The Hammer Hole

Brandon Card, for obvious reasons, calls his best spot 'The Hammer Hole." Yesterday, the bulk of his limit weighing 28 pounds, 1 ounce came from there. 

The spot is ideal for the prevailing conditions. The sweet spot is a subtle point adjacent to multiple spawning pockets with a nearby creek channel. In other words, the point is the final staging area between the channel, where the fish are coming from, and the pockets where they make beds. 
Card is rotating through baits very familiar to him. Those include a Yo-Zuri 3DB 110 Jerkbait Deep and the regular version. He is also using a 4-inch swimbait made by a friend. 
"It just keeps reloading," he said. "Just when I think it'll dry up, they keep coming up

Breakfast is ready!

Shane Durrance just sent this to me. Take a closer look in the foreground and you'll see the evidence of a shad spawn underway at his location.

"They are flipping everywhere," he said.

Here we go. This could be an action-packed morning.

You ain’t seen nothing yet at Fork

While the overall totals dropped a bit on Day 2 at Lake Fork, that can be directly attributed to the shortened day due to the storm forecast. Otherwise, the numbers indicated that more fireworks are on the way at Lake Fork. Topping the list was Taku Ito’s big limit of the tournament - 33 pounds, 3 ounces, which included an 8-14, an 8-12 and a 7-10. It rocketed him from 73rd place on Day 1 into fourth place after Day 2.

Day 1 leader Patrick Walters dropped from first to third on Day 2. He had 15-7 after his first day total of 32-14. But Walters knows this tournament is only halfway over, and he thinks the weekend is going to be even more explosive than what we’ve seen already.

When Brandon Cobb won here in May 2019, he weighed 14-7 and fell to sixth place on Day 2 before weighing a four-day total of 114-0. His Day 2 total was 46-2. Walters has 48-5 after two days now.

In the first two days, there have been two distinct windows of opportunity – early, followed by a lull, then an afternoon frenzy that begins shortly after noon. The shortened day kept some anglers from taking full advantage of the afternoon bite. Proof was in the number of guys who mentioned catching a big one on the last cast or close to it: 1) Stetson Blaylock landed a 7-2 at 1:57; 2) Cody Hollen caught an 8-3 at 2:25 on his last cast; and 3) Shane Lineberger caught a 7-15 at 2:37 with a 2:40 check-in time. 

In all probability, you ain’t seen nothing yet in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork.

Ito swaps one lunker for another

Because of the Lake Fork slot limit, which allows anglers to keep one bass per day over 24 inches, Taku Ito just made possibly the most interesting cull in Bassmaster history. Ito’s previous big bass was an 8-12, but he also caught a 7-10 today, which met the 24-inch minimum that allowed him to bring it to the weigh-in. So what you’re seeing in the photo here is Ito preparing to cull the 7-10 with the 8-14.

But more to the point, Ito now has the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament - 33 pounds, 10 ounces. It has rocketed him from 73rd place after Day 1 into 3rd place currently. The following is a list of Ito’s best five today: 8-14, 8-12, 7-10, 4-6, 3-9.

Pirch’s 9-13 new big bass leader

Clifford Pirch has illustrated how quickly you can be healed at Lake Fork. The Payson, Ariz., pro began the day languishing in 80th place after finishing with a 13-5 limit on Day 1. Interestingly, 13-5 was 50th place after Day 1 in 2019 at Lake Fork. Anyway, Pirch had some ground to make up if he was going to make the top 49 cut today. He did it in one fell scoop of a 9-pound, 13-ounce bass at 12:44. It moved him up to 35th place on BassTrakk. Pirch still has a 1-7 and a 2-10 in his 5-bass limit, so there’s plenty of room to upgrade his current weight of 20-13.

Weigh-in will begin at 2:45 ET

The Bassmaster Elite weigh-in at Lake Fork will start early today, at 2:45 ET, or 1:45 CT, due to an expected severe weather front moving through the area in mid-afternoon.

As Craig Lamb reported earlier today, the threat of rough weather caused tournament officials to shorten the competition day.

The National Weather Service forecast for the area predicts showers and thunderstorms, some of those likely to produce severe weather conditions, including frequent cloud-to-ground lightning and wind gusts to 20 mph. The NWS Storm Prediction Center elevated the severe weather risk to Level 3 on a scale of 5. The greatest threat for severe weather is mid-to-late afternoon.

Some anglers will check-in later, so Bassmaster LIVE will continue until 3:00 ET, with the live weigh-in stream beginning around 2:45 ET. Fans will certainly have plenty of exciting video streams to choose from!

Ito sticking with spinning rod

Ito, who was finesse fishing structure like he learned from highly pressured fisheries in his home country, again brought in the biggest bass on Day 4, a 3-7 that added $2,000 in bonus money from Phoenix Boats to his $30,000 payday for taking third. His f

Last season rookie Taku Ito became somewhat of an overnight sensation when the Elite Series took its northern swing into smallmouth waters. After claiming to have no previous experience with smallmouth bass, Ito finished 6th at the St. Lawrence River, 10th at Lake Champlain and 10th at Lake St. Clair. At one point, he was leading both the Rookie of the Year and Angler of the Year points standings.

Over the last two Elite Series tournaments, we’re starting to see why Ito was so successful on the smallmouth waters. He basically fishes the same for both species - with a spinning rod in his hand - no matter where he is. The 34-year-old Ito finessed his way to a 3rd-place finish at the Sabine River with a wacky-rigged worm, and he’s doing the same here at Lake Fork.

Ito was in 73rd place after Day 1, but he has put himself inside the top 10 with a monster limit today of 27-13. It includes an 8-12 and a 7-10. His smallest bass are a 3-8 and a 3-9. All have been caught on a wacky-rigged worm on spinning tackle.

Cherry has a 6, needs more

The bar for the Day 2 top 49 cut was set awfully high yesterday when Brandon Palaniuk finished in 49th place with 18-10. Hank Cherry was 47th with 18-12. If Cherry is going to make the cut at the conclusion of today’s weigh-in, he’s going to need a couple more bass like the 6-1 he caught this morning. It was his only fish at 11 a.m., and Cherry had dropped back in the mid-50s on BassTrakk.

The defending Bassmaster Classic champion is having a good year. He finished 5th at Pickwick Lake and followed that with an 18th place finish at the Sabine River. He came into this tournament ranked 7th in Angler of the Year points.

Cappo's dredge tactic

The light switched just flipped on for Quentin Cappo. This fish will be scored at 7 pounds, 1 ounces, and it came after a swing and a miss of the same fish.

After the bass hit the bait and got off, Cappo cast the squarebill back to the same area and scored.

Cappo's lure presentation is key. He is casting the lure into the shallow strike zone, pointing the rod tip at the bait, and slowly winding it back. The tactic is best described as finesse cranking, as the idea, as explained by Cappo, is to "dredge" the bottom with the lipped lure.

"The bottom sediment that gets stirred up in its wake attracts the bass and triggers the strike," he said.

Patience continues to pay off

Chris Zaldain just boated a 4 pound, 1 ounce largemouth and he’s building on his day.

That should give him 8 pounds and change. It’s still a long way from where he wants to be but the quality is growing and he’s obviously not going anywhere.