SPRING CITY, Tenn. – Sunshine and clear skies greeted the 40-angler field competing Sunday on Day 2 of the General Tire Stage Five Presented by Covercraft on Watts Bar Lake. Much like Day 1, though, the field struggled to find bites
The fishing was more challenging overall on Sunday, a day with very little water moving through Watts Bar Dam and hardly any current. The result was fewer fish on SCORETRACKER® and a lower weight to claim the daily lead as Bryan Thrift led the way with 12 bass for 23 pounds, 13 ounces.
But while the weights at the top were lower, the top half of the 40-angler lineup is setting up to be a shootout as the top eight anglers are separated by just over 4 pounds.
Thrift placed his second scorable bass on SCORETRACKER® 13 minutes after lines in to take an early lead. While he relinquished it a handful of times throughout the day, the North Carolina pro stayed near the top all day long and was there as time expired.
During the 30-minute ride-around period to begin the day, Thrift found his starting spot and was able to capitalize on it and get a fast start. Thrift is known for his rapid-fire approach to covering water and hitting high-percentage spots, and that’s precisely what he did on Day 2.
“It was a good day on a tough day of fishing,” Thrift said. “I’m doing my favorite thing and fishing isolated targets. These are small places, and if a fish is sitting there, one cast will get them to bite. It could be a rock pile, grass, brush, or anything that’s by itself.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Thrift says he plans to repeat the process in his areas but is unsure if he has found enough targets to last for the duration of the event.
“It’s going to be the same plan when we get back out here,” he said. “The problem is I don’t think I have enough places. I need 50 or 60 spots to last for the whole event and only have about 15 of them.”
Ish Monroe finished the day just 6 ounces behind Thrift, and Chris Lane is just 1 ounce behind Monroe. These two anglers are known for their power approach: flipping, pitching, and punching vegetation, yet they’re in contention on a Tennessee River event that many predicted would be dominated by offshore ledge fishing. Monroe and Lane both did it their way and each fished their strengths, fishing shallow and along the bank.
“I’m excited about the day because I did it by fishing the way I like to catch them,” Monroe said. “I’m way up there, it’s dirt shallow, and I’m kicking up mud as I’m fishing these places. That’s how I love to fish.”
Lane was one of the few anglers to run into smallmouth and he’s catching them on topwater, making for an even more fun day of fishing. Included in his catch total were three quality bronzebacks weighing over 3 pounds.
“It was a fantastic day, and I had fun doing it,” Lane said. “The key is fishing fast and burning that bait. That’s the whole key to getting them to bite.”
The anglers in Group A will return to Watts Bar on Monday to determine which 19 anglers will advance to the Knockout Round and who will advance directly to the Championship Round. Competition kicks off at 8 a.m. EST on Monday. Live coverage starts at 7:45 a.m. EST on the MLF NOW! live stream. Watch for free on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app, or the MyOutdoorTV app.
Bally Bet Angler of the Year
The 2022 Bally Bet Angler of the Year will take home a $100,000 prize at the end of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season. Jacob Wheeler leads the race entering this event with 300 points, followed by Jordan Lee with 283 points and Andy Morgan with 255 points.