ALPENA, MI – It was a simple observation that Major League Fishing viewers may have caught halfway through Period 1 of the third Elimination Round of the 2018 Summit Cup in Alpena, Michigan.
“Somewhere there’s gotta be a Mother Lode,” Skeet Reese remarked as he searched for his first scorable bass of the morning on Lake Hubbard.
Turns out that it wasn’t so much a “somewhere” as a “sometime”: at the start of Period 3, when the clouds burned off and a handful of anglers started to pinpoint the cover and structure where Hubbard’s bigger smallmouth were set up.
VanDam started the round with a 2-15 on a Strike King KVD jerkbait, and then quickly followed with smallies weighing 4-1, 3-6, 1-4 and 2-4, spinning SCORETRACKER to the tune of 13-14 in a 25-minute flurry. Takahiro Omoro piled on with a 4-13, Mark Davis with a 3-14 and Wesley Strader with a 3-2.
Reese joined the party with a 3-12, 3-3 and 3-2 in a 29-minute stretch, and eventually held off VanDam to win the round (despite yet another 4-8 by VanDam in the final 40 minutes).
In all, the final period produced 11 of the day’s 19 3-plus-pound smallies.
“I knew that was going to happen,” Reese admits. “There was going to come a time in the day when the sun came out and (SCORETRACKER) would really start moving.”
Earlier in the day, several competitors expressed their eagerness for the Northern Michigan clouds to dissipate and for an unfiltered sun to improve visibility. While it’s true that smallmouth are sight feeders who tend to bite aggressively in brighter conditions, this episode’s final-round flurry was more about the anglers being able to fish Hubbard’s grasslines, ledges and rockpiles more accurately.
“(Sunlight) isn’t as big a deal as everybody thinks (about making smallmouth bite), it’s just that you can see where they set up better when it’s sunny,” VanDam observed.
Frustrations for Evers, Rojas
Lake Hubbard was less kind to Kelly Jordon, Edwin Evers and Dean Rojas. Jordon started the day with a 3-10 and briefly held the lead, but didn’t catch another fish until the final few minutes of the competition, finishing with two fish for 7-1. Evers, the 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion and third all-time leading money winter in B.A.S.S. history, logged just one fish for 1-6; Rojas, who holds the B.A.S.S. record for the biggest single-day five-bass average (45-2), opted to fish for largemouth, catching one fish for 1-4.
“Sometimes, it’s just not your day: Today is one of those days for me,” Evers joked.
Rojas was even more succinct: “This is like a nightmare,” he admitted as time ticked off in Period 3.