Carl Jocumsen of Queensland, Australia, took the lead on the first day of the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay presented by GoRVing, bringing 19 pounds, 11 ounces to the scales on Thursday.
GEORGETOWN, S.C. — A near two-hour boat ride to the Cooper River just outside of Charleston, S.C., was a risk worth taking for Australian angler Carl Jocumsen on the first day of the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay presented by GoRVing.
After a one-hour weather delay due to a thin line of quickly moving thunderstorms, Jocumsen endured a one-hour, 45-minute boat ride to access his prime fishing locations. Upon arrival, he was restricted to only three hours of fishing before having to make a return trip to the weigh-in site in Georgetown.
The risky ride paid off for Jocumsen, as he currently leads the field of 109 anglers with a limit of five bass that weighed 19 pounds, 11 ounces. Local favorite Britt Myers of Lake Wylie, S.C., is in second place with 16-8, while Matt Herren of Ashville, Ala., is holding down third with 14-6.
Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, is in fourth with 13-13, and Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., is in fifth with 13-11.
Jocumsen, who lives in Frisco, Texas, during the tournament season, was concerned about making such a long run to fish the river system. But, after returning to the scales with 10 minutes to spare, he’s much more comfortable with his circumstances. He nicely augmented Thursday’s limit with two big bass, one was just shy of 7 pounds and the second tipped the scales at 7-3.
“I believe my fishing will remain productive,” Jocumsen said. “I can see the fish on my sonar, so I know they are there. The challenge is getting them to bite during the short window that I have to fish before making the long run back to the scales. Tidal fisheries are finicky that way — bass often only bite during short periods of the day, which makes it imperative for you to be in the right spot at the right time.”
Jocumsen said that his fishing spot has all the right ingredients to keep him in contention to win, but there are many variables that he must face and overcome.
Well before the tournament officially kicked off Thursday morning, it was predicted that the larger limits of bass would be more abundant on the Cooper River, and that a sizable number of anglers would risk the time-consuming run for a shot at heavier fish.
“Practice was up and down for me, but what I learned was crucial to how today panned out,” Myers said after weighing a limit of bass that was good enough for second place. “I caught them pretty well today, but I was concerned about how I would do after losing an hour this morning because of the weather delay.”
While not yet willing to divulge his specific location or tactics, Myers said his pattern is strong, and if he can keep good fortune on his side and access his fishing spots without trouble, he is confident in remaining consistent.
Herren is in third place and knows he is on the right size bass to stay in the hunt.
“I didn’t do anything special today, but I know there is a solid limit of fish to be caught where I’m fishing; I just need to stay in front of the changing tide,” said Herren, who ran only about half as far as Jocumsen or Myers. “I really like this kind of tournament. The conditions are tough and the fish are spread out, but I like the fact that the entire field is dealing with the same variables — it really levels the playing field.”
Each of the Top 3 anglers said that during a tough tournament like this, it’s not uncommon to see more pressure near the leaders’ fishing spots during the second day. Pressure like that can make it more difficult to stay consistent.
Also, when anglers are making such a long run, they risk mechanical failure, empty gas tanks and a myriad of potential obstacles.
The risks are substantial, but the reward that comes Sunday could certainly offset those risks. The winning angler will receive $100,000.
A full field of anglers will fish again during Friday’s second round. The field will be cut to the Top 51 for Saturday’s semi-final round, with only the Top 12 advancing to Championship Sunday.
Daily take-offs are scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, with weigh-ins scheduled at the same location each afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Toyota, GoPro, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: A.R.E. Truck Caps, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Rapala, Shell Rotella, Shimano, Academy Sports + Outdoors
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