Elimination Round Anglers Face a Different Challenge on Falls Lake - Major League Fishing

Elimination Round Anglers Face a Different Challenge on Falls Lake

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Josh Bertrand and the rest of the Elimination Round field found Falls Lake to be a challenge. Photo by Joe Branch
March 28, 2019 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Shotgun Rounds on Jordan Lake were unlike any the MLF Bass Pro Tour has seen in its early stages. Multiple fish over 7 and 8 pounds were reeled in during the first two days of competition on the North Carolina gem and many anglers fell in love with the lake.

Sadly, some of those anglers had to love it from a distance today as the Elimination Rounds shifted to Falls Lake, which proved to be a more challenging lake than what the pros experienced with Jordan.

Randall Tharp heads out on Falls Lake. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Water Level a Factor

The main difference between Jordan and Falls was the water level. During their time on Jordan, the pros experienced high water, with plenty of flooded brush to flip through. That was not the case on Falls, which proved difficult for Josh Bertrand.

“At Falls, the water is much lower, so the fish are just suspended in the water because they don’t have anything to sit on,” Bertrand said. “They just aren’t in a good, catchable position.”

Randall Tharp echoed the same sentiments. Tharp, who was able to catch 38 pounds, 3 ounces on Jordan, only reeled in 15-12 on Falls during his seventh-place finish.

“There were some fish trying to spawn and you can see that, I just think Falls is a much tougher lake right now,” Tharp explained. “The water level is just so different between Jordan and Falls. In my opinion, Jordan is twice the lake that Falls is.”

Safety = Extra Practice

Luckily for Tharp, he had built such a comfortable lead that he was able to spend most of his day surveying the lake and getting a lay of the land. That was also the case for Jacob Wheeler, who finished in sixth place but only boated one bass for 1-2 during the round.

“I spent the day really practicing and trying to figure stuff out for Saturday,” Wheeler detailed. “It was definitely tougher than Jordan for sure. These two lakes fish so differently and that’s what is so cool about them. I had fun and I’m enjoying it, but I could tell it was not an easy day for anyone here on Falls.”

Jacob Wheeler loading his rig in the water. Photo by Phoenix Moore

Wishing for the Wind

The sunny skies and warmer water temperatures seemed like the perfect mixture for a great day of fishing, but Bertrand says the lack of wind is what really kept his day quiet. He finished in 14th place with a two-day total of 38-8, but he thinks he could have done a little better with a little help from Mother Nature.

“We didn’t have much wind today, so that messed with my gameplan a little bit,” Bertrand said. “I think it’s going to get a lot better on Saturday. The water temperature is warming up, and I was able to get some bites later in the day. I think we’re going to see these fish start to light up.”

The lack of wind was also something that caused Tharp to alter his planning for the day.

“I had to make adjustments because of the lack of wind,” Tharp detailed. “I struggled on Falls in practice, and the bites I got today all seemed random, I never really developed a pattern.”

Because of heavy boat traffic throughout the day, Tharp observed that there was a light stain to the water on Falls Lake. The lake also doesn’t hold one key characteristic that helped make the Alabama pro so successful in the Shotgun Round.

“At Jordan, it’s a bigger body of water and had a lot of narrow little pockets, which is where I was fishing,” Tharp reflected. “I just didn’t see any on Falls and it affected my fishing for sure.”

Settling in for Saturday

Regardless of their struggles, Bertrand, Tharp and Wheeler are moving on to Saturday’s Knockout Round. Wheeler gave a prediction (with a little bit of hope sprinkled in) about what he expects out of Falls come Saturday.

“Its going to be completely different conditions than there were today,” Wheeler said. “Things that didn’t work today might work on Saturday, and that’s what’s so cool about it. You’re not going to know until that morning. I think I’m really going to need to slow down here on Falls. If I get in an area that has a productive bite, I need to fish methodically.”

The action continues on the MLF Bass Pro Tour on Friday, March 29 when the 40 anglers from Group B compete in their Elimination Round. Only the top-20 anglers from the group advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round where they will meet the top-20 anglers from Group A.

The action starts at 7:30 a.m. ET with SCORETRACKER on MajorLeagueFishing.com or the MLF app. The MLF NOW! live stream begins at 10 a.m. ET with all of the action from Falls Lake.