South Carolina angler, team take lead at Southern Divisional

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — John Proctor has three advantages following Day 1 of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional: local knowledge, tidal fishing savvy and the overall lead. Proctor’s limit weighed 14 pounds, 8 ounces, giving him a narrow lead in the tournament underway on the Pee Dee River basin.

Basin is an understatement in size when compared to the fishable water available to the contestants from seven states. The tournament waters encompass 232 miles. Sheer size is where the second advantage is key in this tournament.

“There is a lot of water here and that can be intimidating to a newcomer,” said Proctor of nearby Conway, S.C. “What’s really key here though is reading the tide.”

Tidal bass tournaments hinge on the ebb and flow of the water. Timing is everything. A dry fishing area on low tide becomes nutrient rich when covered with water. You must plan to be on spot when the time comes.

“For me there are four good hours and the low tide is best,” said Proctor.

That practically eliminates one-half of the fishing day. Anglers are due back beginning at 2:30 p.m. after departing the dock at 6:30 a.m.

Proctor made a 45-mile run to his area, claiming it prior to the rising tide. Traveling so far was a gamble that paid off. He targeted an area rich with spawning female bass. The result was the tournament’s biggest bass weighing 7-9.

“That was the plan, to catch a big female and then go fill my limit,” he said.

Tomorrow’s strategy calls for a change-up. Proctor abandoned the area after catching the lone bedding bass.

“It was a gamble that I don’t plan on making tomorrow,” he added. “I’m going for more of a quality bite all around and not just one kicker.”

That is a good plan. Subtract in his 7-pound bass from mix and practically all of the top 10 anglers are within striking distance. Only 4 pounds separate Proctor from 10th place angler Hayes Hudson.

Proctor and Bryan Gunter, the current overall runner-up, have South Carolina leading the team standings. The team’s cumulative weight is 106-7. Alabama is second with 93-3 and Georgia has 78-8 for fourth place. North Carolina is fifth with 78-7. Ironically, all five states are home to tidal bass fisheries.

The winning state team will be awarded a Triton 189 TRx rigged with Mercury outboard, Lowrance electronics and a MotorGuide trolling motor. The complete package is valued at $33,340.

Anglers from seven states qualified from their local bass clubs and state championships to be here. Each team has 14 members. Two of them are part of another competition underway here.

State championship high school teams are competing alongside the adults to hone their skills. Cumulative weight caught is added to the overall score of the state team. The winning team receives $500 with $250 going to the runner-up.

Each adult angler winning his state here advances to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in November on the Ouachita River in Louisiana.

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