Hall leads on Eufaula with 22-2 out of the gate - Major League Fishing

Hall leads on Eufaula with 22-2 out of the gate

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Blake Hall set the pace with 22-2 on Day 1. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Blake Hall.
April 14, 2023 • Jody White • Invitationals

EUFAULA, Okla. – The first day of competition at the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event on Lake Eufaula was a good one, with 102 pros catching limits, Andrew Nordbye putting a 7-pound, 3-ounce largemouth on the scales for Berkley Big Bass, and 14 pounds going down to 56th place. Topping it all, Alabama pro Blake Hall roped 22-2 for the lead, including a 7-pounder he caught on about his 10th cast of the morning.  

Behind Hall, two other pros crossed the 20-pound barrier, and five other pros caught 19 pounds or better. Plus, it seems like about anything will catch a bass at Eufaula right now. On Day 1, fish were caught off beds and around shad spawns; on crankbaits, glide baits, Magdrafts and just about anything else you can think to throw on a rocky Oklahoma reservoir.

Taking the lead on Day 1 in this event might be more important than any Day 1 this year. With strong winds in the forecast going forward, most of the field is at least kicking around the idea that the event doesn’t go the full three days. Which could mean that Hall’s big start is timed about as well as it possibly could be.

Day 1 leader Hall stayed on the bank for his success.

Shallow bite provides for Hall

Despite a knack for the Tennessee River, Hall is perhaps most comfortable up in the dirt, and he showed it today.

“It wasn’t easy, it took most of the day, I don’t have one really good spot,” Hall said. “I think out of the five I weighed, they came off four spots. The big one and a 3-pounder came off one spot, and those were the only two bites I got there.”

A sophomore at the national level, Hall had a decent practice, but wasn’t anticipating such a stong start.

“I caught some 3-pounders here and there in practice; once I caught a couple, I left the areas,” he said. “I had eight or 10 places I wanted to fish, and I fished about half of them today. I thought I could catch 15 to 18 pounds if everything went good, and I caught that big one, which helped a lot.”

Catching his fish on a Buckeye jig, a Bill Lewis SB-57 and an MR-6, Hall fished a handful of small, key stretches.

“I caught a lot of little rock points, everything was shallow, four of them were in 2-foot or less,” he said. “This is definitely a shallow-water lake.”

Rookie Cody Spetz crushed on Day 1, bringing 21-10 to the scale.

Spetz right there in second

Making the move from the West to Missouri, Cody Spetz is a rookie on the Invitationals and on a definite upward trend. Finishing 146th at Okeechobee, he cut a check at Clarks Hill and now is in the hunt for a win in Oklahoma.

“I dumped my boat in here before the Toyota Series Championship last year, going to Guntersville,” Spetz said. “But, it was above I-40, and I didn’t have a mapping chip in my GPS, and I ran aground like four times. So I turned around and put it on the trailer. I guess you could call that pre-practice.”

Round two at Eufaula is going considerably better.

“I did not expect this,” Spetz admitted. “I shook off a lot of fish in practice, I didn’t know what the size was going to be. But, I leaned into them today, and they ended up surprising me a little bit.

“It was an all-day effort. I had 14 pounds off my first spot, that surprised me. I figured I’d get five, but not close to 15. I got my limit, and then I stared fishing prespawn stuff, and I got three more big bites.”

Starting on a spawning flat with a group of other pros, Spetz limited fairly quickly. Then, he fished slow stuff on key staging areas to upgrade. However, he, like many others in the field, has a lot of company. On Day 1, a few creeks got a lot of fishing pressure.

“I’m definitely around the pressure,” he said. “We’re going to find out how many fish are in this lake tomorrow, because they bit today. Tomorrow, we’re going to find out if this lake really has a lot of fish in it or not.”

Ron Nelson impressed again on Day 1, and Eufaula is providing quite a few storylines.

Notes from the water

  • Ron Nelson is cruising right now. Sitting in third, the Michigan pro has some solid competition on the Angler of the Year front, but definitely looks like the favorite with a good Day 2. Still, he had an early boat draw on Day 1, and it sounds like that boat number was important to his success.
  • Eufaula is known to have some giant smallmouth, but nobody actually caught one today. However, Drew Boggs did hook one, losing a brown bass that he estimates was 6 or 8 pounds.
  • Also on the lost fish front, Danny L. Shanz reckons he had almost a 29-pound bag hooked today. Unfortunately, he was catching them so shallow that two of his biggest got hung and cover and he couldn’t get the boat to them to land them.
  • Finally, it’s worth noting how intense the pressure is in some creeks. There are two in particular that are getting absolutely hammered – Day 1 was strong, it’ll be interesting to see how many fish Eufaula can keep kicking out.

Top 10 pros

1. Blake Hall – 22 – 2 (5)       

2. Cody Spetz – 21 – 10 (5)     

3. Ron Nelson – 20 – 4 (5)    

4. Drew Gill – 19 – 12 (5)        

5. Michael Harlin – 19 – 7 (5)

6. Blake Felix – 19 – 5 (5)      

7. Brock Reinkemeyer – 19 – 3 (5)    

8. Jeff Reynolds – 19 – 1 (5)  

9. Braxton Setzer – 18 – 14 (5)

10. Cody Pike – 18 – 13 (5)     

Complete results