SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — Lay Lake is changing day by day as storms passed through the area earlier in the week, making fishing tough. When the dust settled after Thursday’s weigh-in, JP Kimbrough and Jared Rascoe of Louisiana State University-Shreveport took the lead with 17 pounds, 1 ounce, on the first day of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops.
Intense rains earlier in the week brought dirty, rising water into the Coosa River, which made Lay Lake stingier than teams expected, but with Thursday’s change it seemed to help Kimbrough and Rascoe’s bite.
“The water had been rising since the heavy rain,” Kimbrough said. “But since they have moved so much water lately, the water is actually a little lower than when we got here.”
Although muddy water hurt much of the field, it didn’t seem to impact the early fishing as many teams came across the stage and echoed sentiments of a productive morning bite. The LSU-Shreveport teammates capitalized on an early start time.
“In the first hour of the day, we caught our best fish and a few others,” Rascoe said. “Then we hit a couple of our other spots, and we upgraded multiple times.”
Pressure on a fishery can impact the bite negatively, but the duo believes they didn’t work their areas enough to impact their chance of success Friday.
“Once we caught a few fish, we got out of our areas,” Kimbrough said. “I don’t know if anyone fished our spots after we left, but we can’t worry about that and can only stick to our game plan and control what we can.”
Kimbrough and Rascoe brought four largemouth and one spotted bass to the scales Thursday.
They carry a 2-6 lead over Wallace State-Hanceville’s Joshua Butts and Reid Connor, who had four spotted bass and one largemouth to complete their 14-11 weight total.
Although the fisheries are more than a two-hour drive apart, Butts compares Coosa River spotted bass to how largemouth act around bridges on Lake Guntersville.
“It was all about timing,” Butts said. “We pulled up on a couple key stretches and were able to catch numerous fish. One of our areas produced 40 bass, but most couldn’t help us cull so we left them biting.”
Although they trail by more than 2 pounds, consistency will be important on a changing fishery like Lay Lake. Largemouth can be here one day and gone the next, but they are the bigger game changers most teams are searching for.
The third-place team of Josh Oliver and Dalton Childers of Auburn University landed 14-6 and are just 5 ounces from second place in the event.
West Virginia University’s Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier sit in fourth with 13-13, which came predominantly from spotted bass. University of Montevallo, the host school of the Wild Card, rounds out the Top 5 as J.T. Russell and John Turner weighed 13-9. Josh Worth of Colorado Mesa University is tied with the home-team duo.
Russell and Turner weighed in the big bass of Day 1, one tipping the scales at 5-2.
The 127-boat field will fish on Friday as takeoff begins at 5:30 a.m. CT at Beeswax Landing. Check-in time is 1:30 p.m. CT.
The event is hosted by Discover Shelby County and the University of Montevallo Presidential Outdoors Scholarship Program.