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Lake Murray Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Murray Top 5 Patterns – Day 1
Brandon Cobb

Lake Murray is supposed to be tough in August. The last two Forrest Wood Cups held on the lake in late summer certainly were, but on day one of the 2017 Cup, a good portion of the big ones that are so plentiful during tournaments when the water is cooler showed themselves. With slightly cooler water than usual and a slick day with some lingering morning cloud cover, the lake was prime to produce, and 10 pros each caught more than 15 pounds of bass, most of them healthy-looking and stuffed from snacking on blueback herring.

In first place, Justin Atkins hit a handful of precise spots for his fish and sacked up more than 21 pounds, but running and gunning specific places for suspended fish wasn’t nearly the only way to catch them.

Atkins’ leading pattern

Complete results

 

Anthony Gagliardi

2. Anthony Gagliardi – Prosperity, S.C. – 21-1 (5)

Anthony Gagliardi won the Forrest Wood Cup in 2014 on Lake Murray, and he’s in great position after day one to be the first to win two. Weighing 21-1, which was amazingly the biggest bag Gagliardi has weighed all season, he sits in second place just 4 ounces behind Atkins.

Fishing a lot like he did on the final day of his 2014 win, Gagliardi leaned hard on the offshore schooling bite to accumulate his catch. Unlike in 2014, he spent most of the day actually casting, not simply waiting for fish to surface on blueback herring. Throwing just a topwater plug and a soft-plastic jerkbait, the South Carolina pro says he’s only caught about eight keepers on the day, but he caught a lot of quality and one near-6-pounder for a kicker.

“That was probably the biggest fish I’ve ever caught fishing like I do out there,” says Gagliardi. “I’m probably not going to catch one like that tomorrow, but I still have some stuff left. I can get bites, and when I get bites a lot of them have been quality bites. If things work out like I envision I think I can have five good fish, but maybe not with a kicker like that.”

As a veteran of Lake Murray, Gagliardi admits that his weight on day one surprised him, but he’s not entirely shocked to see the bite as good as it is. He says the water temperature has dropped about 10 degrees over the past three weeks, and that slim hint of fall-ish weather has the offshore fish chasing more willingly than they did in 2014.

 

Brandon Cobb

3. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 19-12 (5)

Hampered by two dead-fish penalties of 4 ounces each, Brandon Cobb is just a hair back of the lead. Cobb was raised on the nearby Savannah River system, which is home to Lake Hartwell, so he is as familiar as anyone with how blueback herring lakes work.

Cobb started on schooling fish in the morning, but after loading the boat with striped bass he transitioned to more specific stuff.

“I didn’t really do anything for like two hours. They weren’t sitting right, and I couldn’t draw them up,” says Cobb. “But finally the sun popped out a little bit and they started to bite, and I hit like 20 places in a row and caught a fish or two off every one of them.”

Despite catching fish off so many places before laying off, Cobb isn’t sure he’ll do well again tomorrow, citing the extreme variability of herring-eating bass. Cobb is fishing a lot like his roommate, Atkins, and certainly has a good shot going forward.

“I have a lot of places out here that I know where fish suspend, so you don’t have to fish the whole flat,” says Cobb. “It’s no secret; a lot of it’s cane piles, but a lot of it’s not. It’s drops or rock or things like that. Some of those are your best places.”

 

Bryan Thrift

4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 19-4 (5)

It wouldn’t be a Forrest Wood Cup top 10 without Bryan Thrift. Sacking up 19-4 on day one, the 2017 FLW Tour Angler of the Year looks to be in contention yet again for the big win that has so long eluded him.

In true Bryan Thrift style, the Carolina pro ran the bank, fished for schoolers and fished brush, making full use of every rod spread across the deck of his Ranger.

“I started out on the herring deal, and I caught three doing that,” says Thrift. “Then I caught the others out of brush. I have no idea if I can do it again. It’s so random for me. I still don’t understand the herring deal. I just run around and hope I run into something.”

Thrift says his schooling fish ate a soft-plastic jerkbait, and that he caught about eight keepers on the day, with quite a few shorts mixed in.

 

Travis Fox

5. Travis Fox – Rogers, Ark. – 18-3 (5)

The only qualifier from the Costa FLW Series Championship in the top 16, Travis Fox is off to the races on the back of the blueback bite at Murray.

Fox says he landed only six keepers all day, and hit more than 20 places. Of those 20-plus places, one spot gave up three keepers, and his two starting spots – where he expected to find easy limits – produced nothing. Though he tried a variety of baits, Fox says he caught the majority of his fish on just one.

“If you can get a bite it’s going to be a good one. It’s a gamble,” says Fox of his game plan. “But at the Cup I’m not here for second place. I’m here for one place. We all want to do the best we can, but you’ve got to swing for the fences.”

Complete results

Tags: jody-white  headline-story  2017-08-11-forrest-wood-cup 

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