To run or camp?

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Cole Sands, 5th place (22-6)
Andy Crawford

Cole Sands, 5th place (22-6)

The past two days have seen diverging strategies on Lake Norman — and not just the largemouth/spotted bass options. For some, like Day-2 leader Cody Hoyle, a mobile strategy of hitting several spots has worked. Hoyle hit 150 docks on Day 1 and trimmed that back to 70 on Day 2.

Then there are anglers who have adopted a more focused approach. Joey Nania, who notched his first Bassmaster win at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on Pickwick Lake (May 1), found success by diligently working points. He’s using Garmin LiveScope to spot bottom-oriented fish and making long casts to sink a light bait to the targets.

Another who made sense of camping in an area was Cole Sands, who entered the final round in fifth place, recalls a key moment where opportunity plus good judgment equaled a Championship Saturday berth.

“I was really scrambling (Friday); I only had about 6 pounds, but I made a couple decisions and ended up catching my two biggest back-to-back,” Sands said. “I went into a pocket this morning and had a big blow up on a topwater; I had the fish for a second but then it came off.

“I said a little prayer (late morning) and something told me I need to go back in that pocket. After I fished that pocket again, I was about to leave and they came up schooling and that made me stay.”

That decision led Sands to a 2 1/2-pound spotted bass that culled one a pound lighter. But there was more to come.

“I said ‘This is a good area,’ so I went over to a little brush pile I hadn’t fished all week and on my first drop, I caught my biggest fish of the week — a 3- to 3 1/2-pounder,” Sands said. “I lost two more giants out of that brush pile because it was so thick.”

Most who opt for working particular areas, rather than running and gunning would agree that some degree of movement is necessary. For some, a milk run within a key area will get the job done.

Worth noting, Championship Saturday will offer considerably greater flexibility, as the 10-boat field means much less competition for spots. An angler could potentially park in a promising pocket or creek mouth and rotate through multiple spots without worrying about competitors sliding into an area after he leaves.

To run or camp? It’s going to be hard to predict which strategy will prevail so stay tuned for the 4 p.m. weigh-ins.