Lawrence moves into lead at Eufaula  - Major League Fishing

Lawrence moves into lead at Eufaula 

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Jake Lawrence claimed the top spot on Day 2 with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 43 pounds 6 ounces. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Jake Lawrence.
May 11, 2024 • Jody White • Invitationals

EUFAULA, Ala. – The offshore game stayed strong on Day 2 of Stop 4 Presented by E3 Sport Apparel on Lake Eufaula, but not everyone was able to take full advantage, as evidenced by the amount of fluctuation on the leaderboard. Moving up from sixth, Jake Lawrence caught 22 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead with a 43-6 total. In second, Cal Lane moved up from fifth with 20-11 for a 41-15 total, just 1-7 back of Lawrence. 

In third, Paul Marks Jr. tallied 41-3, and Day 1 leader Tucker Smith caught 18-1 to drop to fourth with 40-12. Heading into the final day, the Top 30 features many of the best anglers the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals has to offer, and at least the top four are all within striking distance of a win. 

Lawrence fishing his strengths on Eufaula 

The Tennessee River ace hasn’t had any trouble with the offshore game at Eufaula. Photo by Jody White

Born and bred on the Tennessee River, Lawrence is no stranger to offshore fishing – his first Toyota Series win came back in the days before forward-facing sonar, with fish he wormed up off a Kentucky Lake bar. Now, with his knowledge from years past and some great technological skills, Lawrence is in hot pursuit of his first Invitationals win. 

“We’ve had a lot of changes with the water level, and the color of the water, and it’s really changing a lot of stuff,” Lawrence said. “It’s moving them around, and I’m fortunate that I’ve got one little hole that’s really holding up so far. And nobody seems to be messing with it, so I’m able to go in there and get a decent little limit, and then catch one or two here and there.” 

Fishing mostly offshore schools and ledges, Lawrence says the bites are not very easy to come by. 

“I’m straight Tennessee River,” he said. “I’ve got some brush, but I really haven’t been able to make that happen this week. I’ve caught a few, and I caught a big one in practice, but I can just tell that’s not the deal – or at least in the areas that I’m doing it. These schools are so sporadic. You really have to spend all day to get five to seven big bites. It’s not your typical school fishing, where we know we’re going to catch 30 or 40 of them. You just don’t get very many of them to bite.”

According to Lawrence, rising water has scattered the bass around the offshore spots, when they should be grouping up better by the day. 

“With all this current you would think that it would really congregate them and pull them together, but it’s actually done the opposite,” he said. “It’s really scattered them. A lot of them have gone up top (on the ledges), like way up on top of it, on the flat portion of it, and just scattered out. On top, there will be one every 10 or 15 feet. You have to have competition – something to make these fish bite – because if you find a solo out there, you might as well not even throw at it.” 

On Days 1 and 2, Lawrence caught some of his best weight out of a school in the back of a creek, which he should be able to get on again on Day 3. Putting time in behind the console looking for offshore fish is right up his alley. 

“It was the second (day of practice) that I started finding a bunch, so that’s when I knew that things were going to line up and be what I wanted them to be,” he said. “It’s one of those deals – out there is my comfort zone. My home away from home. I think it’s going to be fun.”

Lawrence is coming off a close call in the season-opener on Sam Rayburn, when he finished second to Drew Gill, and then a disappointment at his home waters of Kentucky Lake. So, he badly wants to win. 

“Even in a $100 jackpot I’ve never come that close to winning and not won; I just needed five more minutes,” said Lawrence of his runner-up at Rayburn. “That lit a fire under me. I thought I wanted to win before Rayburn, but when I got that close … 

“And of course, coming on the backside of Kentucky Lake, which was kind of a subpar – you know, it didn’t really pan out the way I expected. It would mean the world to me. I almost can’t even put that into words what it would mean to me. I want a win so bad.” 

Ledges are no problem for Lane

Cal Lane is well used to the offshore game. Photo by Rob Matsuura

While his uncle Bobby Lane and father Chris Lane who cut their teeth in Florida, Cal was brought up on the shores of Lake Guntersville – so, ledge fishing comes naturally to the next generation. After putting another 20-pound sack on the scales, the Lane of the week is hunting his first win.

“I made less than 30 casts in practice, probably,” Lane said. “I scanned from 5:45 in the morning to 7:48 at night, I sat behind a steering wheel for three days.”

That’s the sort of dedication needed to excel in ledge tournaments, the kind of graphing hours that Mark Rose and Randy Haynes pioneered back in the day. According to Lane, Eufaula isn’t an exact replica of G-Ville, but it’s close enough.

“It’s a little different, and I feel like I figured it out a little more today,” he said. “Kind of how they set up compared to back home. It’s a little bit different, and you have to do things a little different to catch them.”

Since starting on the Pro Circuit in 2021, Lane has struggled to put together complete seasons, but he popped a Top 10 in 2023, and he’s currently higher in the points than he finished any of his first three years of national fishing.

“It just means more to me (this year),” he said. “I don’t think I was mature enough to know what it meant before. The first time I ever really fished a bigger tournament was that Toyota Series division in 2020, and I caught them the whole year. And I thought, well, this is not too bad, you know. And I just kind of slacked off, I wasn’t preparing right, I wasn’t fishing in my off time. But I’ve quit duck hunting, and started fishing a lot in the winter and I’ve just gotten better. The more you do it, the better you’re going to be at it. I’m just trying to focus on getting better at things I don’t know how to do.”

Marks right in the hunt

Through two days, Paul Marks has been super steady. Photo by Rob Matsuura

On a tear over the last couple years as well, Marks is known as one of the more dangerous forward-facing sonar practitioners in the game. He’s also pretty well-versed with Eufaula, considering he won a Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional at Eufaula last fall.  

Yesterday kind of just happened,” Marks said. “I got lucky and stopped on a few places and caught big ones. Today I caught them on a spot that I caught them on back in fall. Then, I went to a community hole that no one was on and culled two or three times, and then went to another community hole and culled again.”

Though he calls Lake Lanier home, Marks has been putting some time in on Eufaula recently, and it’s got him in good position to earn one of his biggest wins yet.

“I don’t fish here a ton, but I’ve spent some time down here since last fall,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite lakes now. I always catch spotted bass at Lanier, and I like catching largemouth here.”

Top 10 pros 

1. Jake Lawrence – 43 – 6 (10)

2. Cal Lane – 41 – 15 (10)               

3. Paul Marks Jr. – 41 – 3 (10)   

4. Tucker Smith – 40 – 12 (10)     

5. Mark Condron – 39 – 10 (10)  

6. Ethan King – 38 – 7 (10)           

7. Kyle Hall – 37 – 4 (10)               

8. Colby Miller – 36 – 7 (10)       

9. Adrian Avena – 35 – 14 (10)    

10. Justin Barnes – 35 – 9 (10)

Complete results

Fishing Clash AOY

Tackle Warehouse Invitationals anglers are competing for the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and its $50,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s been downloaded by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. 

Download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.