Walters grabs early advantage in Bassmaster Elite Series event at Lake Murray

PROSPERITY, S.C. — With more than 48,000 acres, Lake Murray has plenty of places to find a bite. Dialing in the better ones is a process of elimination that favored home-state pro Patrick Walters.

South Carolina's Patrick Walters takes the Day 1 lead at the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Murray with a five-bass limit weighing 25-8. Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

 

Sacking up a limit of 25 pounds, 8 ounces, the pro from Eutawville, S.C., leads Day 1 of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Murray.

Exemplifying the importance of multiple options, the two-time Elite Series champion leveraged the morning blueback herring spawn, but also found consistent action throughout the day.

“It’s important to have (a diverse game plan) because you can start on the wrong spot,” Walters said. “You need options because you can run around little bit and make a couple of decisions.”

As Walters explained, his day did not begin as he had planned. Thankfully, he was able to regroup and establish a productive course.

“On my first spot, I thought I was going to catch a lot more weight than I did,” Walters said. “I caught one little one off of it and that was it.

“On my next spot, I caught another one. I didn’t want to leave; I would have stayed there all day if they had been good ones, but you have to move.”

Surmising that the baitfish he’d found spawning during practice had left, Walters said the area still held bass. However, without the herring spawn, the predictable feeding activity was nonexistent.

Reconnecting with the bite-making activity became his priority. As Walters explained, overlapping forage created interesting variables.

“You can target herring or threadfin shad spawns, but as we’re getting later in the year, you can find shad spawning (alongside) the herring,” Walters said. “You can go to certain areas and target just shad eaters and certain areas to target herring eaters.

“The key is you just have to find the bait.”

When he located spots where bass were targeting baitfish spawns, Walters used a variety of reaction baits to mimic the frantic forage appearance. After this action subsided, he transitioned to other undisclosed patterns that allowed him to complete his weight by around 11:30 a.m.

“There are a lot of shallow fish still left and there are a lot of fish moving deep,” said Walters, who anchored his limit with a 5-5. “It was about being able to go back and forth between shallow and deep.”

Walters said he fished Murray top to bottom. While the lower end of a reservoir typically offers the clearest water, Walters said that was not his focus. Ultimately, for the postspawners he sought, it was all about the food.

“I was not looking for clarity because clarity doesn’t really matter right now,” he said. “You don’t want dirty water, but clarity isn’t (most important).”

Walters kept his bait selection guarded, but he noted that he complemented his reaction bait assortment with a Carolina rig. He again kept his details slim, but offered a coy hint.

“You can fish a Carolina rig in 3 inches of water,” he grinned.

Looking ahead to the second round, Walters said he’ll try to replicate his Day 1 success, but he’s taking a realistic approach to the event’s progression.

“They bit today really well, but the fish are going to get pressured and the pods of fish are going to get broken up,” he said.

Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, is in second place with 22-5. Starting his day on Murray’s lower end, Livesay caught most of his bass by targeting baitfish spawns, then moved uplake to fish riverine habitat.

“I like the lower end in the morning because the water’s clear; then I think it’s a little easier to get bit up the river later in the day because the water’s dirtier,” Livesay said. “I caught four of my fish in the lower end and one in the upper end.”

Livesay caught his bass on a chrome 6th Sense Catwalk topwater bait and a white Netbait Super Twitch. Speed was the key for both presentations.

Cody Huff of Ava, Mo., is in third place with 22-1. After enjoying a quick start to his day, Huff started running a mix of shallow targets and finished his opening round effort.

“I had a limit of 19 pounds pretty quickly and then I caught two big ones in the afternoon,” he said. “It was just one of those days when your moves just feel right.

“I caught a 5-pounder today, so it was just a good day where everything worked out.”

Huff said he caught all of his fish on reaction baits. However, he was not actually fishing a shad or herring spawn. His bass were in areas where the baitfish do spawn, but he believes that seasonal pattern was dwindling in his areas.

Joseph Webster of Hamilton, Ala. is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 6-6.

Cole Sands of Calhoun, Tenn., was found in violation of an element of the Bassmaster Sportsmanship rules. His first day’s catch was disqualified.

Rookie Trey McKinney of Carbondale, Ill., leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings with 480 points. Jordan Lee of Cullman, Ala., is in second with 444, followed by Huff with 412, Chris Johnston of Otonabee, Canada, with 407, and Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn., with 403.

McKinney also leads the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings.

Saturday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at Dreher Island State Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3 p.m., with only the Top 50 anglers advancing to Semifinal Sunday.

Follow all the action on FS1 from 7:30-10:30 a.m. and on Bassmaster.com from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. ET. On Semifinal Sunday, watch live coverage on FS1from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and on Bassmaster.com from 12:30-3 p.m. On Championship Monday watch live coverage on Bassmaster.com from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is being hosted by Capital City Lake Murray Country.

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