Friday, March 20, 2020

2020 FLW Pro Circuit Lake Martin Day 2: Jason Abram Leads with 29lbs!

Canadians Sim 56th & Lucak 119th
By Sean Ostruszka

Largemouth key to Abram's control of the lead.
(Photo: FLW)
He figured out half the puzzle yesterday and the other half today to get him in the lead. Too bad Jason Abram thinks the entire puzzle may fall apart tomorrow.
While most pros at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin are either in the sight-fishing or offshore camps, the Piney Flats, Tenn., pro has been running and gunning a pattern all to himself. He only figured out part of the pattern yesterday. Hence his 11-6 bag. When he put it all together today, the result was the biggest bag of the tournament – 17-10 – and the lead with 29-0.
“I had everything I weighed in by 11:30 today,” says Abram. “I only fished the pattern for a few hours, and then I stopped and just went looking for more of it the rest of the day.”
No surprise, Abram is quite tight-lipped on the exact pattern, as it’s quite specific. He did say that in order to execute it, he has to run and gun a lot, figuring he hit in excess of 40 spots today. 
“I don’t know how much gas I used today, but it was a bunch,” he jokes.
Now, the hard part is, in a lake where bites have been plentiful, his pattern has been anything but. Today, Abram only got seven bites on his pattern (though he did catch a quick limit of spotted bass first thing). It’s just that when he gets bit, it’s the right-sized largemouth. Abram had a 5-4 kicker and actually lost another around that size that could’ve helped him crack 20 pounds. Once he lost that last big one, it forced him to make a tough decision.
You see, the other key part of Abram’s pattern is it needs the sun to position the fish, and with clouds in the forecast for tomorrow, Abram is openly worried about whether his pattern might disappear. Thus, he had to weigh the pros and cons of leaning into his fish today to try and go for a mega bag or lay off and hope he can still catch them tomorrow.

“It was a tough decision,” says Abram. “I knew I had 17 pounds, but when I lost that big one I made the decision to stop. I’m not getting enough bites, as is, to burn any I may get tomorrow. 
“I figured I had to get to tomorrow in order to worry about tomorrow. I knew I had enough to get to tomorrow, so now I can worry about what to do.”
2. Matt Becker – Finleyville, Pa. – 27-7 (10)
Plenty of pros are sight-fishing, but none has done it better than Becker thus far. Having a special little area all to yourself certainly helps.
Hanging in the clear lower end, Becker says his original area yesterday was receiving a lot of pressure, which made it tough for him to sight-fish. So today, he started bouncing around, and the result may be something special.
“I got lucky,” says Becker, who is catching all largemouth off beds. “I stumbled upon this little area. Really, it’s one pocket, and there are a lot of big ones in it. Everything I weighed today came from it, and I saw seven more cruising around that were all around 3 pounds. So hopefully they’ll calm down tomorrow and get on beds.”
One of only three pros to crack the 13-pound mark both days, Becker has yet to catch a kicker. Though, he says he did have a 6-pounder on a bed today he couldn’t get to eat.
“I actually caught three males while trying to catch her,” says Becker. “She just wouldn’t bite. So I left her, and when I came back she was gone.”
3. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 27-5 (10)
Nelson has had some of the worst luck with kickers this tournament. Otherwise, he might be blowing away this event.
A day after messing up a 5-pounder and an even bigger one on beds, Nelson again missed a 5-pounder that he watched eat his swimbait. When he set the hook, he never pinned her. 
Fortunately, he had all his weight within the first two hours thanks to a combination of sight-fishing and blind-casting a Keitech swimbait. In fact, his biggest fish today came just casting, though even then, he had his issues.
“I had two over 3 pounds that absolutely crushed it,” says Nelson. “I really don’t know how I missed, either; just like that 5-pounder.”
Nelson did note part of the issue might be the jighead he’s using with the swimbait, but it’s a necessity with the way he’s fishing it. 
As for tomorrow, he says he’s not concerned about the clouds, as he has 10 to 15 fish still marked on beds, and he’s actually done better sight-fishing first thing in the low light as opposed to when it gets brighter. 
4. Laramy Strickland – Bushnell, Fla. – 26-11 (10)
Nelson might be leading Angler of the Year, but Strickland is on quite a roll now, too.
Having just won the previous Pro Circuit event on the Harris Chain, Strickland has kept his good mojo going thanks to a shallow pattern that could get better with the cloud cover tomorrow. That is, if he has any fish left.
“I’m fishing up shallow for largemouth,” says Strickland. “Problem is, my pattern is pretty spot and bait specific, and a few other guys have figured it out, too.
“Plus, the largemouth don’t reload on this lake like others. So, honestly, I’m probably running out of fish.”
If that’s the case, Strickland figures he’ll just spend the majority of Friday “practicing” in hopes of finding a new pattern. 
“Good Lord willing, I hope there’s a few more left to get me to Saturday,” says Strickland. “I’ve caught a 4- and 3-pounder both days [the ones yesterday came sight-fishing], and there just aren’t that many of those in here. So I’ve been fortunate.”
5. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 26-9 (10)
There are zero secrets about what Monsoor is doing. It’s what he’s always doing: throwing a swim jig.
“All I have to do is find one and he’ll eat it,” says Monsoor of his swim jig. “It’s just been hard to find any big ones.”
Hanging mainly in the clearer lower end, Monsoor says he’s simply covering water and beating the bank. There’s no real rhyme or reason to the fish he’s catching, as he’s just trying to put his swim jig in front of as many fish as he can. The result was more than 30 fish today; all of them spotted bass. He did lose one around 3 pounds that was the only fish he’s lost in the tournament.
He figures the cloud cover in the forecast should only help his bite.
“I’d much rather have clouds than sun,” says Monsoor. “So, yeah, it should get better.”

Top 10 pros
1. Jason Abram – Piney Flats, Tenn. – 29-0 (10)
2. Matt Becker – Finleyville, Pa. – 27-7 (10)
3. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 27-5 (10)
4. Laramy Strickland – Bushnell, Fla. – 26-11 (10)
5. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 26-9 (10)
6. Spencer Shuffield – Hot Springs, Ark. – 26-9 (10)
7. Derrick Snavely – Piney Flats, Tenn. – 26-1 (10)
8. Barron Adams – Mineral Bluff, Ga. – 25-13 (10)
9. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 25-5 (10)
10. Brandon Mosley – Choctaw, Okla. –  25-2 (10)

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