Sumrall rolling

The last time we heard from Caleb Sumrall, he said that he was going to start running some new water. Evidently that was a great decision as BassTrakk has Sumrall up to 12 pounds.

Ronnie Moore and I had the pleasure of visiting with 2017 Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off winner and 2018 Bassmaster Classic qualifier Ryan Butler, who is a resident of Blue Eye, Missouri and spends a lot of time on Table Rock. One thing that he emphasized to us is how important it is to fish new/fresh water each day this time of year.

For the better part of four hours this morning, Sumrall focused on areas that produced for him yesterday. With that being said, fishing new water may be the key for Sumrall to keep rolling.

Video: Rivet fighting through a lull

Tyler Rivet still has three keepers at 11:15 a.m. CT. He’s hitting some areas he fished yesterday and some from practice, but since his 30-minute flurry it’s been slow.


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Sumrall with two

We have been with Caleb Sumrall all morning. The one thing we have noticed today is that Sumrall has been running and gunning from pocket to pocket today, not spending much time at all in one particular area as where yesterday he fished each area for much longer periods.

The thing that has been consistent is that when he gets on the right stretch it happens quick. Sumrall hasn’t had many bites this morning, but from 9:00- 9:30 AM he got on a stretch that yielded several bites and two keepers. I would estimate that he’s got about 4 pounds in the livewell.

Also worth noting, Tyler Rivet who started the morning only 1 pound and 3 ounces out of the lead, was right around the corner when Sumrall started getting some bites.

Lester on a mission now

Brandon Lester is known for his "Garfield grin" - a smile as wide as the cartoon cat's. There were only flashes of it Wednesday. Admittedly, Lester was nervous, as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. He needed to catch only one 15-inch bass and weigh-in on time Thursday to clinch a berth in the Bassmaster Classic by way of a top three finish in the Eastern Opens points standings.

"I woke up at 2:30 (Thursday) morning and didn't go back to sleep," Lester said. "I never lose sleep over a tournament. I can't tell you how nervous I felt.

"I've been in a lot tougher situations than that. But you don't want to be that guy that needs only one fish in two days, and doesn't catch it. And that's the thing - a 15-inch fish here is not easy to come by."

Lester was all smiles at Thursday's weigh-in. He caught the fish he needed at 9 a.m., and then added four other keepers to become one of only 10 pros to catch a limit on the day. He's still got a lot on the line here - not one, but two trophies, and a chance to get double-qualified for the Classic. Lester came in trailing Bobby Lane by only one point in the Eastern Opens standings, and Lane finished 16th to Lester's 6th yesterday.

Today, Lester has a limit already and is leading the tournament, unofficially, with 20 pounds, 2 ounces, at 9 a.m. So Lester could win the Eastern Opens Angler of the Year trophy, the Opens Championship trophy and the Classic berth that goes with it, even though he no longer needs that, plus several thousand dollars.

"From here on out, everything is a bonus," Lester said. "I'm going to fish my butt off. I'm not laying down."

Lester's logic

This morning on the dock the buzz was all about returning to the patterns that worked so well in practice. The reason is the weather is like it was then, which was nasty.

The star lures during practice were topwaters for everyone but Brandon Lester. While everyone else rejoiced in the chance to throw moving lures, and especially topwaters, Lester was doing the exact opposite.

“During practice I went with a finesse approach,” he said. “I plan on doing that today.”

The ideal conditions for Lester’s pattern are cloudy skies and light winds, or no wind at all.

“I don’t need the wind,” he stressed.

He won’t have much of that with only a 5 mph breeze in the forecast for the drizzly day.

So while everyone else is slinging topwaters, spinnerbaits and other moving lures, Lester will be finesse fishing with 6-pound test line, a spinning reel and more than likely, a drop shot rig. That setup served him well during the season on both sides of the B.A.S.S. competition equation, in these Opens and the Elite Series.

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Rivet gets the party started

Tyler Rivet came into Day 2 of this event in 3rd place with 14-6. He trailed leader Mark Rose by 1-3. He didn’t have a kicker like Rose, just four solid fish and a two pounder.

Rivet started his day off without a bite for roughly 45 minutes, but just landed two fish within 15 minutes. “I just needed the presence of Ronnie, that’s all,” Rivet said jokingly. “The first hour was slow, but I’m glad you showed up when you did.”

Obviously I wasn’t the reason for his success, but it always makes the cameraman feel good that at least I brought positive mojo and some smiles.

Rivet was happy with his pattern and thought it could be even better than yesterday. While typing this blog he caught his third fish of the day, a 3 to 3 1/2 pounder.

His three fish logged into BASSTrakk are 1-12, 2-6 and 3-4. I'd agree with the accuracy of those estimates. That has him at 7-6. Solid start to his day. It’s always fun when you can catch fish on topwater.

Co-angler surprise

Friday is the final competition day of the season for the co-anglers. At the weigh-in one of them will hoist the first of many trophies to be awarded this week. The co-angler winner receives a Nitro Z18 with a Mercury 150 Pro XS outboard and related factory accessories.

Leading the co-angler division with 8 pounds, 9 ounces is Alex Heintze of Denham Springs, La. Should he win the trophy it won’t be his first B.A.S.S. title. That came at the 2015 Bassmaster High School Championship, when Heintze joined partner Justin Watts to win the title for the Livingston Parish Bassmasters. At the time, Heintze was a 16-year-old junior at Denham Springs High School.

Mandel Pettus of Miller Place, N.Y., holds down second with 7-7, and Jeff Wallace of West Monroe, La., is third with 5-11. Jonathan Hankins of North Tazewell, Va., is fourth with 6-6, and Chad Smith of Minnetonka, Minn., is fifth with 5-10.

Weather is the word

The big storyline today is the weather. In the middle of this radar shot is Table Rock Lake and the map will stay green all day long. The temperature is expected to remain in the mid-40s—a stark difference in yesterday’s balmy 60s with mostly sunny skies.

Nobody likes to fish in rainy, chilly weather unless you are casting for one of the seven berths up for grabs for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. But everyone also knows those conditions are ideal for stimulating the movements of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass during the fall transition phase.

This morning I interviewed the top anglers. All of them were pleased with the weather forecast. Moving baits, targeting moving fish. That is the basic game plan for everyone I talked with at the dock.

Sumrall likes the conditions

Day 2 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Championship is underway and we are in for a wet day. The forecast calls for rain all day long.

For some, the changing conditions may not be ideal but Sumrall believes that his bite is only going to get better. The only factor that he is questioning is the wind. Wind has been the number one component that he is looking for and so far this morning there has not been any.

Sumrall does not have a keeper in the boat yet, but it is extremely early.

Paquette lands a 3-4

Garrett Paquette needed a good start after finishing 24th on Day 1 with only three bass weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces. And he got it, according to BASSTrakk. Paquette landed a 3-pound, 4-ounce bass at 7:32 to become the first pro angler on the board today.
It was the size of the bass, more than the timing of the catch, that will ultimately be important. Of the 111 bass weighed-in by the 28 pros yesterday, the average weight was 2.25 pounds. 
Paquette is trying to maintain third-place in the Eastern Open point standings and earn a berth in the Bassmaster Classic. John Cox of Debary, Fla., is the only angler who can bump him from that spot. But he has to overcome a 19-point deficit to Paquette. Cox had a tough Day 1 as well, finishing 23rd.
Maybe, under these drastically different weather conditions, Paquette's catch is an omen for a better day for everyone at Table Rock Lake, where only 10 pros weighed a 5-bass limit yesterday.
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