Open: Meyer’s big bite saves the day and more

EUFAULA, Okla.– If you are only going to catch four bass during a tournament day, landing a 6 pound, 13 ounce largemouth is a good way to soften the blow.

That is exactly what Cody Meyer did on Day 2 of the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN. After landing in sixth on Day 1 with a 17-1 limit, the pro from Eagle, Idaho fell one bass short of a limit on Day 2, but salvaged the day by landing a lunker bass that anchored a 13-11 bag.

He had a fifth one hooked, a bass he estimated to be 3 pounds, but that fish never made it to the boat.

“I caught that one on 6-pound test on a little Neko-rigged Yamamoto Sensei worm in 22 feet of water. I was going for a 14-incher and came up with a 6-13,” Meyer said. “I’m not getting a lot of bites, but I was fortunate to have that really big one. I was really happy.”

Not only was it just enough to clinch a spot in the final round of the tournament, it saved valuable points that the Tackle Warehouse Elite Qualifier pro will be thankful for come season’s end. 

His day also showcased the struggle anglers have faced this week. Keeper bites are hard to find on Eufaula, but if an angler can land on one or two good ones, their chances at cutting a check or making a Top 10 skyrocket.

Meyer has had a really solid season to this point, entering Lake Eufaula in fourth-place in the standings with 661 points with several Top 40 finishes. Even with plenty of solid finishes, Meyer feels like he has only managed to put together a couple good days of fishing.

“It has just been tough every day. Today was a great day, but still tough,” Meyer said. “In my career, I’ve always struggled to start the season and then finish strong. Hopefully we can keep that going. But that bass… saves your whole tournament.”

This is his first Top 10 of the season and he has thrown seven different baits and caught bass in every section of the water column.

“It has been pure junk fishing, 20 rods on the deck, don’t know what you are going to catch tournament,” he said. “I like these tournaments, though. You flip a bush, throw a hard head down a bank or a topwater or crankbait. It is kind of exciting. It is tough fishing and you don’t know where your next bite is coming from.”

What anglers have learned from LiveScope

Even with much dirtier water than 2023, forward-facing sonar has played a role for many of the top competitors this week.

Bo Thomas has put together two great days of fishing at Lake Eufaula as he sits in second place with a two-day total of 34-8. He caught his biggest bag on Day 2, which was a 19-0 stringer. 

The Michigan boater has been using forward-facing sonar to find pieces of cover the bass are holding on and then tossing a drop shot rigged with either a Strike King Filler Worm or a Roboworm. Thomas initially began the week fishing brushpiles, but his forward sonar showed him that numbers of crappie were packed into those piles. 

That allowed him to shift his focus to other pieces of cover nearby like stumps and rocks. His main area is a point filled with rockpiles and stumps that he has located with his graph. The majority of the bass have been holding on the cover, but Thomas has noticed when a ball of bait goes by, the bass will attack.

“It makes my job a lot easier to go out there and catch those fish,” Thomas said. “I have a little bit of an understanding of where the fish are setting up and how they are eating.”

Easton Fothergill has also been utilizing forward-facing sonar. On Day 2, he noticed the bass were not reacting as well to a particular lure, so he switched baits and was able to land 16-11 to move into third place. 

“It has played a huge role this week. I’ve seen every bass I’ve caught on my forward-facing this week. I’m trying to find the biggest ones I can and snipe them. All of practice, my fishing was bottom oriented and structure oriented. Now, because of the sunny and calm conditions, I am seeing some floating.”

Most of the bass he has seen suspended in the water column are just moving down the bank. 

Bait is a key… or not 

Thomas noted there was plenty of bait in his most productive area and Fothergill has noticed the same thing. In fact, many anglers have commented about the sheer numbers of shad in Lake Eufaula. 

Whether it helps or hurts the anglers catch the bass can vary, however.

“I have to be around as many shad as possible, like to the point you can hardly see anything with your electronics,” Fothergill said.

Trey Swindle enjoyed a productive morning on Day 1, catching 17-2 to land in the Top 10. He secured his first 10 cut of the season with a 16-9 Day 2 bag, but it wasn’t fast and furious when he first arrived. Tons of shad were around his area, attracting predators other than bass.

“On top of the point I’m fishing, and it hasn’t been like this, it was loaded with bait and stripers,” Swindle said. “I kind of panicked and trolled around for about an hour before I thought I made a cast at a bass. But at about 10 o’clock, most of the stripers disappeared and the bait moved off the edge and I went to catching them.

“I actually liked today better though. They bit from 10 to check-in time. I think there is potential to catch a 20-pound bag.”

Tiny bass blues

If the Opens anglers were fun fishing, Lake Eufaula would have generated far fewer complaints. While keeper bites have been hard to come by, simply catching fish hasn’t been a problem. On Day 1, Emil Wagner reported catching over 30 nonkeeper bass before moving to an area with better quality. 

Several other anglers, including Meyer, have seen the same thing.

“I’ve never seen a lake where it is this hard to catch a keeper. In four and a half days of practice and two days of the tournament, I maybe caught 20 keepers,” Meyer said. “I don’t know if it is just summertime in the south or what. I probably caught 40 nonkeepers today and the same thing happened yesterday. You are getting bit constantly, but a 14-incher is really hard (to come by).”

Messer makes another Top 10 at Eufaula

While it wasn’t quite as dramatic as his 2023 performance, Matt Messer made another Day 2 comeback on Lake Eufaula to make his second straight Top 10 on the fishery. Messer caught 13-10 on Day 1 before landing 16-7 Friday, good enough for ninth place.

Compared that to last year, when Messer opened Day 1 in 37th with a similar 13-8 showing, but jumped way up the standings with a 22-10 Day 2 performance. 

He is the only angler who notched a Top 10 in both 2023 and 2024.

Expect a tight finish

There have been plenty of runaway victories this season during the Opens season, but don’t expect anyone to really run away with this one. As it stands, ounces separate first place Ty Faber (34-12) from Fothergill in third (34-7) and just over 4 pounds separates Faber from Messer in ninth-place. Texan Jack York is 10th with 28-8, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of it.

Through two Open tournaments on the lake, it is hard to be consistent from day-to-day on Lake Eufaula. If some anglers stumble and another mounts a Messer Esq comeback, you could see a lot of movement on Championship Saturday.