Whitaker all smiles

We pulled up on Jake Whitaker, and within minutes the angler’s rod was bent on what proved to be a 3 1/1- to 4-pounder.

He added that smallmouth to a livewell already holding one 4-pounder and a couple of “small fish.”

He figures he’s got about 11 or 12 pounds with those four.

And he said he was grinning behind his pulled-up neck gaiter.

“I’m all smiles,” Whitaker said with a laugh.

He should be, since his Championship Sunday plan is working like a charm.

“I caught a 4-pounder on my first cast,” Whitaker said. “I literally pulled up this morning, had one boil and I threw a Ned right out and caught it.

“I was like, ‘Catching a fish on the first catch - that’s not good.’ But I don’t care!”