March 8, 2013 by Kyle Wood
JASPER, Ala. – While Smith Lake has shown there are big largemouths that lurk in these waters, it is becoming apparent that spotted bass offer reliability and decent size. Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler has capitalized on the spotted bass fishery to keep him in the top spot once again after weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces. That gives Ehrler a total weight of 33-15 and a lead of over 6 pounds.
“I really think there is a timing issue on some of these places,” the Redlands, Calif., pro said. “I watched some guys fish some of those areas and not catch anything then I would pull in there later and catch some.”
One of the main places Ehrler has been fishing is a spot he found in practice but never received any bites from. Yesterday he decided to stop and check it based on the fact it just looked so good. His instincts have paid off revealing that this break from 30 to 40 feet of water holds some magnum spotted bass.
“For some reason there are fish on that break, but I don’t know why. I think those fish are pretty much done though. I’m not going to depend on those fish.”
Ehrler still is remaining tight-lipped about his presentation but he is keeping about six or seven different rods on the deck throughout the day. The ‘Meter Man’ is also staying true to his name and utilizing his Humminbirds to locate fish.
“I have caught some fish this week by marking them on my meter, but it doesn’t happen that often. It helps me more with confidence when I can see the fish swimming on my screen. That really helps me stay confident in new areas.
“Tomorrow I think I’m just going to run the spots I have and hope for a big ones. I did some practicing in new areas yesterday, and a little today but I haven’t found anything I feel comfortable with.”
Kreiger moves to second
His first day weight had him in sixth place with 15 pounds and only a handful of bites. Today, Kreiger had a longer day to fish and he utilized every minute. By catching a 4-pounder in the last 45 minutes of the day – which was only the fifth bite he received – Kreiger brought in 12-14 to climb in the second spot with an overall weight of 27-14.
Kreiger is one of the anglers who have been bringing in both spotted bass and largemouth as part of his bag each day. This strategy has allowed him chances at big bites form either species each day, which he showcased yesterday with two nice largemouths and one nice spot today.
“Today the flat conditions really hurt,” said the 2012 EverStart Series champion. “I need the wind to blow for the fish to bite because I’m catching them shallow. I’m just fishing – I don’t know what I’m going to catch. I just go down the bank making as many casts as I can.”
Kreiger has thrown the Alabama rig some, but hasn’t fully relied on it to put fish in the boat.
When asked what his plans for tomorrow were Kreiger joking said that since he is running out of places to fish and his good friend Jacob Powroznik is doing so well, maybe he can get a spot or two from him.
Christie up to third
Rayovac pro Jason Christie came to Smith Lake with no intention or desire to catch spotted bass. After a decent start on day one, Christie made his move from 29th place all the way to third with a 15-pound, 8-ounce catch of largemouths – putting his total weight at 27-10 and showing that you don't need spotted bass to hang high on the leaderboard.
One of the big benefits for spotted bass fishermen is that they seem to start putting fish in the boat early on in the day. That is certainly not the case for Christie.
“The thing that is killing me is that I don’t know how to catch them early,” said the Park Hill, Okla., native. “I didn’t have a fish the last two days before noon."
Christie stated that the only real difference between him and the rest of the anglers today was the fact that he caught two good fish. Both of those big bites happen to come in the same type of areas but each area was 20 miles apart. Covering water has been part of his strategy and he believes that those two places that produced those good bites are part of a pattern he can dial in.
“I need to get on Google Maps tonight and find other places like them,” Christie said.
With warmer weather expected tomorrow, Christie is hopeful that more largemouths will continue to move towards the bank.
When it comes to his tackle choices, the Rayovac pro said that he has a few rods on the deck but only one that he can get bit on.
Powroznik in fourth
Another angler who opted to chase spotted bass and remains fairly consistent each day is Jacob Powroznik. He caught 14 pounds, 11 ounces on day one to sit in eighth place then backed that up 12-12 today – bringing his total weight to 27-7.
Like many of the anglers that struggled with the calm conditions, Powroznik also noticed a change in his fish. That’s not to say, however, that he didn’t get off to a good start.
“I was culling within the first 30 minutes,” said Powroznik. “The fish were still around but I noticed they went about 10-feet deeper than they have been. I sat on my fish for a couple hours then I gave them a rest. Most of them are all about the same size so it doesn’t really do me any good to sit on them and keep pounding them. I’m pretty confident I can catch 13 to 14 pounds a day on those fish.”
Powroznik is fishing 10 to 12 places, though four of them have good concentrations of fish to offer. One of the bonuses for him is each one of those places will produce fish. He also mentioned that some of his better areas have so many spots marking on the graph that during practice he thought they had to be stripers, however, it didn't take him long to realize they were solid spotted bass.
When it comes to catching these spots he uses a drop-shot with a 3/8-ounce Elite Tungsten weight, a green pumpkin worm and 6-pound Berkley 100% fluorocarbon.
The Prince George, Va., native is relaxed and doesn’t see any reason as to why he won’t be able to duplicate the success he has had the last few days.
Blaukat charges to fifth
In tournaments such as this one where the weights are close you can go from zero to hero in the blink of an eye. Weights are stacked so tightly that just one good bite can launch you to the top of the leaderboard. Randy Blaukat experienced that as he added 15 pound, 7 ounces to his day one weight of 10-11 promptly climbing from a tie in 51st-place all the way to fifth. He now holds a total weight of 26-2 as he heads to day three.
“Everything has changed a lot since practice,” the Joplin, Mo., pro said. “I had to start all over in the tournament basically. I’m fishing the same area that I found in practice but I really had to adjust my presentation. It also doesn’t help that there has been a lot of boat pressure in there.
“One thing that has helped me is I spent my entire practice learning everything about this particular area. I just need some wind or clouds to help these fish bite.”
Blaukat is fishing an area that offers both spots and largemouths. He says that whenever he sets the hook he doesn’t know which species will be on the other end – a good sign that there is a good population of both.
In a tournament, anglers need everything to go right, especially when it comes to big fish.
“My biggest fish of the day came unhooked as I was pulling the fish to the boat – luckily my co-angler was there with the net already under it. Those are the kind of breaks you need to do well.”
Early in the morning or when the wind blows Blaukat is able to catch fish on a Megabass crankbait. Otherwise he is forced to slow down and throw a jig or a worm.
Blaukat's primary area has received a tremendous amount of pressure this week so he is looking forward to tomorrow so that his water will have fewer boats pounding it.
Rest of the Best
Rounding out the top 10 pros on Smith Lake after day two:
6th: Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., 26-1
7th: Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark., 26-1
8th: Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., 26-0
9th: Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., 25-8
10th: Cody Meyer of Auburn, Calif., 25-2
The 3M Scotch Blue Big Bass Award for day two went to Oklahoma's Tommy Biffle for his 6-pound, 5-ounce largemouth.
Tidwell leaps to co-angler lead
Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., moved to the top of the leaderboard today with the help from the biggest bag weighed in on the co-angler side this week – 13 pounds, 2 ounces. His two-day total now stands at 21-9 giving Tidwell a 2-1 lead heading into the final day of competition for the co-anglers.
“You know this is really all about who you draw for a boater,” said Tidwell. “I drew Stacey King on the first day and Jacob Powroznik today. When you draw guys like that you know you’ll be around fish.
“One of the nice things about fishing with those guys was they had an offshore deal going on. That makes it easier for a co-angler because you have just as good of a chance to catch a fish as the pro. After I caught my limit today I basically just sat down and let Jacob (Powroznik) fish.”
Tidwell caught his first keeper on his third cast which was about a 3-pounder. About an hour after that he was already culling.
His weapon of choice to catch these deep spots has been a drop-shot with a Roboworm. Color has been a deciding factor in his bites so he remains silent on that subject.
“There are spotted bass all over out deep so it makes it easy to know that you could get bit at anytime. As long as I get paired with someone fishing out deep I feel pretty good about my chances.”
Bowen up a notch to second
Rick Bowen of Jackson, Tenn., had two consistent days weighing 10 pounds, 6 ounces on day one and 9-2 today with a two-day total of 19-8.
“I had a good practice with Spencer Shuffield, we couldn’t find anything shallow just out deep in anywhere from 25 to 40 feet,” said Bowen. “So I was prepared to fish out deep and have been throwing a drop-shot most of the time. I will switch to a shaky head if my boater gets close to the bank.”
With the wind lying down today, Bowen believes it hurt the bite but is happy to be in contention for the win.
Stark, Hensley, Grissett round out top five
Tom Stark of Angola, Ind., caught 8 pounds, 13 ounces today to add to his 10-7 from day one. His two-day total weight now stands at 19-4.
Nick Hensley of Cumming, Ga., sits in fourth place with an overall weight of 16 pounds, 6 ounces.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers is Danny Grissett of McDavid, Fla., who has a total weight of 16 pounds, 1 ounce.
Rest of the Best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day two:
6th: Benjie Seaborn of Guin, Ala., 15-11
7th: Chuck Rounds of Benton, Ky., 15-3
8th: Bryan Partak of Rockdale, Ill., 14-12
9th: Josh Smith of Hamilton, Ohio, 14-10
10th: Patrick Stines of Granger, Ind., 14-9
Braxton Setzer of Auburn, Ala., landed the 3M Peltor Big Bass Award for day two with a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 15-ounces.
Day three of the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake will begin Saturday at 7:30 a.m. as the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers take off from the Smith Lake Dam Access located at 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper, Ala.
Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 1801 Highway 78 E. in Jasper beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.