UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Christie crush session

Christie crush session
Diet Mountain Dew pro Jason Christie is in charge on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell with a five bass limit topping the scales at 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

ANDERSON, S.C. - Like many of the 150 Walmart FLW Tour pros, Jason Christie knew a good portion of the Lake Hartwell bass were spawning. But instead of sight-fishing for them, Christie is throwing reaction baits to get their attention. The reason: the males and females are too interested in each other to eat a slow presentation.

Christie started on his best stretch of water this morning hoping to catch three quality keepers. Instead he filled the boat with an 18- or 19-pound limit. Then he left and spent the rest of the day oscillating between new water and other promising stuff he found in practice. The end result was a 22-pound, 4-ounce stringer - all of which came via largemouths.

"I'm catching spawners, but I'm not looking at them," said the Diet Mountain Dew pro. "The water is a little dirtier, but they are really paired up and tough to catch. Once they separate the bite should improve. I didn't catch a lot of fish today, but I caught good fish."

Christie believes several of the dozen or so keepers he boated and weighed were males.

"There are a ton of big fish in this lake - lots of 4s and 5s. They've moved up and once they separate this could get crazy."

Christie is understandably tight lipped about his presentation and location, allowing only that he is throwing Booyah reaction baits.

"I don't think they're conducive to being caught while you're looking at them right now. Some guys are going to catch them and there is probably going to be somebody that comes in with 25 pounds. But they are too interested in each other right now. You just have to get them on a reaction strike and I can do that better fishing than I can looking at them. I caught some off wood, some off docks, just stuff they normally spawn around."

The Park Hill, Okla., native said he had a productive practice, but was still worried heading into today.

"It was good, I caught some big weights, but it was very random - one here, one there. Today was the first day I caught several in one small area.

"I have had good bags on day one like this before. What I want to do is do that at the end. Today I had most of what I had by noon. So I pretty much ran around and looked. Some of that stuff I will go to tomorrow, but who knows if they will bite."

Reynolds working `special' pattern
Mike Reynolds caught a 21-pound, 15-ounce limit Thursday and finished the day in second place.
Modesto, Calif., pro Mike Reynolds weighed in five bass for 21 pounds, 15 ounces to begin the tournament in second place. Reynolds got a 10- or 11-pound limit early this morning and then pulled up to a dock and caught two of his biggest fish on back-to-back casts.

"I've got something pretty special going," Reynolds exclaimed. "It's pretty good and it's a West Coast deal. That's all I'm really going to say for now."

Reynolds later admitted he's targeting prespawn fish and running and gunning in an attempt to duplicate a specific pattern. He didn't sight-fish at all and in total he managed a dozen keepers.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I'm still shaking. What a day."

Dudley does some sight-fishing

Castrol pro David Dudley holds down third place with 20 pounds.The highest-finishing pro who sight-fished on day one was Castrol angler David Dudley. The 2003 Forrest Wood Cup champion caught a 20-pound limit Thursday. Of the five he weighed, three came via sight-fishing.

"The first day in a sight-fishing tournament is always critical," he said. "So I'm happy with what I caught but I didn't do anything special. I don't think I'm on anything great either. I just move around in between docks until I see one."

Dudley said this time of year it's important to be versatile because the fishing changes constantly.

"I've always said you need to fish where the fish are going. So I really focused on sight-fishing where I think a lot of other guys are fishing dying patterns. The cold front might hurt some, but the ones that are up and committed are staying, there just might not be another wave."

Dudley said his other two keepers came via wacky rigging and throwing a shaky head.

Thomas fourth with Big Bass

Fourth-place pro Joe Thomas caught 19-10 on day one, including a 6-10 brute, the Snickers Big Bass of the day.Milford, Ohio, pro Joe Thomas owns the fourth-place spot after day one with 19 pounds, 10 ounces. Like many of the other leaders, he's not sight-fishing. Instead, he's pattern fishing - working baits fast through shallow water targeting prespawn largemouths. He only caught 10 keepers, but clearly they were the right ones.

"I found one pattern in practice and I expanded on it," said Thomas. "I'm a little worried because what I did today was wind-orientated."

The one exception to Thomas' pattern was a 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth, the Snickers Big Bass of the day.

"I caught that one on a random piece of cover. That was a lucky fish and sometimes luck plays a part in this."

Houston fifth
Chevy pro Jimmy Houston holds up part of his 19-pound, 3-ounce limit.
Chevy pro Jimmy Houston of Cookson, Okla., is in fifth place with 19 pounds, 3 ounces. Houston explained that he had a tremendous practice and that day one of the tournament was actually much slower.

"In practice I was catching twice that many," said Houston, who caught eight keepers Thursday.

Houston said he fished dirty water with Booyah spinnerbaits and jigs around docks and points.

"The only time I saw them was when I put them in the boat."

Houston tempered his excitement because he thinks his bite is deteriorating with the colder weather.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell after day one:

6th: Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 18-9
7th: Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 18-2
7th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., five bass, 18-2
9th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., five bass, 17-8
10th: Randy McAbee Jr. of Bakersfield, Calif., five bass, 17-5

Honeycutt tops co-anglers
Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas leads the Co-angler Division of the Walmart FLW Tour Major on Lake Hartwell.
Veteran co-angler Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces.

"I drew Larry Nixon as my partner and we caught the snot out of them this morning," said Honeycutt, the 2007 EverStart Series Championship winner. "Larry was absolutely dialed in."

Honeycutt said he used the new Berkley Havoc straight tail worm on a 1/4-ounce shaky head. He tied this to 10-pound Fireline with a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.

"I'm just real comfortable with a spinning rod in my hand. In fact, it's the only rod I used all day today."

Honeycutt's limit consisted of three largemouths and two spotted bass. He said he didn't sight-fish, instead targeting bass in slightly deeper, dirtier water.

"I've never won a Tour event and there's no doubt it's a goal of mine. But I know it's not about just catching a big day one day; it's about being consistent."

Wright second

JR Wright of Truckee, Calif., is in second place with five bass weighing 16-3. Like Honeycutt, Wright is JR Wright of Truckee, Calif., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with 16-3.finesse fishing.

"I want to give a lot of credit to Tim McDonald, my pro partner," said Wright, who finished second at last year's Forrest Wood Cup. "He was dialed in on the spot but didn't really have the right bait."

For Wright, that bait was a 6-inch Jackall worm (green pumpkin/candy) on a 3/16-ounce shaky head.

"It was really all about finesse-ing them; they're really skittish."

With permission from McDonald, Wright would periodically fire back to the beds McDonald previously fished.

"I used lighter line and my Powell Endurance rod was sensitive enough to feel extremely light bites."

His limit consisted of three largemouths and two spotted bass.

Keeton, Bae, Scholz, round out top five

Jade Keeton of Florence, Ala., caught a five-bass limit Thursday weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces. The 2009 BFL All-American champion starts tomorrow in third place.

West Friendship, Md., co-angler Moo Bae caught a 13-pound, 15-ounce limit for fourth.

In fifth place with 13-7 is Reno, Nev., co-angler Andy Scholz. Anchoring Scholz's stringer was a 5-pound, 6-ounce largemouth, the Snickers Big Bass of the day.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour after day one:

6th: Mike Helton of Jeffersonville, Ind., five bass, 13-3
6th: Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., five bass, 13-3
8th: Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., five bass, 12-13
9th: Doug Caldwell of Kane, Pa., five bass, 12-12
10th: Patrick Bone of Cleveland, Ga., five bass, 12-9

Day two of the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell will begin Friday at 7:30 a.m. from Portman Shoals Marina located at 1629 Marina Rd. in Anderson.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2011-03-24-lake-hartwell 

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