Bass continued to flock to the shallows of Lake Hartwell to spawn on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau. One reason such a big wave continues to come to the bank is the weather has been stupendous for days on end. Warm, sunny, windless conditions continue to heat the shallows and usher in amorous bass.
John Cox leads the event with a combination of sight fishing and “just fishing” and behind him are a handful of pros doing the pretty much the same thing.
2. Darrel Robertson – Jay, Okla. – 34-13 (10)
Day one leader Darrel Robertson slipped a little off the winning pace today with a 14-pound, 7-ounce bag that put him in second.
Yesterday, Robertson alluded to his intentions to run up the river and fish stained water today. But when push came to shove this morning, he couldn’t quite pull the trigger on that plan.
“I left one 3-pounder down the lake that I did not catch yesterday,” Robertson says. “Last night I got all monkey-brained thinking about that fish. This morning I decided to run down there and at least see if it was still there. And it was. I caught it and when I looked over, I saw another one that had just moved up. I caught it and decided that more fish had moved up overnight, so I stuck with the sight fishing program. From that point on, I started running new water and found new ones.”
Robertson weighed in all largemouths and says his entire limit came sight fishing.
“I left one 3-pounder out there that I’m going to start on tomorrow and see where it goes from there,” he adds.
3. Larry Nixon – Bee Branch, Ark. – 33-13 (10)
Larry Nixon is the lone soldier in the top five who is not sight fishing. Instead of plucking shallow largemouths by sight fishing, Nixon is targeting plump pre-spawn spotted bass that are just getting to bedding areas. Of his 10 fish he has weighed in over the last two days, nine of them have been of the spotted bass variety.
To catch the spots, Nixon is spending a majority of the day with a spinning rod in his hand, finesse fishing down deeper banks on the main lake.
“I caught 12 fish on the day and the good news for me is most of those came from new water,” Nixon says. “I did repeat some areas from yesterday but I did fish a lot of new water. I’m trying to keep up with these spots as they move up from deep water. Each day they have moved up a little bit more and I have to fish everything to make sure I’m not missing anything. I fished some really long stretches today just to keep them honest.”
4. Captain Blake Smith – Lakeland, Fla. – 33-6 (10)
Sophomore pro Captain Blake Smith is enjoying his best FLW Tour performance this week at Lake Hartwell. He followed up his 18-2 catch from day one with 15-4 today.
Smith is sight fishing and dragging soft plastics to catch his bass and had the opportunity to watch fish set up and lock on beds in his areas today.
“I have seen some really cool things this week,” Smith says. “Today I watched fish literally fight over beds and three times today I watched females swim up out of the deep, cruise over and lock down on beds.”
Smith is catching some fish dragging soft plastics across the spawning pockets and when he finds one on bed that will help him, he will fish for it.
“Dragging baits across the bottom has helped me find the deeper beds in my areas,” Smith adds. “I’ll drag that plastic around and if I get a tap or a pull, I’ll set up on that area and cast to it with other lures until I catch the fish.”
5. Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 33-0 (10)
Clark Wendlandt moved from 8th place up to 5th today with a 15-pound, 7-ounce catch.
Wendlandt has been both sight fishing and “just fishing” while looking for beds. But he says he is becoming increasingly torn about whether he should be sight fishing or committed more to just fishing. By the time he made it to the scales today he had replaced four of his sight fish with fish he caught while fishing other lures when looking for sight fish.
“My two biggest ones came from just fishing today,” Wendlandt says. “There are a lot of males moving up on beds, but they’re all like 2 or 2-1/2 pounders. And I have this suspicion that I should be just fishing because that’s the way to catch a bigger bass.”
And by bigger bass, Wendlandt means spotted bass. He weighed two hefty spots today and thinks that since the largemouth are becoming “spawned out,” the pre-spawn spotted bass may actually average better right now.
“Spotted bass just might win this tournament,” Wendlandt adds. “If we do get some weather in here tomorrow, that condition change might make my decision a lot easier.”