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1:20 p.m. – Final updates
With weigh-in starting up in about an hour and a half, we’re shutting down the live leaderboard and coverage blog for the day. The FLW Live feed of weigh-in begins at 2:30 p.m. CT. Be sure to tune in at FLWfishing.com.
With that, Corey Neece is closing in on heading back to the ramp with the unofficial lead, still sitting around 19 pounds. Behind him, Jon Canada and Hunter Freeman are both close to 18 pounds. There’s also a handful of pros who have topped the 15-pound mark, unofficially, with more time left to fish.
We haven’t seen any of the giants Rayburn is known for, but Big Sam is still kicking out plenty of keeper bass. Even if there aren’t any mega-bags weighed in today, there should be a huge number of limits come across the scales.
Find out soon at FLWfishing.com. Thanks for following along.
12:59 p.m. – Hunter Freeman with a kicker and a good bag
Hunter Freeman is in the mix with between 17 and 18 pounds. He has a 7-pound kicker and is doing most of his damage fishing below the Canyons.
Speaking of kickers, Barron Adams has a 6-pounder in the box to go with a few smaller ones. Aaron Britt also has a couple nice ones and Mitch Crane caught a 6-pounder to go toward a limit of about 14 pounds.
It’s starting to rain a bit, which was actually expected earlier in the morning but seems to have held off until now. It’s been overcast all day and the temperature hasn’t fluctuated much, so it shouldn’t do much to aid or hurt the bite provided it stays a light drizzle.
As of right now, we have 33 reported limits of 10 pounds or more. That number is probably going to be much higher by weigh-in, and some pros expect it to take over 10 pounds per day to get a check.
12:11 p.m. – Big names making moves
We have 26 reported limits over 10 pounds now, including one from Joseph Webster that will go about 14 at the moment. John Cox is hanging right around there with 15 pounds, as is Terry Bolton (14 1/2 pounds). Some familiar names are filling the top of the leaderboard right now.
Chris McCall is fishing in Buck Bay and landed a 7-pounder earlier. He’s currently in the top 10 with about 12 pounds and the biggest reported fish catch we’ve seen so far.
Jon Englund has four fish for about 7 pounds throwing a lipless crankbait around some shallow grass. That’s what Corey Neece was doing earlier en route to a 19-pound limit.
Jeremy Lawyer is chipping away at a limit. He has four in the box for about 7 pounds. Mitch Crane has four as well, though he has a little more weight thanks to a recent 6-pounder. Chip Harrington also has four that will go about 7 1/2 pounds.
11:40 a.m. – Neece still in the unoffical lead
Corey Neece remains in the unofficial lead with about 19 pounds, but we haven’t heard from some anglers yet today. Mike Surman and Jon Canada remain on his heels with limits in the mid-teens.
Joseph Webster has made a bit of a move lately with about 12 pounds total. He went on a flurry a little bit ago and did some serious culling. Likewise, Terry Bolton is up around the 12 1/2-pound mark.
Water temperatures are roughly 3 to 4 degrees lower than they were during practice. Instead of 58 and 59, anglers are seeing temperatures in the mid-50s. That’s undoubtedly got fish in different spots than they were during the practice period. The cold snap earlier in the week was an unusual change of pace from the mild winter east Texas has experienced to this point.
So far, we have reports of 18 limits in the double digits, which is about what was to be expected given the odd conditions this week. With about four hours of fishing left for most of the field, don’t be surprised to see that number a lot higher come weigh-in.
Clark Reehm has reason to be excited. He’s cranking out deep and culled up to about 11 pounds. The spot he’s currently on is where he caught a 10-pounder in practice, and it’s a good bet he’s going to revisit that spot a lot this week.
11:02 a.m. – Limits are starting to fill out
We have reports for at least 12 pros with limits over 10 pounds right now. The big ones haven’t shown up, but there’s still plenty going on, especially for Mike Surman. He has a limit of about 15 pounds and Jon Canada isn’t far behind him with about 13.
Ryan Salzman finished 31st at Rayburn last year, just missing the weekend cut. This time around hasn’t been quite as productive so far, and his biggest fish might be a crappie he swung in after boxing his first small keeper. The second-year pro made the top 10 at the 2019 FLW Cup, though, and he’s more than capable of getting on some good fish.
John Cox has steadily been chipping away and adding to his limit. He has 11 or 12 pounds. Cox is so good at just hanging around until the big girls start biting, and if anyone is going to find them this week, it very well could be Cox.
Texas pro Dicky Newberry is no stranger to Rayburn, and it’s showing today. He has himself currently in our projected top 10 with over 10 pounds. Tyler Woolcott is also into double digits with about 12 pounds after culling up a couple pounds.
Andy Young is doing what he does best. The northern hammer loves fishing deep, and he’s moving back out to deeper water after swinging in eight fish and a 10-pound limit from one spot. He’s a good bet to find big concentrations of offshore fish if they’re to be found.
10:21 a.m. – Midmorning lull
Last year’s runner-up, Nick LeBrun, is struggling today. He still hasn’t added a keeper to his livewell and says the warmer weather has completely thrown off the pattern he got on in practice. He’ll need to make some quick adjustments to put himself in position to keep fishing through the weekend. There’s still plenty of time left, though.
Tyler Stewart, after a quick start with a 4- and 5-pounder, finally added his third keeper for another 1 1/2 pounds. He’s still over 10 pounds with three fish, so he’s got plenty of room to keep adding.
There are plenty of pros on the move right now, either scrambling to establish a new pattern or just searching for more of something that’s been working so far. Corey Neece says his bite has turned off a bit, but he sure took advantage of it in the first couple hours of the day.
Terry Bolton continues chipping away. It’s a far cry from his big days last year, but he’s doing just fine considering everyone else seems to be struggling at the moment. He has around 10 pounds.
As expected, water levels, weather conditions and time of year have pros searching for fish all over the lake, from the lower end to the very top, up shallow and out deep. As scattered as the fish are right now, just finding concentrations is going to continue to be the key to big bags and big checks.
9:45 a.m. – Neece in the lead with close to 20
The general feel from Rayburn right now is that the fishing is leaps and bounds better than it was in practice. The weather might have a lot to do with it, but it doesn’t seem like getting bit is much of a problem for a big portion of the field.
Those giant bites Rayburn is known for, however, haven’t been very common yet. The fish are still more scattered than they were at this time last year, and that means fewer large concentrations of fish to fire up and wade through for the big girls.
Still, Corey Neece doesn’t seem to be having any problems. He keeps upgrading his limit and now has close to 20 pounds. He’ll need to find some big ones to make an even bigger move, but 20 pounds is 20 pounds. He’s in great shape right now.
We’re seeing a bunch of limits in the 10-pound range so far. Zell Worland has about 11 1/2 and Andy Young is right around 10. Bradford Beavers is sitting with about 12 pounds in his livewell and Alex Davis has close to 9 after just filling out his limit. Davis has been dragging a Carolina rig around quite a bit.
Tactics and techniques are incredibly varied right now, from John Cox flipping bushes at the north end of the lake to several pros throwing lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits, jigs, ChatterBaits and spinnerbaits. This time of year on Rayburn, there’s an awful lot that plays.
8:52 a.m. – First limits to report
It’s been a busy morning on Rayburn. The slightly warmer and overcast morning seems to have turned on the bite a bit, and we’re getting reports of some early limits. No one has a big bag yet, but it’s coming. Rayburn has too many big fish to not see some quality limits today.
As proof, look no further than Tyler Stewart, who already has a couple anchors in his bag – a 4-pounder and a 5-pounder. Three more like that and he’ll be in great position heading into day two.
Clark Reehm is already culling and has a limit of about 10 pounds. Jake Ormond also has a limit in that range and maybe a little bigger. Pete Ponds has three fish for about 7 pounds.
The big girls haven’t shown up yet, but it seems fish in the 2- to 3-pound range are abundant and biting. Bill Hutchison has a couple for 5 pounds total and Hunter Freeman is working a lipless crankbait for a couple keepers that will go about 6 pounds.
Elsewhere, Corey Neece is still chugging along with a limit of 12 or 13 pounds. He got off to a hot start this morning and hasn’t slowed down.
The area above the 147 bridge is always popular during tournaments on Rayburn, and there are several anglers working that stretch of the lake, though cellular service isn’t great at that end. We’re still waiting on updates from the likes of Nick LeBrun, who milked that area for some giant bags en route to a second-place finish last year.
8:01 a.m. – Terry Bolton picking up where he left off last year
Updates are slowly beginning to trickle in as the field reaches its starting spots. John Cox is off to a quick start with three in the box for about 5 1/4 pounds and Corey Neece is on the board with a 3 1/2-pounder.
The big story so far, though, is last year’s Rayburn winner, Terry Bolton. He had arguably one of his best seasons ever last year, and it all started with his first Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit win, right on Rayburn. He’s picking up where he left off last year with a tank – one that’ll go about 6 pounds.
Elsewhere, Tyler Stewart is fishing a ditch and landed a 4 1/2 while Bill Hutchison has one that’ll go about 1 3/4.
It feels like a slow start to the day in all, but Rayburn is a huge fishery with a lot of water to cover. Many anglers are still just settling in to their starting spots.
7:30 a.m. – New season starts on a familiar fishery
The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season is officially underway on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas. With the new season comes some fresh faces and familiar favorites, all of whom are looking to get a head start on the rest of the field in the 2020 Angler of the Year points race.
While the 2019 season also began on Rayburn, Big Sam isn't quite the same animal anglers squared off with a year ago. That time around, water levels were inordinately high, though finding big schools of fish wasn't all that difficult. The common refrain throughout practice this week was that finding those schools this year has been a tall task. The water level is fairly normal at the moment, but a mild winter followed by a cold snap this week leading up to the tournament has had fish acting more finnicky than usual on the famed reservoir.
Still, there are enough incredibly talented anglers in the 2020 Pro Circuit field to figure out the puzzle, including last year’s winner (Terry Bolton) and a bevy of locals who know Big Sam well. Don’t be surprised to see a few mega-bags weighed in this week.
As the anglers continue to blast off, be sure to follow along with our live coverage all day long to stay up to date with who’s catching them and how.
Temperature at takeoff: 53 degrees
Forecast high: 59 degrees
Sky: Cloudy with rain showers early
Precipitation: 40 percent chance of rain
Wind: W at 8 mph
Hosted by Jasper County Development District
Takeoff: 7:30 a.m. CT at Umphrey Family Pavilion, 5438 RR 255, Brookeland, Texas
Weigh-in: Days 1 and 2 at 3 p.m. CT; Days 3 and 4 at 4 p.m. CT at Umphrey Family Pavilion
FLW Live: 2:30 p.m. to end of weigh-in