SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — Professional bass anglers are some of the most notorious poor-mouthers on the planet. Even on their best days, they’re likely to tell you the fishing was tough.
But at this week’s NOCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville, they may actually be telling the truth — even the ones who seem to be doing well.
During Thursday’s second round, when 31 of the 85-angler field failed to bring in a five-bass limit, South Carolina pro Brandon Cobb managed to catch five that weighed 17 pounds, 11 ounces to take the lead with a two-day total of 34-11.
He said don’t let his success at the scales fool you.
“The weights really don’t reflect how hard the fishing has been,” said Cobb, who earned his first two Elite Series victories last season. “It is very tough. Today, I had four big bites and I lost one.
“The Guntersville way is to catch schools of fish, whether it’s ledge fish or grass fish or whatever. But since I haven’t really found that, I’ve just been fishing shallow and trying to catch one at a time.”
Despite those limited bites, Cobb has been the most consistent angler in the field. Before landing his 17-11 Thursday, he opened the event Wednesday with 17-0.
He’s been fishing a little bit of everything — docks, riprap, bank grass and offshore grass — to make it happen, and he’s been relying heavily on a tactic he admits isn’t his specialty.
“I’ve been flipping a lot this week, and I don’t do that in South Carolina,” he said. “That’s probably why I lost that one big fish today. When you go so long between bites, you start sort of halfway not paying attention.
“I’m too gun-shy flipping. I felt that fish bite, but I waited too long to pull the trigger.”
Besides flipping, Cobb has mixed in a Texas rig, a buzzbait, a ChatterBait and a swim jig. He likes the buzzbait — a Greenfish Tackle Toad Toter rigged with a Zoom Horny Toad — because of its versatility.
“That’s been a really good bait because I can skip into dark places,” he said. “It works really well in the wind, too. The Horny Toad by itself is great. But for the conditions we have this week, it’s just not loud enough.”
Cobb is nearly 2 pounds ahead of rookie Wes Logan, of Springville, Ala., who caught 18-10 — the second-largest bag of the tournament — Thursday. Logan’s two-day total of 32-14 allowed him to make his third Top 40 semifinal cut of the season and has him in position for his first career Elite Series Top 10.
He echoed the sentiments of the field about the harshness of the fishing.
“In practice, I found one place where I got two bites and then another place where I got two more,” Logan said. “Since that’s all I had, I’ve just sort of bunkered down on those two places, and I’ve been bumping back and forth between them.
“I’m just basically rotating between two places all day.”
Another popular realization across the Elite Series field is that fishing pressure on Guntersville is about to increase exponentially. A major tournament sponsored by Spro, which requires anglers to fish only with frogs, is scheduled for Saturday with an expected field of more than 200 boats.
Logan said the traffic will likely affect everyone, though he said he hasn’t had much luck on a frog anyway.
“I can’t get bit on one,” Logan said, exasperated. “I’m not saying they won’t catch them Saturday, but I’ve already seen a lot of pressure this week from frog fishermen. I saw probably 20 boats today just out in the middle of mat, fishing it.
“I’ve been doing something else, or I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
Behind Cobb and Logan is a logjam of nine anglers with 30-plus pounds. At the front of that group is reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year Scott Canterbury, of Odenville, Ala.
Canterbury followed his Day 1 catch of 16-0 with 15-10 Thursday and rests in third with 31-10. He’s just an ounce ahead of fellow Alabamian Kyle Welcher and Minnesota pro Seth Feider who are tied for fourth with 31-9.
“I ran all different water than I did yesterday,” Canterbury said. “It’s fall fishing. I’m not getting a lot of bites, but it’s fun.
“I had a few more opportunities today, but they’re biting funny and they just didn’t get the bait.”
Texas pro Chris Zaldain held onto the lead in the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week with the 8-6 largemouth he caught Wednesday.
The tournament resumes Friday with takeoff at 6:30 a.m. CT from Goose Pond Colony Resort Marina and weigh-in back at Goose Pond at 2:30 p.m. After Friday’s round, only the Top 10 remaining anglers will advance to Championship Saturday with a chance to win the $100,000 first-place prize.
Live coverage of the event will be available starting at 7 a.m. on Bassmaster LIVE at Bassmaster.com and ESPN3.