Week 7 was originally supposed to see three open/ tournament trail events calendared on SCFishingReport.com, but tournament director Brett Collins decided to postpone (date TBA) the second CATT Spring Qualifier on Lake Wylie because so many anglers were planning to fish the first CBC NC Division event of the year on Lake Norman. Accordingly, this feature will only preview two tournaments for the upcoming weekend.
SC Bass Federation Lake Hartwell
The South Carolina Bass Federation has its first tournament of the 2015 season this Saturday on Lake Hartwell out of Broyles, and it is expected to be cold! No prediction is available as of publication about how many boats will be fishing, but tournament angler and guide Brad Fowler of Pendleton says that tournament anglers will face challenging conditions. Predictions are for frigid air temperatures in the morning accompanied by bracing winds throughout the day, and so anglers will have to battle the conditions as well as the fish. Lake Hartwell has been fishing strong in recent weeks, with 25 plus pound sacks regularly winning team events, and Brad predicts that under the conditions it will take about 18-19 pounds for an individual to win this event. He expects the tournament to be won out deep, where the best fish have been caught for some time now, especially under the conditions.
BFL Lake Murray
The Walmart BFL South Carolina Division also has its first tournament of the season this Saturday, on Lake Murray out of Dreher Island State Park. Despite the cold and winds the tournament is still expected to draw a crowd, and SCFishingReport.com anticipates attending the weigh-in which begins at 3:30.
Veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that until recently on Lake Murray the predominant bite was a “bait bite” early in the morning when bass were feeding on herring that had pulled up shallower overnight, with Alabama Rigs and crankbaits accounting for the best sacks. Even before this weekend Doug says that bite appeared to be waning, and while it is unclear what effect the cold front will have on the fishing, it is likely that it will further negatively affect that shallow pattern. As a result Doug predicts that the tournament may be won one of two ways.
First, particularly early in the morning a number of anglers have been catching fish in 25-30 feet of water on the bottom, especially on jigs. Deep patterns are less likely to be affected by a cold front moving through and so this could be a winning pattern Saturday. Second, a fair number of fish seem to be around docks as shallow as 3 or 4 feet, and the cold front may have the effect of pushing fish even tighter onto them. Doug believes the better docks are in stained water, and anglers will need to slow down to fish them effectively with either a jig or a shakey head worm. Cold fronts have the effect of narrowing the strike zone and so fish will probably need a close presentation to take a bait. A winning pattern could be to start out deep early, and then fish the shade around docks once the sun is up. Note: water temperatures currently range between about 48 and 50, but they may drop enough next week that fish pull out of shallower water altogether.
The bite is very inconsistent right now, and the fishing seems to have gotten a little tougher than a week ago when multiple bags over 20 pounds were caught in the CBC tournament (with 176 boats – some very good fishermen also struggled). With the conditions Saturday Doug does not expect to see a lot of big strings this weekend, but with the number of anglers on the water he predicts that there will be a few big bags. Overall, Doug expects it to take about 21-22 pounds to win the tournament.
My thanks to Brad and Doug for their insights, as always.
To view the full tournament calendar on SCFishingReport.com visit http://www.scfishingreport.com/tournaments/; tournaments are still being added, and if you know of an open/ trail event that should be included please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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