UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

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Hartwell Day 3 Coverage

Hartwell Day 3 Coverage
This one wanted to spend more time out of the water than in it.

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2:50 p.m.: You’re gonna want to watch weigh-in

We don’t try to build suspense on purpose often, but in the last 20 minutes we’ve had four bass over 4 pounds caught by anglers all the way through the field. Weigh-in starts at 4 p.m. ET right back here and it is going to be a doozy. There are some big bags and big bass and only the top 10 fish tomorrow. 

 

2:00 p.m.: Cleaning up

Clark Wendlandt has stolen the show today, but John Cox isn’t handing him the lead just yet. Cox just caught a bass that culled him up about 2 pounds and should push his total into double digits. Depending on how much all the fish actually weight, we could have a lead change or at least a super close race heading into the final day.

Back in the pack, Tony Davis is having a dandy of a day. He’s got about 12 pounds and lost a really good one early this morning. Powel Kemp is in a similar situation, and has caught plenty of fish on the way to a bag that is around 12 pounds. Jamie Horton also has his limit, but it isn’t worth much more than 10 pounds.

On the Johnston front, Cory hasn’t added much to his early success, but Chris has filled his limit out to 12 pounds and recently made a move up the river in hopes of finding a big one. 

 

1:20 p.m.: Wendlandt has culled up again

Wendlandt has started every day sight-fishing and then moved to targeting docks, and the program certainly seems to be working for him. Today, even in the wind, he’s hitting a variety of different docks with seemingly no rhyme or reason and he just added a 3 pound spotted bass to bring his total to about 17 pounds. The primary dock bait for Wendlandt has been a wacky rig, and he shows no signs of letting up this afternoon.

Even if his dock bite fizzles if the wind increases this afternoon, Wendlandt could still have a shot at an upgrade. He’s got a 4-pounder on a bed that he’s saved which might come into play this afternoon. 

 

1:00 p.m.: Sight-fishing bite is still the main player

Clark Wendlandt is still the class of the field right now, but the rest of the pack isn’t doing too shabby either. Larry Nixon and Darrel Robertson are both set with limits around 10 pounds and Capt. Blake Smith has about 8-pounds. Word is that Smith has found a 5-pounder on a bed, but she wasn’t catchable on the first try. John Cox, who began the day in the lead, has a limit for about 9 pounds, but no more.

Back in the field, there is a fair amount of catching, but Cory Johnston is the only one with more than 12 pounds, boasting an estimated weight of around 14.

Overall, though we’ve seen a little more variety today, the bite is still mostly centered around sight-fishing and some big fish are definitely moving. Bryan Thrift reported finding an 8-pounder on a bed, and he certainly plans to revisit her later in the day.

The sun is still shining bright, and there is plenty of time left for the afternoon to provide a game-changing bite. 

 

Wendlandt midday update (filmed before his big loss)

 

11:55 a.m.: Wendlandt just lost a giant

As the morning has gone on the fishing seems to have tightened a bit. The sun is shining pretty well now, but the wind is still blowing pretty hard and keeping the sight-fishing bite a little tricky.

It’s taken him a good bit to do it, however John Cox has finally filled his limit and is sitting around 9 pounds. Apparently he’s not passing up anything under 3 pounds today. He made a brief detour from his sight-fishing plan to sample some stained water, but now that the sun is out better he’s back to running the banks in search of spawners.

Clark Wendlandt is still making a strong push to be the day three leader. He located a bed with a pair of quality fish and caught a 3+ off it to bump his limit up to around 6 pounds. Additionally, moments ago, Wendlandt lost what he estimates to be a 6-pounder off a dock. The fish wrapped him around a ladder on the end and pulled free before he could get in tight with a net. That fish would have put him near 20 pounds and certainly given him the unofficial lead. 

 

11:05 a.m.: Morning creel estimates

Per FLW Tour rules, we’ve got Marshals in the boats of all the top 20 on day three. Below are the unofficial creel estimates of the top 10 from them and our OTW reporting team listed in the order the anglers began the day in.

John Cox – 8 pounds (4)

Darrel Robertson – 9 pounds (5)

Larry Nixon – 8 pounds (5)

Capt. Blake Smith – 8 pounds (5)

Clark Wendlandt – 15 pounds (5)

Peter Thliveros – 9 pounds (5)

Anthony Gagliardi – 6 pounds (4)

Jamie Horton – 8 pounds (5)

Bryan Thrift – 10 pounds (5)

Scott Martin – 5 pounds (3)

Chris Johnston – 8 pounds (3)

 

10:30 a.m.: Leader update

John Cox started the day with a decent cushion and while Clark Wendlandt has eaten away at it a little bit, he has four that go about 7 or 8 pounds and is still unofficially in the lead. He caught one small fish just randomly casting between beds, but he’s still targeting beds. He’s had to spend a fair amount of time on individual fish. He says the fish aren’t as locked as they were, and he’s starting to fish his way up to beds, mostly with a wacky rig. Every stop he’s made, he’s been trying to look at them, but they’ve either not been there or not set up right.

Early in the day, Cox mostly stayed pretty close to the beds, but he’s well off the fish he’s currently working, almost a whole cast away. 

 

Early update from Cox

 

9:46 a.m.: Wendlandt is making a move

Clark Wendlandt has started his day in style. He had two good ones in the boat already, and just recently caught a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder to push his total to about 13 pounds. The veteran Texan has been fishing great recently, and if he keeps up the pace he’s got a great shot to be in the hunt for a W tomorrow.

Also on the big-fish pace is Chris Johnston, who has three for a total of about 8 pounds. Jeff Sprague probably has the biggest of the day, a 5-pounder (with a few small ones), but he’s not in the hunt for a win now. That said, he can certainly move up into the top 10 for tomorrow. 

 

9:30 a.m.: The fish are chewing on day three

Pretty much everyone is catching something this morning, and though it is getting pretty windy, the weather is still very nice.

The anglers with an inside line to a big bag are probably Chris Johnston, who has two for about 5 pounds and is working on a better one on a bed, John Cox, who has started out with a 3-pounder and a few shorts, and Clark Wendlandt, who has the aforementioned quality bites.

John Cox says the fish aren’t sticking on the beds as much as they did on days one and two, and that may well be the case for him, but some are still having good luck sight-fishing. For instance, Darrel Robertson hasn’t been whacking them, but he’s caught four off beds fairly quickly for a decent start. 

 

John Cox morning update

 

8:45 a.m.: Cory Johnston and Gussy are first to a limit

Both Johnston brothers are off to a quick start, but Cory is working on a bag that will keep him moving up the leaderboard. He’s already got 10 pounds in the boat and has culled twice already. He’s done his damage on beds as well as with a swimbait and a drop-shot just fishing. Jeff Gustafson started fast as well, but he’s just slightly off Johnston’s pace and has only caught five so far.

John Cox is also off to a quality start. The leader has a pair of fish in the boat, and one is over or about 3 pounds. Clark Wendlandt is also rolling. He caught about a 3-pounder off a bed to start the day and then stayed on the same bed to pluck one that goes around 4-pounds. Of the leaders, Larry Nixon is the only guy really struggling. He's lost one, and hasn't boated a keeper yet.

The sun is beginning to break through a little now, so we might see some tactical changes shortly. 

 

8:20 a.m.: We’re seeing a diversification of patterns

So far today a number of pros are trying to take advantage of the cloudy (and now slightly breezy) weather with different tactics. Jeff Gustafson has started out with a jerkbait and boated two quality spotted bass, Scott Martin has one is the box and is running windy points. Interestingly, Anthony Gagliardi began his day with a big swimbait on a point known for spawning herring, though he hasn’t connected yet, it’s a good look at how diverse the options are on Hartwell right now.  

 

7:55 a.m.: Catches are already rolling in

We’re off to a hot start on day three. Jeff Gustafson is in the board with a 2-pounder and Cory Johnston was able to catch a 3-pounder off a bed that foiled him yesterday in about 5 minutes time. In second place, Darrel Robertson fooled a 3 pound spot on a bed in a matter of minutes. 

 

Cory Johnston in action on day 2

 

7:30 a.m.: Conditions are not ideal for sight-fishing

The top 20 pros on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Hartwell presented by Evinrude and hosted by hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau have a fresh set of conditions to contend with. The previous two days and much of practice was about as good as it gets for sight-fishing spawning bass, but that has changed today. Though the weather is warmer to start, clouds rolled in overnight and there is rain in the offing. How the pros adjust to that will likely be the deciding factor between making the top 10 and living to fight another day and heading home.

Cloud cover isn’t all bad, though. Last year at the FLW Series Event on Grand Lake, eventual winner Bradley Hallman used the cover of the clouds and rain on the final day to get closer to the beds he had marked and catch them much more quickly. Additionally, it opened up a topwater pattern for him that was absolutely off the hook and let him cinch down the W in grand style.

At Hartwell, Larry Nixon is the only member of the top 5 not relying heavily on bedding bass, but all the others have expressed hope that a change in conditions could make “just fishing” more effective for them. John Cox is an expert at everything shallow, so conventional wisdom would say he’s got a great chance to adapt and that the rest of the field will need to do work to catch up. We’re about to see what they’ve got.

 

Conditions

Current temperature: 59 degrees

Forecast high: 70 degrees

Sky: cloudy

Precipitation: 60 percent chance of rain, possible thunderstorms at 9:15 a.m.

Wind: SW at 11 mph 

 

Weigh-in Details

Watch the day three weigh-in live at FLWFishing.com starting at 4 p.m. ET.

Click here for complete tournament details.

Tags: lake-hartwell  headline-story  2016-03-17-lake-hartwell 

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