On the right spot

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Chris Mitchell

After two days of mostly sunny, hot conditions, today brings a cooler, rainy complexion for the top-12 finalists fishing on Championship Saturday at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on Neely Henry Lake. 

It’s not a lashing rain and, while lightning is always a concern with storm systems, fishing wet is nothing new to these competitors. If anything, dim skies and a nice fall cooling spell — daytime high of 71, compared to low 80s the past two days — will likely trigger increased bass activity.

We tend to think of the cloudy, rainy stuff as a boon for those targeting largemouth; and it certainly is, but do not overlook the spotted bass angle. Coosa River spots are feisty little boogers that may not reach largemouth proportions, but there’s a bunch of them in this waterway — and some reach difference-making proportions. 

Just ask Kenta Kimura. 

The crafty pro from Osaka, Japan started today in second place. On Day 1, he caught a limit of 9-10 and found himself in a 3-way tie for 33rd place. On Friday, he added 14-14 — the event’s biggest bag, comprised solely of spotted bass.

Five spots for nearly 15 pounds — that’s the kind of average that could win a tournament. 

“I don’t think people realize how many big spotted bass this pool has,” Kimura said. “That’s what I figured out in practice. I had a day like (Day 2) in practice, so that’s what I focused on." 

Kimura said he didn’t have a fish until 11 o’clock. He dialed in the right depth, about 8-15 feet, and located a current-favored area that kept him busy for three hours. 

Safe to say, Kimura will lean on that spot and other like it pretty hard today. 

Several other bags included spotted bass. Among them, Day-1 leader Darold Gleason amassed 13-2 with all spots. 

Elsewhere, Kayden Tanner has led the co-angler division for two days. On Friday, 1 o’clock found him with two fish, one shy of a co-angler limit. Flipping a 3/16-ounce shaky head with a Daiwa Yamamoto Neko Worm into a laydown rewarded him with a 3-pound spot that pushed him back to the top.

It will be interesting to see how today’s weather shapes the picture. If the spots feel the giddy-up, flurries could fill limits in short order. If these cloudy skies put largemouth in the food mood, we could see some impressive kickers at the Coosa Landing weigh-ins.

Finalists have fewer tournament boats on the water, but weekend traffic might play a role in where they can fish. Success could hinge on finding the right spots — figuratively and literally.