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1:27 p.m. – Final updates
It’s going to be a choppy ride back for pros this afternoon.
The wind is blowing north-northwest at about 12 miles per hour right now and might pick up even more by the time anglers are making their way back to weigh-in. That was the case yesterday as well.
The wind seems to be helping the bite, though, as several anglers are reportedly in the 20-pound range, Miles Howe among them. He recently culled out a 3-pounder and has a 6-plus in the box. There’s a good chance he comes in with over 20 pounds.
Last year’s runner-up Nick Lebrun has about 12 pounds today and recently had a 3-pounder chase his lipless crankbait out of the water by the boat. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite get the lure. LeBrun needs a big finish today to make the cut and fish tomorrow after weighing in a small limit yesterday.
John Cox remains in the unofficial lead and will probably be there come end of weigh-in as well, unless of course someone without a marshal weighs in a mega-bag we’re unaware of. The real intrigue starts at second place, as Darold Gleason still holds that spot (unofficially) with Sam George and Josh Weaver right on his tail. George has had a steadily strong day and is up around 16 right now.
There’s a chance we see a few surprises on the weigh-in stage given the afternoon bite yesterday, but it looks like once again we’ll be without any true mega-bags Rayburn is capable of producing. Still, don’t be surprised to see a few more 20-plus-pound stringers than we saw yesterday, which is unusual for four-day tournaments.
With that, we’ll be shutting down the live blog and leaderboard for the day. Be sure to tune in to FLW Live for the weigh-in show at 3 p.m. CT through the end of weigh-in, and thanks for following along.
1:03 p.m. – Cox still cruising
There haven’t been too many surprises today. John Cox has a big limit that’s probably close to what he brought in yesterday. Even better news for him and worse for the rest of the field is that he did a lot of his damage late in the day yesterday.
Darold Gleason remains near the top of the leaderboard by virtue of his big stringer on day one, but he has some work to do to keep up with John Cox. He’s at a little over 11 pounds for the day.
Kerry Milner and Josh Weaver may have had the most impressive days across the field, though, and each has a bag over 19 pounds. If either one adds to that before weigh-in, they’re all but guaranteed to be fishing tomorrow.
The top-30 cut line is hard to predict right now, simply because it seems like the fish are biting a little better today. We haven’t quite seen the same quality, but the numbers are there. Finding kickers to close out the day is going to be absolutely crucial.
12:11 p.m. – Young Sam on Big Sam
Sam George is making a move. He’s got around 13 pounds in the livewell and currently sits (unofficially) comfortably in the top 10. Rayburn was good to him last year and it’s delivering once again.
Jeff Dobson is up near 13 pounds now after a couple culls, as is Scott Dobson, who has just over 13 pounds. It seems like a great day to be a Dobson fishing on Rayburn.
While we’re seeing some decent limits right now, just as many anglers are having trouble finding the right size. Pros like Andy Young (6 3/4-pound limit) and AJ Slegona (6-10 for four fish) can’t seem to get on any big ones at the moment. It’s a little bit of feast or famine when it comes to fish in the 4-pound class and above.
The wind is really starting to pick up out on the main lake. Pros are already having some conversations about plans for getting back to the ramp this afternoon. Yesterday was pretty rough for most, but, on the other hand, the bite turned on when the wind picked up yesterday afternoon. Here’s to hoping the same thing happens today.
11:30 a.m. – Updates from around the field
Charlie Evans has himself a limit of about 9 pounds. Ryan Salzman is sitting with four fish and a little over 8 pounds and Jason Reyes has a pair of keepers for 3. Dakota Ebare has a limit as well, though it’s small (around 6 pounds).
Elsewhere, Alton Wilhoit has three in the box for 7 1/2 pounds and Braxton Setzer is finally on the board with a 1-pound keeper.
As we saw yesterday, kickers are so key on Rayburn this week. The difference between the small limits listed above and what John Cox and Kerry Milner are working on today is the Rayburn tanks in the 6-, 7- and 8-pound range that can really bolster a bag. So far this week, they’re few and far between.
Some of that can be attributed to the weather and water level, which has left fish scattered and not yet ready to move up to spawn. If the weather remains stable the next couple days, finding those groups might get a little easier. As it stands, the mega-schools Rayburn is known for this time of year just aren’t very abundant.
11:20 a.m. – Cox and Milner with a pair of tanks
John Cox continues to do work with his newfound crankbait prowess. He’s now added a 6-pounder to his livewell and has more than 18 pounds to go with his 21 and change from yesterday. At this point, it’s going to take a mega-bag to keep Cox from holding on to the lead.
Jeremy Lawyer has had a modest start to the tournament (10-15 yesterday), but he’s closing in on 10 pounds today and in good shape to upgrade some. He’s at least in cut range right now, though he’ll need to make some moves this afternoon.
Sam George is a name we expected to see pop up a lot this week after a top 10 at Rayburn last year. He weighed in 15-11 yesterday and is backing that up with another strong effort. George has close to 11 pounds so far.
As expected, the big girls are starting to show up late this morning. Kerry Milner, already with a strong showing, just landed a 7-pounder as one of our photographers showed up in his area. That gives Milner close to 19 pounds today – with lots of room to cull out some smaller fish and add to his bag.
10:55 a.m. – Weaver working on a big bag
Josh Weaver is on fire. After catching yet another 6-pounder, he’s managed to make a small cull or two and has about 18 1/2 pounds so far. He’s unofficially in third place right now and still chipping away. He’s got some smaller fish in the box with room to grow.
Kerry Milner is also having a nice morning. He’s got close to 15 pounds. Likewise, John Cox has culled a bit thanks to a crankbait he had some success with yesterday. He has close to 14 pounds.
Scott Dobson has backed up his 15 pounds from yesterday with another 12 pounds or so today. He and Chris McCall have about 27 pounds total to this point, as McCall is sitting with around 11 today.
Miles Howe has about 15 pounds and is fishing near Weaver. Jake Ormond continues to cull by small margins and has about 16 pounds.
Overall, it seems like the bite is better today than it was on day one, at least this early. If the afternoon bite picks up as it did yesterday, we could see some really large bags come across the weigh-in stage.
What might be helping is a stiff breeze on the main lake, which didn’t really start until the afternoon yesterday. Several pros commented that the bite picked up with the wind.
10:15 a.m. – Cox with a limit, Weaver and Shuffield dealing
Josh Weaver is having himself a nice day so far. He’s got 13 pounds after culling a couple times and landing a 6-pounder – the biggest reported catch so far this morning. After weighing in 12-6 yesterday, he’s setting himself up to make the top-30 cut if he can add to his 13 pounds.
John Cox has a limit with his best fish of the day. He’s now sitting at around 12 1/4 pounds with the unofficial lead for the tournament. Cox can be dangerous when he has most of the day to upgrade. Interestingly enough, he’s caught most of his fish in the exact same spot upriver. He’s barely had to move so far.
Spencer Shuffield is also having himself a day. He just filled out his limit for about 14 pounds. Shuffield had only 10-4 yesterday, so he’ll need to do a little more upgrading to make the cut, but he’s in pretty good shape right now.
After a rough start yesterday, Jared McMillan has 11 1/2 pounds so far. He’ll need to add to that considerably if he’s to make the cut, but he’s got to be happy with already exceeding his day one today this morning.
9:35 a.m. – Plenty of keepers to go around
Darold Gleason is stringing together a nice start to his day to piggyback his 21-plus pounds from yesterday. He’s got 10 1/2 so far today with plenty of time left to fish.
The biggest surprise so far is Jake Ormond and his 14 1/2-pound stringer. That weight alone would have been a decent day yesterday, and he still has a long way to go before weigh-in.
John Cox continues to do what he does best. He’s got four fish in the livewell for about 8 1/2 pounds, and there’s no one more capable of making big upgrades throughout the day. Once he’s filled out his limit, expect Cox to really go on the hunt for Rayburn giants.
A considerable portion of the field has at least a couple keepers in their livewells. Kevin Meeks has three for 7 pounds. Grae buck has four small ones for about 7 pounds and Hunter Freeman is sitting with about the same. Ron Nelson has a small limit of about 9 pounds.
It seems like only a matter of time before we start seeing some big bites. There’s been a slight lull since the early morning bite in the first couple hours of the day, but it might be the calm before the storm. Yesterday, almost all the big fish of 5 pounds or better came in the late-morning and midafternoon windows.
8:50 a.m. – Filling out limits
As expected, Big Sam’s bass are biting this morning. Still no giants to report, but several anglers are well on their way to early limits, including Jake Ormond, who has four fish in the boat for about 12 1/2 pounds. That’s already more than he weighed in yesterday (10-13) and it’s not even 9 o’clock yet.
Ron Nelson has a limit and is already culling. It’s not a huge limit, but it has to feel good to have about 9 pounds already. John Cox, meanwhile, is finally on the board with a 2-pounder. He’s in the river and keying in on shallow fish – no surprise there.
We’re seeing reports of water temperature sitting at 54 degrees in some parts of the lake, which is a few degrees higher than it was yesterday morning. That alone might be firing up the fish that weren’t as interested in eating yesterday morning.
Elsewhere across Rayburn, Darold Gleason has four fish for 6 pounds. Corey Neece is still on them, though maybe not as good as he was yesterday when he filled out a big limit early. He’s got four for about 4 1/2 pounds.
8:15 a.m. – First updates coming in
For anglers who got to their starting spots fairly quickly this morning, it seems to have been a pretty hot start to the day. Cody Nichols already has a couple keepers for about 4 pounds, Jimmy Washam has three for approximately the same weight and Kyle Weisenberger has a 4-pounder in his box. Last year's Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson also has had a good start with three fish in the livewell. We're not sure how big the third one is, but he had two for about 4 pounds before hauling that one in.
Greg Bohannan, who started the day in second place, is thrilled to have a keeper so early, even though it's only about 1 1/2 pounds. He didn't get his first keeper bite until almost 10 o'clock yesterday and only had two fish in the box at 1:00. John Cox, meanwhile, doesn't have a fish yet. He's heading up the river in true John Cox fashion, though don't be surprised if he eventually hits the same spots he cranked yesterday.
We haven't heard about any giants yet, but the small keepers seem to be biting pretty well so far. It's looking like early limits might be much more abundant today than they were on day one.
7:30 a.m. – New set of conditions promise interesting day two
After an overcast and calm start to the first day on Sam Rayburn, day two looks to be offering much different weather conditions. The forecast calls for sunny skies all day, though it should be as windy, or windier, than it was to close day one. That's potentially good news for a good portion of the field, as conditions should more closely resemble what anglers had to work with during practice. It's a little warmer, though, which seemed to throw off a lot of pros' patterns and send some anglers scrambling to find their fish again yesterday. In addition, it's a foggy morning on Rayburn, which could slow some pros down in getting to their starting spots.
Adaptability is the name of the game today. Even day one leader John Cox, who bagged 21-7 after struggling until getting on a crankbait bite yesterday afternoon, will be looking to change with the conditions today. He'd surely love to repeat that crankbait pattern all day, though. Behind him, Greg Bohannan and Darold Gleason also topped the 21-pound mark and need another strong performance to back it up. Corey Neece (currently in fourth place) is hoping to get on his early morning bite again, which is how he did most of his damage on day one.
Be sure to follow along with our live coverage all day and tune in to FLW Live for weigh-in at 3:00 p.m. CT.
Temperature at takeoff: 39 degrees
Forecast high: 61 degrees
Sky: Abundant sunshine
Precipitation: 0 percent chance of rain
Wind: WNW at 10 to 15 mph
Hosted by Jasper County Development District
Takeoff: 7:30 a.m. CT at Umphrey Family Pavilion, 5438 RR 255, Brookeland, Texas
Weigh-in: Day 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