Chad Pipkens stormed to the top of the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department leaderboard Thursday with a five-fish weight of 31-15, and then backed it up yesterday with 30-15.
He mined two areas for his combined two-day weight of 62-14 — with one stop yesterday producing more than 28 pounds in a little more than an hour of Pipkens making the same cast to the same subtle point. Included in that five-fish weight was a bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces that danced across the water several times.
Then the tournament was paused Saturday for the Toyota Texas Fest Outdoor Expo. Out on Lake Fork, with locals still allowed to fish the lake, and at least one major tournament going on, a lot of fishing was still happening.
That means local anglers could be pounding Pipkens’ two honey holes. But the Bassmaster Elite Series veteran said he’s not worried.
“I was happy for a break just because my dang forearm burns,” Pipkens said. “They fight so hard. I thought I was catching 8- to 10-pounders, and they’re giants. They’re so strong, and I looked at one of my videos and it took me 2 minutes, 23 seconds to land a fish. And a lot of times you’re just letting line out, and the whole time they’re just digging on your arm. My arm burns, so it feels good to have a day off.”
But the danger still exists that his areas could be pounded by local anglers. Even that, however, doesn’t cause Pipkens any concern.
“They could be chewing right now, but either way whatever happens I think is going to happen,” he said. “It would be really nice if they sat all day and nobody touched them. But if people are out there fishing a tournament, and that’s where they fish, they’ve got every right to fish it. I don’t have a problem with that."
That might sound odd with a $100,000 payday on the line, but the Bassmaster Elite Series veteran said worrying won’t change anything.
Besides, he is confident he’s targeting areas that can’t be fished out.
“The two main places I’m catching fish are places the fish are kind of coming and going, so it’s all about timing,” Pipkens said. “It there are 20 guys out there and they’re catching them or not catching them on the same places, (bass) are either going to be there (and) I can catch them tomorrow or they’re not going to be there. They’re just kind of coming and going.
“A lot’s changing. We had all that rain last night, and it’s going to muddy things up. You just have to make the right decisions the next two day.”
One of his primary locations is pretty obvious, so other anglers could definitely find it. Even that doesn’t worry him.
“Me and (fellow Elite Series pro) Garrett Paquette are fishing it,” Pipkens said. “But if guys go hammer that for the whole day, more fish move in at night. Anything can happen.”
And his most-productive spot — the subtle point where he caught his 8-11 yesterday — is less likely to attract any attention.
“It’s just one of those areas that’s a little sneak hole,” Pipkens said. “It’s not something you would gravitate to. I picked that area out in practice because it had islands, it had pockets, it had everything you look for. But the key area I caught all my fish on yesterday is not a high-percentage area.
“If you were going to pick out five good points, it would not be one of those five. It’s just a smaller, rounded one, and they’re down there.”
A group of spectators followed him yesterday, but the angler said he’s confident they didn’t hit the point today.
“I don’t think they’re out there, because if they’re out there to watch me they get it,” Pipkens said. “They’re fans of the sport, and they know what’s good or bad.
“I hope they go wear them out the rest of the year. Just give me Sunday and Monday.”
So he said he isn’t going to alter his overall game plan.
“Each day I’ve changed a little,” Pipkens said. “That place where I caught them really good yesterday, I think that’s pretty special. I didn’t start there yesterday, so I’m going to start on that tomorrow.
“And maybe it’s not happening there in the morning. Maybe it’s something where they suck out to it later in the day. I’m going to spend 10 or 15 minutes (there) and then go get on that topwater shad spawn deal. I mean, you can catch some 4- to 5-pounders like that.”