it. At Lake Fork that is the watershed, which builds the forage base from the ground up, beginning with plankton blooms for the smallest fish. Those feed larger fish and on up to the top of the food chain with the largemouth.

“The Lake Fork watershed is unlike any other,” explained Jake Norman, the Texas Parks and Wildlife District Supervisor who oversees the science of managing the lake. “The nutrient level here stays incredibly high due to all of the feeder creeks.”

Feeder creeks are where nutrients enter the lake. Feeder creeks are abundant in Lake Fork and spread those nutrients throughout the lake.

“The watershed really drives it all by enabling the lake to feed itself from the bottom of the food chain on up,” added Norman. “What is happening here with the watershed is the perfect case scenario for growing big bass

Feider: “It’s going down!”

Seth Feider is fired up early. He put twin 4-pound, 3-ounce bass in the boat before 7 a.m.

“It’s going down, boys, it’s going down!’ Feider exclaimed after boating the second one. “This is what happens when somebody doesn’t start here before you. It was a grind yesterday.”

Feider started the day 10th in the tournament standings, 12-6 behind Day 2 leader Brandon Card. Feider is also No. 1 in Elite Series Angler of the Year points.

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