Less pressured waters yield the best bags on Day 1 at Eufaula

EUFAULA, Okla.– After practice for the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula Oklahoma presented by SEVIIN, Easton Fothergill assumed he would be fishing around plenty of boats on Day 1.

So the 2023 College Classic Bracket presented by Lew’s champion was pleasantly surprised when he arrived at his starting area on Thursday to discover he has it all to himself. The lack of pressure in his areas allowed Fothergill to land a 17 pound, 12 ounce limit to land in third after one day of competition.

“I was expecting crowds of boats in my areas, but I actually felt alone most of the day, which was super surprising to me,” Fothergill said. “I was boat 160 today and I thought there would be at least 5 boats in my spot. I got there and no one was there. Then I caught a 4-pounder in the first five minutes.”

Unlike last year, where several Top 10s came from one stretch of bank just outside of takeoff, the top anglers so far this week have experienced similar success to Fothergill in areas that didn’t endure as much fishing pressure on a hot, cloudy day. 

With the exception of his roommate, Alabama’s Trey Swindle had an area all to himself this morning and took advantage, landing 17-2 to move into fifth place. That didn’t mean others didn’t try to move in though. If he can keep it to himself, he believes there are enough bass there to make a run at the win.

“I had a couple guys try to stop on it, but when I left I kept an eye on it and some guys fished it, and no one really caught much. Maybe I just got lucky today, but I’m excited for the morning. I will go out early tomorrow and think I can get on it to start.”

The rock bank itself did not receive quite as much attention either, as 30 to 40 boats rotated through it in the morning hours.

Second place Andrew Loberg was one of the few anglers who said he was fishing in a crowded area. Slowing down and picking apart everything in front of him was the key to outfishing them and landing 18-1. 

“Fishing slow, picking everything apart and not getting too ahead of myself (was important),” the Alabama angler said. “It is such a big lake and all you want to do when it isn’t fishing very well is run around and find a magic spot. In reality, you should stick to what you know best and pick everything apart.”

Dissecting the conditions

“It’s not good,” is Checotah, Okla. angler Justin Phillips’s assessment of how Lake Eufaula is fishing right now. Fellow Okie Luke Palmer said, “There’s no rhyme or reason to it right now.”

Water levels on the reservoir have fallen dramatically since the beginning of practice after heavy rains pushed through over a week ago. That has the bass moving around as well. 

“The water is falling, there’s hot temps and lots of pressure. The lake is fishing really small. I’m grateful to have what I have,” Phillips, who is ninth with 16-3, said. “The bass want to be in a summer pattern, but these fish will always go to the shallow bushes when the water is high. They were there at the start of practice, but now that the lake has fallen they want to be in a summer pattern.”

The majority of the leaders said they needed to bounce around to achieve their limits. Leader Jim Moynagh caught his 19-5 limit bouncing around one section of the lake.

“It has been one here, one there,” he said. “I didn’t catch two in any one location. It was one here, fish for a while and then another one there. There is one thing I’m doing in one basin of the lake.”

Matt Adams also hasn’t been able to get around big groups of bass, with the exception of one group of schoolers he found during the afternoon. The bites he did get on Day 1, however, were the right ones as he landed 17-9 to land in fourth. 

Adams wanted to fish shallow during this event, but the falling water conditions have made the shallow bite rather difficult. He had to “leave the dirt” in order to catch his two biggest bass of the day.

“The weather has really made this lake difficult,” he explained. “Falling water, it’s hot, windy and then not windy. It is a difficult bite right now. I caught some bass shallow early, but it was very noticeable that the water had fallen and as soon as the sun popped up, it was done. And it hadn’t been that way.

“I’m looking for anything that transitions from where they were shallow going back to deep water.”

Trey Swindle’s area, which yielded 17-2 on Day 1, is a transition point for the bass between the shallows and their deeper summer holes. 

“It is a perfect transition spot for the fish that are trying to start moving out deeper. There was a mayfly hatch, they are dropping the water and also the bass want to move up a little shallower to feed in the mornings. It is almost like how a point works. I’m catching them all at different times of the day.”