Success hinges on big bites

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Cody Bird, 3rd, 13-1
Chris Mitchell

Cody Bird, 3rd, 13-1

Competitive anglers constantly seek to balance the premise of quality versus quantity. Limits are the baseline, but it’s not unheard of for an angler to win with less than five keepers a day.

Doing so, however, usually requires a big bite. Call it a “kicker,” a “good one” or a “day-maker,” but an above-average fish can go a long way — especially during a tough bite.

That truth will very likely factor into the outcome of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on Neely Henry Lake. With lingering warmth slowing the transition to pure fall patterns, anglers generally reported a tough Day-1 bite requiring a lot of mobility and multiple baits.

Fish are generally scattered this time of year, but until sustained cooling tightens up that fourth-quarter feeding program, it’s gonna be a lot of picking. One here, one there and not a lot of consistency.

Precisely the type of scenario where one big bite will literally change a day, perhaps, a tournament.

Of the 170-boat pro field, 83 caught five-bass limits, while 42 co-anglers filled their three-bass limits. Pro Chancy Walters is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 5-4, while Jason Henson holds that position among co-anglers with his 4-0.

Other notable big bites: 

Third-place pro Cody Bird had a 4-pounder. Interesting note: The seasoned angler from Granbury, Texas, reported missing a big early morning bite at a location that produced his best practice fish. Returning around 11, he nabbed his kicker on the same spot.

Fourth-place pro Joey Nania anchored his 12-6 limit with a 5-pounder. 

Co-angler Shane Soriano, who shared a three-way tie for fifth with Kyle Owen and Ethen Preston, made up more than half of his 6-3 limit with a kicker that went 3-3.

Darold Gleason leads the pro field with 13-12, but he entered Day 2 only 2-ounces ahead of Derek Hicks. With a victory at the 2019 the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on Toledo Bend, the Louisiana pro knows how to close the deal, but he also know he has to catch ‘em again today.

Notably, the co-angler standings also saw a 2-ounce gap at the top, as Kayden Tanner edged Henson, 7-10 to 7-8. Henson’s big fish made up more than half of his weight, so you can bet he’s looking for another kicker.

Those who caught strong Day-1 limits certainly set themselves in a good position, but competitive fishing offers no guarantees. Lacking any significant change in weather and/or current, the second day of a tough-bite tournament typically brings an even leaner scenario, as first-round fishing pressure dilutes the opportunities. 

We’ll likely see some significant changes throughout the leaderboard and at least a couple of them will be linked to big bites.