John Murray hoped the wind would blow again today, after catching the 23-7 big bag of Day 3. It is blowing, and Murray is loving it, landing three bass totaling 16 pounds and taking the lead this morning.
If you look at Murray's up-and-down daily weights in the first three days, you'll understand why the wind is Murray's friend. He weighed 17-13 on Day 1 in a brisk north wind and was in 13th place. Then he dropped to 34th place with only 11-7 when the wind didn't blow Friday.
When it did finally pick up late Friday, Murray thought he might have blown his chance to make the top 51 cut.
"With about four minutes left, I hooked a big one - 6 (pounds) plus," he said. "It was going to jump at the side of the boat. So I decided I was going to swing it on 12-pound line. It didn't jump. It just stuck its head up. I yanked and snapped the line with a bait I've had for 30 years, and I was really mad I lost. I was devastated. I finally had the wind."
As we now know, that treasured bait Murray lost was a Smithwick Rogue.
"I've been on a pattern for big bites all week," Murray said. "I've had a hard time boating them. It's a pattern I used to use 25 years ago on Elephant Butte (in New Mexico) when it was sort of a hot lake. I'm familiar with the pattern, and I love it. (Saturday) I finally executed."
And he's executing again today. Murray is targeting spawning bass that are on a flat in 5 to 8 feet of water. They're not feeding on shad, but targeting probably yellow bass, although Murray referred to them as white bass yesterday. Whatever the species, the key is bigger forage. It led to Murray having the big bass of Day 3, a 7-10, and 6-12 to go with it.
"Every day I brought in a white bass in my bag that had been spit up," Murray said. "So I didn't think they were eating shad. I tried to match the white bass. I think that's been the key for me."