The first few hours of Championship Saturday saw Canadian pro Cooper Gallant jump to the early lead with a limit catch of 18 pounds that already tops his best bag.
On Day 1, Gallant caught 16-15 and tied Bassmaster Elite Mike Iaconelli and Harvey Horne for 27th place. A day later, he added 17-9 and earned his final-round spot in seventh.
Today, it looks like Gallant is leveraging what he established on Day 2.
“It was the same program (as Day 1), I just spent more time doing it,” Gallant explained. “I realized that all my other stuff wasn’t working out, so I just put my head down in two different area.
“Around midday, I did run and gun a little bit, but it wasn’t working so I said ‘I’m going back to my main zone and put my head down. I only need five.’”
Gallant’s main area comprised a main lake flat with clumps of grass in 12 feet. He caught his fish by pitching a dropshot with an XZone Lures Hotshot Minnow to fish he spotted on his Garmin LiveScope.”
“They’ve been moving around a lot in an area about the size of a football field, so I just have to get on the trolling motor and relocate them every day,” Gallant said. “When I see them on the LiveScope, I pitch the dropshot out, they come up, then go down and the second it hits bottom, they eat it.”
As of 10 o’clock, BassTrakk showed Gallant holding a margin of 2-10 over Bassmaster Elite Kenta Kimura, who has five for 13-12. In third place, Grae Buck has also enjoyed a big morning with a 15-pound limit. (Weights are unofficial until weigh ins.)
All of these anglers have the horsepower to cross the finish line, but with less than 3 pounds separating Day 2 leader Casey Smith from 10th place Alex Wetherell, this is anyone’s game.
For the past two days, the afternoon bite has proven to be the most rewarding. So, on one hand, the early surges that Gallant, Kimura and Buck enjoyed have put them ahead in productivity.
That being said, if the late-day bite ignites, we could see fortunes change in a hurry. Someone racing up the standings or Gallant nabbing a couple key upgrades — both plausible scenarios.
Weigh ins start at 3 p.m. at Oneida Shores Park.