Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
With his biggest bag of the event on day two, Patrick Walters takes over the lead on Lake Lanier with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 14 ounces. He began the day in second place with a bag of 19 pounds, 13 ounces on day one, and his 20-pound, 1-ounce weight today gives him a 15-ounce lead going into the final day.
“It was a good day,” said Walters. “I found some new stuff this afternoon and ran a lot of new water today; I like what I saw, it was good.”
Dealing with changing conditions and finicky fish, he knows that being in the right rotation is key, and with added lake pressure today, and four events on the lake tomorrow, covering water and being efficient will make or break the day.
“I had to throw the kitchen sink today, and will be doing more of it tomorrow,” he said. “You have to keep moving and figure out if you can get some bites. If you’re in a bad rotation, it doesn’t take long to figure that out. You can tell when a spot looks really good and assume you may get a bite, but even when it doesn’t look good, they may still bite.
Adding 18 pounds, 9 ounces on day two to his day one leading weight of 20 pounds, 6 ounces, Georgia pro Will Harkins goes into Showdown Saturday in second place with a two-day total of 38 pounds, 15 ounces. Despite great bags at the scales, the fishing on day two got tougher for Harkins.
“I only did the ‘Harky’ once today, it was slow overall,” laughed Harkins. “We still have one more day and a lot can happen, we will see. With several close calls in 2023, it would be amazing to get it done here on Lanier. This season, I circled this event; it was one of the reasons I signed up for this year,” he added.
Harkins was seen on live roaming around looking at live sonar, but his pattern is a bit more dialed than that. His bait of choice, which he chose not to go into detail on yet, is something he has confidence in to get some bigger more aggressive fish to commit.
“It’s just a small bait, nothing special, and it seems to be something that will trigger a bite,” he said. “I am around brush, but not necessarily fishing in it much. I am looking for groups of fish that are feeding up and willing to bite.”
With over 2000 waypoints on Lanier from the past, Harkins has no shortage of water to run, but with a big local derby scheduled for Showdown, getting into the right rotation could make or break his final day.
“If you have the right rotation, you are golden. If not, you can be in trouble,” he added. Tomorrow we will have more pressure and we have to see what the pressure does to the fish; anything can happen on the final day.”
In the third-place spot going into the final day, Mike Corbishley added 14 pounds, 4 ounces on day two to his day one bag 17 pounds, 15 ounces. His two-day weight of 32 pounds, 3 ounces once again keeps him at the top of the leaderboard with an outside shot at victory.
“This one feels like Saginaw,” laughed Corbishley. “I am in third and 7-pounds back. It’s crazy, I can shoot for a second again. But in reality, I am in third and will not complain. I feel fortunate to have caught my weight today and the bite has been changing.”
As things change, and the weekend pressure starts to take effect, Corbishley knows he has to adjust on the final day to keep his position.
“It’s changing, and tomorrow I need to adapt. I will keep running as much as I can trying for a good bag. I am staring at my Lowrance and just running the Phoenix/Mercury to as many spots as I can.”
Sonar Pros pro Trent Palmer goes into Showdown Saturday in the fourth-place spot with a two-day total of 31 pounds, 10 ounces. Palmer started with 17 pounds, 10 ounces on day one, and added 14 pounds on a much tougher day two.
“This lake is all about timing and making good decisions, and I got into a bad rotation,” he said. “I have fished here for ten years and this is my least favorite time to fish the lake, but they are biting and my goal has now shifted, I want to get a good finish this week. I made the championship with my win (at Saginaw), now we’re just going for a good check.”
It’s no secret that ‘the house’ works together to break down water but when timing becomes so key, it’s easy to miss the window.
“I ran into those guys a few times today and could feel like I was behind on the spots,” he added. “Tomorrow I am going to swap a few things up and try to find some fresh fish. Today, my afternoon bite didn’t really pan out, but I still had some opportunities at fish that missed my plug. Hopefully tomorrow I can combine the limit fish with executing in the afternoon and see what happens.”
Beginning the day in eighth with 15 pounds, 15 ounces on day one, Florida pro John Cox slides into the fifth-place spot with 15 pounds, 4 ounces on day two, and a total weight of 31 pounds, 3 ounces. Cox, the only angler at the top not relying on electronics, caught some late schooling fish today to salvage his day.
“I have been throwing the new Berkley Nessie, and the one bait they have been eating I skipped up to a dock this morning and broke it up,” laughed Cox. “I almost cried. I can get them to follow the Berkley CullShad, but they won’t commit.”
Cox was running back near the take-off this afternoon with an hour left to go and saw a school start busting bait. Within ten minutes he filled his limit and caught his day’s weight.
“I shut the engine off and fired up there while the boat was still moving and got bit,” he said. “They actually schooled there yesterday and I caught one, but today it saved me, and I am going to spend the day there tomorrow waiting for them to come up.”
Rest of the Best:
Todd Goade 30-11
Billy Hackworth 30-6
Ryan Satterfield 29-10
Reagan Nelson 28-9
Quentin Cappo 28-0