Classic implications

Ray Hanselman, 63rd place (31-6)

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ray Hanselman is keenly watching the Final Day of the Open at Oneida Lake.

Hanselman gets Classic spot if these anglers win:

Bill Perkins (1st)
AJ Slegona (3rd)
Liam Blake (7th)
Brandon Palaniuk (8th)

Other 6 punch their own spot if they fish the final Eastern Open at the St. Lawrence River.

Payne honors grandmother’s memory on Oneida

Heading into Day 2 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Northern Open, the most valuable item Billy Payne carries is something you’d never see — unless you knew to ask for a glimpse. It’s not that the pro from Lackawaxen, N.Y. is hiding anything, it’s just that this precious possession hangs around his neck and rests inside his tournament jersey.

It’s a rosary. Two weeks ago, it belonged to his grandmother, Margaret Payne.

Billy placed second on Thursday, an ounce behind Bill Perkins. Throughout his day, Payne had his spot all to himself, but he said he never felt alone on that front deck.

Speaking of his highly productive day, Payne said: “It was a blessing from God. I (had) my grandmother’s rosary on me; she just passed away and it was an emotional day.

“She was with us. She was with us.”

Anglers need the right ones

Tournament anglers often mention needing five (a daily limit) of “the right ones.” No doubt, that’s a sound objective for competitors this week. But that standard applies to more than fish size.

You also need the right species.

Oneida’s fertile waters hold smallmouth bass, as well as largemouth bass. While the former typically dominates, the latter definitely has the potential to impact a final leaderboard.

The only thing anglers do not want is the ever-present and always hungry “bottom mouth bass” — freshwater drum. The nickname refers to the drum’s downward angled mouth.

The big ugly puts up a spirited battle, but since they’re not a tournament species, catching a drum largely amounts to wasted time.

The only upside is that drum often favor similar habitat and forage as the black bass species on which the Basspro.com Bassmaster Northern Open is based. Catching a couple drum tends to validate the chosen area’s productivity, but there’s also a downside.

While largemouth and smallmouth can be a picky lot, drum seem to operate on the see-it-eat-it plan.

New York pro Casey Smith reported catching a lot of “bottom mouth bass” during practice. Suffice it to say that he and all competitors hope to avoid big ugly and find more of the right ones.

A different playing field

In my practice summary with interviews by Brandon Palaniuk and Garrett Paquette, I noted how Oneida's popular offshore community holes would be in play. 

This photo shared by Shane Durrance says otherwise. A strong southerly flow of air from an oncoming storm system has made boat control nearly impossible. Shane reported the rolling waves at about 4-5 feet. Precise boat control is a must, for making vertical presentations with a drop shot land in the strike zone. 

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