Back-to-back solid days give Lugar lead at Eufaula - Major League Fishing

Back-to-back solid days give Lugar lead at Eufaula

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Jeff Lugar leads the way at Eufaula with 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 7 ounces. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Jeff Lugar.
May 17, 2024 • Justin Onslow • Toyota Series

EUFAULA, Okla. — Seven bites is all it took for Jeff Lugar of Princeton, Texas, to tally 15 pounds, 1 ounce and grab the lead at the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division event on Lake Eufaula. He made those bites count, and, added to his 15-6 from Day 1, enters Championship Saturday with a slim 1-pound, 6-ounce lead over Chris M. Jones and Ty Faber (both with 29-1).

Weights are exceptionally tight after two days as tricky conditions have put a damper on numbers and removed much variance from overall weights. The difference between first and seventh is just over 3 pounds, and after several anglers who found success on Day 1 floundered on Day 2, it’s clear just about anything could happen to close out the event on Saturday.

“They’re not ripping a bunch of current and pulling more mud down,” Lugar said of the conditions on Friday. “All the areas are starting to settle out and we haven’t had enough rain or wind to dirty anything up. I’m anticipating an extremely tough bite tomorrow.”

Jeff Lugar made hay with a spinnerbait on Day 1. Photo by Jody White.

Part of the reason Lugar isn’t super confident in his bite going into Day 3 is that everything changed for him between Days 1 and 2. On Thursday, he spent his time in the main body of a creek arm and found the overcast and slightly windier conditions beneficial to getting more bites. On Friday, those fish disappeared on him, so he ventured back into pockets within that creek arm – a more popular approach with the rest of the field on Day 1.

“I ran all that water this morning and didn’t have any keepers on the stuff I had a limit on in the first hour yesterday,” he explained. “I picked up a ChatterBait and kept running that pattern, but instead of running it out on the main creek body I was in (on Day 1), I had to go back into the pockets and caught all my fish today as far back as I could go in those pockets.

“What happened was yesterday most of the boat pressure was back in the pockets of the creeks in my area, and today all of those boats came out of there and they were fishing the main creek like I was yesterday. I think today’s boat pressure shut those fish down on the main creek where yesterday most of those boats were up in the creeks, so it just switched things around.”

The “pattern” Lugar mentioned is one he chose not to describe in great detail, though it involves a certain type of rock in a specific water depth. While it may appear like junk-fishing to some (he’s fishing flats, points and specific targets in his creek arm), he’s actually leaning on experience on a different fishery about 1,100 miles away that he’s much more familiar with, having just laid eyes on Eufaula for the first time this week.

“This reminds me a lot of Buggs Island in Virginia,” he said. “A lot of rock, a lot of buck brush, and the fish are very shad-oriented. Water level fluctuations, dirty water – it sets up a lot like Buggs Island does.”

Lugar noticed what he’s trying to execute this week is similar in some ways to what he’s experienced with shad spawns at Buggs Island.

“I used to do some of (the same things) at Buggs Island, but it was typically more associated with the shad spawn,” he said. “Those fish would want to be up near those rocks because of the shad spawn, but I have not found a shad spawn here. I just think a lot of the shad had been up because of the dirty water and the bass are also up because of that.”

With the water in his area clearing up in the last 24 hours or so, Lugar is concerned about what might happen tomorrow without a little rain, wind or overcast conditions.

“I’m telling you, I had seven keeper bites today and it was a lot of work to get those seven keeper bites,” he said. “I’ve got areas that I got bit today that I’ll check tomorrow, but I only got one bite in each of those areas so does that mean there’s no more fish there?

“If we had overcast and rain tomorrow, I’d feel a lot better, but if it’s bright and sunny and hot, I’m going to struggle.”

Still, Lugar might be selling himself short. To be able to put together two consistently solid days like he’s done so far, he’s had to make some key adjustments, relocate fish and execute on getting his bites in the boat. 

For that task, he’s relied on two baits: a 3/4-ounce BOOYAH Covert Series spinnerbait in chartreuse and white and a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Elite EVO with a 4-inch Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ trailer in pearl blue glimmer. The spinnerbait accounted for two keeper bites on Day 1 while the ChatterBait has done all the rest of the work.

“(Day 1) they would eat a spinnerbait and a ChatterBait and I caught them on both,” he said. “Today I couldn’t catch a keeper on a spinnerbait; I couldn’t catch a keeper on a crankbait. I tried dragging plastics. I finally put a keeper or two in the boat on a ChatterBait and I said, ‘you know what, I’m good with a ChatterBait.’ I like to throw it, so I just locked it into my hand and I covered as much water as I could.”

That seems to be the plan for Day 3 as well. Lugar expects to re-check the water he’s fished to this point in the hopes of finding a better concentration of fish. If not, he’ll run his pattern, probe as much water as possible and hope he can find another five or seven or 10 good keeper bites to finish the job.

Top 10 pros

1. Jeff Lugar – 30-7 (10)
2. Chris Jones – 29-1 (10)
3. Ty Faber – 29-1 (10)
4. Zane Parker – 28-7 (10)
5. Phillip Lunceford – 28-0 (10)
6. Eli Brumnett – 27-5 (10)
7. Blake Schroeder – 27-4 (10)
8. Matt Reed – 25-14 (10)
9. Charley Slaton – 25-12 (9)
10. Cole Moore – 24-4 (9)

Complete results