Anthony Gagliardi didn’t anticipate the cane pile bite being as dominant as it was. He’s put plenty of them in the lake in the past, but didn’t fish them as much as he should’ve in hindsight.
“It all started on Hartwell,” he said when asked to recount the origin of the vertical pieces of bamboo chutes that area stuffed into buckets before being sank on or next to points.
“We started seeing similarities in how suspended fish were being caught here so I put some in pockets in 2006 (before the FLW Tour event), but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to catch jerkbait fish then.”
He put more of them in the lake before the 2014 Cup, but never caught anything on those spots. This year, he believes the cooler water is what triggered the fish to congregate around them more.
“The fish then didn’t know how to use it,” he said. “It’s like when grass shows up in a lake and they don’t know how to use that cover. Maybe it takes a couple generations, but that’s where it came from – the herring lakes up state – and the more this lake has started to fish that way it became a factor.” Read more
Like the last time the Cup was held on Murray, Anthony Gagliardi put into play a Yamamoto D-Shad. He mostly threw it on a single rig, but fished a double rig on the final afternoon. His only other bait was a chrome pencil popper.
> Day 3: 5, 15-02 (15, 51-03) Nobody in the field had more options of where and what to fish at Murray than Gagliardi, but he was kicking himself for sticking with one spot too long this morning and not devoting more time to cane piles in general.
“I got sucked into the schooling bite and sucked into breaking fish,” he said. “I had 80 cane piles I could’ve ran if that’s what I wanted to do. There were too many places with fish coming up that forced me to stay. It was one or the other. I couldn’t run and gun and fish the schoolers, too. That takes too much time. The schoolers were too big to not try to catch them.”
His day started to unravel shortly after it began. He went without a bite at his first spot, then made a move out in the middle of the lake where fish were actively on the surface all around him.
“It was the biggest school of big bass I’ve ever seen here this time of year,” he said. “I got frustrated because when I’d get bites I’d lose them. I spent way too long on one spot and then ran around trying to make up for lost time.”
He later ran up the Saluda River and probed some isolated shallow brush with a big worm, similar to how he won in 2014. Eventually, he came back down the lake and caught a couple 3-pounders with a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits D-Shad.
“Over the next hour, I had 12 to 15 bites, all on the D Shad,” he added. Read more
Looking to be the first to ever win the Cup twice, Anthony Gagliardi fell off a few pounds on day two and dropped into third. He’s less than 3 pounds off the lead and, as the hometown hero, he’s plenty close to making a run on the final day.
Gagliardi is fishing from about Dreher Island to the dam and has focused his efforts more on shoals, points and areas than specific targets, sometimes fishing way out near the main channel and sometimes a fair bit back in the larger creeks and bays.
“Today I had a hard time catching them on the stuff that was back in, and I felt I had to be on the main-channel stuff,” says Gagliardi. “But that got hard to do later on with the boat traffic.”
Tossing a soft-plastic jerkbait and a pencil popper, Gagliardi believes the schooling bite suffered due to the change from cloudy to sunny skies. If it doesn’t rebound, he’s got some other cards to play as well.
“I’ve got a series of shallow brush piles that I’ve yet to fish,” says the Prosperity, S.C., pro. “I did that last time [the 2014 Cup on Murray] a couple days, and I caught the three biggest fish I weighed in that tournament doing that. I almost did it today. At 1 o’clock when the boat traffic was bad and the bite was really tough I was just about to make a run up the lake to try to catch a big one. I fished a place on the way and caught a big one, and it threw a little hiccup in my plan, and I didn’t make the run. Tomorrow, if things aren’t going extremely well, I might pull the trigger and see if I can’t hit the jackpot up there.”