Sean Coffey followed up a 14-pound, 1-ounce effort on day one with 11 pounds even Friday to take the lead at the Costa FLW Series Western Division opener on Lake Mead presented by Ranger Boats. Fishing was tough across the tournament field on day two, but Coffey found enough consistency to overtake previous leader Brett Leber.
Coffey did what many other anglers haven’t been able to do so far this week: piece together decent days back-to-back. Changing weather conditions and boat pressure in the Overton Arm area – by far the most popular section of the lake for anglers to fish so far – slowed the bite considerably for much of the field. Apart from Coffey, Moab, Utah’s Benjamin Byrd has been most successful at finding consistency, turning in bags of 12-6 and 12-7 for a 24-13 total and second place.
“I got a little nervous,” Coffey admits. “I thought I wasn’t going to get a limit there for a little while. I went three hours without a bite and then it kicked on a little bit.”
Coffey ran the same patterns in the same areas on day two as he did on day one, but after catching his limit on Friday, he went running and “pre-fishing” for Saturday in search of new water he can try to exploit should he need it. There’s a good chance that new water is in the Overton Arm, where he’s spent his entire tournament so far.
Despite forecasts calling for storms and high winds tomorrow – and despite how long of a run it is from takeoff to Overton – the 27-year-old pro fully intends on getting back to those spots. As he put it Thursday and reiterated following day two weigh-in, “rough water is part of it.”
Coffey has a good deal of experience on Mead, so making a long run on day three isn’t an unusual move. He has several US Opens under his belt on the fishery, and although most of his experience at Mead has come in the fall, Coffey is confident in his ability to navigate the lake and the pattern he's on.
“It was the same thing for me today,” he explains. “The blade bite wasn’t that good, and I was banking on that. I had to slow down with Texas-rigged Senkos.”
The submerged cover Coffey has been fishing – trees, mostly – isn’t easy to find on Mead. It’s a deep, rocky fishery that lends itself well to finesse techniques. Slowing down might be what saved his chances at a victory this weekend, and he’s feeling pretty good about those chances right now – as long as he can get to his fish.
Changing weather conditions haven’t affected Coffey’s consistency so far, so there’s little reason to believe a little rain and wind will hurt him on day three. In fact, a little wind (or a lot) could be good for the spinnerbait bite he relied on for most of his fish on Thursday.
“It’s going to be really tough, but I laid off on them a bit when I got my limit today,” he says. “I feel confident they’ll be there tomorrow.”
Top 10 Pros
1. Sean Coffey – Mesa, Ariz. – 25-1 (10)
2. Benjamin Byrd – Moab, Utah – 24-13 (10)
3. David Valdivia – Norwalk, Calif. – 20-1 (9)
4. Rusty Salewske – Alpine, Calif. – 19-12 (9)
5. Roy Hawk – Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – 19-8 (9)
6. Tim Klinger – Boulder City, Nev. – 19-8 (8)
7. Lane Olson – Forest Grove, Ore. – 18-14 (7)
8. Brett Leber – Dixon, Calif. – 18-13 (6)
9. Wade Curtiss – Lincoln, Calif. – 18-10 (7)
10. Tyler Rempe – Sierra Vista, Ariz. – 18-7 (8)
Co-angler Jesse Parks had a great day on Thursday. He bagged 10-9 on four fish and was sitting comfortably in fourth place heading into day two.
But as was the case on the pro side, consistency was key to his claiming the top spot with one day left to fish. Parks added three more fish for 9-4 and an impressive total of 19-13.
Parks definitely benefited from riding along with day one leader Brett Leber and Lane Olson (currently in seventh place), but he still had to catch them. For that, he opted for a slow, methodical approach he found in practice – a weightless, hand-poured worm.
Still, the changing weather conditions did give the 26-year-old some issues.
“I’m targeting some specific cover and it made it a lot more difficult to make a long cast because I couldn’t see it,” he explains. “The majority of my casts today were random until we got close enough to pitch to that cover.”
Parks credits one other tactic – a drop-shot –for a couple key smallmouths that put him over the top. He caught both late in the day, fishing slow and fishing patiently.
“The biggest thing is I think a lot of people aren’t paying attention to being patient,” he says. “I had two at 9:30 and didn’t catch another one until about 1:45.”
Top 10 Co-anglers
1. Jesse Parks – Avondale, Ariz. – 19-13 (7)
2. Dante Ray – Fernley, Nev. – 15-11 (7)
3. Mark Bowman – San Dimas, Calif. – 13-11 (7)
4. Lynn Irwin – Las Vegas, Nev. – 13-7 (6)
5. Jacob Traba – Pacifica, Calif. – 13-5 (6)
6. Gabriel Diaz – Nuevo, Calif. – 13-0 (4)
7. Ted Romero – Lakewood, Calif. – 11-15 (5)
8. Tom White – Costa Mesa, Calif. – 11-15 (5)
9. Doug Hutchison – Santa Rosa, Calif. – 10-14 (5)
10. Robin Oh – Valencia, Calif. – 10-10 (3)