Cappo's wind-blown pattern

This photo taken by Andy Crawford frames the previous situation around Quentin Cappo. In the background was Chris Zaldain, and behind him was an unidentified angler. All of them were casting toward a windblown point.

The switch hasn't flipped on, yet. But it will, and thus the reason why all of them were hanging around. Cappo didn't because he doesn't need to hang it all on this one spot. Yesterday, he dialed into a rotation pattern of ideal areas.

This screenshot taken by Andy Crawford shows what is going on at the moment. Here, you see the screen of the Garmin Panoptics LiveScope aboard his camera boat. In the photo below, you see a ball of gizzard shad, and behind it, a line of shad following them.

"Bait is everywhere around us, and so are the bass," he said.

Card made jerkbait adjustment

Anglers often talk about adjustments being the key to tournament success. Sometimes they’re subtle adjustments. Other times they’re more dramatic. Brandon Card’s adjustment today would go in the latter category, as in he wasn’t throwing a jerkbait yesterday and he’s got 22-8 on a jerkbait today.

“It’s about making adjustments,” said Card, who was third on Day 1 with 27-6. “I never even threw a jerkbait yesterday. Not one cast.”

He may not put it down today. Card landed a 5-9 at 8:06 and a 6-2 at 8:12 this morning. Both bass absolutely choked his Yo-Zuri jerkbait. Card noted that the 5-9 hit the bait so hard it knocked slack in the line, like a jig bite.

Patience pays off

Chris Zaldain’s patience has paid off some.

On one of his casts with his giant lure, a little bass hit right at the boat. He almost threw it back but thought better of it.

After a quick measure and a weigh, he scored a 1 pound, 1 ounce keeper. It lifted the lid a bit for the action. Soon after he hooks up with his second, this one 3-13. He all of the sudden has right at 5 pounds. That’s not a game changer on this lake, but it proves good things come to those who wait.

If they keep growing exponentially then Zaldain will be on his way.

Card making adjustments

Brandon Card was having a relatively slow morning until he made a small adjustment that paid big dividends.

For over an hour, the North Carolinian was fishing out deeper off of a point and only catching white bass and smaller largemouth. Card noticed shad flickering further up on the point in shallow water and made his move.

Since moving shallower on the point, Card has boated 22 pounds, 8 ounces in a very short window.

Moments ago he mentioned that he believes the shad have begun to spawn in this area.

Walters targeting 'aggressive' fish

Patrick Walters wants nothing to do with the bed fishing bonanza favored by some of his peers. Why?

He is intentionally targeting prespawners.

"Those fish are hungrier and more aggressive toward attacking bait, and my lure," he said.

Walters isn't just pulling up on a spot and casting his lure into a shark-like feeding frenzy. Not all of the prespawners pulling up on his chosen areas are aggressive.

"I am seeing fish on my forward facing sonar that won't bite at all, looking at them for 45 minutes or more," he explained.

Just like bed fishing, there are two options. Stay and waste valuable fishing time on one fish, or move on and look for those aggressive fish. Wallters has figured out how to do the latter, and does it well given the limited fishing time.

"The really great thing about this lake is there are enough actively aggressive fish to locate," he said.

Walters was secretive about the prime depth range that defines his strike zone. Either way, the good news, obviously, is the fish are coming to him.

"I've been surprised about how many there are and they just keep multiplying," he said.

You wouldn't expect anything less from the Land of the Giants, also known as Lake Fork.

Zaldain is sticking

I’m covering Chris Zaldain this morning. I’ve spent several mornings in the past chasing him around. I’m always struck by his ability to just stick with something.

And it’s usually a big swimbait. That’s the case this morning with a glider getting its share of casts.

After an hour there’s not been a sniff of a bite. Quentin Cappo not too far away has caught a keeper, but Zaldain hasn’t appeared to even come close.

I’m sitting here with my boat driver for the week, Shane Fields. Both of us have our share of derby days. We’ve both commented that while Zaldain has basically stayed in one 20 yard circle, fan casting the same area we would have already covered half the lake. Chances are with the same production that Zaldain has had thus far.

But Zaldain is sticking. Obviously he has a lot of confidence in the place and the lures he’s throwing. Obviously he’s hardheaded about it. But what isn’t talked about much is his ability to stay focused on the task at hand waiting for the payoff that he believes will surely come.

The mental part of that is mind-boggling for a fishing hand that thinks that part of the lake looks good over there or over yonder.

It’s easier to pick up and hunt and peck around than to stay ready to pounce when it all of the sudden comes together.

Zaldain is a master of that. While parts of it are frustrating, like the wait, there is excitement brewing for that moment.

There’s a lot of old-school strategy in terms of fishing lessons in that. But most of us don’t have the patience to wait it out.

Walters starts with a bang

Patrick Walters had the big bass of the day in his tournament-leading limit of 32 pounds, 14 ounces, yesterday. It weighed 8-14. Walters almost matched it in the first 45 minutes today with an 8-12. He described it as a “butterball” as he was reeling it in. And the butterball was even bigger than he expected when he got it to the boat.

“What? What? She didn’t even fight,” Walters said. “That was crazy.”

What’s crazy is how good the 26-year-old Walters has been throwing a jerkbait on Lake Fork over now six straight days, dating back to November’s 100-pounds-plus winning total here.

Cappo’s Lake Fork frustration ends

QUITMAN, Texas – Quentin Cappo has been fishing Lake Fork since 2004. His father and a cousin have made frequent fishing trips here from their Prairieville, La., home. Cappo knows the lake, which is why it has been such a source of frustration for him since qualifying for the Elite Series three years ago. Cappo finished 74th with a two-day total of 9 pounds in the 2019 tournament here. He finished 73rd with 9-4 over two days last November.

With his second-place total of 28-15 yesterday, Cappo weighed 10 more pounds in one day than the total he’d caught in four days of previous Elite Series competition at Lake Fork.

“This has been a long time coming,” the 35-year-old Cappo said Thursday. “Me and Lake Fork have not had a good relationship. I’ve been on ‘em in practice before here and then go out and something changes and it doesn’t go right. So to actually have a decent practice and for it to actually stay the same was pretty magical.”

With the overcast skies Thursday, Cappo abandoned his sight-fishing plans quickly. He started “dredging” shallow points with a big square-billed crankbait.

“I’m throwing a deeper one than I normally would throw, trying to stir up the bottom and get more of a reaction bite,” he said. “It’s a heavy-pressured lake. When you have heavy-pressured lakes, something different gets them fired up. Once I get ‘em fired up, I can stay on them. But it seems like I can go hours without a bite. As soon as I get one, it’s okay, here we go.”

Cappo said wind is crucial. “The more it blows, the better,” he said. He should get that today.

“In 2019, I thought I was going to win this thing,” Cappo said of the Elite Series event that Brandon Cobb won. “I was catching 30 pounds a day every day in practice. I caught a 6-pounder on my fourth cast (in the tournament) and never got another bite. I’ve spent a lot of money here, a lot of time here, just fun fishing it. To come out (Thursday) and do that was magical.”

Hot start at Lake Fork

After Day 1, the 2021 Elite Series tournament at Lake Fork is shaping up like the 2019 tournament here, only better. While there were three five-bass limits over 30 pounds in 2019 and only one Thursday, Patrick Walters first-place bag of 32-14 topped them. And the further you went down Thursday’s standings, the greater the discrepancy. Day 1 of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite set the stage for another whale of a tournament at Lake Fork.

                                   May 2, 2019                 April 22, 2021               
25 lb. bags                  8                                  8
20 lb. bags                 19                                36
50th place                  13-5                             18-9
5-bass limits               62/75                            90/99