Live On The Water Twitter stream (scroll to the bottom)
2:45 p.m.: Time to weigh ‘em up. This thing it tight!
We’re about 30 minutes from check-in at 3:15 p.m. and we still don’t know who’s going to walk away with this thing. Clark Wendlandt is running around checking one spot after another looking for a final kicker, John Cox is headed back from his spot and might have time for a stop or two on the way. There are a handful of anglers behind them who could be a big kicker away from the W, but mostly, it is likely to come down to ounces between John Cox and Clark Wendlandt at weigh-in.
This is gonna be one to watch, and the only place is FLW Live on FLWFishing.com at 4 p.m. ET. Get on it!
2:10 p.m.: The weather has broken for the final hour!
In the last 20 minutes the weather has gone from pretty iffy to almost nice. The lake has slicked off by Green Pond Landing and the sun is starting to crack through the cloud all over the place.
Clark Wendlandt just made a move from the east side of Hartwell back to the west side where he began his day and really wants to be fishing. If the weather lets him do it, he may be able to catch a deciding fish in the final hour.
1:30 p.m.: Cox notes
John Cox started the day off rotating through a few different moving baits far up the river past Clemson, but he’s now throwing a black and blue ChatterBait almost exclusively. He’s running banks and pockets with wood and brush on them and occasionally covering a flat with a few stickups on it as well. He’s fishing thoroughly, hitting every piece of cover around, but quickie, usually not making more than a few casts to each target. Cox’s area is essentially a big pond at the far upper end of the lake, and he’s got enough bank to keep fishing fresh water the rest of the day, but likely not enough for a multi-day event.
Per our OTW reporter, Cox planned to leave a few times this morning but always caught a fish that kept him going just before finally making the move. Now, he has the sense that Cox plans to stick it out the rest of the day and hunt for another kicker like the first fish of the day. Though some bigs obviously live there, the quality does seem to all be at a similar size that Cox has tapped out to some extent.
Cox is sitting at about 14 or 15 pounds now, and Clark Wendlandt just caught another 3-pounder to put him at around 13 pounds (or perhaps a bit more). It’s going to be close, and one big fish could swing it either way.
12:50 p.m.: Wendlandt is answering back
For the last couple hours, it has seemed that every time Clark Wendlandt caught one John Cox would one-up him by a bit. Well, the wily Texan just leveled the playing field a good bit with a 3+ that probably pushes his total into the low teens and gives him the momentary edge over Cox.
Wendlandt spent most of his morning battling the wind on the west side of the lake, struggling to see his bedding bass and watching the dock bite die. About 45 minutes ago he moved to the east side and found slick calm water, put his trolling motor on high and started hunting.
Moments ago he culled slightly with a 2-pounder and shortly after that while he was working another bed he literally watched the 3-pounder he just caught swim up and lock down. For a while, he seemed spun out and anxious, but now he appears to be rolling again and just dropped his Power-Poles to look at another bed.
12:00 p.m.: Rounding up the rest
John Cox has upgraded again, putting him close to 13 pounds. He’s likely still in the lead, but there is an awful long way to go in this thing.
Back in the pack, Jamie Horton just put a pretty quality fish in the boat. Now, he’s got five for about 13 pounds and is looking at a move up the leaderboard. He’s sight-fishing, mostly, but his big one came from under a dock. So, he’s basically doing what Wendlandt wants to be doing.
Darrel Robertson started the day about 4 pounds off the pace in third and has worked his way up to about 12 pounds. Not enough to take over the lead from the Cox/Wendlandt pack, but enough to be in striking distance. Also semi in the hunt is Bryan Thrift, who has mixed “just fishing” and sight-fishing for about 11 pounds.
#TeamCanada is currently in the doldrums. Gussy hasn’t upgraded in a while and is stuck on 15 pounds and Cory Johnston has just about 9 pounds.
Morning update with Wendlandt
Midday update with Peter Thliveros
11:30 a.m.: Cox is adding on and Wendlandt has his limit
John Cox says he’s going to run out of the river and start sight-fishing any minute, but he hasn’t followed through on it yet. Currently, he’s still running the bank and any good-looking cover on it with a vibrating jig and has upgraded once more to about 12 pounds.
Clark Wendlandt has now filled his limit and estimates that he’s got about 11 pounds in the ‘well. If so, he’s back in the lead. Interesting, he’s only caught two of his fish today off beds.
It is still quite cool and breezy out on the lake, but the sun is starting to crack through the clouds a little bit. The afternoon has been key all week for upgrades, and the forecast is for some more sun and scattered rain as the day moves on. If the sun does pop out a little more, both Cox and Wendlandt could be in much better shape.
11:00 a.m.: Morning weight estimates
Below are unofficial estimates for each member of the top 10. As you can see, Gussy is making a big jump and Cox is the leader for the moment.
Clark Wendlandt –8 pounds (4)
John Cox – 12 pounds (5)
Darrel Robertson – 8 pounds (5)
Larry Nixon – 4 pounds (2)
Bryan Thrift – 9 pounds (5)
Cory Johnston – 9 pounds (5)
Powell Kemp – 4 pounds (2)
Jeff Gustafson – 15 pounds (5)
Peter Thliveros – 1 pound (1)
Jamie Horton – 6 pounds (3)
10:30 a.m.: Wendlandt and Cox are going fish-for-fish
Just as Clark Wendlandt boated his third (not a big one) to put him at around 6 pounds, Cox boated his second and then his third to put his total around 8 pounds. Unofficially, Cox and Wendlandt are virtually tied with two fish left to catch each. There’s a long time to go, but it sure seems like Cox will make a hard push for the lead today.
A lot of the pros are fishing a little differently today with the cloudy and cool weather, and Cox is no different. Way up the river, he’s been throwing a vibrating jig around laydowns and brush for the entirety of his catch thus far.
The other angler impressing in the early going is Jeff Gustafson. He’s got nearly 15 pounds in the box and is catching and culling with some regularity. He’s been catching almost entirely spotted bass and is throwing a jerkbait around an island.
10:00 a.m.: It’s heating up at the top
Moments ago, both Clark Wendlandt and John Cox put fish in the boat. Wendlandt caught a small keeper “just fishing,” and Cox went back to the fish that beat him this morning and caught it. Turns out, that fish was about 5 pounds! Right now, Wendlandt and Cox are just about neck-and-neck for the lead.
Off the leaders, Darrel Robertson has filled his limit with a wacky worm and has around 7 pounds. Meanwhile, Powell Kemp is experiencing a fair bit of heartbreak – he’s got two, but has lost three big fish (one definitely over 4 pounds) spinnerbaiting and flipping around bushes.
9:40 a.m.: Wendlandt is on the board
Clark Wendlandt is finally on the board and it’s with the right kind of fish. He just plucked a 3-pounder off the bed and has suddenly found a number of more accessible spawning fish. He’s working on another decent fish right now, if he gets rolling the rest of the field had better watch out.
9:25 a.m.: #TeamCanada is rolling
Both Gussy and Cory Johnston are off to god starts with limits in the boat. Johnston has two “good ones” in his limit and three squeakers. Johnston is one of the few who is bed-fishing pretty effectively. He’s throwing a drop-shot and had already done better than anyone else on the sight-fishing program this morning.
Larry Nixon is also on the board with a pair of keepers, one caught on a jerkbait and one on a shaky head, for about 2 pounds.
9:00 a.m.: Wendlandt’s bedding bite still isn’t right
Word from the water is that Clark Wendlandt has found some fresh bedding areas with less wind that he can actually set up on and fish, but the bass on them aren’t acting “right.” He’s got a ton of time left in the day, but he got off to a great start on day three and rode that momentum all day long. He’s got to try and get that back.
Darrel Robertson is also on the board now, with three very small keepers. At the moment, he’s swapping between docks with a plastic and a jerkbait for schoolers in the backs of pockets.
8:30 a.m.: Gussy has a limit and Wendlandt is struggling
Just as Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson predicted, his fish are biting fast and furious. He’s got about 11 pounds in the boat (mostly on a jerkbait) and they’re all spotted bass. His issue might be getting the big bites it’ll take to make a run at the lead.
The leaders have started out a little tough. Neither Wendlandt nor Cox is on the board, but both have encountered some frustrations. The north wind is really messing up Wendlandt’s bedding areas he fished on day three, and Cox straightened a hook out on his first bite in his secret hole.
Around the field, Thrift is now up to three, Powell Kemp caught his first keeper flipping bushes and Jamie Horton broke off a 5-pounder on a bed to get his day started.
Day three highlights
8:08 a.m.: Thrift is the first on the board
We haven’t gotten off to the same blistering start as day three, that’s for sure. Bryan Thrift is the first on the board with two small ones caught off a point near the ramp, but he’ll need a lot more than that to catch Wendlandt.
Wendlandt’s first stop was to a bedding bass from yesterday, but the fish wasn’t having it and the wind made it too hard for him to keep it in his sights. Currently, he’s moved on to some nearby docks.
Meanwhile, John Cox is still running. He’s gone well up the river and passed about six bridges and Death Valley. The pond he’s saved for today had better be worth it.
7:30 a.m.: Cooldown might force adjustments on the final day
Today is both the official first day of spring and the final day of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Hartwell presented by Evinrude and hosted by hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau. Unfortunately, spring seems to have broken the string of nearly perfect weather that Hartwell and the surrounding areas has enjoyed the past week and cool, cloudy conditions have rolled in for the final day of the event.
So far, each day of the tournament has featured a lead change, first Darrel Robertson, then John Cox, and now Clark Wendlandt, who caught the biggest bag of day three by more than 3 pounds. Wendlandt has had a sight-fishing and docking program work well for him the first three days, but today’s weather might force the wily veteran to adjust.
Despite the weather being less than ideal, we’re almost sure to see a grand finale. The weights have been close all week, and it’s still almost anyone’s game. John Cox is reportedly headed to a secret pond he’s saved all tournament for today, Darrel Robertson could bust another 20-pound bag, you can never count out The General and Bryan Thrift is lurking just close enough to make the leaders uncomfortable.
Breakdown after weigh-in
Current temperature: 49 degrees
Forecast high: 55 degrees
Precipitation: Chance of showers
Wind: NE at 8 mph
Watch the day three weigh-in live at FLWFishing.com starting at 4 p.m. ET.
Click here for complete tournament details.