LONGVIEW, Texas. – Weather changes have a way of tanking opportunity, so with a cold front heading for Lake of the Pines tomorrow, it was critically important for finalists in the EverStart Series Texas Division tournament to secure as much weight as possible today. Ritter Ferguson did just that by extending his lead on this East Texas impoundment.
After taking the top spot on day one with the event's heaviest bag – 19-10 – Ferguson added 13-11 on day two and stretched his lead to 3-2 with a combined weight of 33-5. Today, Ferguson started off at the same upper-lake spot that produced his day-one catch, but as the fishing thinned, he moved around and picked up what he needed elsewhere.
"I had three keepers off the spot I fished yesterday but then we left and went to another spot and I ended up catching another one," he said. "We went back to (my original spot) and (completing) a limit. Later, we went to another spot and I culled one of my smaller fish."
Ferguson's main area is a sweet spot within the vast expanses of timber and stumps in the lake's north end. Here, he caught his fish in 6-8 feet on Texas-rigged soft plastics. When he fished elsewhere, he was looking for schools of bass working the shad. In this scenario, a Carolina rig did the trick.
"They weren't schooling on top, there are just areas holding a lot of fish that are feeding on schools of shad down on the bottom," Ferguson said. "I knew where they were because I had already located them. It was a drop-off on the main lake."
Safely navigating the minefield of timber and stumps and making efficient presentations to specific targets is pretty straightforward in calm conditions. But when a big blow has the lake rocking – not so easy.
Ferguson said he would like to return to his primary spot in the final round, but with wet, windy weather common to the leading side of an approaching cold front may complicate that objective.
"Tomorrow's going to be a whole different story," he said. "This front's going to come through, the wind's going to be blowing out of the north and that spot may be unfishable. I'm going to try to start there, but if I can't, I'm just going to try to eke out a limit on some schooling fish and places I can get out of the wind, so maybe it will happen."
Setina's adjustment moves him up to second
When the bass wouldn't take his frog, second-place pro Joe Don Setina switched to a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper in California 420 color and sacked up a limit catch of 16-2. Pairing this with his 14-1 from the first day earned the Pittsburg, Texas pro a final-round berth with a total weight of 30-3.
"I started out doing the frog thing like I did yesterday; I had six good ones come up and just knock the fire out of it but I think they hit it with their mouth closed so I gave up on that and went fishing little sloughs off the river channel pitching that Skinny Dipper around stumps and caught them pretty good."
Setina said he caught about 10 fish on the slender swimming bait. The key was a small bullet weight to keep the nose down in the water.
"They didn't want to come up to the surface and feed today, so I gave them something under the surface," Setina said. "I just tried to give them something different. It seems like everyone around was throwing jigs and stuff like that, so I gave them something different to look at."
Clark cranks up to third
Brian Clark, of Haltom City, Texas, has had two remarkably consistent days with 14-9 on day one and 14-10 today. After placing 10th in the opening round, he rose to third on day two with a total weight of 29-3.
Clark caught his fish on a prototype Excite squarebill in a sexy shad pattern with a little extra copper tint for optimal attraction in dirty water. Also, a single deep pitch knocker makes an enticing sound that further attracts the fish."
"Where I'm fishing is just a bunch of shallow wood – nothing deeper than two feet and dirty water," he said. "That's the perfect scenario for a squarebill. A lot of the guys (in the area) were flipping and with all that pressure, I think the reaction bite is the key to it.
"I'm around a lot of fish and I probably caught 20 keepers each day. I'd leave my good area and just go fishing and keep catching them. It's kind of a deal where you have to get that big bite. My co-angler caught a 6-10 there, so there are some big ones there. You just have to go down and get that big bite."
Wilson's holds steady at fourth
Kris Wilson, of Montgomery, Texas again stuck to a two-part game plan and sacked up another limit, which kept him in the fourth-place spot he claimed on day one. Wilson caught 16-9 on day one and added 11-11 for a total weight of 28-4.
"It was a lot harder today," Wilson said. "I only had three early and I didn't have my fifth one until about 10 minutes to go."
Like he did on day one, Wilson fished a Strike King 5XD in sexy shad and a black/blue jig with black/blue Paca Craw trailer. With the pre-front wind starting by midday, he had to upsize his jig from ½-ounce to ¾.
"When I started flipping, I had to go to a heavier jig because the wind blew and it was a lot tougher bite," he said. I tried throwing a squarebill and a spinnerbait and just couldn't get anything going, so I just went back to flipping and went to that bigger jig."
Froggin' lifts Terry to fifth
"My weight dropped down today, but I had more consistent fish today – I didn't get that big bite like I had yesterday," Terry said. "I think a lot of people didn't get that 4- to 6-pound bite today. I think the wind definitely made a big difference, but I also think that a lot of people are crowded in the same areas. This lake has a lot of fish and some areas will replenish good, but I think a lot of people's areas aren’t replenishing well."
Terry caught one keeper while flipping but the other four ate a white Spro Bronzeye Frog. He added a rattle and that seemed to entice more bites.
Best of the rest
6th: Russell Cecil, of Willis, Texas, 27-13
7th: Harold Allen, of Shelbyville, Texas, 26-8
8th: John Tanner, of Quitman, Texas, 25-6
9th: Stewart Herndon, of Graham, Texas, 25-2
10th: Bert Thompson, of Benton, La., 24-15
Honeycutt swims to co-angler lead
Looking only at the stats, it may appear that Keith Honeycutt bombed on day two, but that's not the case. The co-angler from Temple, Texas led his division with 17-5 on day one, but day-two brought major disappointment when his pro experienced engine and trolling motor problems. Fortunately for Honeycutt, his day-one weight, plus a lone keeper of 1-13 today was sufficient to hold him in the top spot with 19-2.
"At this level, you try to catch all that you're allowed to catch as a co-angler and hope it all works out," Honeycutt said. "I didn't have a good day today. I was really disappointed, but I was able to scratch out one small keeper while running the banks."
Honeycutt said his pro's outboard broke down about 10 minutes into the day and then the trolling motor failed two hours later. When they realized that running was not an option, they trolled to the windward bank and did what they could. Honeycutt caught his fish on a 3/8-ounce jig in about four feet.
"Color doesn't really matter," he said. "These fish are relating to wood and you just have to make a lot of cast and a lot of flips."
David Underwood, of Waco, Texas placed second with 17-3, while Dan Wilson, of Pilot Point, Texas took third with 17-0. In fourth place, Andrew Crain, of Grapevine, Texas had 16-12. Fifth place went to Darrell Denton, of Georgetown, Texas, whose 15-2 was anchored by the tournament's biggest bass – an 8-11. Notably, Denton blanked on day one, so his was a huge comeback.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Lake of the Pines event:
6th: Marc Logan, of Lawton, Ok., 15-2
7th: Kevin Carter, Spring, Texas, 14-13
8th: Chuck Nelson, of Elmore City, Ok., 14-12
9th: Anthony Ferdinando, of Spicewood, Texas, 14-10
10th: Elton Brock, of Denton, Texas, 14-4
Day three of the EverStart Series Texas Division tournament on Lake of the Pines continues at Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:00 a.m. (Central) at Lakeside Area Recreation Area located at 2669 FM 726 in Jefferson, Texas.