Patrick Walters claims narrow lead in Bassmaster Open at Lake Norman
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published May 11, 2018
It wasn't difficult to catch a five-bass limit of 14-inch keepers Thursday at Lake Norman. But finding anything bigger was a daunting task. Patrick Walters of Ladson, S.C., and Cody Pike of Powhatan, Va., solved the problem best.
Walters leads the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open No. 2 after the opening round with 15 pounds, 12 ounces. Pike is only 6 ounces behind with 15-6.
Finding largemouth bass instead of the much more plentiful, but smaller spotted bass was the key for Walters.
"The largemouth have really begun to show up the last two days," said Walters, 23, a former FLW College Fishing champion. "Getting another big bite again (Friday) will be the difference between another good bag and an 8- or 9-pound limit."
There were plenty of those Thursday - 67 pro anglers in the 203-boat field weighed-in limits of 8 pounds or greater.
Walters said he's rotating three styles of baits while fishing shallow boat docks. He had only one spotted bass in his limit. His largest bass weighed 5-7 and it was caught on a spawning bed.
Pike, 25, who manages an assisted living home, also had a largemouth advantage. His biggest bass was a largemouth that weighed just over 4 pounds.
"I got kind of lucky and caught all my weight in one area, so I didn't have to put any pressure on any of the other areas I have," Pike said. "I'm fishing shallow, dirty water, but it's clearing up, so that could affect my bite."
Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., took the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award of the tournament with his 6-4 largemouth. It boosted him into third place with 14-9.
"I found that fish Wednesday in practice," said Moynagh, a veteran pro. "It was in real shallow, murky water. The fish bit three times. It jumped off once when I had it halfway back to the boat. It probably took me 45 minutes to catch it."
Moynagh is no stranger to Lake Norman. He has fished four FLW tournaments here and made the Top 10 in three, including a second-place finish in 2008.
"I'm not sure how I'll go about it tomorrow because the largemouth pattern I found in practice didn't play out," said Moynagh.
Ronald Farrow of Rock Hill, S.C., fourth with 14-4, and Tyler Berger of Delaware, Ohio, fifth with 14-2, were the only other anglers to top 14 pounds.
Leading the co-angler standings is Paul Coburn of Pewaukee, Wis., who caught a three-bass limit weighing 9-9, which included the lead in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award for the co-angler division. It weighed 5-5. Rodney Tapp of North Augusta, S.C., is second with 8-15, and Chad Smith of Minnetonka, Minn., is third with 8-5.
Friday's 6:15 a.m. ET launch and 2:15 p.m. weigh-in will be held at Blythe Landing, 15901 NC 73 Highway in Huntersville. The field will be cut to the Top 12 pros and co-anglers after the Day 2 weigh-in. Championship Saturday's weigh-in will shift to the Bass Pro Shops at 8181 Concord Mills Blvd. in Concord.
The event is being hosted by Visit Lake Norman, Visit Cabarrus and Visit Charlotte.