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National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship Blog: Day-two trends

National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship Blog: Day-two trends
A packed crowd was on hand to witness the day-two weigh-in at the 2012 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.

A change on the leaderboard and a few modifications on the water ushered out day two of the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship. Tomorrow is sure to be an exciting day in tournament fishing, as the field is cut to the top five and the $100,000 top prize is put on the line.

The Auburn team of brothers Jordan and Matt Lee has a healthy lead, but anything is possible in championship bass fishing.

Here's what we saw on the water today, and how it might impact the final round tomorrow:

Docks - The college crew fished docks yesterday, too, but today I saw much more dock fishing from the field. The drop-shot seemed to be a popular choice among the dock anglers I saw. Other dock lures included soft jerkbaits and crankbaits. Several anglers the last two days have reported seeing some big bass - potential tournament-changing big bass - hovering under docks, but they weren't able to get them in the boat. We'll see if anyone can hunt up a big limit of dock-dwelling bass tomorrow, when high temperatures are in the forecast and bass just might be looking for some shade to escape the heat.

Bed-fishing - When I wrote a pre-tournament forecast for FLW Bass Fishing magazine several months ago, Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., told me the college championship would probably be a sight-fishing showdown. He likely would have been right had we experienced a normal winter. Instead, the unseasonably warm conditions sped up the spawn, and many of the competitors got their fill of sight-fishing several weeks ago during pre-practice prior to the off-limits period. Today, however, the day dawned with sunny skies and very little wind. Several teams caught bass from beds, and one team that failed to make the cut told me about 4- and 6-pounders they saw on beds but were unable to make bite. Perhaps we're seeing a late wave of spawners? Or maybe the conditions simply allowed teams to see the last few stragglers? Sight-fishing doesn't impress me as a tactic that could win this thing, but catching a big female still full of eggs could really change the outcome.

Finesse or power - Fishing was tough in the morning on day two. Many of the teams struggled and had to grind it out all day to stay on the fish and eventually put together a good basket. Yet, I was surprised how few anglers slowed down with a finesse offering to tempt fish into biting. Most stuck with their power-fishing tackle and relied on covering water and making frequent casts to hunt down bass. Tomorrow, we expect the lake to be busy with pleasure boaters and a 200-boat local tournament. Maybe sitting still and finessing fish will be another option to consider when many of the best spots are already being pressured.

The Lees - Brothers Jordan and Matt Lee of Auburn will take the lead into the final day, marking the third time in three years that Auburn has had a team qualify for the final round of the national championship. This duo has a unique chemistry on the water, surely a result of their relationship as brothers and a lot of time spent fishing together over the years. They've been the most consistent team thus far, and it shows in the standings. Lake Murray is capable of limits in excess of 20 pounds, so anything is possible, but right now I believe that if another team has a shot at winning, the Lee boys would have to slip. After watching them on the water today, I don't really see that happening. There's still a day of fishing left, so I won't disclose their patterns or locations, but I think they're on something steady and reliable enough to bring it home.

The big bite - I've mentioned it a couple of times already, but the one factor that could change everything on day three is a big bite - I'm talking a 6- or 7-pounder. We've seen some toads weighed in, but if a team can add a real chunk to an already solid limit, it might blow this thing open. They're out there. Most teams have seen them. Bass fishing fans have seen them in previous major tournaments held on Lake Murray. And with warm weather pushing blueback herring into the shallows to spawn (they spawn when the water is around 70 degrees; it's in the mid- to upper 60s right now), the big bass will be near the banks and on the feed. From what I've seen, most of the teams are fishing the shallows. Might somebody cross paths with a piggy? We'll see.

Tags: curtis-niedermier  blog  2012-04-13-lake-murray 

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