Crochet on the hunt

Cliff Crochet has only managed one small keeper so far this morning. The sun is out and things are beginning to warm up, but the same hasn't been the case for Crochet's fishing.

He decided to make a 20-minute run up the lake and is fishing more Cajun Baby-style water: muddy.

Hopefully, the change pays off soon.

Video gaming

Yesterday Seth Feider told us he was video game fishing as he does on Mille Lacs back home in Minnesota. He’s also favoring that style of fishing on Cherokee Lake.

Feider isn’t alone. Many of the other anglers, leaders included, we interviewed yesterday at the weigh-in are doing the same thing. In all cases, they hope the fun continues. Game or not, side scan technology and high-resolution graphics and large screen displays make offshore fishing easier for everyone. Back in the day, that was not the case. Only a chosen few were good at finding bass in deep water.

In a tournament where finding, and following, migrating schools of baitfish is the ultimate key for the smallmouth anglers, those electronic underwater eyes are essential to success. Baitfish are heavily concentrated in the same depth range. Bait is everywhere. With so much of it available, the key is matching habitat up with the bass, and how they are positioning to feed on those baitfish.

You can’t do that without today’s high-tech electronics. Today the name of the game will be applying those electronics into a post-front situation. Another front is on the way, though. And like Ott DeFoe told me, “The second day after a front is the worst on Cherokee.” Today is that day, and the electronics will be heavily relied upon to help find the smallmouth, although not so much for the largemouth anglers.

Feider starting a party?

Seth Feider put his second keeper in the boat - a chunky, 3-pounds-plus smallmouth - right at 10 a.m. And he's fired up.

"The party is getting started, all by myself," Feider said.

He entered the day in third place with 18-10. He's catching smallmouth just like he does at home in Minnesota.

"Without giving too much away, I'm kind of fishing like I did on Mille Lacs," said Feider, referring to his AOY Championship tournament win last fall. "Just add about 15 feet of water."

Feider is "video game fishing," watching his electronics and dropping straight down in 25 to 40 feet of water. Good electronics are a big key. Feider said he came here before cut-off to practice, but had to borrow a boat that didn't have top-of-the-line sonar. That experience left him handicapped on fishing deep structure and worried about this tournament.

"I just fished the bank stuff when I came here in January," he said. "I was kind of terrified to come back, to be honest with you, because I only caught about three fish in two days."

With his fully electronically equipped BassCat boat, Feider has found Cherokee Lake more to his liking.

"This one's for Bowman"

Ott DeFoe just culled and added maybe a half-pound. That should move him up to second place, or very near it.

"This one's for Bowman," he said as he pulled the bass out of the water, on our side of the boat.

Steve Bowman, shooting photos today, had counseled Ott earlier to work the fish around to our side of the boat so he could get a better photo. This was said partially in jest. DeFoe responded, also partially in jest, that he'd do it if the fish wanted to.

Williamson moving up

So far Jason Williamson has put on a clinic early on Day 2. Today was expected to be tougher and has proven to be slower for most so far this morning, but Williamson has put numbers in the boat so far. He only has a 12 to 13-pound limit, but has landed 17 fish for approximately 35 pounds. That is roughly a 2-pound average per fish. He certainly has found a load of fish, which other anglers would definitely like to have today.

With a solid limit in the boat he has moved up from his 23rd place Day 1 finish and is unofficially in 5th place according to BASSTrakk if you add in Jesse Wiggins' fish numbers. With 15-7 on Thursday, Williamson has seemingly carried momentum from the end of last year into the 2017 campaign. After a rough and tumble season, Williamson put solid finishes together at the Potomac (19th), Mississippi River (14th), Mille Lacs (7th) and even at the Harris Chain Open (24th) to start the year. Williamson is catching numbers, which could bode well for the possibility of upgrading later on.

Wiggins showing experience

Jesse Wiggins on the weigh-in stage is most recognized for the tiny B.A.S.S. logo patch attached with a safety pin to his no-logo shirt. On the water he’s becoming recognized for doing what matters most. Catching bass. Consistently.

Consider what’s happened to the young Alabama angler over the past 12 months. Two wins at Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. A third win on the line at Cherokee Lake. A consistent year in the Southern Opens that got him into the Elite Series.

That ticket got punched nearby at Douglas Lake in May 2016. Ironically, Wiggins today said he’s duplicating some of what he found on Douglas.

That is a sign of gaining experience and recognizing how to apply that knowledge elsewhere. When it clicks in the mind someplace else, and you know how to duplicate the tactic with success, you have the makings of a successful start as a pro.

Snowden breaks the system

We hit the first "quad-box" of the season on Bassmaster LIVE with Cliff Crochet, Jesse Wiggins, Seth Feider and Brian Snowden all featured. Snowden broke the system and forced the cameras to point his way as he had drag peeling with a feisty smallmouth. He is fishing some very deep water, which requires patience when fishing as well as fighting a smallmouth. Snowden wasn't sure if it was a walleye or a smallmouth, but once it worked its way closer to the boat he could tell it was a brown fish of the right variety. He landed the fish, which turned out to be a solid 3-pounder. That was his third fish of the day.

Snowden was fishing ultra deep and needed to fizz his fish. Earlier Snowden gave a lesson on fizzing a fish. He is used to that as he guides on Table Rock Lake, which definitely has some similarities to Cherokee. He noted that he normally fishes Table Rock with a dropshot, but that hasn't been the case this week as he hasn't had as many bites on it, because the fish are so tight to the bottom. When he has been on live, Snowden has been a great teacher for the viewers at home.

Mullins culling

Mullins is fishing deep. He said he is having a decent morning with five fish for 13 pounds. As he was talking, he set a hook and now is culling. From a distance, they look to be same size.