FLORENCE, Ala. – Local angler Jonathan Newton of Rogersville, Ala., pulled into the lead of the EverStart Series Championship Thursday with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces, which put his two-day total at 26 pounds, 13 ounces.
Like Wednesday, Newton sacrificed a lot of fishing time today to make a long run, which included two locks, to Wheeler Lake. When he got to his best spot, the fish were more than cooperative in biting his 1/2-ounce Strike King jig.
“I caught four bass in about 20 minutes and headed back,” said Newton. “There is a fall pattern developing, and it got a lot stronger today – the baitfish are moving up, and it’s making things better. I just hope it continues.”
Newton is contemplating an even longer run into Wheeler tomorrow.
“If I do that, I’ll probably only have two to two and a half hours to fish,” he added. “It may not sound like much fishing time, but I feel pretty comfortable with what I’m doing, and that helps a lot.”
Like Newton, Green’s bite was much improved today. Yesterday, he sacked four bass in three hours of fishing; today, he sacked a 14-pound, 10-ounce limit in an hour and a half.
“I’ve never seen such big spotted bass in my life,” said Green, whose creel included four spots and a smallmouth. “One of those spots today weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, and I caught one in practice that weighed 5-13. I’m having a blast catching them.
“The wind made a tremendous difference for me today,” Green said. “The slick conditions we had yesterday really made it tough, and I had to fish 15 to 20 feet deep to get bites. That wasn’t the case today. The wind allowed me to pattern the fish much better.”
Green was hesitant to say exactly how he is fishing, because several other tournament boats were around him and he predicted at least one of them would make the top 10.
“I went to one of my primary spots from yesterday and caught two,” Lefebre said. “Once I got those two, I figured I was in (the top 10), and I just started exploring new water. I found a new spot today where I caught my third fish – a big smallmouth.”
Lefebre is fishing offshore in 15 to 18 feet of water.
“It seems like these fish are still in a summer pattern,” he added. “All my areas are within two miles of each other, and they are all deep-water places.”
Kennedy slides to fourth
What Kennedy hoped for today never happened.
“I needed the water (from the Wilson dam) to shut off, and it never did,” he said. “It shut off yesterday afternoon, but the water just kept rolling all day today. Those generation schedules are so inconsistent.”
Kennedy is getting bites when the current is running, but the fish will not completely eat the bait in the swift water like they do when the water is slack.
“They’ll rise up and slap at it, but they don’t get it,” he said. “I saw several big ones boil up on the bait today, but they wouldn’t commit to it like they did yesterday when the water was off.”
Kennedy is covering “miles and miles” of water on Pickwick.
“I think I could catch the ones I missed today if the water turns off,” he said. “If it shuts off tomorrow, I’m going to revisit all the places I missed a fish today.”
Newby jumps to fifth
Newby fished the exact same place at the extreme western end of Pickwick today as he did yesterday, but the wind helped his bite considerably.
“I’ve been fishing the same 100-yard stretch for two days,” Newby said. “I’ve thrown the same lure – a jig – so the only thing I can figure is that the wind helped a little.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros who survived to fish the final two days in the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake:
6th: Roy Hawk of Salt Lake City, two-day total of 18-0
7th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., two-day total of 17-15
8th: Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, two-day total of 17-5; Hartsell also posted the Pro Division big bass on day two weighing 5-13
9th: Jack Gadlage of Benton, Ky., two-day total of 17-5
10th: Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., two-day total of 16-11
Heralding the co-anglers
Herald used one word to describe his rise to the top: luck.
“I lost a 5-pounder first thing this morning, and that kind of took the wind out of my sails,” Herald said. “But I stayed with it and caught two more big ones.
“I have to thank my partner, Charles Cummings, for helping me as well,” Herald added. “He didn’t do much good yesterday, and he spent the day helping me and pulling for me to make the cut. So I owe a lot of this to him.”
“It was the craziest thing,” Chapman said of his big smallmouth. “I got a Yamamoto spider grub hung up on a stump, and my pro moved the boat over to where I was hung to help me get it off. And as soon as the lure came loose, that big fish took off with it.”
Paul Bailey of Agoura Hills, Calif., is in third place with a two-day total of 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
Yesterday’s co-angler leader, Mark Guin of Crossett, Ark., stayed in the top 10 in fourth place with a two-day total of 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
Steven Christensen of Ferron, Utah, is in fifth place with a two-day total of 9 pounds, 5 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who survived to fish the final two days in the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake:
6th: Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga., two-day total of 9-3
7th: Donna Newberry of Van Buren, Ark., two-day total of 8-7
8th: Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala., two-day total of 8-5
9th: Lewis Southard of Chandler, Ariz., two-day total of 8-2
10th: Jerry Goble of Sherrills Ford, N.C., two-day total of 7-15
Day-three competition starts Friday at 7 a.m. at McFarland Park when all the top-10 pros and co-anglers’ weights will start from zero.