Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
With 17 pounds, 2 ounces, South Carolina angler Jason Burroughs scrapped practice and headed to the bank to take the day one NPFL lead on Logan Martin Lake. A man of few words, Burroughs was excited about his effort on day one but knows there is more work to do tomorrow.
“Man, honestly, I tried to find the deep fish in practice and struggled,” he said. “Today, I tossed it aside and locked one bait in my hands and fished shallow.”
Developing a pattern and putting several clues in his bag of tricks for the tournament, Burroughs ground out eight keeper bites on the day to catch his leading weight.
“Eight bites,” he added. “That is exactly the number of bites I caught in three practice days.”
Fishing “out of his wheelhouse” this week, the young Georgia pro employed a run-and-gun strategy focusing his efforts on hitting as many high-percentage areas as possible to catch his bass.
“It is not my style but we did good,” he said. “I hit 40 or 50 places today and got on a ‘shallow water power fishing’ deal, and it is all visual.”
Harkins picked out several stretches with the “it factors,” and was able to catch better quality bass than most of the field.
“It is tough, but they are there to be caught,” he added. “I do not know how they reload or reposition here, but each day is different and you have to go in with an open mind.”
With two big bites midway through the first day, including a 5-pound, 4-ounce lunker, Buddy Gross holds a share of second place after day one of fishing. Despite a tough practice and a fog delay this morning, Gross put his boat in skinny water and settled in to finish his limit.
“It had to be one of the luckiest days on the water; I was fishing beside John Cox, what does that tell you?” laughed Gross. “I think the delay hurt my plan, and I didn’t have a keeper until around noon.”
Fishing near John Cox for most of the day, both anglers put some pressure on their main area and had to work for every bite.
“I kept grinding and moving shallower and eventually ran into those two big fish,” he added. “I culled once today, and it was a struggle. Between John and me, that guy is a vacuum, and we hurt them pretty badly. I got to keep on fishing what looks good and make it happen.”
Starting his day on an area he found at the end of practice, JTodd Tucker rode an early limit to a day one weight of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to finish in the fourth-place spot.
“I left that spot with fish biting and just went fishing,” said Tucker. “I slowly culled up all day long and caught a dozen or so keepers.”
Only hitting one area he located in practice on day one, he is looking forward to expanding on his solid start.
“I am dialed into one deal and not fishing around a lot of others,” he added. “I am moving around some and am comfortable in the way I am fishing. There are plenty of places left out there and I am excited for tomorrow.”
With 14 pounds, 13 ounces, Kyle Welcher finished day one on Logan Martin in the fifth-place spot. After a tough practice coupled with changing weather, Welcher did not have high hopes going into this morning.
“I didn’t have anything figured out and had a terrible practice, but I felt like I had figured out a way to get a bite,” said Welcher. “With the fog delay, I was not confident I could get a bite fast enough and fished this morning by ‘keeping things honest’ and sampling a bunch of different things.”
For two or three hours, Welcher worked his way around Logan Martin before getting his first clue.
“Once I caught that quality fish, I fished more things like it and learned a little more about how I needed to crank out here,” he added. “A lot of the way I practiced was not working, and I had to crank differently.”
Going into day two, Welcher is not certain whether he will maintain or increase his weight but is hopeful that the fishing gets better overall.
“The ease of getting bit should improve,” he added. “The days are getting longer and the fish know where they want to be. As we get more dialed out here, I am hopeful for a better overall bite.”
Starting the event with 14 pounds, 10 ounces on day one, David Williams overcame a tough practice to end the day in the sixth-place spot. With the water stabilizing and the weather getting better, an open mind and a little practice led him to a solid start to the tournament.
“I went in and got a quick limit off a spot to get going this morning, but I left them alone because I didn’t think they were the right quality,” said Williams. “They are good fish but not the right caliber to separate in the standings. With the short day, I just wanted to survive.”
After a quick limit and a few culls, Williams went into practice mode and ran into four or five culls to finish out his day one bag. Despite pressure on his areas, the North Carolina angler rotated through different baits to get a few extra bites.
“The lake is fishing small,” he said. “I am trying to fish differently than everyone else around me.”
Doing what David Fritts does, the Alabama angler locked a crankbait in his hand this morning on Live Coverage and got to work early with a 14-pound, 9-ounce limit to finish the day in seventh place.
With 14 pounds on day one, Wes Logan used an early clue to figure out a tough Logan Martin Lake and finish in the eighth place. He rotated through a one-two punch and is looking forward to fishing a longer day tomorrow.
“I executed my plan of just trying to figure out what is going on; those first few fish helped dial me in early,” said Logan. “I hopped to the other side of the creek and caught a 3-pounder right off. I think we might have missed a better bite window this morning and with the time crunch, I will take it.”
Logan knew with a shortened day, maximizing his effort to focus only on key spots to fill a limit would be key. Unable to expand and “practice,” he is excited to fish a longer day tomorrow but is cautious about thinking the bite may improve.
“Unlike some, I think there are too many guys fishing the same stuff,” he added. “I don’t think it’s going to get any easier. For me, it will come down to finding a few key spots and executing, which I did not do today.”