During a moment of Bassmaster LIVE commentary, host Tommy Sanders jokingly compared hometown favorite Cliff Prince to a UPS delivery driver: Constantly on the move, never spending long in one location.
That’s not the look of a panicked or disorganized angler. That’s Prince’s game plan; one that he’s hoping will earn his first Elite victory.
“I’ve been bouncing around; I’ve fished different areas every day,” he said. “I have doubled up on some areas (multiple visits), but I probably won’t go back to them (today).
“I’m fishing canals. Nothing in particular; I’ve caught them off of wood, I’ve caught them off of bulkheads, I’ve caught them off of vegetation. Nothing in particular.”
Now don’t assume that Prince bases his mobile philosophy solely on the fact that his lifetime of local knowledge affords him a deep well of options. He’d play it this way even if he didn’t call the St. Johns home.
“When they’re spawning, you have to fish new water this time of year,” Prince said. “There’s only a certain number of fish that are going to move up in a certain area. Once it starts slowing down, you need to regroup and go somewhere else.
“That’s a hard thing to do when you’ve only gotten bit in one place, but it’s a must fishing against these guys.”
Patrick Walters, who lead Day 3 validated Prince’s premise by diligently putting together solid limits through various areas of Rodman Reservoir the first two days before catching the tournament’s biggest bag — 26-7 — yesterday.
Elsewhere, Greg Hackney committed to picking through Lake George cypress tree habitat and fished his way up to second place on Day 3. With more habitat than he can cover in a week, he’ll work his way through as much prime real estate as possible and target the sweet spots.
Conversely, Gary Clouse lead Days 1 and 2, but slipped to ninth yesterday. Running about 2 hours south of Palatka, he fished Spring Garden Lake and targeted scattered bulrush clumps in super shallow water — a productive spawn scenario, but not one that could fuel a 4-day campaign.
Clouse had a big first-day catch of 25-12 and added 19-5 on Day 2; but he managed only two keepers for 6-4. Clouse had the area all to himself, but it simply wasn’t reloading, at least not at a sustainable rate.
Remember, giants live here, so someone could pull up to a magical bank and find five day-makers within shouting distance. Possible, but not probable; and that’s why the mobile strategies will likely prove most productive.