Hartwell FLW Tour Major
Jay Yelas – Day 2
Friday, March 25, 2011
> Day 1: 5, 15-10
> Day 2: 4, 6-07
> Total = 9, 22-01 (66th)
I had a bummer of a day, that's for sure. I fished the same way I fished yesterday. Looking back, I made some poor decisions on where to fish and when. I had some spots up the river where I caught fish yesterday, but I didn't start there. I went and looked for some more bedding fish. If I'd started up the river I probably would have had a better day.
But in the big scheme of things, I wasn't on enough to do well in this tournament. I had a decent day yesterday and tried to expand that a little today. I ran out of sight-fish. Then when I went up the river, where I was trying to catch them with cranks mostly and I just couldn't catch them. The stuff I was fishing – the weight just wasn't there to have a good tournament.
This might be yet another event this year won with sight-fishing. It's at least held up for a 2-day lead. But we've got some weather coming and I don't know what the sight-fishermen are going to be able to catch. Bryan Thrift might win another one.
Jay Yelas – Day 1
Thursday, March 24, 2011
> Day 1: 5, 15-10 (17th)
The day was not an easy day by any means. I started out the day bed-fishing. I had five 3-pounders on beds to catch. I went to the first one and caught it on my first cast. I went to the next one and it was gone. I went to the next one and hooked and lost it on my first cast. The fourth one had a boat on it. The fifth one was gone – I don't know why. It was frustrating, because by 9:00 or 10:00, all the bed-fish in the whole lake were covered up.
I ended up catching two off beds, then I bailed on bed-fishing and ran up the lake to my just-fishing pattern and caught three pretty good ones – a 4 1/2, a 3 and another keeper. I only caught five keepers all day, but I was fishing what I thought I needed to do to catch big ones.
I'm fine with the fact that, at least for me, the bed-fishing seems to be over. I only looked for 1 day in practice and didn't find as many as the other guys. David Dudley told me he looked all 3 days. And I guess mine were in a popular area because there were three boats in every pocket. That's when I pulled out the white flag and started waving it.
This isn't the type of lake where you can just sit in a pocket and catch big limits. It's one here, one there. But I do think I have a shot at doing pretty well on the other pattern I have.
Tomorrow I'll go to a couple beds to start – I did find one right before weigh-in with a 3-pounder. Then I'll just go fishing. Today I sight-fished until 11:30 and it was a grind. I had two fish at 11:30 and ran 20 miles up the lake and caught a 3-pounder on my very first cast. So I knew it was the right decision and I'll do that much earlier tomorrow.
The cold front's here now – it's going to be cold tonight – and I think that'll put a damper on the bed-fishing. This may break the trend of bed-fishing holding up all 4 days that we've seen so far this season.
Jay Yelas – Practice
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I've been out there 3 days. We had record-high temps in the mid-80s and needless to say, the fish are moving onto beds. So the way this thing is shaping up is that it's the very beginning of the spawn and a lot of males are moving up. Some of them have already made beds but I've only seen two pairs in practice – a male and female together. Trouble is the males top out at about 3 pounds. You can see big females cruising, but they're not interested yet.
I'd say probably 100 to 120 of the boats in the tournament will be sight-fishing. It's just a merry-go-round in all the pockets. All the guys are looking. But I don't think sight-fishing will hold up for a win. We'll see a lot of good bags the first day, but it's supposed to cool off quite a bit. They may keep coming, I don't know. It'll be interesting to see if it's won off beds or by just fishing.
I've checked out the deeper bite. I don't know the lake as well as some of the guys, but you can see clouds of herring in the deep trees. It's just tough for me to fish 35 feet of water when it's 85 degrees out in March. A few of my friends got a few good bites out deep though.
Overall I found that the quality fish are hard to catch – it's hard to find quality on beds – so I think 15 to 17 pounds a day will probably win. That's 60 to 70 pounds total – somewhere in there. I plan to sight-fish the first day. I've got 14 to 15 pounds marked. If I can catch all five, then I'll just go fishing for the rest of the tournament. But I'll keep my eye out to see if any new ones move up. I expect this to be one of those tournaments where the weights on day 2 will take a big dip. Someone will catch 20 pounds on beds, but it'll be really tough to follow up.
I do think the jig could play a big role if a guy can find those pre-spawn fish with a jig. That could be a major factor. The swimbait bite, for me, isn't there yet. The herring are still real deep – they haven't moved up yet – so really there's no bait up shallow except for a few bream. You can find some shad way up the creeks and rivers, but it's too dirty there for a swimbait. That's a spinnerbait deal.
Another factor could be the spotted bass. One of my friends caught a 3-pounder off the bed, and guys have been catching 3- to 4-pound spots just fishing. This lake never had spots in the '90s, but now it's very similar to Lanier – it has the herring and the spots have really taken off.
All in all I think it'll be a fun tournament because so few of us have experience here. I fished two Invitationals here in the '90s, but I talked to Larry Nixon the other day and he told me he's never ever fished here. That's amazing. So there are a lot of unknowns, but I like that. I like going to new venues.