January 06, 2014
By Dan O'Sullivan
Permitted use provided by: MajorLeagueFishing.com
ALPENA, Mich. – The first day of competition of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2014 General Tire Summit Cup brought another new wrinkle for the anglers to deal with. But, as these anglers have learned from the previous three events, Major League Fishing likes to keep it fresh and keep anglers guessing.
For this event, centered at the Michigan town of Alpena, the anglers did not know which of the many surrounding bodies of water they would compete on until they arrived in the parking lot at the boat launch ramp. In past events, anglers were informed of the selected fishing zone the day before their competition day.
The eight anglers that drew Elimination Day One competed on Hubbard Lake, approximately 30 minutes outside Alpena. Anglers that were unfamiliar with Hubbard didn’t know if they were targeting largemouth or smallmouth until they hit the water and began to fish. Of course, they all assumed that they would be chasing smallmouth, but they had to be prepared for both.
Either way, smallmouth or largemouth, the goal was still the same: place in the top four to survive and move on the Sudden Death Semifinal Round.
Once they launched, they discovered that Hubbard Lake was a smallmouth fishery, and many of the anglers began searching for deep water structure that would hold groups of bass. That kind of approach can be high risk, high reward, especially on an overcast day that makes deep water fishing for smallmouth more difficult; they tend to scatter out a bit.
Looking at past events, the anglers that discover a working pattern the quickest are the ones with the best chance to capitalize and move on to the Sudden Death Semifinal Round. However, this day proved to be different.
It took a while to develop a strong pattern. The first period was a bit slow; in fact the eventual winner didn’t even post a score on the leaderboard until the second period. Tim Horton, the Muscle Shoals, Ala., pro spent much of the morning seeking the kind of spot that would allow him to quickly load the boat with smallmouth.
Using his sonar and Navionics map, Horton located an offshore break that dropped into deeper water, then picked up a spinning rod and proceeded to make long casts with a dropshot over a school of fish. He was intentionally making casts where his bait would drop down on top of the school, instead of casting past the school and dragging the bait through.
“I backed off enough to be able to make the same cast and was able to make a few of those better quality fish strike.”
"My experience with deepwater smallmouth is that they will suspend just off the bottom at times and a lure falling straight through them creates a reaction strike where a lure moving through them horizontally will not," Horton said. "I backed off enough to be able to make the same cast and was able to make a few of those better quality fish strike."
While Major League fishing events in the past have often been dominated by anglers who caught big numbers of smaller fish, Horton went the opposite way. His dropshot rig produced just six keepers, but with an average weight of nearly four pounds per fish.
Horton finished the day with a total weight of 23 pounds, 11 ounces. The winning catch included his largest bass of the day, a 5-pound, 11-ounce bronzeback.
Rounding out the top four were Edwin Evers in second place with 16 pounds, 5 ounces; Skeet Reese in third with 15-08; and Shaw Grigsby in fourth with 12-06.
The top four anglers of Elimination Day One survive and advance to the Sudden Death Semifinal Round. However, Sudden Death will be contested on a completely different body of water, so everything they learned at Hubbard Lake might not apply.
Watch Outdoor Channel on Saturday, January 25, for the first round of Sudden Death to see how the anglers adapt. Find out which anglers overcome the adversity of a new lake and the added pressure of a cutline to move on to the Championship.
2014 Summit Cup: Elimination Day One Final Standings
Top four anglers advance, bottom four are eliminated
|Angler ||Weight (lbs) ||Total Fish ||Avg Weight (lbs) ||Biggest Fish (lbs) ||Last Fish (lbs) |
|Tim Horton ||23 lb 11 oz ||6 ||3 lb 15 oz ||5 lb 11 oz ||4 lb 02 oz |
|Edwin Evers ||16 lb 05 oz ||8 ||2 lb 01 oz ||4 lb 05 oz ||1 lb 03 oz |
|Skeet Reese ||15 lb 08 oz ||9 ||1 lb 12 oz ||3 lb 12 oz ||1 lb 02 oz |
|Shaw Grigsby ||12 lb 06 oz ||5 ||2 lb 08 oz ||4 lb 06 oz ||2 lb 02 oz |
|Kelly Jordon ||9 lb 12 oz ||4 ||2 lb 07 oz ||2 lb 13 oz ||1 lb 11 oz |
|Tommy Biffle ||8 lb 09 oz ||3 ||2 lb 14 oz ||4 lb 05 oz ||3 lb 02 oz |
|Ish Monroe ||7 lb 05 oz ||3 ||2 lb 07 oz ||2 lb 10 oz ||2 lb 10 oz |
|Jeff Kriet ||1 lb 11 oz ||1 ||1 lb 11 oz ||1 lb 11 oz ||1 lb 11 oz |
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