Cory Johnston Vaults Forward in AOY!
by David A. Brown
by David A. Brown
FLW PRESS RELEASE
|Lefebre (l) and Rhode (r) are tied for the lead.|
FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre added 22 pounds, 3 ounces to the 21-6 he caught yesterday and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode – who’s catch slipped from 23-10 on day one to 19-15 today – also tallied 43-9 on day two of the the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie.
Day two brought south winds and calm water, which allowed anglers to run around more and fish their spots more efficiently. The standings reflect these benefits with nine pros breaking 20 pounds, three of which also caught 20-plus on day one.
Here’s how the top two pros fared.
Lefebre strikes early
The pro from Erie, Pa., looked at multiple stops today, but his first — a closely guarded honey hole — gave him all he needed.
“I went to the same place I fished yesterday and caught those five real quick and I only culled one time the rest of the day,” Lefebre says. “I’m letting them breathe. It’s a good spot and it’s loaded.”
Today’s performance, Lefebre reports was more a testament to consistency.
“I didn’t have the kickers today, I just had a better average,” he says. “I had two 5-pounders yesterday, but today I didn’t even have a 5-pounder. I thought I had a little bit less, so I was pleasantly surprised.”
Lefebre caught all of his fish on a drop-shot with a Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm. Intrinsic to his success, he notes, were some key tackle upgrades.
“I upgraded my hooks and line this morning because of how big those fish were,” he said. “They’re biting pretty good, so I was able to use a lot bigger line and jack ‘em.
“I’m known for throwing way too light line up here and yesterday I was using 4-pound fluorocarbon with 6-pound Suffix Nanobraid [main line]. Today, I rigged up rods with 10-pound and 15-pound braided line.”
On day one, Lefebre used a No. 4 split shot/drop-shot hook, but today, he upsized to a 1/0 hook.
Lefebre says today’s wind — a complete change from yesterday’s blow from the north — had no impact on his fish. This, he said, was another pleasant surprise.
“It didn’t change anything,” he said. “I fish here a lot and a major shift like that usually does reposition them, but it was just a little windier where I was yesterday and today it was flat.”
Lefebre is confident that his spot will produce again tomorrow.
“It’s a pretty big area and I’m looking forward to leaning on it [on day three],” says Lefebre. “There are several key spots; I probably have 80 or 90 waypoints on that particular area and I’ve only fished one.
“Not to say that the other places are as loaded as that one is, but there will be isolated fish on those other targets. All they are is big boulders that I’ve scanned with my Lowrance HDS. I’ve marked all that’s there.”
Wind helps Rhode
The pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, returned to the humps and rocks north of Pelee Island where he fished on day one. Contrary to Lefebre’s apparent excess, Rhode found his fish a little less aggressive than on day one.
He had his limit by about 8:45 a.m. and was culling before 9. However, he noted that he couldn’t get the big bites he did on day one. Once he felt his primary spot had given up as much quality as it would yield this day, he made a move and upgraded enough to help him hold his position.
“It was so calm, it only took 15 minutes to run 8-10 miles,” he says. “After I left my primary spot, I probably caught seven or eight fish the rest of the day.
“They weren’t all big, but I culled two or three times, so it definitely helped.”
Today’s calmer conditions, while certainly helpful when running, may have impacted fish behavior, according to Rhode.
“Yesterday, there was a 2-foot chop – maybe the occasional 3-foot seas – I think the fish were tighter to the structure, so they were easier to catch,” Rhode says. “Today, there wasn’t a whole lot of current and they were scattered all around [the area].
“You could throw in any direction and catch one. So it took longer to catch them.”
While we followed Rhode in the camera boat this morning, he stated that he was planning to shift from a drop-shot to a tube as the sun rose higher. After briefly making the switch with minimal results he quickly returned to the drop-shot.
“Later in the day, I tried the tube but I only caught a few bass on it,” Rhode explains. “Also, I caught two [drum] on back-to-back casts, so I put it down.
“I try not to set the hook on the [drum]. When you get in a groove, you can tell the difference between a smallmouth bite and a sheepshead bite.”
Rhode says he caught his smallmouth on approximately 10 different drop-shot baits, but one unnamed model accounted for the majority of his action.
Hicks leaps out to co-angler lead
Rayovac FLW Series Tournament Director Ron Lappin is famous for jokingly telling an angler “You got mad at them today,” after rebounding with a strong day-two performance. By that logic, Justin Hicks, of Roanoke, Va., must have been furious today.
After tying for 10th place on day one with 17-12, Hicks stormed back with 23-12 – the heaviest co-angler bag of the event and the second heaviest overall – to take the co-angler lead with 41-8.
“I’m not doing anything special,” Hicks says. “I’m throwing a drop-shot like everybody else is; I’m just blessed to get the bites I’m getting.
“I’m getting seven to eight bites a day. Yesterday, I had a terrible day because the fish kept coming off. But today I put them in the boat.”
Upsizing his drop-shot hook from a size 2 to a size 3 and loosening his drag seemed to help keep his fish from coming unbuttoned today.
“The first two hours were prime time,” Hicks says of his fast start. “After 11, it gets tough and then it picked up again around 11:30.”
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