Jason Williamson would love nothing more than to bring home a shiny blue present to his newborn daughter.
At 5:51 p.m. Saturday, Macie gave birth to Bristol Keagan Williamson, a keeper at 6 pounds, 15 ounces. Williamson would love to match that weight with a lunker or two in the next two events in his home state.
“That’s right,” he said. “I’m hoping for some baby magic to kick off the two back-to-back Elites in South Carolina.”
The Bassmaster Elite on Lake Hartwell blasts off Thursday at 7 a.m. from Green Pond Landing and Event Center in Anderson. Williamson, who got off to a slow start in the first two events, hopes to make up some ground with some big baby steps.
“One thing about Hartwell is I’m going into it with a lot more comfortable mindset. I’m comfortable there,” he said. “It’s the time of year that I’ve always done my best there.”
Williamson grew up in Aiken, S.C., fishing Lake Murray and Clarks Hill. He now lives in Wagener, which is a little more than two hours from Hartwell and less than three from next week’s event out of Georgetown on Winyah Bay.
“This is one event that will be in my wheelhouse,” he said. “As far as preparation, to me it’s more mental than anything. It’s just being comfortable, being confident. I’ll finally get to feel like some the guys from Florida when we start down there.
“I may have a slight advantage, but it’s not necessarily a fishing advantage, it’s more of mental advantage of being comfortable. The time of year has kind of ruled out me being the hotshot local, but it fishes very similar to the lakes I grew up fishing. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time through the years on it.”
Some misfortune hurt Williamson’s chances in the first two events. He finished 50th at Lake Lanier after a 43rd on the St. Johns, which has him 51st in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race. In Florida, Williamson had some big bites that would have made a difference, including losing a giant right in front of Micah Frazier.
“For me this year, it’s only been a couple tournaments, so I’m not really sweating it, but I am a little bit perturbed that I’ve lost more fish this year than I’ve ever lost before,” he said.
And he’ll have to do it after losing a day of practice on Hartwell. Williamson spent Monday getting wife and baby home and situated before heading to Anderson in the afternoon. Family does come first for Williamson.
“I feel like I’ve succeeded at both, at being a dad and being a fisherman,” Williamson said for his Meet the Elites article. “I don’t have any regrets because I couldn’t consistently stay on the road.”
Not that he thinks missing a day of practice on a fishery he knows pretty well will be a major hindrance, especially since he knows what the fish should be doing.
“It’s the time of year the fish want to be on the bank spawning. Sight fishing is going come into play,” he said. “Hartwell has a lot to offer. If you like to fish spinnerbait and ChatterBaits, and flipping dingy water, you can run up the river, the Tugaloo or Seneca, and find that off-color water you want.
“You can stay on the lower end or that mid-section in clear water and do some sight fishing, fish docks. And it’s a pretty good spotted bass bite. Normally they’re a little bit behind the largemouth, but some could possibly still be in that 6 to 8 feet mid-range depth.”
Needing to make up ground in the quest to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, Williamson is rather thrilled to have events in his home state. He’s not approaching them much differently than he would any others, but he’s certainly goes into them with a positive vibe.
“For me, more than anything, it’s the confidence, and that goes along with the points as well,” he said. “Sometimes you need the confidence booster just to get your momentum going and get things kicked off in the right direction.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m actually pretty confident about it. We’ve had a couple cold nights that might have held them off. It actually may be setting up for the perfect storm for a pretty good tournament.”