Saturday, August 12, 2017

2017 FLW CUP Championship Lake Murray Day 1: Justin Atkins Leads with 21-05lbs!

Schooling bass key to many leaders
By Jody White

Calm, cloudy morning key to many of the leader's success.
(Photo: FLW)
Sacking up a monumental catch of 21 pounds, 5 ounces, Justin Atkins of Florence, Ala., established a slim 4-ounce lead over Anthony Gagliardi on day one of the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray. Atkins finished runner-up in the Rookie of the Year race on the FLW Tour in 2017 and third in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American this summer. Now, the 27-year-old pro is leading the race for one of the biggest titles in fishing.
Lake Murray has a reputation as a fickle fishery in the summertime, but today the schooling and offshore bite on the lower end of the lake shined bright, with Atkins, Gagliardi and most of the rest of the top 10 pros taking advantage of willing bass feeding on blueback herring.
Atkins fished for schooling bass some, but a lot of his fish came from fairly specific places that didn’t take many casts to cover. He says he caught all his fish on a topwater, but tossed a worm and a few other baits as well.
“I saw some schooling activity on one spot, so I started there and caught two real quick, left there and went to my next three spots and finished out my limit,” says Atkins, who made a big cull with a 5-pounder around 10:30 a.m. “I left there and went to another place that I thought nobody else would have found. It’s kind of off the wall, and I guess nobody has [found it], because I caught almost a 6-pounder off it on my first cast.”
After culling up past 20 pounds, Atkins laid off a little bit, taking the afternoon to fish some secondary places and idle over some of his prime spots to plan for day two.
“I got pretty much the pick of everything I wanted today,” says Atkins of his spot selection. “I didn’t think I’d catch 20. I thought I could catch 17. That would be a good goal for a day’s weight. I was hoping I would have a little more of a lead than I do, but I knew they were catching them. I’d rather be where I’m at than 5 pounds back, that’s for sure.”
Top 10 pros
1. Justin Atkins – Florence, Ala. – 21-5 (5)            
2. Anthony Gagliardi – Prosperity, S.C. – 21-1 (5)            
3. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 19-12 (5)              
4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 19-4 (5)               
5. Travis Fox – Rogers, Ark. – 18-3 (5)                  
6. Larry Nixon – Bee Branch, Ark. – 17-13 (5)                 
7. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 16-0 (5)                      
8. Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 15-14 (5)                     
9. Aaron Britt – Yuba City, Calif. – 15-9 (5)                      
10. Shane LeHew – Catawba, N.C. – 15-7 (5)

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