COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina angler Casey Ashley summed it best as he came across the stage late in the Day One weigh-in of the Carolina Clash presented by Evan Williams.
"Nobody's fishing alone," said Ashley, who sits in 34th place with 13 pounds, 5 ounces. "There's about 50 good points out here and we've got about 100 guys constantly running them."
Matt Sphar, who is in third with 18-4, was one of the last anglers to leave Thursday morning and, after his first four points were taken, he just waited around for one to open up."I watched them leave, and I just pulled in right behind them," he said.Sphar and leader Grant Goldbeck, who was the only angler to break 20 pounds on Day One (20-4), said they both tried doing something a little different to give the bass a new look.
Sphar said he was finesse fishing while everyone else was power fishing. He caught an early limit on one spot with a worm, but he's nervous the big fish will start reacting to the power baits on Day Two.
"But if they start biting like that, I'll just use a bigger worm," he said. "I think my pattern should hold up."Goldbeck wasn't interested in talking about his tweak to the chase, but he did admit — like everyone else — that he's keying in on Lake Murray's baitfish, the blueback herring.
Goldbeck said he lost two 5-pounders early on Friday, which would have given him more like 23 pounds, but he didn't let it shake him. He caught the majority of his fish on three different spots.
"I can't say I'm jumping points, but I'm definitely using the blueback," said Goldbeck, who had the Purolator big bass that weighed 8-7. "My best three or four spots, I didn't see anyone on all day. I'd just give them 20 or 30 minutes rest and usually, when I'd come back, I'd catch a fish — or at least lose one."
All the anglers that came off the 50,000-acre lake talked about the plethora of 4- and 5-pound fish they saw swimming around Lake Murray, but the trick is getting them to bite. With the majority of the anglers fishing similar spots, the fish get used to seeing the same types of bait.
"These are some of the smartest fish I've ever seen," said Edwin Evers (second, 19-5). "These same points get pounded by the same baits year round and they know the difference between bait and food."
Rick Morris (8th, 18-0) said if you see the fish, it's too late. He suggested casting from as far away from the point as possible, and hope the fish are there.
"You've got to throw them something they haven't seen," he said. "I had 20 rods with different baits on my deck at one point today. I had to stop and put some of them up."
Two of the top 5, Mike McClelland (fifth 18-7) and Chris Lane (fourth, 18-10), said they are hitting points and then trying something new, and both are going to their strength.
Lane said he didn't spend much time in the back water on Thursday, but he shook a 9-pounder off on a frog in practice, and he hasn't forgotten it.
"If it gets sunny, I'll spend a lot of time back there," Lane said. According to weather.com, that sun should show up on Saturday. "I went back there for about 15 minutes today, and you could just tell it wasn't going to happen."
McClelland caught a limit early fishing points, and then moved out deep, trying to cull with a better quality fish. The post-spawn bass would usually all be moving into 10 to 20 feet of water at this stage, but the blueback, which are just now spawning, have kept the bass feeding in shallow water.
McClelland, who said he's always looking for structure no matter what lake he's on, caught two of his keepers deep on Day One, and he thinks he'll have to do that every day to have a chance to win.
"I fished 30 of those pretty humps in practice, but I only found two or three of them that were producing fish," he said. "I haven't seen anybody on the deep stuff all week, so if somebody shows up on it I'm going to have a fit.
"The shallow stuff, there's enough guys running that pattern, you're going to come across people, but the deep stuff — I'll be running somebody off if they show up out there."
All 108 Elite Series anglers will takeoff at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning in what's predicted to be a windy, stormy day.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Carolina Clash, May 15–18, 2008. Thursday through Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 3:00 p.m. ET. On Sunday, "Hooked Up" will air at noon and 2:45 p.m. ET, with the final weigh-in and live streaming video to start at 3:15 p.m. ET.