Iyobe Takes lead at Ross Barnett

RIDGELAND, Miss. — Japanese angler Ken Iyobe made beneficial lure adjustments that put him in the lead Friday at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open underway on Ross Barnett Reservoir.
Iyobe added today’s weight of 13 pounds, 6 ounces to make an overall total of 31-1. Second place is Bradley Burns with 30-3 and Quentin Cappo follows with 28-4. Fourth place is Blake Betz with 27-12, and Stephen Browning is fifth with 27-8.
On Thursday, Iyobe chose the tedious approach of flipping a jig to specific, isolated casting targets along the shoreline. Patience paid off with another limit. Today, he sped things up with a faster presentation. The idea of covering more water with a crankbait was a good idea.
“Today the fish were harder to catch, so I used the reaction lure to cover more water,” said Iyobe, who commutes from the city of Tokoname, Japan, to compete in American tournaments.
Iyobe, who competed in the 2015-2016 Bassmaster Elite Series, used the crankbait in the same areas as Thursday. Fishing the lure slow was key. After covering an area of isolated cover, he quickly moved to the next spot using his trolling motor.
Burns began the tournament intending to target spawning largemouth. That game plan fell apart after runoff from rainfall muddied the area, rendering it useless.
“I moved into the mainlake and put together a pattern late on Friday afternoon,” said Burns, of Brandon, Miss.
Timing was everything for the strategy in play for Cappo. He targeted prespawn largemouth funneling into a narrow creek channel from the main lake. He speculated the bass are migrating to spawning flats in the back of the creek. Cappo’s weight was anchored by the big bass of the day weighing 8-6.
“The timing comes when baitfish move into the creek,” said Cappo of Prairieville, La. “The bass are feeding on those baitfish, and I just have to play a waiting game until they show up.”
Being at the right place, at the right time, will be critical for Cappo on Saturday. Coincidentally, Betz of Baton Rouge, La., also targeted prespawn fish migrating through a creek to spawning flats.
Browning targeted prespawn bass staging on offshore cover.
“Those fish tender to be heavier, more aggressive and eager to bite,” said Browning, an Elite Series pro from Hot Springs, Ark. “They are more committed to moving shallow and rarely completely shut down when bad weather comes through an area.”
Weather was the game changer for everyone and not in a good way. Sunny skies and cooler temperatures slowed the bite. So did a stiff north wind that made boat control challenging.
The bite slowed and that showed on the tournament scorecard. On Thursday, 47 limits were caught by the pros. The collective 494 bass weighed 1,238 pounds. Today, only 28 limits got caught with the 390 bass weighing 965 pounds.
Justin Leet of Memphis, Tenn., continued his lead in the co-angler division. Today he added 9-7 to his overall weight of 22-11.
Leet will compete with the Top 12 co-anglers on Saturday. So will the Top 12 pros competing to qualify for the Bass Pro Shops Opens Championship that will be held Oct. 18-20 at a location yet to be announced. Competing are the eight winners from the Central and Eastern Opens along with the Top 10 anglers in the point standings from each division. The 28 anglers will fish for invitations to the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic.
Only the Top 12 will takeoff Saturday at 6:15 a.m. CT from Madison Landing/Pelican Cove Restaurant. The weigh-in begins at 3:15 p.m. Location is Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in the Jackson suburb of Pearl.
Local event host is Visit Ridgeland.