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Sunline Strong Performer: Harris Chain

<b><font color=green>Sunline Strong Performer: Harris Chain</font></b>

James Watson ended the 2016 season on a high note with his win at the Norris Lake FLW Tour Invitational in October, a victory that clinched him a spot in this years Forrest Wood Cup.

Since then, its been a bit of a downhill slide for the Nixa, Mo., resident.

He failed to weigh a fish (and earned zero points) at the Lake Guntersville FLW Tour season opener, then finished 159th at Lake Travis. Before heading to Florida for last weeks Harris Chain FLW Tour, he competed in the Table Rock Lake Bassmaster Central Open. He was 22nd after day 1, but opted to target a big stringer on day 2 and slipped to 64th. It wasnt the outcome hed hoped for hed won an Open at Table Rock in 2015 but he sensed things were starting to turn around.

He took a step backward on day 1 at the Harris Chain, where he figured a 10- or 11-pound stringer would put him in the 50s of 60s on the leaderboard. Instead, his 10-10 limit had him in 99th. He bounced back with 17-01 on day 2 and finished 27th.

While Watson didnt make the largest jump up the leaderboard at the Harris Chain that distinction belonged to Jay Yelas, who talked about his 101-spot rally on day 2 his 72-spot improvement the most significant improvement in the context of how his season had gone so far.

I didnt have a good practice. I never do, Watson said. I tried to find a few clues I could develop and on the last day of practice, I found a stretch of hydrilla that was good and clean and green. I had 3 Rat-L-Trap bites in it. They were nothing big, but it had some decent fish in it.

He caught one on a rattlebait there on day 1, but when he saw his co-angler yank a 4-pounder from the grass with a worm, he promptly changed to a Luck E Strike Con Man worm.

It didnt take me long to change, he said. That re-assured me there were still good fish there.

He returned on day 2 with the mindset that he was going to comb through that hydrilla patch as thoroughly as possible.

I knew the area I was fishing had potential, but I had to fish different than I like to fish, he said. I had to slow down and be methodical and maximize my fishing time.

He started his day 25 yards shy of where he started day 1. He put his Power-Poles down and fan-casted the whole area with a worm, rigged behind a 1/8- or 3/16 oz. Swagger Tackle tungsten worm weight.

His first three fish each weighed 4 pounds and he continued to do laps around the grass patch, using the tracks on his Lowrance to make sure he didnt double back on a pass hed made the previous day.

I found there was a 30-yard radius that the fish were really using, he said. The critical thing was getting that first bite. Two more made me settle in there even longer. When Im fishing offshore like that, its hard without those trails. I used red trails for day 1 and green on day 2. Waypoints are great, but trails are better when youre fishing slow like that.

The Sunline Strong Performer, which focuses on the angler who makes the most significant single-day move in the standings at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great people at Sunline.

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