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Saturday, March 21, 2020
2020 FLW Pro Circuit Lake Martin Day 3: Jason Abram Continue Lead with 41-06 lbs!
Shallow largemouth key for top anglers By Sean Ostruszka
FLW PRESS RELEASE
Shallow bite and skinny dipper key to larger bites for Abram (Photo: FLW)
About 2 1/2 pounds separate Kerry Milner in 10th place and Ron Nelson in second. That’s the same amount separating tournament leader Jason Abram from Nelson going into the final day.
In what has been a remarkably tight Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin, Abram did something very important today: Despite losing a 5-pounder and a 3-pounder, he still found a way to separate himself from the pack. His 12-6 limit was the third largest of the day, and it pushed him to 41-6 total.
As was showcased on day one, Lake Martin does have some kickers swimming around in it, and just one from any pro in the top 10 tomorrow could make a close tournament all that much closer. In talking with many of the guys chasing Abram, it sounds like they’ll be swinging for kickers tomorrow to try and catch him.
That makes the 5-pounder Abram lost today (and the 5-pounder he lost yesterday) all that much more important, especially since his pattern seems to be dying both because of a lack of sun and falling water.
“It [the falling water] definitely has been a problem for me,” says Abram. “The fish I’ve been catching have been dirt shallow; like in 10 inches of water.”
Despite the deteriorating conditions, he’s still getting the right bites.
Just as he did the previous two days, Abram started out burning the bank in the mid-lake region in search of a quick limit of spotted bass.
“They’re just random banks I’m paralleling with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper,” says Abram. “I think the spots [spotted bass] are just pushing bait up against the bank, because I’ll go a while and then catch three or four quick. It’s like a pod swam up and I’ll catch them.”
That gave him a “confidence-booster” limit by 9 a.m. today, and once the sun peeked out just a bit around 10:30, he immediately switched to his largemouth pattern, with instant results.
“The first bite I got was that big one I lost,” says Abram. “Then I caught two more after that within 30 minutes.”
Problem was, after that, he only got two more bites the entire rest of his day. Abram says that once he makes the decision to go for largemouths, he’s all in for the rest of the day. Or, at least, that’s been his plan thus far. Tomorrow may be a different story.
With even more clouds forecasted tomorrow – his largemouth patterns relies on the sun – and the water dropping as much as it has been, Abram admits he might need to adapt his strategy.
“With the curveballs we’re being thrown, I think whoever adjusts the best tomorrow is going to win this thing,” says Abram. “That may have to be me. I’ve been committing to the largemouth bite, but if I go a couple hours without a bite tomorrow, I may have to change and go back to spots or do something different.”
2. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 38-14 (15)
Largemouth may be getting tougher and tougher to catch with the falling water, but that’s not stopping Nelson from going all in on them.
The first two days, the Angler of the Year leader mixed in some time to catch spotted bass. Not so today, and for good reason.
“So, I’m going, and I see a 2-pounder on a bed,” says Nelson. “I think, ‘I should catch that fish.’ So I spin the boat around, and suddenly there’s a 6-pounder with him. Unfortunately, as soon as I pitched in she swam away, but still, it can happen that fast.”
With the in weights so close, one big fish may make the difference. Thus, while Nelson admits he may again go back to mixing in some spotted bass for a quick limit, he’ll assuredly focus mainly on largemouth.
“It’s just so hard to leave the largemouth water,” says Nelson. “Any given cast or moment you may stumble upon a 5- or 6-pounder. And one of those is like three fish on this lake. So I think tomorrow is going to come down to what guy catches that one big kicker.”
3. Matt Becker – Finleyville, Pa. – 38-2 (15)
It’s not a good thing when the water has dropped so much you can see the backs of the bedding bass you’re targeting sticking out of the water. That’s exactly what Becker faced today.
The Pennsylvania pro was still focused on sight-fishing, especially in the special little area on the lower end that he found yesterday, which was loaded with bedding fish and cruisers. The shallow pocket just keeps getting shallower, and the fish are not liking it.
“I went back there this morning and caught a couple off beds, but only one of them was over 2 pounds,” says Becker. “All the big ones were gone. Same with the cruisers – gone.”
Not sure what to do, Becker ended up fishing docks for a bit just to fill out his limit before heading back to his little pocket. Turns out, that saved his day, as two good ones had pulled in one beds, and he was able to upgrade twice.
To say his sight-fishing pattern is receding is an understatement, and Becker knows it. Hence, he talked of scrapping his entire pattern and doing something different tomorrow to go for the win.
4. Spencer Shuffield – Hot Springs, Ark. – 37-10 (15)
Up until today, Shuffield had been having a lot of fun, and he still had fun today. Yet, it sure wasn’t the fun he’d become accustomed to having.
“It was so weird today,” says Shuffield. “It was downright frustrating, because the fish were so particular.”
Shuffield has been one of the few pros not worried about the falling water, as he’s been fishing offshore for suspended spotted bass. In fact, the way he’s catching them is pretty unique. He’s searching around with forward-looking sonar, trying to spot individual fish swimming around.
“Then when I see one, I pitch out and catch him,” Shuffield says.
The plan has been working great, as even today he says he caught five limits of spotted bass. The quality simply wasn’t there.
“The fish were grouping up today more than they had been, which you’d think would be a good thing,” says Shuffield. “But I think the little ones are beating the bigger fish to the bait.
“So we’ll see about tomorrow. I don’t think I can win doing that, so I may go for it and try something else.”
Apparently, the fishing in the Piney Flats, Tenn., area lines up well with Lake Martin, because Snavely makes two pros in the top five from the same town (leader Abram being the other).
Like Abram, Snavely has been on a dual-species pattern. He’s fishing for bedding largemouth before going after offshore spotted bass. The plan worked great the first day when he found some giants on beds, but today it was just little ones.
That’s when, toward the end of today, he went to throwing a Carolina rig on offshore points and was immediately rewarded.
“I caught my biggest fish doing that,” says Snavely. “I may start on the spotted bass tomorrow because it’s stupid easy to catch them. They bite so quick. So it’d be good to have a quick limit and then spend the rest of the day just looking for some kickers.”