Middleton take Day 1 lead in Bassmaster Kayak Series at Lake Hartwell

ANDERSON, S.C. — Andy Middleton has only been to Lake Hartwell three times. But living close to Lake Lanier, he knows the two lakes mirror each other.

What happens on one can be repeated on the other.

That helped Middleton key in on where he wanted to fish during the Yamaha Righwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series at Lake Hartwell powered by TourneyX and ultimately helped him grab the Day 1 lead with 97 inches.

The Georgia angler anchored his bag with a 21.25-inch postspawn largemouth followed by his personal-best spot at 20.5. He followed those two with a 19.75, an 18.25 and a 17.25.

Lake Hartwell produced eight bags over 90 inches on Saturday, and to be in the Top 44, anglers needed at least 80 inches.

During his only day of practice, Middleton found a point where he could see postspawn largemouth cruising around. He caught one nice fish there and left it alone for the rest of the period, except to come back when the sun was high to see exactly how many were there.

On tournament day, he landed his longest spotted bass, which confused him slightly. He then caught his biggest bass shortly after.

“I was happy about the spotted bass, but I thought it was kind of weird. I thought maybe the largemouth had vacated,” he said. “But they were mixing in together. There was bait in the area.”

Middleton moved around afterward, catching a spotted bass off a dock cable. He returned to his starting spot a bit later and added the 18.25 largemouth. Once the sun came up, the bite became tougher, but with one minute to go, he landed the 19.75-incher.

While he thinks the spotted bass may be prespawners, the largemouth Middleton are catching are all postspawn fish. Baitfish moved into the area Saturday which he feels helped the bite.

There are certain feeding windows throughout the day. Middleton said if they weren’t blowing up on bait, he wouldn’t catch fish.

“I don’t think it is a herring spawn yet, but they were on a shallow, flat point,” Middleton said. “I think the baitfish are getting ready to spawn and that was where they were staging up and the bass were there with them, both species.

“You would not catch them between feeding sessions]. It was pretty much impossible to get a bite.”

He was also able to expand on his area and he hopes he can execute a milk run out of his spots. Middleton also found a separate pattern for spotted bass in practice, which did not work today, but a change in the weather for Sunday could boost that.

“That was maybe due in part to today being postfrontal with bluebird skies,” he said. “I’m hoping tomorrow my good spotted bass go back to where they were Friday. If not, maybe they will still be on the points.”

Bouncing around between cruisers, bedding bass and schoolers, Bennett Nall caught 95.5 inches to land in second place, followed by Tom Kazmierski in third with 92.75. Kazmierski also landed the Big Bass of the Day, a 23.00 largemouth.

Anglers will launch Sunday from their public launch of choice at 6:30 a.m. ET and begin fishing at 7. They will have until 3 p.m. to fish before checking in at 4:30 p.m. for the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Anderson.

Visit Anderson is hosting the event.