UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Pratt Stays Close To Take Lead

High water on the James River has created a challenging scenario for much of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division field. For top pro Kelly Pratt, however, it has brought a bounty of opportunity reflected by his tournament-leading weight of 33 pounds, 4 ounces.

Michael Crocker, the leader on day one with 16-10, slipped to 22nd in the second round as he could only muster three fish for 5-09. Georgia pro Troy Morrow shadows Pratt with 31-0.

Though most of the river’s bass have completed their spawning cycle, Pratt has been focusing all of his daily efforts on the last wave of fish that recently moved to the shallows. Foregoing the long run to the popular Chickahominy River – a major James River tributary – he’s fishing a particular stretch of main river vegetation that holds a large number of quality fish.

A few key factors have accounted for the extreme high water anglers have been confronted with this week. First, recent heavy rains have pumped a lot of water into the James and expanded the river’s girth. And a morning high tide with a northeast wind behind it has impeded the outgoing water. Add a full moon to the mix, which has a major influence on tidal movement, and many anglers are suffering from too much of a good thing. In general, the fish are spread out. Pratt isn’t complaining, though.

“If the full moon hadn’t (occurred) this week, they wouldn’t be there,” he notes of the late spawners he’s targeting. “The fish have been really slow in coming (to the bank) this year, but this week’s full moon motivated them.”

Pratt said the scene starkly contrasted to that of just a week ago.

“It had been so sunny and hot, the fish had already started moving to the ledges,” he notes. “I was catching 4- and 5-pounders cranking, but it wasn’t steady. The wind had blown the tide out of the shallows and in the place where we’re catching them now (in the tournament), last week, you could see mud. When that full moon came and the wind came out of the east and the water came up, the fish were right there to do their thing.”

 Pratt carries a lead of 2-03 into the final round. His day-two sack of 17-01 was in the boat inside of three hours after takeoff.

“Both I and my co-angler caught our limits by about 9:30,” Pratt recalls. “After that, we just goofed off. We caught fish (in other areas) all day, but no upgrades.”

Pratt is keeping his bait under wraps for now, but he describes it as a subsurface moving bait. Varying the presentation helped, he adds, but the bait’s intrusive nature is what seems to be triggering the bedding bass.

“You don’t reel it straight; you reel it along, drop it and pick it up,” Pratt explains. “They’re in there protecting their nests and when that bait swims by them, they eat it.”

Big sack puts Harkness atop co-angler division

Sticking with the same topwater presentation he used on day one, Rick Harkness of St. Mary’s, W.V., moved up 10 spots to lead the co-angler field with a two-day total of 27-07. His day-two catch of 18-03 is the event’s largest so far.

Carrying a lead of 3-08 into the final round, Harkness won’t reveal his specific bait, but notes that it’s a well-known big-fish bait.

“I was looking for quality bites, so the bait I was using does generate a lot of bites, but when you get a bite it’s usually a good one,” he says.

As far as strategy, Harkness says he’s just trying to hit the right places on the bank. “Right,” as he defines it, is in 1 to 3 feet of water.

“I was fishing the deeper ends of wood and that’s where I was getting my bites,” Harkness says of his day-two effort. “I got a lot of bites early. I did cull one later in the day, but I had my limit by 10:30. It was a wonderful day.”

Tags: flw-series  james-river  kelly-pratt  david-a-brown  headline-story  2015-06-04-james-river 


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