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Give and take

Give and take
A bright, cold morning greeted anglers in the EverStart event on Choke Canyon Lake.

CALLIHAM, Texas - It's the classic good news-bad news deal of cold front conditions for anglers fishing the EverStart Texas Division event on Choke Canyon Lake.

Gone are the 20-mph winds that lashed the lake, limited mobility and impeded effective presentations on day one. That's what happens when a front comes to town. Now that the blow has passed through, we have the bright skies, cold air and high pressure that always follow these weather systems. It'll be a pretty day on the lake, no doubt about that. However, post-front fishing can be a real head-scratcher.

Right now, most of the Choke Canyon bass are in prespawn mode. A full moon right before the tournament would have triggered some lovin' on the lake, but the previous cold front sent water temperatures into the low 50's and the highly sensitive Florida strain largemouths don't care for that. (Notably, fourth place pro Richard Cathey reported catching his fish off beds in the Nueces River, however, the main lake fish aren't spawning just yet.)

A lot of the lake fish are staging in the deeper grass edges skirting the shorelines. Yesterday foundFourth place pro Richard Cathey is looking forward to hitting more spots on day two. them roaming the grass edges but today, lots of sunshine and high pressure will likely have the fish hunkered down.

"I think those fish will hug in - they'll be between the bark and the trunk," Cathey said, in reference to how tightly fish will hold to trees and any other cover."

Good thing about today's conditions is that less wind means more fishable areas. Yesterday, the leeward spots saw multiple boats jockeying for position and that makes it tough on everyone.

"The wind is going to lay today, so you can get around to fish," said Kellogg's pro Jim Tutt. "Everything was crowded yesterday and the water (turned muddy). On the flipside, it's colder today with bluebird skies, so the bite's going to be a lot tougher today. I think you'll get fewer bites but you might catch some bigger fish today."

KelloggPossibly the most significant difference for today's competition will be the on-time start. Yesterday, with a dense fog bank minimizing visibility at the scheduled take-off time of 7:30, FLW had to delay the start by about 1 1/2 hours. Usually, that's a manageable setback, but with the front and its big blow reaching the lake around noon, the lost morning time wrecked many a game plan.

"That was the main thing that bothered me because my best bites in practice were early, before 10 o'clock and I didn't even start fishing yesterday until 10 o'clock," Tutt said. "I think (the additional time) is going to be very important today."

Day one leader Kelly Owens of Crowley, La. holds a big lead of 7 pounds, 2 ounces. He held his cards low on how he caught his day one fish, but he realizes today may call for different tactics.

"Today's going to be a different cup of tea," he said. "The pressure's high, so who knows? The one thing I do know is that I have fish located. I'm going to sit on them and whatever happens happens."

Conversely, Cathey's looking forward to hitting multiple spots today. On day one, he spent most of hisChatterbaits can be one of the more productive baits for bass in grass. day in the river at the north end. Today, he'll stay south and abandon the shallow game in favor of crankbaits and Carolina rigs over breaks in 19-27 feet.

"I'm going to go deep today," he said. "I'm sitting in the top-5 right now, so if I can go big by fishing deep, I'll have a chance to fish on Saturday. I could swing and strike out and probably make some money, but I'm going to swing for the fence and try to win this thing."

On day one, spinnerbaits produced the day's biggest fish, as co-angler Tommy Hagler and pro Andy Gaia boated bass of 9-13 and 8-12, respectively. Tutt said he'll throw a chatterbait and a Rat-L-Trap today. Other possible include jigs, Texas-rigged lizards and finesse worms.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Choke Canyon State Park in Calliham, Texas, at 7:30 each morning. Weigh-ins Anglers in the early flights prepare for takeoff as others make their way through checkout.will also be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. daily. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with 200-horsepower outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.

The EverStart Series tournament on Choke Canyon is being hosted by the Three Rivers Texas ChamberLast-minute preparations keep anglers focused prior to takeoff. of Commerce.

Friday's conditions:

Sunrise: 7:28 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 33 degrees
Expected high temperature: 59 degrees
Water temperature: 56-57 degrees
Wind: ESE 5 mph
Humidity: 20 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-01-20-choke-canyon 

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