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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Morrow Looking for Redemption

Walmart FLW Tour pro Troy Morrow has a score to settle with Lake Hartwell. For Morrow, Hartwell is not just any lake; it’s his home lake. He has fished it since he was a kid, paddling around its shores in an aluminum johnboat.

“I can be at a boat ramp within 12 minutes of my house,” says Morrow, who resides in Eastanollee, Ga. “So yeah, I’d say it’s my home lake.”

Exactly what Morrow wants from his home lake is an FLW Tour win. His first FLW Tour win.

Morrow has proven he can win major tournaments, but he hasn’t gotten it done on Tour. In 2010 he won the FLW Bass Fishing League All-American on DeGray Lake in Arkansas. He also won a BFL Regional on Lake Seminole that same year.

“2010 was a great year for me,” Morrow recalls. “I won those two BFL events and finished fifth in the Forrest Wood Cup at Lanier. I took some of my winnings and entered the 2011 FLW Tour. Hartwell was on the schedule that year, and I wanted to win on my home lake.”

That was six years ago.

Since 2011, the Tour has visited Hartwell three times, and it’s been a downward slope for Morrow in his backyard each time. In 2011 he finished 19th. He finished 40th in 2012 and a dismal 127th in 2014.

“That’s the one that really stings,” Morrow says of the Tour’s last visit. “I really blew that one. I found a monster school of fish the last day of practice, and I just got completely suckered in by them. I spent most of the first day of the event chasing them around, and I could never get them to bite. That’s the tournament that still haunts me. That’s the one I want to get even with.”

Morrow has been close to winning other FLW Tour events in the past. In 2015 he finished second to Bryan Thrift at Lake Eufaula. He has also finished third (Table Rock, 2012) and fourth (Pickwick, 2014).

“Yeah, I’ve finished in just about every spot in the top 10 in Tour events except for this spot,” Morrows grins with his forefinger in the air.

You might say Morrow is due.

“You mean over-due,” he adds with a smirk.

Lessons learned

To get a better idea of how Morrow is tackling his home lake for this season’s second Tour stop, I hop in the boat with him for the final day of practice. As he fishes, he spends some time reviewing his past events on Hartwell. There’s a common theme.

“I got too committed to an area on the first day,” he recalls. “In 2011 and 2012 I had great limits the second day – about 17 pounds – and that’s because I moved around a lot more the second day in both of those events.

“This year I’m not getting bogged down in an area on that first day,” Morrow reveals. “I’m going to keep moving around and doing different things. Instead of pinning my hopes on one big school, I’m going to jump around with a variety of lures on my deck. I want to make specific casts in a lot of different places, not just fish an area.

“I might crank one or two points, fish two brush piles on a dock, throw an under-spin in a ditch a few times, Carolina rig the back of a pocket, and then fish two or three docks with a Zoom Swimmer, and so on,” he continues. “Most of all I want to keep sticking and moving all day long and not get stuck in that elusive area I think holds the mother lode.”

Winter to summer

One thing concerning Morrow is the recent fast warm-up on Hartwell. Over the last 10 days, the Southeast has experienced a generous warming trend that has rocketed the water temperature at Hartwell some 10 degrees in less than a week.

“That’s pretty fast for this part of the country,” Morrow says. “Usually our spring warm-up is more gradual, happening over several weeks. There have not been any cold fronts to slow this heat wave down. I think the fish are a little stunned by how fast this has happened.”

The water level is also brimming full at Hartwell, which is also encouraging fish to move up. With that, Morrow says the field of play has been evened out a bit.

“Now guys can go down the bank throwing spinnerbaits and pitching to flooded bank cover and have a shot at weighing a big bag,” Morrow says. “There are already enough fish up to do that.”

Morrow was planning on fishing out deeper for this tournament, but while graphing about a dozen offshore places on Tuesday morning, what he sees on his Lowrance screens bothers him. Or, rather, what he is not seeing on his Lowrance screens bothers him.

“These deeper fish have left,” Morrow says, studying his array of graphs intently. As his StructureScan and DownScan paint detailed images of the bottom – a roadbed with a culvert running under it – Morrow just shakes his head at the emptiness in the water column.

“They’re gone,” he sighs, hammering down on the throttle. “Let’s go check another spot.”

An underwater view

Several stops later, Morrow graphs a rock pile. It, too, is “empty.” But Morrow isn’t satisfied with the results. He wants a closer look and breaks out his Marcum underwater camera for a live view of the bottom.

Morrow is a big believer in underwater camera technology, and he uses one any time the water clarity permits it. It has been a big player in his offshore success on lakes such as DeGray, Lanier, Pickwick and Eufaula.

“Our electronics are great at marking fish, but I want to know exactly what kind they are,” Morrow says. “Sometimes ‘that huge school of fish’ is nothing but carp, crappie or white bass, so I like to keep them honest.

“Also, electronics are pretty good at showing fish in brush or timber, but rocks are a different story,” he adds. “They can tuck down in rocks, so I always double check rocks to make sure fish are not hiding in between the boulders.”

After several minutes with the camera, Morrow slowly confirms what he doesn’t want to know.

“Yesterday I marked a lot more fish out deep,” Morrow says. “Today I’m not seeing any. I’m afraid even these big spotted bass are making a move. That’s what happens when the nights get warm. As long as the nights are cold, those spotted bass will stay deep. But the last few nights have been warm, and I’m afraid it’s taking its toll.”

A little help from Mother Nature

If Morrow has one ace up his sleeve this week on Hartwell, it might come in the form of the weather.

“It’s nice and sunny and warm right now, but it’s fixing to go the other way,” Morrow warns. “Look at your forecast. It gets colder every day of the tournament, starting Thursday. If we get some weather in here – windy, cloudy, colder conditions – things will change, and it’s a change I welcome.

“I think you’ll see some really nice bags the first day, but after that, it’s going to take consistency to get it done,” he adds. “I’m going to say 17 pounds will be the mark I’ll need to hit every day if I want to finally get even and win on my home lake.”

Tags: troy-morrow  lake-hartwell  rob-newell  pre-tournament  2016-03-17-lake-hartwell 

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