Robertson’s Postspawn Focus Delivers Opening-Round Lead At Bassmaster Elite Series Event On Santee Cooper Lakes

CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. — Capitalizing on an early start, Matt Robertson of Kuttawa, Ky., caught a five-bass limit of 28 pounds, 1 ounce to lead Day 1 of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes.

Coming off a Top 30 finish at last week’s Elite Series event at Lake Murray, Robertson heads into Friday’s second round leading rookie Bryant Smith of California by just over a pound.

Noting that he’s fishing the way he likes to fish, Robertson said he focused mostly on postspawn bass. He spent time in Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie and caught bass in two different areas.

“I’m running a shad spawn early and then later in the morning, I’m going fishing for postspawners,” Robertson said. “I was done by about 10:30 or 11.”

Understandably guarded with his details, Robertson said he believes he dialed in a specific pattern that gave him the opening-round advantage. While he declined to elaborate, Robertson said his choice of habitat played a key role in his success.

“I think I’m doing something a little different from everybody, and hopefully it will hold up,” he said.

Robertson used three different baits to amass his big bag. Despite his dominant day, he said his leading limit was surprising.

“I had a bad practice,” he said. “I got a few bites in an area but I didn’t know I was going to catch what I caught today.

“I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he said. “I didn’t catch ‘em here the last time (the 2022 Elite at Santee Cooper), so I just went out there and approached it totally different from what I did last time.”

After a calm Day 1, Friday’s forecast calls for windier conditions and possible showers. Robertson said he’s unconcerned.

“I don’t care; I have something for (all conditions),” he said. “I like catching big bass, and I hope we can go out there and do it again tomorrow.”

Hailing from Roseville, Calif., Smith is in second place with 26-15. He spent his day in Lake Marion targeting cypress trees. With countless options, he was able to figure out a replicable pattern that allowed him to pick out three trees with the greatest potential.

“I think the positioning of the trees is important, but we’ll find out tomorrow,” Smith said. “There’s something about the trees that I’m looking for that’s kind of the same deal.

“I’m not really going down big lines of trees; I’m trying to pick out the right trees.”

Smith said a single finesse bait proved reliable Thursday, but he’s not sure if he can back up his Day 1 effort with another solid limit on Friday. Even if his pattern holds, he’s dealing with a lot of fishing pressure in his area, and that’s a notorious bite killer.

“I could get in a bad rotation, so I may have to fish fresh water tomorrow,” Smith said. “I don’t think what I’m fishing is going to reload that well. I just have to keep my head down and keep grinding and hopefully, I can run into five bites tomorrow.”

Smith made a big move by boating a 6-pounder around 3:10 Thursday afternoon.

“That got me going in the right direction,” Smith said. “I just got in a good rotation, pulled up on the right tree and (that fish) was there.”

Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., is in third place with 25-10. Starting the day with a game plan that included both lakes, he ended up spending all of his time in Lake Moultrie.

“I had a couple of areas where I thought I could get bit and the fish moved,” said Mueller, who holds two career Elite Series wins. “I just moved around, fished new water and I was fortunate to get the three good bites that I got off of new water — places I hadn’t practiced.

“This lake is so big, you can’t just run around. The problem is, I had bites in areas that are so spread out, you have to commit and do one thing and hopefully, it’s the right thing for the weather.”

Stating that he caught his fish on one moving bait and two finesse rigs, Mueller pointed out that he’s seen fish in prespawn, spawn and postspawn modes. This, he said, has created a challenging scenario that he believes will become even more difficult with Friday’s weather.

“I’ve got my work cut out for me tomorrow,” Mueller said. “I’m not sure what that’s going to do, but we’ll take it one bite at a time. At least I got off to a good start.”

David Gaston of Sylacauga, Ala., earned the $1,000 daily bonus for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day with his 8-5 largemouth.

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 380 points. Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., is in second with 369 points, followed by Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 364, Carl Jocumsen of Queensland, Australia, with 364 and John Cox of DeBary, Fla., with 335.

Smith leads the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 305 points.

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at John C. Land III Sport Fishing Facility. The weigh-in will be held back at the facility at 3 p.m., with only the Top 50 anglers advancing to Semifinal Saturday. Bassmaster LIVE coverage starts at 8 a.m. on Bassmaster.com, Tubi and the FOX Sports digital platforms.

The Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes.

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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About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.

2023 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes 4/27-4/30
Santee Cooper Lakes, Clarendon County SC.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Matt Robertson Kuttawa, KY 5 28-01 104
Day 1: 5 28-01
2. Bryant Smith Roseville, CA 5 26-15 103
Day 1: 5 26-15
3. Paul Mueller Naugatuck, CT 5 25-10 102
Day 1: 5 25-10
4. Kyle Norsetter Cottage Grove, WI 5 24-13 101
Day 1: 5 24-13
5. Kyle Welcher Opelika, AL 5 23-00 100
Day 1: 5 23-00
6. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 5 21-14 99
Day 1: 5 21-14
7. Brandon Palaniuk Rathdrum, ID 4 21-14 98
Day 1: 4 21-14
8. Drew Cook Cairo, GA 5 21-13 97
Day 1: 5 21-13
9. Darold Gleason Many, LA 5 21-08 96
Day 1: 5 21-08
10. Luke Palmer Coalgate, OK 5 21-03 95
Day 1: 5 21-03
11. Brandon Cobb Greenwood, SC 5 21-00 94
Day 1: 5 21-00
12. David Gaston Sylacauga, AL 5 20-15 93 $1,000.00
Day 1: 5 20-15
13. Chris Zaldain Fort Worth, TX 5 20-11 92
Day 1: 5 20-11
14. Joshua Stracner Vandiver, AL 5 20-07 91
Day 1: 5 20-07
15. Chris Johnston Otonabee Ontario CANADA 5 20-01 90
Day 1: 5 20-01
16. Carl Jocumsen Queensland AUSTRALIA 5 19-10 89
Day 1: 5 19-10
17. John Cox DeBary, FL 5 19-08 88
Day 1: 5 19-08
18. Masayuki Matsushita Tokoname-Aichi JAPAN 5 19-06 87
Day 1: 5 19-06
19. Joseph Webster Hamilton, AL 5 19-01 86
Day 1: 5 19-01
20. Ray Hanselman Jr Del Rio, TX 5 18-13 85
Day 1: 5 18-13
20. Wes Logan Springville, AL 5 18-13 85
Day 1: 5 18-13
22. Jamie Hartman Newport, NY 5 18-10 83
Day 1: 5 18-10
23. Cliff Prince Palatka, FL 5 18-02 82
Day 1: 5 18-02
24. Taku Ito Chiba JAPAN 4 18-01 81
Day 1: 4 18-01
25. Caleb Kuphall Mukwonago, WI 5 18-00 80
Day 1: 5 18-00
25. Jacob Powroznik North Prince George, VA 5 18-00 80
Day 1: 5 18-00
27. Steve Kennedy Auburn, AL 5 17-14 78
Day 1: 5 17-14
28. Cole Sands Calhoun, TN 5 17-13 77
Day 1: 5 17-13
29. Scott Canterbury Odenville, AL 5 17-12 76
Day 1: 5 17-12
29. Josh Douglas Isle, MN 5 17-12 76
Day 1: 5 17-12
29. Bill Lowen Brookville, IN 5 17-12 76
Day 1: 5 17-12
32. Gary Clouse Winchester, TN 5 17-11 73
Day 1: 5 17-11
33. Bryan New Saluda, SC 5 17-10 72
Day 1: 5 17-10
34. Will Davis Jr Sylacauga, AL 5 17-03 71
Day 1: 5 17-03
34. Chad Pipkens DeWitt, MI 5 17-03 71
Day 1: 5 17-03
36. Brandon Card Salisbury, NC 5 17-00 69
Day 1: 5 17-00
37. Derek Hudnall Zachary, LA 5 16-08 68
Day 1: 5 16-08
38. Jay Przekurat Stevens Point, WI 5 16-05 67
Day 1: 5 16-05
39. Drew Benton Panama City, FL 5 16-03 66
Day 1: 5 16-03
40. Clent Davis Montevallo, AL 5 15-10 65
Day 1: 5 15-10
41. Scott Martin Clewiston, FL 5 15-09 64
Day 1: 5 15-09
42. Stetson Blaylock Benton, AR 5 15-08 63
Day 1: 5 15-08
42. Michael Iaconelli Pittsgrove, NJ 5 15-08 63
Day 1: 5 15-08
44. Jonathan Kelley Old Forge, PA 5 15-05 61
Day 1: 5 15-05
45. Koby Kreiger Alva, FL 5 15-02 60
Day 1: 5 15-02
46. Skylar Hamilton Jefferson, TN 5 15-01 59
Day 1: 5 15-01
46. Pat Schlapper Eleva, WI 5 15-01 59
Day 1: 5 15-01
48. Jeff Gustafson Kenora, Ontario CANADA 5 14-15 57
Day 1: 5 14-15
49. Shane LeHew Catawba, NC 5 14-11 56
Day 1: 5 14-11
50. Seth Feider New Market, MN 5 14-07 55
Day 1: 5 14-07
51. Todd Auten Lake Wylie, SC 3 14-07 54
Day 1: 3 14-07
52. Logan Latuso Gonzales, LA 5 14-01 53
Day 1: 5 14-01
52. Clifford Pirch Payson, AZ 5 14-01 53
Day 1: 5 14-01
52. Bryan Schmitt Deale, MD 5 14-01 53
Day 1: 5 14-01
55. Gerald Swindle Guntersville, AL 5 13-13 50
Day 1: 5 13-13
56. Jacob Foutz Charleston, TN 5 13-09 49
Day 1: 5 13-09
57. Matt Herren Ashville, AL 5 13-05 48
Day 1: 5 13-05
58. Hunter Shryock Ooltewah, TN 5 13-02 47
Day 1: 5 13-02
58. Alex Wetherell Middletown, CT 5 13-02 47
Day 1: 5 13-02
60. Cooper Gallant Bowmanville Ontario CAN 5 13-00 45
Day 1: 5 13-00
61. Keith Combs Huntington, TX 5 12-14 44
Day 1: 5 12-14
62. Larry Nixon Bee Branch, AR 2 12-13 43
Day 1: 2 12-13
63. Matt Arey Shelby, NC 5 12-05 42
Day 1: 5 12-05
63. Joey Cifuentes III Clinton, AR 5 12-05 42
Day 1: 5 12-05
63. Keith Poche Cecil, AL 5 12-05 42
Day 1: 5 12-05
66. Brad Whatley Bivins, TX 4 12-04 39
Day 1: 4 12-04
67. Cory Johnston Cavan CANADA 5 12-03 38
Day 1: 5 12-03
68. Micah Frazier Newnan, GA 5 12-02 37
Day 1: 5 12-02
69. John Crews Jr Salem, VA 4 12-00 36
Day 1: 4 12-00
70. Gregory DiPalma Millville, NJ 5 11-11 35
Day 1: 5 11-11
70. David Williams Newton, NC 5 11-11 35
Day 1: 5 11-11
72. Kyoya Fujita Minamitsuru, Yamanashi 3 11-10 33
Day 1: 3 11-10
73. Jason Christie Dry Creek, OK 5 11-09 32
Day 1: 5 11-09
74. Rick Clunn Ava, MO 4 11-09 31
Day 1: 4 11-09
75. Tyler Rivet Raceland, LA 5 11-08 30
Day 1: 5 11-08
76. John Soukup Sapulpa, OK 5 11-01 29
Day 1: 5 11-01
77. Frank Talley Temple, TX 5 10-11 28
Day 1: 5 10-11
77. Clark Wendlandt Leander, TX 5 10-11 28
Day 1: 5 10-11
79. Buddy Gross Chattanooga, TN 4 10-09 26
Day 1: 4 10-09
80. Jason Williamson Aiken, SC 5 10-01 25
Day 1: 5 10-01
81. Mike Huff London, KY 4 09-12 24
Day 1: 4 09-12
82. Justin Hamner Northport, AL 5 09-09 23
Day 1: 5 09-09
83. Hank Cherry Jr Lincolnton, NC 4 09-06 22
Day 1: 4 09-06
84. Austin Felix Eden Prairie, MN 3 09-02 21
Day 1: 3 09-02
85. Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 4 08-14 20
Day 1: 4 08-14
86. Patrick Walters Eutawville, SC 4 08-07 19
Day 1: 4 08-07
87. Brandon Lester Fayetteville, TN 4 08-04 18
Day 1: 4 08-04
88. Matty Wong Honolulu, HI 3 08-02 17
Day 1: 3 08-02
89. KJ Queen Conover, NC 2 08-02 16
Day 1: 2 08-02
90. Bradley Hallman Edmond, OK 3 07-13 15
Day 1: 3 07-13
91. Brock Mosley Collinsville, MS 3 07-09 14
Day 1: 3 07-09
92. Ed Loughran III Richmond, VA 2 07-03 13
Day 1: 2 07-03
93. Justin Atkins Florence, AL 3 07-01 12
Day 1: 3 07-01
94. Kenta Kimura Osaka JAPAN 2 07-00 11
Day 1: 2 07-00
95. Bob Downey Detroit Lakes, MN 2 06-04 10
Day 1: 2 06-04
96. Lee Livesay Longview, TX 3 06-02 9
Day 1: 3 06-02
97. Bernie Schultz Gainesville, FL 2 06-01 8
Day 1: 2 06-01
98. Cody Huff Ava, MO 2 06-00 7
Day 1: 2 06-00
99. Alex Redwine Blue Ash, OH 3 05-08 6
Day 1: 3 05-08
100. David Mullins Mt Carmel, TN 2 04-15 5
Day 1: 2 04-15
101. Jake Whitaker Hendersonville, NC 1 03-01 4
Day 1: 1 03-01
102. Caleb Sumrall New Iberia, LA 1 02-12 3
Day 1: 1 02-12
103. Marc Frazier Newnan, GA 1 01-02 2
Day 1: 1 01-02
104. David Fritts Lexington, NC 0 00-00 0
Day 1: 0 00-00
———————————————————————–

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