Afternoon bass: Bass pro Kelly Jordan has an MLF Cup title, four BASS tournament wins and an FLW Tour victory to his credit. So when Jordan says things like, "There are few better times to fish than in the afternoon hours," it pays to listen.
"It's the most critical time in MLF for three reasons," said Jordan, who captured the Major League Fishing Challenge Cup title at Lake Ray Roberts in the fall of 2013.
- "First, each MLF angler gets a half-day to figure things out, to get a feel for the surroundings, to move around and see the water. Because of that, we have about as much knowledge as we're going to get and we've made plans with it. In essence, we've gotten two periods to practice, if that makes sense," said Jordan.
- Second, the fish are getting dialed in themselves to be positioned where they are going to be, and they are also starting their afternoon feed. And as all of that happens, the MLF pros are dialed in and are ready to capitalize.
- Third, at the end of the third tourney period, whoever has capitalized on all of this the best, he's the one who will end up winning the day and/or the MLF Cup title, according to Jordan.
"An early big bite like that certainly helps you get out to a lead and that can be especially critical when things are tough because it helps you calm down," said Jordan. "We're all looking for that type of start in these events. But the reality is that even if you find that and have a great morning on the early bite, it can get you out front but it doesn't necessarily win the day.
"It's kind of like a NASCAR race. There is a lot of action and stuff going on early in the race, but no matter how exciting all of that is, there's still a lot of laps to be run and all of the big stuff is usually going to go down in those last 10 laps or so."
Practically speaking, that means you can sleep in.
"Most weekend fishermen are programmed to get up at the crack of dawn and go fish," said Jordan. "But, if you can, give it a try every now and then and go fishing later on in the day. Get up early, get your honey-do's done, take the kids to soccer practice and knock your errands out around town. But then go to the lake in the afternoon because it can be very rewarding, especially during the cooler months of the year in the spring and fall."
Brent Chapman recently earned enough points to move from MLF Geico Select competition to full-time MLF Cup level status. He's also a big fan of the afternoon bite.
"In the MLF Select event we had in central Tennessee a couple of years ago, James Watson won the day's round fishing a spoon, and I nearly won while fishing a jig," said Chapman. "But the thing is that we were both at the back of the pack earlier in the day. But as the day went along, we figured some things out and were able to make serious moves up the leaderboard later on in the day."
In that same event, Chapman remembers MLF pro Jason Christie putting on a third-round fish-catching clinic.
"Jason was at the very back of the pack, too, but he staged one of the biggest final round comebacks in Major League Fishing history if I remember correctly," said Chapman. "From what I saw on the MLF TV show, it was the same kind of deal — he survived the storm early on in the day and was able to get things figured out and finally win in the third period."
Chapman wants anglers to know that he's found fish get more predictable as the day goes along. "They aren't roaming around as much as they do earlier in the day, they tighten up to cover as the sun gets higher and they set up in places that I would expect them to be later in the day."
Several other anglers said that the afternoon bite is usually strong and lasts longer. MLF anglers said they see an early surge and a mid-morning lull in the second period. Then things really pick up in the third period.