> Day 4: 5, 12-07 (20, 61-01)
Gagliardi moved up two places in the standings today despite weighing his lightest bag of the tournament. The high finish was welcome after a poor 2011 that saw the former AOY finish 88th in the points.
"It feels good, especially after a not-so-stellar year last year," he said. "It's nice to get off to a good start."
Unlike some of the other top finishers, he didn't bounce around a lot. He did most of his damage from a single locale.
"It was definitely tougher today. I only got four keepers off my main spot, then I had another place where I could catch keeper (spotted bass), so I went there and picked up one or two. Then I ran up the river and caught my biggest one on a swimbait, but I also lost a 5-pounder.
"My best place was real close to a shallow spawning flat, and I think today most of them had moved on in there." Complete Story
If there was a crowd favorite it had to be Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. And, in the end, he didn’t disappoint. Using a catch of 61 pounds, 1 ounce, Gagliardi turned in a fifth-place performance to claim $20,000 in prize money.
“I really feel like I made the most of what I had to work with,” said Gagliardi. “I really milked my spots for everything they had.”
Gagliardi, who had been fishing both deep and shallow all week, knew that he was in for a tough day right from the get-go.
“I started out deep and I could tell right away that the fish were acting differently and that it wasn’t going to be as good as a few of the other days,” he said. “So I started running around and wound up going shallow. I was throwing a swimbait and a Buckeye Spot Remover with a Senko but I just wasn’t able to get the big bites I really needed.”
Overall though, he said he was happy to have made the cut.
“When they first announced we’re coming here I was really excited,” he said. “When we came here last time, the lake really didn’t show what it was capable of producing. But I think now all the anglers know what Lake Hartwell is all about.” Complete Story
“I bought some at the Chevy Pro Night before the Pickwick event,” Gagliardi said. “I threw it some at that tournament so I knew they’d bite it, but I didn’t realize the potential.”
Largely due to the reports of a tough practice, Gagliardi thought he was in good shape with 13 or 14 pounds the first day fishing grass edges.
In most big lakes, shad are making their way toward the back ends of the big bays, coves and feeder creeks, and the bass are following them. This is a transition period with the bass not really settled down yet, and fishing can be pretty tough.
Where I usually try to find them now is a main-lake or secondary point where they might stop to feed and stage for a while. First thing in the morning, when I’m fishing points, I’ll try a popper or a propbait, and then maybe switch to a shallow-running crankbait later in the day. A lot depends on how clear the water is and whether the sky is overcast or not.
Another pattern that works this time of year is fishing the channel swings. Shad and bass migrate along channels. When you’re riding down the lake looking at a bank that doesn’t change visibly, don’t take for granted that the channel runs just as straight. Check it with your electronics. If the channel swings in close to the bank, that area is likely to be a primo spot as long as there is something for the fish to feed on – no bait, no bass. Because bass are there to feed in the warmer shallows, a lot of different baits will catch them. If the channel just runs more or less out in the middle, skip it, because the fish are liable to be anywhere.
The script suited Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi just fine. Gagliardi, who makes his home at Lake Murray, knew the fish were in cold-water prespawn mode. Bass would be scattered due to the up-and-down spring temperatures, and they would be hunting for calorie-packed meals that didn’t require much work. That dovetailed nicely with a strategy that was then still regionally contained in South Carolina: dragging a “heavy rubber” jig very slowly across the bottom Read More
With the final round field greatly reducing the amount of competition, Gagliardi could finally spend all of his time fishing, rather than guarding his primary spot. Keying on a grass flat of a couple hundred square yards, Gagliardi quickly dialed in a sweet spot that delivered 19-12 and 19-15 the first two days. He only weighed 15-9 on day three, but he knew the spot would replenish and he’d be fine – if he could fish without the constant companionship of other competitors looking for the chance to ease into the area.
“Most of my fish that I weighed this week came off one spot,” Gagliardi said. “My biggest fish, the 4-pounder, came off another place I hadn’t fished before, but I knew going into today, if I did win the tournament, I’d win it off that one spot.
“The first three days, I had to guard against someone else coming in there so I had to stay on that spota lot longer than I normally would have because I knew if I left that someone would come in there. That changed the way I fished the spot – I couldn’t move around on it the way I wanted to. I couldn’t let it rest for 20 minutes and then come back. That’s usually how you end up catching a big fish.
“Today, I could leave it and come back to it and I caught a couple of fish by doing that. I think I made the right decisions this week and gave myself every opportunity to win it.”
Gagliardi caught most of his fish by slow dragging tubes and other soft plastics across the bottom. He caught a few, including his largest fish of day four, by burning a crankbait along the edges of the flat. Full Story