A highly specific presentation plus one key bite gave Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., the Day 1 lead at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Fork with 29 pounds, 4 ounces.
Spending his day in the mid- to lower-lake region, Clunn targeted docks with an Ichikawa Rick Clunn RC King Kong Shad 10 squarebill. He found one particular structure most productive and relied on a specific undisclosed presentation.
“I fished several docks, but I caught all but one of my (limit fish) off of one dock,” Clunn said. “I found this dock in practice and it had a lot of fish holding in front of it. Today, I pulled up there and I did not see those fish, but I guess they were there.
“You can throw at that dock all day and if you’re not doing it exactly right, you’re not going to catch them,” he said. “I can fish behind three other boats and if they’re not doing (what I’m doing), I’m going to catch fish.”
Midday delivered an unexpected opportunity that propelled Clunn into the lead. Moving to another spot, he passed a round, sandy point that looked appealing enough to merit a few casts with a different reaction bait. One of them tempted an 8-9 largemouth, which stands as the day’s second-largest fish.
“I caught that big one trying to find other places,” Clunn said. “That was just one of those gift fish. I don’t even know where he came from and I couldn’t duplicate the cast.
“In practice, I was catching a few fish late in the day off of stuff like that. Most of the fish I caught, I caught them where I was expecting to catch them. But I didn’t expect to catch that one.”
Noting that Fork’s tremendous number of quality fish justifies its trophy lake reputation, Clunn said he caught about 15 keepers today, but his three big bites (8-9, 6-6 and a 5-9) were the difference-makers.
“This lake is so full of fish, you’re fishing over a thousand to catch one,” he said. “The key here is you have to get those two key bites to get you up over that 20-pound mark.”
Clunn said he plans on fishing a similar game plan on Day 2. He’s confident he’s around plenty of fish, but he said today’s bag was surprising.
“I didn’t expect to catch 29 pounds,” Clunn said. “The thing about the fall is that fish are finicky. But I’m doing something I like to do. This is Act I of a four-act play. Tomorrow’s Act II, so we’ll see what happens.”
Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., is in second place with 25-14. Fishing main-lake standing timber in about 20 feet, Walters described his area as fairly obvious. The key, he said, is finding the fish in the right depths for feeding.
“When they’re shallower than 10 and they’re not sitting in 20, or they’re not on the bottom, you can catch them,” Walters said. “There are fish on every inch of this lake, but when you find them in the right position, you can catch them.
“You want to find the bait, but there are certain pieces of structure and when you find it, it is usually the recipe for a good time.”
Walters said he caught his fish on a variety of baits including a big spinnerbait, a jerkbait, crankbait, dropshot and a big Texas-rigged worm.
Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., is in third place with 23-4. He caught his two best fish — a 9-9 and a 5-2 — on a Rapala OG flat-sided crankbait fished over a long, flat point in 4 to 6 feet of water.
“I started on a point where I’d caught three keepers in 18 feet of water in practice,” Feider said. “I wasn’t catching anything, but it was cloudy so I kept sliding up that point and caught those two in shallow water.”
Feider filled out his limit by throwing a 1/2-ounce Z-Man JackHammer ChatterBait with a Z-Man Razor ShadZ trailer.
Feider is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 9-9.
Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, leads the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year standings with 690 points, while David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., follows in second with 681. Minnesota pro Austin Felix is in third with 677, Walters is fourth with 688 and Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., is fifth with 667.
Felix leads the Rookie of the Year standings.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:40 a.m. CT at Sabine River Authority (SRA) — Lake Fork. The weigh-in will be held back at the SRA — Lake Fork at 3 p.m.
Live coverage of the event will start at 8 a.m. on Bassmaster.com and ESPN3.
The tournament is being hosted by the Sabine River Authority and Wood County Economic Development Commission.
2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Yamaha
2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Mossy Oak Fishing, Rapala
2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Huk
2020 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Local Hosts: Sabine River Authority, Wood County Economic Development Commission
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