It’s safe to say day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau on Lake Hartwell was a sight-fisherman’s fantasyland. Bright sun, no clouds and zero wind for much of the day gave the sight anglers a clear advantage.
Darrel Robertson used his boat draw number and the conditions to his advantage to run his marked beds from practice and then add a few culls from docks.
The question now becomes, how much longer can Hartwell withstand the sight-fishing pressure? Will bedding fish replenish over the next few days? What will happen when the conditions change over the weekend with clouds, rain and cooler temperatures?
Not everyone in the top five is sight fishing, which could be beneficial when the optimum sight fishing conditions dissolve.
2. Jamie Horton – Centerville, Ala. – 19-12 (5)
Jamie Horton was just 4 ounces shy of the 20-pound mark thanks in large part to a 5-pound, 15-ounce bass he sight-fished today.
Horton had pretty much exhausted his supply of bed fish en route to securing a limit when he decided to start looking in different areas for new fish. Within the first few minutes of doing so, he ran across the big female.
“She was the shallowest fish I fished for all day,” Horton says. “I mean she was up there in the dirt; I could see her a mile away. She had a little bitty buck with her that I never even caught – I honestly don’t even think he was a keeper.”
Horton said it took him about 10 minutes to catch the big female.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he adds. “I caught every fish I knew about today. I did find a 3- and a 4-pounder I can start on tomorrow, after that I guess I’ll keep looking.”
3. Larry Nixon – Bee Branch, Ark. – 19-4 (5)
Here’s the guy to look out for this week – the General – because he is not sight fishing.
“I looked at beds for about a day and a half of practice and then I just decided this is not me,” Nixon says. “And I went on to find something else to do.”
At this point, Nixon is not being very verbal about his technique because he knows on Saturday there are likely to be 19 other anglers looking for some way to fish other than trying to sight-fish in a forecasted downpour.
“I only had two fish at 11:45 a.m. and then I went on a tear for an hour and a half and wore them out,” Nixon says. “I probably caught another 8 or 10 fish during that time. I’m running a certain set of conditions and when I could see what I was looking for this afternoon, things got a lot better for me.”
4. Charlie Evans – Berea, Ky. – 18-12 (5)
Charlie Evans also says he is not sight fishing; his bite is coming from fish that are just moving in to spawn.
“The biggest problem I have is my fish do not bite until late in the afternoon,” Evans says. “The water temperature has to get to about 60 degrees before it starts happening.”
“I didn’t have a fish till noon today,” he continues. “And then I caught most of what I weighed from 3 until 4:15 p.m. I’m due in early tomorrow so I won’t be fishing during that premium time. It’s going to be a short day and that’s going to be a real challenge.”
5. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 18-3 (5)
Fresh off a win at the Costa FLW Series at Santee Cooper last week, Bryan Thrift has continued his fish-catching ways right on into Hartwell. Now, it’s not exactly the 30-pound limit he weighed in at Santee, but 18 pounds, 3 ounces puts him off to a great start at the FLW Tour event.
Thrift said he sight-fished two bass on a Damiki Air Craw, caught two skipping a wacky-rigged Damiki Stinger to cruisers and caught one on a Mamba jig.
“I’m just going down the bank fishing whatever looks good,” Thrift offers. “Mostly I’m just trying to avoid fishing pressure. I’m trying to fish wherever I don’t see a lot of boats.”