BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Will Davis Jr. didn’t get what he wanted, but he made the most of what he got and sacked up a Day 1 limit of 21 pounds, 13 ounces to take the lead in the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole.
Coming off a 14th-place finish in his first Elite event — last week’s SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee — the pro from Sylacauga, Ala., heads into Day 2 with a 7-ounce lead over Australian pro Carl Jocumsen.
“I’m a bigtime bed fisherman, but it just didn’t pan out well this week,” Davis said of his preferred game plan. “I went to my strength, which is power fishing in the river.”
Davis, the 2022 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation champion, said he knew the lake’s lower end was receiving a lot of pressure. Electing to fish the mouth of the Flint River proved to be a prudent call.
“I started really close working a crankbait, but I was catching only small fish, so I knew I needed to make a move,” Davis said. “I picked up a spinnerbait and fished current breaks and caught two of my biggest ones.
“The current breaks were little indentions in the bank. They had to be close to a little feeder pocket; it had to be where they’re staging.”
Davis caught his bass on a shad-colored FISHCO crankbait and the Xwire spinnerbait, both made by Davis Bait Company, which is owned by his father, Will Davis Sr. The spinnerbait had a peacock-color skirt, which comprised blue glimmer, chartreuse and pink strands and tandem willow-leaf Colorado blades.
“When you’re fishing a current break, you have to start below it and come up to it,” Davis said of his presentation strategy. “Some guys will start on the spot, but by the time you get positioned, you have to get on the trolling motor to get back up there. So, you cover a lot of time doing that.
“I would make two specific casts on each current break — one on each corner. I would throw five or six times and leave.”
Covering an area of about 5 miles, Davis said he hit several spots. One of those spots produced a 6- and a 5-pounder.
“They bit really good from about 9 to 10 (a.m.) and then from 1 to 3 (p.m.),” Davis said. “My biggest fish today was a 6-pounder that bit during that early period.”
Davis credits his lifetime of fishing the Coosa River lakes for helping him develop the diversity that allowed him to adjust and thrive.
“I’m used to fishing current — and mean spotted bass — but we do get big largemouth too,” Davis said. “But they’re on the move, so I might have to change up tomorrow.
“That’s the good thing about growing up where I did; we have clear lakes, current lakes and diverse habitat, so it has definitely helped me know when to change.”
Hailing from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, Jocumsen is in second place with 21-6. Set to make his first appearance in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota March 24-26 on the Tennessee River, he said he’s capitalizing on what he believes is well-earned momentum.
“It was a phenomenal day and I had some amazing bites,” said Jocumsen, who finished sixth last week at Lake Okeechobee. “You get on a bit of a roll and you start making good decisions. Life’s good right now because I spent a lot of years not having any of that and grinding and wondering what I was doing.”
Jocumsen said he caught most of his bass on a similar swim jig technique to what he used on Okeechobee, but he made one significant change that seems to be triggering the fish. He also caught a keeper by flipping a Texas-rigged X Zone Lures Adrenaline Craw.
“The biggest fish, a 6-pounder, hit harder than I’ve ever had any bass hit — I didn’t even think it was a bass,” Jocumsen said. “I just have this thing going right now that they do not like. It’s not conventional and when they get aggressive, they do not like it around them.”
Jonathan Kelley of Old Forge, Pa., is in third place with 20-12. Noting that he had a tough practice, Kelley said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to catch anything today, so he was delighted with his productivity.
“It was such a tough practice, I had nothing to lose, so I didn’t get confused by one 3- or 4-pound bite,” Kelley said. “I just kept a clear mind and went to an area I went to yesterday around 3 o’clock, just to have somewhere to start.
“I had five for 5 pounds right away, then I kept hopping around and caught a 3-pounder and then a 4-pounder. I looked at my marshal and was like ‘This could happen.’ I just went back to areas where I had caught fish in practice and caught a big one here and a big one there.”
Kelley anchored his bag with a 5-9, which he caught on a jerkbait after spotting the fish on forward-facing sonar. Kelley dedicated his day to family friend Tommy Doria, who recently passed.
“I really felt like I had someone else with me in the boat today; there was an angel looking over me,” Kelley said. “It was a special day. I honestly could do no wrong and everywhere I went there was fish.”
Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., earned the $1,000 daily bonus for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day with his 8-1 largemouth.
Jocumsen leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 202 points. Davis is in second with 195, followed by Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., with 193, Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 186 and Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., with 185.
Davis also leads the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 195 points.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET at the Earle May Boat Basin Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:30 p.m. After Friday’s weigh-in, only the Top 50 remaining anglers will advance to Semifinal Saturday. Bassmaster LIVE coverage begins at 8 a.m. on Bassmaster.com, Tubi and the FOX Sports platforms.
The Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee is being hosted by the City of Bainbridge Community Development.
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
2023 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters
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