Patrick Touey has all but run away from the field after dropping a monstrous 26-pound 5- ounce bag on the scales on Day 2, backing up a 21-10 Day 1 bag for a two-day total of 47-15. He holds a stout margin of 12-12 over his nearest pursuer. Despite the deficit, there’s still a field of 25 competitors hoping he stumbles on the final day.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the top pros are catching them.
Klayton Belden followed up his Day 1 stringer of 18-8 with 16-11 on Day 2, giving him a two-day total of 35-3. Belden didn’t change much from Day 1 to Day 2 in terms of tactics, noting the weather change didn’t seem to hurt his fish.
“I caught them the same way I did yesterday. I actually caught a couple on a jig today that I didn’t throw yesterday. Yesterday was kind of like an afternoon deal so I decided to start somewhere else in the morning. I caught a couple there.”
While Day 2 went well again for Belden, he admits that there’s a possibility his pattern falls apart on the final day with the cooling water. His spots where fish are generally coming to are better with warmer weather and thus, warming water.
“I didn’t see as many fish swimming around because of the wind, but I didn’t lose any or miss any bites, so it was a good day,” said Belden. “Tomorrow they might be all gone, I’ve been catching them all out of the same area, and today I got [fewer] bites. It’s just two spots.”
Despite the deficit and the potential to have a challenging final day, Belden remains loose, knowing he needs a giant bag to catch Touey.
“Well, the fact that [Patrick Touey] weighed 26 pounds today makes me feel better … because I can’t win, I’m just gonna go fishing,” said Belden.
Mike Williams also reinforced his Day 1 catch with more than a 16-pound bag, dropping a 16-10 limit on the scales on Day 2 to add to his previous day total of 17-7. His 34-1 two-day total has him in third after sitting in sixth place to start.
“I caught a couple fish off of reaction baits today. And I think [the wind] is making it tough for me to fish,” said Williams. “Yesterday I caught them all finesse fishing. They were all smallmouth and I caught them on finesse baits. But today it was mostly largemouth with reaction baits. I caught some smallmouth this morning, but I culled most of them out.”
Williams confirmed that he’s targeting prespawn staging fish, and his fish aren’t staying consistent from day to day.
“They’re changing every day. Where I caught them yesterday, I didn’t catch any today,” said Williams. “I just know this lake kind of well, so I just put 15 rods on the deck and just go and do everything I know how to. I don’t have any one way I’m going to catch them tomorrow. I’m just going to go fishing.
“I had more bites today, but I had [some small fish], whereas yesterday I only caught six. But they were all 3-plus pounds.”
With the changing conditions and forecasted winds and clouds on the final day of competition, Williams isn’t certain he can run down Touey.
“I’m not feeling great, not on this lake … this lake is changing so much,” said Williams. “But they’re out there and somebody’s going to catch them, so we’ll see what happens.”
Cody Spetz was able to put 14-12 on the scales for Day 2, adding to his Day 1 total of 18-3 and sliding him into fourth with 32-15 for a two-day total.
“I had my limit in the first seven casts this morning, but it was for like 12 pounds, 11 pounds, then after that, it was one [bite] an hour. Yesterday I think, I went through 15 fish, today I went through about 10 … maybe 11.”
Like a majority of the top five, Spetz is focusing his efforts on fish moving up into prespawn areas.
“They’re prespawn, just moved up shallow, I’m target casting,” said Spetz. “I’m not just hucking and winding down the bank, throwing it anywhere and everywhere, I have specific stuff I’m looking at. Fish are just moving up to pieces of structure in 3 to 5 feet of water.”
Spetz has elected to focus on more naturally occurring targets, as opposed to the typical man-made structures anglers often target on Havasu.
“Logs, old trees that are broken down. Wood has been key for me. And I got a big one in a marina yesterday,” he said.
“I had a horrible practice, I had four fish all of practice. But I practiced the bite I knew that was coming next,” noted Spetz. “I looked for those prespawn areas, even though the fish weren’t there in practice. After those two warm days we had, they ended up being there. But with this wind right now, and this weather, they could move out any day. It’s going to hurt me, it hurt me today. At his place, you can either crack them or you could bomb.”
“I’ve got some bedding fish going,” said Au, who is also targeting prespawn fish. “The smallies, I don’t know if people have caught them, or they’ve moved off. I don’t even think the smallmouth are ready. I’m basically fishing for the ones in the late winter pattern right now. I’ve found some staging, there’s some big smallies and largemouth staging right now, but for whatever reason, they’re just not biting. I cannot figure it out.”
Au is making sure to keep it moving to stay on the constantly changing spring bite.
“I’ve been burning a lot of water, fishing for the ones that want to bite really,” said Au. “Here it’s all about timing, so I’m just cycling through a few key stretches with pebble rock and fishing for smallies. They really like the sun, so it really hurt the bite today with the overcast skies. I know where the smallies are at, it’s just a matter of timing it right in the areas.”
“I’ve been throwing a swimbait at them, just covering a lot of water, and then also I’m throwing a Senko as well,” he added. “My Senko fish, I’m catching both largemouth and smallmouth. Largemouth are holding to the back of the pocket close to wood and smallies are pretty much on points and secondary points right now.”
Au is likely the most optimistic in the top five not counting the leader, he knows that anything can happen in fishing.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, if the sun pops out, I could have a good bag of smallies. Anywhere from 14 to 18 pounds of smallies,” said Au. “But the key thing for me is just catching the big largemouth. I do have one located [on a bed], about a 6-pounder. She’s been there for the last four days now. Sooner or later, she will lock on and I’ll come show her off to you guys.”