Big bite for South American angler

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Mauricio Marciales, left, Daniel Valois, right.

On Day 1 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Cherokee Lake, Daniel Valois caught a 4-pound, 2-ounce largemouth that leads the Phoenix Boats Big Bass standings for the co-angler division. A notable catch, by any measure, but this achievement never would have happened if two distinctly different events had not occurred.

For starters, Valois has been on an extended visit to the U.S., since the pandemic kept him from returning to his home in Caracas, Venezuela. As we recently reported, Valois and his friend Mauricio Marciales were visiting family in South Florida when their country halted incoming travel due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Both anglers fished the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Lake Hartwell — their first B.A.S.S. event. Marciales was unable to make the Lake Cherokee trip, but Valois said his big fish has already made his second event memorable. 

“I’ve caught bigger fish in Florida — I caught an 8-pounder,” he said. “But to catch a 4-2 in a Bassmaster event, I’m really, really happy.”

So, the other key event? As it turns out, an errant cast around 2 p.m. sent his 1/2-ounce Z-Man Jackhammer ChatterBait on a collision course with a dock piling. Not exactly his plan, but the end justified the means.

“My pro cast four times at the dock and then I cast, and by mistake, I hit the dock,” Valois said. “It seemed like that noise made the fish come out and just slam it.”

Valois caught only one keeper on Day 1, but placed 15th. With post-frontal conditions today, his late-day heroics highlighted the importance of one big bite. 

Today may end up favoring finesse tactics, but you can bet Valois will have that Jackhammer handy on Friday. Who knows, maybe the dock thumping pattern might become a thing?

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