DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — Prespawn shad moving into shallow water, with the bass behind them, were one of the storylines impacting the Friday fishing at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Open at Douglas Lake.
Here are notes from post-weigh-in interviews with some of the top anglers.
Drew Boggs (30-4; 16-10 Friday)
Boggs is pursuing bass he believed to be postspawn. He focused specifically on spawning pockets.
“I’m putting my trolling motor on high speed, using a flipping tactic and reaction bite,” he said.
Boggs discovered the pattern in practice, when he began searching for spawning bass from mid-lake to the dam. Covering as much water as possible was the key on Friday.
“My fish were slender, leading me to believe they were postspawners, maybe guarding fry.”
Jackson Swisher (29-15; 13-0 Friday)
Swisher continued capitalizing on his success from Thursday. That meant targeting vertical rock walls with a 7-inch Megabass Magdraft swimbait. As the water dropped, his fish moved vertically downward along the bluffs. That allowed him to maintain contact with the bass, while keeping the lure in the strike zone.
Today required adjustments. After being plagued by short strikes, he moved slightly offshore, targeting points connected to the bluff walls. Fishing a pea gravel bank, transitioning into offshore rocks yielded a key smallmouth weighing 4-9. A Neko rig produced the catch. The finesse lure also produced bites on isolated rocks in about 20 feet of water. Windy bluff walls produced more bites in the afternoon.
Drew Benton (28-13; 13-1 Friday)
Benton’s confidence in committing to an inline Scottsboro Tackle Co. Swimbait was key to his success.
“I struggled without wind but stuck with it, knowing if I got into any wind that I’d get into quality fish,” he said. “I just decided to commit to that swimbait because of its big bite potential.”
Benton keyed on prespawn bass feeding on inward migrating shad, staging outside spawning pockets. Focusing on transitional areas was key.
“The first steep bank in a pocket produced the most bites,” he said. “The bass moved outside the spawning pockets to this nearby deep water to stage, before moving back shallow to spawn.”
Jacob Foutz (27-13; 14-6 Friday)
After dialing into a smallmouth bite late on Thursday, Foutz scored early with the same pattern. Catching the fish involved a junk fishing rotation using a shallow-running swimbait. Alternatively, he caught smallmouth using a drop shot rigged, fished around isolated rockpiles. A Strike King 6XD produced largemouth bites.
Cole Sands (27-9; 12-3 Friday)
Evidence of a shad spawn underway clued Sands into using a swimbait fished on steep, transition banks near spawning pockets. Alternatively, he used a Ned rig to fill out his limit with smallmouth.
Joey Nania (27-2; 13-14 Friday)
Nania discovered spawning largemouth on deeper rock shelves.
“A new wave came up, and I caught them blind casting with a jerkbait,” he said.