Reyes Surges Ahead - Major League Fishing

Reyes Surges Ahead

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Jason Reyes Photo by Charles Waldorf. Angler: Jason Reyes.
Texas pro pops 27-4 on day two at Chickamauga
June 24, 2020 • Sean Ostruszka • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Now this is the Lake Chickamauga we all came to see.

By its own standards, Chickamauga had an off day yesterday, with only five anglers cracking 20 pounds and no one going over 25. Day two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament was a much different story, as 11 anglers got into the 20s and two cracked 25 pounds (with one of those bags being one lost fish away from being a mega bag over 30).

Complete results

The big girls were chewing almost all day, as reports of 7- and 8-pounders were constant. Jason Reyes, who now leads after two days, kicked off the parade with a 7-pounder right off the bat. He never let up after that. Reyes’ 27-4 bag was the biggest of the tournament so far and pushed his two-day total to 49-14.

“I caught that 7-pounder early, and then it got crazy towards the end,” says Reyes. “I don’t know what all lives in [my area], but there are definitely some good ones. I’m going to just go back out, keep plinking around and see what happens.”

Coming into the event, conventional wisdom said it was going to be an offshore deal, and it was obvious the vast majority of the 200-plus-angler field bought into that convention. Reyes was among them, at least at first. 

With only three small keepers come 11 a.m. Tuesday, he opted to try up shallow, and the results have spoken for themselves.

Jason Reyes

“I have three stretches of grass,” says Reyes. “Pepper grass, not hydrilla. In practice, I got bit in there, but I never dreamed ‘that’ was in there. I shook a few off, but that was no big deal. But after the last two days … the winners are there.  It’s just a matter of getting enough of them to bite. And I’m not just plowing them. I have to stay patient, stay slow, trust what I’m doing, and then all of a sudden I’ll catch one that is the right one and it changes the whole day.”

When Reyes says “slow,” he means it. Often, he’s almost dead-sticking a Texas-rigged Yamamoto Senko in bare patches in the grass. No twitching. Not dragging. Just letting it lay there until one “walks off with it.” The way he’s fishing, he says, reminds him of the way many fish in Florida. 

“The bare spots, the outer clumps – it’s exactly like how you would fish at Toho or Okeechobee,” explains Reyes.

Slow also describes the action. While he caught his big one first thing, he then went hours with just that one. Eventually, he’d catch roughly a dozen keepers, but they’d come in spurts – 40 minute windows in which he’d catch three or four before going another hour without a bite. 

“I have to just talk myself back into Power-Poling down and just grinding, grinding, grinding,” says Reyes. “Eight casts to one little opening; that’s been the key for me. It’s nothing special that I’m doing.”

Reyes did say the water came up a bit, which threw him off for a while, but toward the end of the day, he made a change that made his day.

“I had to go back and look at my tracks, and then I got set up right,” says Reyes. “I hit one scrape and then it got good. I caught about eight keepers in that one little 40-yard stretch in the last hour.”

As for what lies ahead tomorrow, Reyes says he’s going to live and die with his area. But he knows with the talent in the field, he can’t slip up tomorrow.

“It’s a huge field, huge names – Wheeler, Cox has won here multiple times,” says Reyes. “It feels good to be hanging around with those guys, but I know they’re not going to let you slip. You slip, and they’ll pass you. I’m going to need to keep plugging big sacks to have a chance to win.”

 

Jacob Wheeler

2. Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn. – 46-10 (10)

While Reyes’ morning couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, Wheeler’s was the opposite. 

“It was a little bit of a cluster,” says the day one leader. “My live well pumps went out. I had to bail water with my Igloo cooler. And I started on a few places to try and catch a big one, but I never did get that bite.”

Throw in that he had a short day being in the first flight, and things could’ve gone downhill quick. Instead, Wheeler made some adjustments, all but abandoning his shallow stuff today for sake of time, and managed to bring in what he considered a “solid” bag.

Yet, having won hon Chickamauga before, he knows as well as anyone what he’ll have to do the next two days to take home another victory on his home lake.

“This tournament, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” says Wheeler. “You have to catch that 20 pounds every day. But one of the next two days, I’m going to have to catch one of those big Chickamauga bags to give myself a shot at this thing.”

 

Cole Floyd

3. Cole Floyd – Leesburg, Ohio – 43-14 (10)

It’s hard to be disappointed when you bring in a 26-2 bag, but Floyd knows he was one fish away from having a bag in the 33-pound range. Unfortunately, that fish came off right at the net.

“Around 8:30 a.m., I hooked a 9- or 10-pound-class fish,” says Floyd. “She came up and rolled around right close to the boat and my jig flew out. I told my marshal, ‘man, I can never rebound from that.’”

As it turns out, he was wrong in a good way, as he caught a 9-pounder and a 7-pounder later in the day to more than rebound.

Fishing offshore, Floyd figures he hit 10 to 15 places today, but there’s something unique about the two places he caught those giants. Best of all, the second spot where he caught the two big ones was a spot he hadn’t fished before and just found on Wednesday. 

“I was just fishing on the fly and it looked good for me,” says Floyd. “No one was around. It worked out really well.”

Still, despite sitting in third, Floyd admits he really hopes that one fish doesn’t come back to bite him.

“There’s going to be some big bags come in tomorrow off the ledges now that there’s less pressure,” says Floyd. “So not having that big one may sting. I just hope to get in a good rhythm, be able to fish my spots and we’ll see what happens.”

 

John Cox

4. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 41-12 (10)

Cox is arguably the best shallow-water angler in the sport. Yet, he’s admittedly confused about what’s happening up shallow where he’s fishing. 

“All my bites came in the same area, on the same casts,” says Cox. “I couldn’t get bit anywhere else today.”

Fishing emergent grass with a frog, Cox was able to repeatedly go back to the same spot throughout the day and get bites making the same cast. He’s not sure why, but they’re there. In fact, at the end of the day, he went up to the spot to see if there was anything special there and had a 7-pounder and a pair of 4-pounders swim away from it.

“They’re there,” says Cox. “I didn’t figure out a pattern, but I feel like I got something with super potential. They keep swimming there and keep showing up. I think there are more areas like that I can hopefully find and key on. There were just too many boats in my area for me to really bounce around today. Tomorrow, with less boats, hopefully I can find a few more spots like the one.”

 

Cody Meyer

5. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 38-2 (10)

Most pros fishing offshore have milk runs of specific spots they want to hit. Meyer’s game plan is a bit different.

“I like to go straight down the lake, and whatever spot is open first, that’s where I’m stopping,” he says. “Even if I have something really good further down, I’m stopping. I’m not saving anything. I truly don’t think there is a spot in this lake that hasn’t been hit.”

That open mindset paid off huge this morning when his first stop on a spot he hadn’t fished produced a trio of 4-pounders. 

No surprise, Meyer is capitalizing using finesse tactics.

“For me, it’s all about light line – 8-pound test – and dragging something real slow,” says Meyer. “A little Strike King finesse worm on a shaky head or a drop shot. Nothing exciting, but just going really, really slow.”

 

Top 10 pros

1. Jason Reyes – Huffman, Texas – 49-14 (10)

2. Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn. – 46-10 (10)

3. Cole Floyd – Leesburg, Ohio – 43-14 (10)

4. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 41-12 (10)

5. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 38-2 (10)

6. Spencer Shuffield – Hot Springs, Ark. – 37-15 (10)

7. Dakota Ebare – Denham Springs, La. – 37-7 (10)

8. Fred Roumbanis – London, Ark. – 36-12 (10)

9. Miles Burghoff – Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. – 35-4 (10)

10. Alex Davis – Albertville, Ala. – 35-1 (10)

Complete results