Day One Begins at Lake Eufaula

Stop number five kicks off this morning from Eufaula, Oklahoma as the Progressive Angler of the Year Race tightens.

Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons

Stop number five of the National Professional Fishing League season kicks off this morning at Lake Eufaula in beautiful Oklahoma. The NPFL anglers and their families from across the country have gathered, eager to take on the challenges this renowned fishing destination has to offer in the fall season.

Excitement fills the air as anglers prepare to cast their lines for the first time since July at Saginaw Bay. Atypical to professional bass fishing, the fall season offers an entirely new challenge where fish are transitioning as the water cools making it tough for anglers to dial into one specific pattern.

Will Harkins knows anytime you have an opportunity to close out a season in the top five, or better, in the angler of the year race, it’s special. He comes into the event in sixth place just 37 points behind the leader, Todd Goade. Harkins has prepared for everything Eufaula has to offer an angler in the fall and fished shallow, deep, and in between this week in practice.

“Practice was pretty on par with the rest of everyone else it seems; fall can be tough, and you’re going to have to have multiple things going for you to be successful,” he said. “The bass are in all stages – shallow, deep, and some in the timber. I’ll probably be mixing in all three and hope to catch a solid limit every day.

His standings in the Progressive AOY didn’t affect his plans in practice but the implications of having a shot to win, and staying at the top of the standings to guarantee a shot at the no-entry-fee championship were definitely on his mind coming in.

“I’m just looking to survive this event and stick in that top three to five after the event,” he added. “To have an outside shot at the final event on Lake Lanier, my second home lake, would be all I could ask for this week.”

Harkins estimates around 50 pounds will win the event this week and around 32 pounds to cash a check.

In the third-place spot coming into the event, Jesse Wise was able to narrow the gap between himself and the leaders at Saginaw Bay and sits just 14 points back before Eufaula kicks off. His practice was tough and he noted it was hard to get bites this week in Oklahoma.

“This was the worst practice I’ve ever had,” he said. It was tough to catch a keeper and I’ve got one pattern that I’ve caught any decent fish on. I didn’t fish too hard when I did get a bite so I really am looking forward to learning what kind of potential my two areas have in them. 

With a very good shot to win the AOY, Wise had it on his mind throughout practice and believes Eufaula will be the deciding factor of the season with only Lake Lanier remaining.

“The Angler of the Year, and the Championship, are always on your mind when you only are 14 points down with two events left. I truly believe it will come down to whoever excels in this tournament where conditions will be tough on the field,” he added. “I just hope I’m the one to get a couple of the right bites to keep me in the hunt.”

AOY Race 

It’s been an absolute dogfight between leader Todd Goade this season and the angler in second place, Timmy Reams. Both anglers have had a remarkably consistent year and have been hard to overtake at each event. At Saginaw Bay, Goade fished for a mixed bag of large and smallmouth bass to overtake the lead by just ten points. Both anglers have fished their strengths all season and that won’t change in Oklahoma.

This week at Eufaula, it’s anyone’s game with tough fall conditions and fish in multiple stages of transition. AOY leader Todd Goade dialed in three different patterns and will let the weather and the fish dictate how his day goes.

“Practice was decent but the weather has gotten hot again so I feel like there will be more fish caught deeper (than shallow), and I feel a lot of fish are still feeding at night,” he said. “I’ll be moving around a lot each morning until 11 AM, or so, and then I’ll have a spinning rod locked in my hand.”

Goade isn’t afraid to fish what he feels like he can win doing, but will also stick with what makes him comfortable. He added, “If I had one bait out here to put in my hand all day long it would be a 1/8 oz Pulse Jig fishing around docks.”

Right behind Goade, Timmy Reams, like others, had a mixed review of practice. He notes that as the week went on, things changed making it tough on the anglers.

“Practice was decent the first day with the low-pressure system we had. Once the high-pressure system moved in with high bluebird skies, it got super tough,” he said. “The tournament is projected to mimic the last couple days of practice, so I think the morning bite will be super crucial and the small afternoon bite if you can capitalize on it.”

Both Goade and Reams are predicting the weights to be lower than the anglers were hoping for, but the excitement of a new lake at a not typical time of year will make for an exciting event.

Goade is expecting a “classic grinder” and added, “I expect an average of 13.5 pounds per day to win, and 10 pounds per day to get a check.”

Reams believes it will be tough for a lot of anglers this week. “The winning weight I’m going to say around 40-42lbs for 3 days.”

Here is a look at the top ten:

Todd Goade 981
Timmy Reams 971
Jesse Wise 967
Dustin Smith 946
Will Harkins 944
Brandon Perkins 932
Louis Fernandes 931
Brad Staley 926
Nick Brown 922
Mike Corbishley 919

Weather Watch

Anglers will launch with 71-degree temperatures and clear skies giving way to sunshine and a high near 90-degrees in the afternoon. The wind is expected to blow south at less than 10 MPH.

How to Watch 

Tune in daily from September 28 through 30 to watch daily action from Lake Eufaula, with Live Coverage here and on the FREE PHYX TV App.   

Follow along and watch the daily LIVE Leaderboard, LIVE Blog, and on-the-water photo galleries and blogs of the anglers on Lake Eufaula.

Under the Go Live Tab, choose LIVE Broadcast or check out the real-time leaderboard on the Weigh Live Tracker with estimated weights entered by the anglers on the water and join us for the LIVE Weigh-ins, here!   

Check out the results from Santee Cooper, here

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