UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Hartwell

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1
Kyle Welcher

The St. Johns River is fishing tough, and while weights were down across the board on day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, the top five found a way to get the job done with some impressive stringers of big Florida bass.

Trevor Fitzgerald, who leads the tournament with 21 pounds, 2 ounces after day one, found success junk-fishing on a body of water he knows well. Confronted with dirty, low water, the local stick relied on experience to find some fish on beds and shell beds, both up shallow and a little farther from the bank.

While Fitzgerald did a little bit of everything on Thursday, the rest of the top five collectively did as much or more. Here’s a look at how things went down on the St. Johns for the anglers filling out the other top five spots on the leaderboard.

Fitzgerald’s leading pattern

Complete results

 

Michael Conley

2. Michael Conley – Bainbridge, Ga. – 20-11 (5)

Sitting in second place and just 7 ounces off the lead in a tough tournament would lead almost any angler to be a little secretive about what got them to that point. Michael Conley is no exception.

“These fish are just prespawn fish, but they’re very, very specific to where they are,” he says. “Once I realized that, that’s what kind of helped me catch a couple.”

Conley had to run a long way to get to the juice, but his shortened day – with an even longer return trip thanks to wind – was worth the extra fuel. He got his first bite by 9:30 or so, and “things just progressed from there as the weather warmed up.”

While Conley is understandably tight-lipped about his specific pattern, he’s still not confident what he found on day one can hold up into the weekend.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a little bit different day,” he explains. “Tomorrow’s going to cool down. If it’s not too bad, I think I’ll be OK. I’m not looking at these fish. A pattern I picked up on today kind of really showed me a little more of exactly what I need to look for.

“I don’t know if I can catch them tomorrow, but I’m going to try.”

As for how he plans to catch them, Conley says it’ll be with a soft-plastic bait, but he didn’t want to get any more specific than that.

 

Kyle Welcher

3. Kyle Welcher – Opelika, Ala. – 19-14 (5)

One good spot made Kyle Welcher’s day one, and it’s a spot he wasn’t really leaning on heading into the tournament.

“My first five stops I didn’t get any bites at all, and then I pulled into a little bit of a backwater, and in between 10 o’clock and 11:15 I caught four of the ones I weighed in,” he says. “All day long I went and ran backwaters and caught one more.”

Despite that spot being so good, Welcher doesn’t plan to return to it on day two.

“I’m going to run all new water tomorrow, because there was a lot of boat pressure in there, and I don’t think there’s enough coming to justify circling all those boats,” he explains. “I’m going to run all new water and have a completely new game plan.”

That game plan is going to involve quick decision-making on the fly based on water levels and current. As Welcher says, there’s enough change in water level right now to significantly alter how fish are positioned.

Welcher was looking for fish on beds today, but low water levels simply have fish positioned offshore and not yet ready to move up. Still, a couple of the fish he weighed in on day one were ones he caught sight-fishing, so he may still have an opportunity to duplicate part of his pattern.

To do his damage, Welcher relied on various soft plastics, rigged anywhere from weightless in sparse cover to Texas-rigged with a 1-ounce weight for the thick stuff.

 

Eddie Carper

4. Eddie Carper – Valliant, Okla. – 19-6 (5)

A display of good sportsmanship ultimately decided Eddie Carper’s fate on day one.

Headed to his first spot of the day, Carper saw another boat coming toward him from the opposite direction. He decided to let that angler have the spot instead of racing to beat him to it, and it was the right call for several reasons.

“I thought about it, and I said, ‘Well, I’d hate for somebody to get in front of me,’ so I turned and went to my secondary spot. I got there, and there were 3-foot rollers rolling across it, so I didn’t know if the fish would be there or not. The second cast I caught a nice 3-pounder, and it just carried on from there. I fished that place until about 10 o’clock.”

That secondary spot is an area with a long row of underwater dock pilings with a drop-off near the end. It was at that spot that Carper landed his best fish on a Strike King KVD 2.5 square-bill in chartreuse with black back. It was the only fish he landed on the square-bill, but it was the kicker he needed.

Everything else came on a Texas-rigged Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Worm in junebug with a 1/2-ounce weight to better cut through the wind.

Carper was again rewarded for his good deed to start the day by returning to that first spot and catching a 5-pounder. He intends to work both areas again tomorrow, knowing they need to hold up for him potentially over three days of fishing.

 

Tim Frederick

5. Tim Frederick – Leesburg, Fla. – 19-1 (5)

Tim Frederick read the writing on the wall and knew the dirty water in Lake George wasn’t going to be good for what he wanted to do this week. Instead, he ran much farther south – a 120-mile round trip – to find some cleaner water and some hungry fish.

“There’s definitely cleaner water down there,” he explains. “I didn’t have anyone down there as far as I went. There’s less pressure.”

Frederick keyed in on the mouths of small creeks, primarily around lily pads. Even with cleaner water, though, the bedding fish Frederick was targeting were mostly “blind fish” that he wasn’t seeing.

Utilizing a Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Ocho in junebug and Texas-rigged on a 3/16-ounce weight, Frederick worked around pads to land his best fish. To fill out his limit, he turned to a Smithwick Devil’s Horse prop bait. 

Despite more wind in the forecast for day two – which might lead to another long, rough ride – Frederick is headed right back there on Friday.

“I’ve got to,” he says. “I literally don’t have anything else.”

Tags: flw  toyota-series  st-johns-river  justin-onslow  headline-story  2020-02-13-st-johns-river 

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 2

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Brian Elder took over the lead at the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga today by running the opposite direction of most of the rest of the top anglers. Elder went upstream, while many of his competitors ran south. As usual, most of the pros are keeping specific lures and techniques close to the vest. Here’s what the top five have revealed so far. READ MORE »

Elder Takes Over at Chickamauga

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SFA Wins National Championship

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After an exciting final weigh-in, the Stephen F. Austin team of Hank Harrison and Ethan LeGare were crowned champions of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain. Due to an inadvertent violation of Rule 12, the leading McKendree University team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis had their final-day weight disqualified. Weighing the biggest bag of the day at 20 pounds, 8 ounces, Harrison and LeGare totaled 56-5 to win. READ MORE »

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Friday morning at the Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga was not for the faint of heart. At the 7 a.m. takeoff all was good, other than the thermometer hovering around the freezing mark. About 8:30, however, a small front moved in, bringing with it a bitter wind and a “wintry mix” to the Tennessee Valley. It began as snow with winds stout enough to blow the flakes sideways. But it soon turned into sleet and then a light, cold rain. READ MORE »

College Championship Updates - Day 3

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Day three of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance is underway on the Harris Chain. The link to yesterday's top patterns is below, and we'll try to check in here about every hour with updates from around the field. Today is the final day, and at the end, one team is going to walk away with a new Phoenix boat and the title of National Champions. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 1

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This story is supposed to be about the top five pros’ patterns, but it’s tough to write much when virtually every angler is fishing the exact same pattern. Miles Burghoff from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., and Brent Butler from Vonore, Tenn., both ended up with exactly 21 pounds, 9 ounces, creating a two-way tie for first place going into day two. They were mostly throwing lipless crankbaits. Here’s what the remaining top five anglers were doing. READ MORE »

McKendree University Moves to Top at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

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LEESBURG, Fla. – Illinois’ McKendree University’s team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis moved to the top of the leaderboard Thursday on Day Two of the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance at the Harris Chain of Lakes after... READ MORE »

Butler, Burghoff Tied for Chickamauga Lead

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Brent Butler, who won the 2019 Toyota Series event on Lake Chickamauga, is aiming for back-to-back victories this week in the 2020 Central Division opener on the same lake. His opening-day limit of 21 pounds, 9 ounces has him in first place and in prime position to have a shot at a second Chickamauga title. If he wants to do it, Butler will have to outlast Tennessee transplant Miles Burghoff, who’s coming off a top-10 finish at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at the Harris Chain of Lakes and is tied for the lead on Chickamauga after one day.  READ MORE »

McKendree Cruises Ahead on Harris

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After two days on the Harris Chain for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance, McKendree University’s Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis backed up their 22-pound, 10-ounce performance from day one with another 20-2 today to take the lead. READ MORE »

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Day two of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance is underway on the Harris Chain. The link to yesterday's top patterns is below, and we'll try to check in here about every hour with updates from around the field.  READ MORE »

Sam Houston State University Takes Early Lead at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

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Day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain certainly didn’t disappoint. The consensus from many of the teams during practice was that the chain was fishing tough, yet would kick up some solid bags on Tuesday. With 10 bags over 18 pounds and six over 20, it’s safe to say the Harris Chain is living up to it’s potential. READ MORE »

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

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Each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes was markedly different from the day prior. Most of the field struggled a bit, and the final 30 anglers were left scrambling to figure out how to find and catch fish in the post-frontal conditions that are often so detrimental for Florida largemouths.  READ MORE »

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At Florida’s Harris Chain, in late winter, it’s a good bet the same handful of baits are going to produce more than any others, from Lake Harris down to Apopka. During the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on the Harris Chain, presented by Bad Boy Mowers, it was Texas rigs with black and blue plastics, jerkbaits, Carolina rigs and a few other moving baits that most often got the call.  READ MORE »

Lake Hartwell Set to Host Toyota FLW Series Tournament

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Elberton’s Partain Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hartwell

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Local Rookie Strickland Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

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