Patrick Walters Secure Day One Saginaw Bay Lead

With a 20-pound, 4-ounce limit of smallmouth, Patrick Walters takes the lead on day one at Saginaw Bay.

Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons

Coming into the event, Patrick Walters had planned to target smallmouth but after a tough event last year on day two, he dedicated a portion of his practice period to largemouth as a plan B for the event.

“I fished for smallmouth every day last year and it bit me in the butt,” said Walters. “This year, I did spend some time shallow as a plan I could rely on if the wind got too bad and the fish shut down. Today was a good day, I caught about 12 keepers, and I may swap things up tomorrow a little.”

Day two maybe when the plan B approach takes effect. Walters is keeping his eye on the weather forecast and may begin his day in search of a limit of largemouth to let the lake settle down before venturing back offshore.

“Tomorrow is expected to be challenging,” added Walters. “I may wait for a little to let things settle down and the lake conditions improve before fishing for the smallmouth. I did find some areas this year after catching only two bass on day two which cost me in the event.”

Walters noted he is fishing the standard plastic-type baits for both smallmouth and largemouth.

Louis Fernandes 

The only angler in the top five weighing all largemouth, Louis Fernandes fished his way to an 18-pound, 12-ounce limit to finish day one in second place. Making a long run and fishing strictly shallow, the California angler believes he figured out a tactic that no other angler is doing to catch bigger quality largemouth.

“I started off making a long run and once I put my trolling motor down, I never picked it up until the end of the day,” said Fernandes. “I am fishing a way nobody else is fishing and caught over 60 fish today.”

With lots of anglers fishing shallow and the weights tight, catching a few bigger quality bass to separate yourself from the pack is key. Fernandes landed two bigger bites today and believes that will be the key to him having a shot on the final day.

“I know I can catch the 3-pound fish but the biggest ones are tough. I landed two today, and I saw the results on the leaderboard. 15 pounds in my areas should be easy but to have a shot I need to get that bigger bass in the boat,” he added.

Todd Goade

Todd Goade began the event in the second-place spot in Progressive Angler of the Year standings and wanted to ensure he remained consistent at Saginaw Bay. With an 18-pound, 8-ounce limit mixed with largemouth and smallmouth, he did exactly what he needed to get his event off on the right track.

“I had a dead fish penalty today which hurt a little bit but the fish were biting great first thing this morning,” said Goade. “I had four quality smallmouth on my starting spot and then went looking for largemouth.”

With wind expected to affect his areas on day two, Goade is planning on visiting some areas from practice he has saved for this wind direction and preventing any shake-up of his plan to stay consistent.

“Once I fish the smallmouth spot tomorrow morning, I am going to a ‘new’ to me area I found in practice and hope to repeat my day today. If that doesn’t work, I have more fish a long way away I was saving for Saturday, but I will run there if needed tomorrow.”

Coming into the event, Saginaw Bay was the one event Goade circled that would make or break his season. He is off to a good start executing his pre-event plan and looking good going into day two.

“I did my job,” added Goade. “I want to have a chance going into the last event at Lanier and I need to keep after it the next two days.”

Trent Palmer

With 18 pounds, 8 ounces on day one, Trent Palmer fished his third and fourth-best areas on day one to finish in the fourth-place spot. With wind forecasted to make running around a challenge, Palmer is playing some defense and managing his smallmouth areas while mixing in some largemouth as necessary this week.

“The areas today has good wind protection and I thought I could catch some good fish and that is what happened,” said Palmer. “Tomorrow is going to be a different story and I am going back to that area to get started while the lake sets up and then make a move to my primary area another 15 plus miles away.”

As he does back home, he is sight fishing for deeper bass using his Livescope and watching schools of 30-plus bass. The hard part, however, is getting them to bite.

“I am going to keep running and gunning and try to hit them on a feeding window,” added Palmer.

Mike Corbishley

With an 18-pound, 8-ounce bag on day one, Mike Corbishley ground out nine bites on his main smallmouth area to finish the day in fifth place. After making a 2.5-hour run in adverse conditions, the outlook for day two will be a game-time decision.

“It’s going to be rough tomorrow and I speared several waves today. I will keep checking the wind and decide when I wake up tomorrow if I am going to attempt the run,” said Corbishley. “The Phoenix ran great all day and it landed seven of my nine bites today.”

Corbishley spent 2.5 days of practice looking for smallmouth and located only three schools, and one with size. He also planned for the worst and looked for largemouth. If the weather is too bad to make the run, he plans to hang back and try to survive day two before calmer winds will make the big lake travel much smoother.

Rest of the best:
Stu Martel 18-3
Barron Adams 16-11
Ron Johnson 15-14
Hunter Baughman 15-12
Dustin Smith 15-10