Kyle Welcher Takes Day One NPFL Lead on a Tough Lake Hartwell

Kyle Welcher leads the charge after Day One of Stop #2 of the 2024 Season.

Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons

Making a key decision to change his approach first thing this morning, Alabama pro Kyle Welcher takes the day one NPFL lead at Lake Hartwell with 16 pounds, 11 ounces. His effort gives him a 7-ounce cushion over Will Harkins going into day two.

“I gambled a little bit this morning and decided I was going to change how I started the event,” he said. “I really thought it was going to be easier to catch some 2.5-pound fish but the sun made them not want to commit – they would go down on a bait but not come up.”

Welcher expects the cloud and storms forecasted for day two to help the bite and notes that the off day Wednesday moved a bunch of his spawning fish off the beds.

“Most of those fish left,” he added. “I do have a few left on beds, but if I could have, I would have caught them today. The fish bit much better in practice under overcast conditions, so hopefully that is the case tomorrow with storms forecasted.”

Will Harkins

A man on a mission, NPFL pro Will Harkins is continuing to get it done in 2024. Taking the win on Logan Martin in February, Harkins picked up where he left off and sits in the second-place spot on day one with a total weight of 16 pounds, 4 ounces.

Knowing throughout practice that Lake Hartwell was fishing tough, Harkins dedicated his practice to locating as many “transition type areas” as possible and ended up with over 120 areas he thought may play, and has several sneaky places he is confident he has to himself.

“Practice was all about running around and marking things I thought may be “different” from the normal,” he said. “I feel like most of the folks fishing offshore are targeting similar type things, and I am fishing more off the wall, if that makes sense.”

An expert with his electronics, Harkins is fishing how he is comfortable and rotating through as many waypoints as possible. While keeping an eye on where boats are focusing, he is mixing in community holes on Lake Hartwell and hoping to land in the right area at the right time.

“I don’t know if I burned my best places today or not, but I caught 30 to 40 bass,” he added. “I am starting my morning on some shad spawn areas, gambling a little bit, and then settling into my program. I am hoping the weather tomorrow helps.”

Buddy Gross

In the third-place spot, Georgia pro Buddy Gross caught 15 pounds, 14 ounces on day one on Lake Hartwell.

Jason Burroughs

With 15 pounds, 9 ounces, Jason Burroughs sits in the fourth-place spot on day one. Dealing with misfortune in the form of boat problems and lost fish, he is thrilled with a solid start to the tournament.

“It was not the best day, but not terrible,” he said. “I caught about what I was thinking I could catch with the weather conditions, but leaving take-off I broke my hot foot spring and ran wide open on Hartwell today.”

Once he got settled in, he got to work catching fish, but one lost fish cost him a much better bag. 

“I wasted the first part of the morning fishing the shad spawn and it did not work, besides a few small fish. It was a gamble but I was able to make it work later on fishing targeting transition area and ended up losing one good fish. With the weather tomorrow, they are going to bite.”

Matt Mollohan

South Carolina pro Matt Mollohan sits in the fifth-place spot on Lake Hartwell with a day-one weight of 14 pounds, 12 ounces. After a tough practice, he skipped out on the shallow herring bite and focused his efforts on the offshore fish to get his tournament off to a good start.

“In 2022, I screwed myself here and missed out on the deal. This go around, I came in expecting the herring to be going off and that just wasn’t the case,” he said. “I made a change late in practice to fish deeper water and caught a bunch of bass. With the sun high today, I had to make yet another change. I went back to the bank and adjusted on the fly – it worked out.”

Mollohan is the highest-finishing Bass Cat Boats pro angler on day one.

Richard Kee

With 14 pounds, 7 ounces on day one, Tennessee pro-Richard Kee sits in the sixth-place spot on Lake Hartwell. After a slow start to the morning, he started to get into some fish and salved his day.

“Will (Harkins) and I were not sure how the sun would affect things, but it worked out,” he said. “I found some fish mid-morning and was able to get a few in the boat, but I ran around a bit, burned 30 gallons of gas, and survived. We thought this may be a day to survive, and if we could, we felt like we could do okay. We will see how that plays out.”

Rest of the Best:

Chris Whisenant 14-0
Isaac Peavyhouse 14-0
Jacoby Adkins 13-14
Michael Stout 13-12