by Andrew Canulette
GADSDEN, Ala. — Wes Logan grew up fishing this 11,200-acre Coosa River fishery, so it’s no surprise his intimate knowledge of the lake helped him climb to the top of the leaderboard on Day 3 of the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake.
But with the Neely Henry bass still adjusting to extremely heavy rains last week, Logan admits he’ll have to lean on every bit of his experience if he’s to win his first B.A.S.S tournament Monday.
Logan has three consecutive limits for a total weight of 43 pounds, 8 ounces. He was in eighth place after Day 2, but a 16-15 bag on Sunday tied for the tournament high and vaulted him into the pole position at Neely Henry.
Despite his know-how on Neely Henry, Logan is leery of all nine of the remaining competitors. That’s mostly because the lake has been a mystery since the extreme storms trained across the area last week. The water level soared, the lake muddied and the bass scattered to some unusual places. It was a combination that tested the Elites from the start, Logan included.
“The only thing that helps me is I know how things act when something changes here,” Logan said.
And there have been plenty of shifts on Neely Henry in the past few days. The north end of the lake had high water following the heavy rain but is now draining into its south end, which had been extremely shallow. As the water pushes through the lake, bass are moving with the heaviest flow, which Logan said convinced him to try for offshore bites on Sunday.
It’s not what he’d normally do, but this week has been different.
“I caught a 3 1/2-pounder in a place I’ve caught fish in the past, but this time it was in bright sunshine and in 6 inches of water,” he said. “That fish shouldn’t have been there. I was running by and wasn’t even going to go in there, but I went with my gut feeling. I’ll have to do that tomorrow because where I thought I could win the tournament, there’s not going to be any water in the grass anymore.”
Logan’s heaviest bass weighed 5-4, which was only 2 ounces shy of the heaviest catch on Sunday. He said he’ll look for more of that caliber bass on Day 4, feeling he’ll need the extra weight to hold off his competitors.
“After that morning flurry, I find if you get an afternoon bite, it’s going to be a good one,” he said. “So, no way I’m fishing for 2-pounders. Like that big one I had today, I don’t like fighting big ones on crankbaits. I like boat flippin’ them on a frog or a swim jig. Getting that bite later in the day was a blessing for sure.”
Logan predicted earlier in the tournament that 55 pounds over four days could win the event. If so, he’d need only about 13 pounds Monday, which he said feels about right.
Still, he’s not going to complicate matters. He may be junk fishing, but he’s using the same lures, just in different places.
“Swim jig, frog, squarebill and a 5/8s big jig,” he said, listing the four baits he is sure to have tied on Monday. “It’s the only rods you need here.”
Connecticut pro Paul Mueller led after Day 2, but he caught 12-0 Sunday and now is second with 42-6.
Mueller, 37, is also junk fishing on Neely Henry, hoping he can find a few quality bites to keep him in the hunt for a tournament title. He knows he’ll have to improve on the 12-0 limit he weighed Sunday.
“I’m gonna have to really think about what I’m doing tomorrow because I only caught five fish today,” he said. “I thought I would drop to seventh or eighth with the weight I had. If I get three solid bites tomorrow, I’ll have a shot.”
Mueller is fishing the lower end of Neely Henry and he’ll likely go back there Sunday because he prefers to fish away from other boats. He’s caught his bass Sunday on a Deps Evoke 2.0 squarebill crankbait (chartreuse/brown back) and an 1/8-ounce custom shaky head with a custom Gamakatsu hook and a Zoom Swamp Crawler (watermelon candy).
The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off Monday from the Gadsden City Boat Docks, also known as Coosa Landing, at 6:30 a.m. CT for the fourth and final day of the tournament and the winner will claim a $100,000 first prize. Weigh-in will start back at the Gadsden City Boat Docks at 2:30 p.m.
Minnesota pro Seth Feider missed the Top 10 cut, finishing 12th with 35-13, but he maintained a commanding lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 525 points. Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., is next with 484, followed by Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., with 464, Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, with 462 and Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., with 456.
Live coverage of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms.