In his backyard

Jason Williamson lives in Aiken, S.C., and his home is approximately 42 miles from Lake Murray, where the Carolina Clash presented by Evan Williams will begin on Thursday.

He has family that lives on Murray, including his grandmother. But Williamson, though realizing that Mother's Day was celebrated over the weekend, has things on his mind other than hanging out with family right now. That's because Murray offers Williamson a better-than-average shot at victory when the Elite Series makes a stop in what can be considered his own back yard.

Williamson said Clarks Hill — where the most recent Elite Series event was held — is the body of water he's most familiar with. But Murray runs a close second.

"I consider Clarks my home lake, but I've spent a lot of time here, too," he said.

And after a day of practice on Monday, Williamson said he likes his chances on the 52,000-acre lake that sits in central South Carolina.

"I had a tough go at Clarks," he said. "You think about past history and that gets into your mind a little bit. You depend on fish and you pull up and concentrate in a certain area. It didn't happen for me. But after a day of practice here, it was phenomenal. I'm comfortable. I'm just happy to be here and feel like I'm back in a zone."

The last time BASS held a tournament on Lake Murray was in May of 1993 when Texas pro David Wharton won with a four-day limit of more than 90 pounds. Williamson thinks the lake could be equally productive during this visit.

The key, as it was at Clarks Hill, is finding spawning blue back herring that are the main forage for the lunker bass in this area. And, as if on cue, the weather promises to be in the range that will get the spawn going in full force.

"I think we'll see more fish, and better fish," Williamson said. "The spawn, and I'm talking about the herring, really need water at about 69, 70, 71 degrees. We were a bit lower than that at Clark's. It looks like we'll be right for Murray, which should make for a better tournament."

Williamson said fishing points with top-water baits, swim baits and the like should be the top options the Elites use at Murray. Those are the techniques he's used successfully in the past on Murray and the ones that make him an early favorite in the Carolina Clash.

"I really do like my chances," he said. "We're here at the right time. It should be a great tournament."