By noon on Day 1 Oregon Elite Jay Yelas had more than 20 pounds of Lake St. Clair smallmouth in his livewell. Four of them were over four pounds. And he didn't want to beat up his primary area, a huge shallow flat with a grassy bottom.
So Yelas decided to go practicing, testing new waters for big bass.
At times his casting seemed random while he fired out shots in every direction. But Yelas had a method to his madness.
"These smallmouth are roamers," he said. "They never seem to stop swimming. They're not like largemouth, who are typically fixed on some kind of cover."
Yelas caught most of his keepers using a Chatterbait with a Yamamoto Zako trailer. In fact he threw it so much his right arm got tired. Yelas has a strategy for that. He simply picked up a left handed reel to give his right side a break.
"It's a rare day when you can cast the same bait all day," he said. "I haven't done that in a long time."
Yelas finished the day with 21 pounds and 1 ounce, good enough for 10th place. If he could finish the YETI Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair inside the 10 cut he would accomplish a rare feat. That would give him a top 10 finish in each of the past five decades. Yelas began fishing Bassmaster tournaments in 1989, at Lake Mead.
"I'd be proud of that," he said.