Photo by Garrick Dixon - Until Robinson started his epic run, the day looked like it belonged to Gagliardi.
After a relatively slow start to the morning where the South Carolina pro caught three fish in the first two hours, Gagliardi keyed into an open-water jerkbait bite late in the first period, recording 10 fish in a 27-minute flurry just before the period break. That burst added 20-10 to Gagliardi’s weight, pushing him past Hackney and into the lead, which he added to with six fish and 12-5 in the second period.
But not long after that, Gagliardi hit an afternoon lull where he failed to catch a scorable bass for nearly two hours, and Robinson went on his tear.
“To me, it’s all about positioning myself well in that Top 20 (to advance out of the Elimination Round), so today was a successful day for me,” Garliardi said. “I coudn’t ask for a better way to kick off this new part of my career.’
Having not fished under the MLF format before, Gagliardi wasn’t sure what to expect, but after the strong start, he can’t wait until Friday.
“It was awesome. Granted, a lot has to do with the fact that I caught ‘em well. I was thinking about it after I was out there. I had 14 or 15 fish and I was thinking about what my best five would be and then what would happen if I catch a 2-even or four of them and they don’t help you. That’s frustrating, but now, every time you catch one it adds fuel to the fire. It keeps you focused. I don’t think as much or crunch numbers as much about what I need. I’m not worrying about what I need to catch. I can just fish and focus on that.”
While the majority of his catches came offshore, he did spend time poking around some grass and other emergent vegetation, but had no luck doing so. Ultimately, he thinks if the weather warms up, he might have to switch gears.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I could do (the offshore thing) for two more days and not get a bite. Eventually, at some point, the grass bite (could improve). With a break in the weather that’s going to trump offshore. The numbers are in your favor out there, but the guys in the grass catch numbers, too, with 4s and 5s mixed in and that can make up a lot of ground.
“If it stays cold and windy, that gives the offshore bite more of a chance. If the nicer weather comes through, it might turn into something different.”
Pioneering fishing brand Berkley has announced that it has expanded its professional roster for 2019, adding 11 new anglers to the team. The new pros will represent Berkley throughout the 2019 Season on various tournament trails including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Fishing League Worldwide Tour (FLW), and the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour.
These anglers will be sponsored by Berkley for the 2019 season and will represent combinations of the brand's hard and soft baits, line, and hooks. They will also test and evaluate products and appear at trade shows and events throughout the year.
"This year will be an exciting one for Berkley as we've been investing heavily in the brand. In the last few months we have added 226 colors across 54 shapes in the legendary PowerBait range, as well as an outstanding assortment of new topwater baits. Our pro staff loves the new baits and we're excited to see them do well on the tournament trail," said Jon Schlosser, VP Marketing for Berkley.
Major League Fishing announced the groupings for the first two days of fishing in their first ever Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Toho next week. The competition starts Jan. 29, 2019 and group A will fish then. While Group B will fish on the Jan. 30 2019. Here is who will be competiting in each group. For more details visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
| Group B
California-based apparel manufacturer AFTCO announced that it's added nine anglers to its freshwater pro staff.
Josh Bertrand, Jeff Kriet and Wesley Strader will compete on the newly formed MLF Bass Pro Tour, while Clifford Pirch, Garrett Paquette, Drew Cook, Micah Frazier and Greg Dipalma will represent the company on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour. Veteran Walleye pro Dean Arnoldussen will also join the AFTCO freshwater pro team.
“Last year, for the first time in 60 years, AFTCO entered the freshwater market," said VP of sales and marketing Casey Shedd. "From testing and tweaking our outerwear to add bass-specific features to building the AFTCO Bass Bus live-release boat, we made some real progress toward our goal of improving our freshwater fisheries.
"As we head into our second year in the freshwater market, AFTCO is thrilled to be adding nine new anglers who represent the ethos of our company. It’s not just about explaining the technical aspects of how a SpeedVent hood works, or why UPF is important. More importantly, each pro also acts and advocates for the message we are hoping to spread to the broader fishing community: ‘If you like to fish, fishing conservation is not an option, it’s critical to the longevity of our passion’ The AFTCO team gets that and really has been excited about helping us champion that cause.”
The new members join a staff that includes Jason Christie, Dustin Connell, Todd Faircloth, Shin Fukae, Anthony Gagliardi, Russ Lane, Jared Lintner, Scott Martin and Michael Neal.
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.”