By Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons and Rob Connors
In true Keith Carson fashion, fishing less than a foot of water, the Debary, Florida pro tallied 15-pounds, 3-ounces to take the day one lead on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago. Catching an early limit first thing in the morning, Carson packed it in and ran all new water on day one and made a cull in a completely different lake.
“I basically left and ran all new water and caught two more good fish. I had a 2.5-pounder and ran to some new places and started flipping and casting a Berkley Choppo around and was able to cull that fish out. Practice was difficult and basically I found the one starting spot and a bunch of other places not to fish,” laughed Carson.
The Florida pro got 12 to 15 bites on the day but not all were keepers. Noting that the wind did not blow today, Carson opted to skip the offshore bite and plans to sample some offshore if the rest of the week brings any wind.
With 14-pounds, 11-ounces on day one, Sheldon Collings sits in 2nd place going into day two on Winnebago. Collings caught a 4-pound, 10-ounce kicker to anchor his weight. Making a long run to several productive areas, Collings made the right call this morning.
“I ended up stopping on my first spot and caught my weight in like the first 30-minutes of fishing. It worked out a lot better than I had thought and I hope they cooperate the next two days.”
Bryan Smith relied on a magical morning to bring 14-pounds, 10-ounces to the scales on day one. Catching four quality largemouth to get his day started fast, the Roseville, California angler sits in 3rd place going into day two on Winnebago.
“It was a really special morning. I started in a canal I had a couple bites in practice and caught four good fish right off on a frog. From there I moved around and fished some other largemouth stuff and caught another good one.”
After the morning flurry, the remainder of the day was not what Smith has hoped for. Fishing some docks and other areas, only a few small keepers was what he had to show for the afternoon.
“If I was smart, I would never go back to that good area as I think I caught everything that lives there. I will probably keep it honest but I am probably going to scrap it all and go practicing tomorrow. I know it’s tough out here and I’ll take any ounce I can get, but I have to try and figure it out going forward as I go.”
Buck Mallory brought five largemouth to the scales on day one for a total weight of 14-pounds, 5-ounces and sits in 4th place. Spending his time shallow, the Lawton, Michigan angler got to his best area this morning and realized he was not the only one to find those fish.
“I thought I had those fish to myself but it turns out I am sharing water with another guy. I had another spot close by I found in pre-practice and quickly caught four of these good fish.”
After making a move far away to avoid sampling his water again, Mallory culled once later on and had his weight for the day. Mallory didn’t want to give away too many details but noted he is flipping and pitching for largemouth.
James Biggs caught fish early and often on day one and sits in the 5th spot with 14-pounds, 3-ounces. Starting strong getting bites on his first spot, Biggs moved around and caught fish until he has a solid limit, and then made a move offshore to save some of his other deals.
“After that first spot, I caught one or two at each spot. I had some smallmouth found and I guess the largemouth moved in and I caught those – they weighed more. I never sat anywhere too long to keep things fresh. I have other patterns I found and I didn’t get to sample that stuff at all. I did frog fish for a little bit trying to catch a lunker and had 10 bites but never got one hooked.”
Donnie O’Neal made a long run to fish a sweet spot he had found in practice and quickly caught his days weight. Power fishing shallow, O’Neal made quick work and got away from it soon after. With 13-13 of largemouth, the Liberty Hill, Texas pro sits in 6th spot despite wanting to target smallmouth.
“I am not a smallmouth guy and I really wanted to fish for them, but since it’s my weakness, I opted for the green ones. I fished my strengths and power fished – it was power fishing 101. I had a limit in two hours and due to how I am feeling, and not wanting to beat my fish, I left and checked in 2.5 hours early.”
O’Neal is making a 45-minute run to his fish and notes that there is a lot of idling involved. With boat traffic and no-wake buoys coming up for Saturday, the Liberty Hill, Texas pro is hoping to survive tomorrow and once again save his fish.
“If I can get five more bites tomorrow, I’ll leave them again and save it all for Saturday. I’m fishing a small stretch and I didn’t even fish it all today, it’s all about the management of these fish this week.”
Rest of the Best:
7. Bobby Lanham 13-12
8. Timmy Reams 13-11
9. Richard Cooper13-0
10. Nick Prvonozac 12-15
Join us tomorrow morning when our LIVE BROADCAST resumes at 8am CST on Lake Winnebago.