By Sean Ostruszka
Special to BassFan



It’s feast or famine on Lake Seminole,

On one hand, the first day of the FLW Tour event saw three pros crack the 25-pound mark, which is usually indicative of an everybody’s-catching-them smash-fest. Yet 27 pros weighed in only one fish or none. Then there was Eric Jackson, who only weighed in three fish … for almost 16 pounds … which nearly allowed him to crack the top 20.

That’s pretty indicative of the fishery right now, as it’s been ravaged by hurricanes and weather, but it’s still a world-class big-fish factory.

Nobody may embody the all-or-nothing state of Seminole more than leader Braxton Setzer. The Montgomery, Ala., pro had a miserable practice and honestly wondered if he would scrape together a limit. Instead, he had a massive sack by 9 a.m. and culled up two more times late in the day to bring in 25-15 (with a 6-11 kicker).

“I was fortunate,” said Setzer, who only had nine bites all day. “I sold out in the only two areas I got bit in practice, and they came through.”

Joining Setzer in the 25-pound club was Joseph Webster (25-09) and Bradford Beavers (25-02), with Beavers taking big-bass honors for the day thanks to a 7-05 kicker.

Sheldon Collings got some revenge from an FLW Series event last year – where he jumped off the largest bag of his life, he said – by going back to that same spot and cracking 23-14 to sit in 4th. Rob Kilby rounds out the top five with 23-03.

After that it begins to drop off, as Kurt Dove (20-05) was the only other pro to crack 20 pounds. It did take more than 19 pounds to make the top 10, though, as Tyler Woolcott (19-14), Miles Howe (19-13), Dicky Newberry (19-07) and Brian Latimer (19-01) all caught strong bags.

While many hoped sight-fishing would be a predominant pattern for this event, the cold front that hit during practice has made deep grass the go-to for the top guys. That may sound easy to come by in what has historically been a hydrilla-lush Lake Seminole, but Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on the lake last October and killed or repositioned a lot of its grass.

That’s not to say there’s still not a good amount, but it is causing two problems.

First, all the top pros mentioned said that while they’re fishing massive flats, where they’re catching their fish are very specific spots they have to line up on in order to hit the “right” grass.

“My main area is not a one-cast deal, but you have to line up on it,” Setzer says. “You miss the cast by 10 feet and you won’t get bit.”

Collings echoed the same thing, saying he could throw any bait on his one spot and get bit – he used a worm, vibrating jig and rattlebait – but if he missed his 15-by-15-foot spot by even a little, he never got bit.

The other problem is boat pressure. Setzer felt his area really started to die as more and more boats abandoned the shallows and started filtering out to his flat. Webster, Beavers and Collings also mentioned how pressure either affected their fish or the manner in which they fished.

Of course, all of this may be a moot point.

“With this warming weather, these fish are going to move,” Beavers said. “Honestly, I’m concerned my fish could be gone tomorrow if the water temps keep rising with this weather.

“Whoever wins this tournament is going to have to stay out in front of the fish.”

Collings seemed to feel his area may hold up for four days, regardless of the weather. Setzer also held optimism, as he felt his area had a mixture of pre- and post-spawn fish staging there.

All of the top pros should know pretty quickly on day 2 just how right or wrong they are, as they had the bulk of their weights before 9 a.m. Webster said he had 18 pounds within 5 minutes, as he caught them every cast to start. Collings nearly did the same thing, and he figured he was done fishing by noon, spending the rest of his day idling and “burning gas.”

Of course, their spots may not be tied to the spawn at all. The “morning spot” is, historically, a winning pattern for Seminole in the spring, as a school of big fish will fire up for an hour or two before they shut off for the rest of the day.

All of this has the makings for what should be an interesting next couple of days.

“Honestly, I may not catch a limit tomorrow,” Setzer said. “Heck, I may not catch a fish.

“My hope is to go back to my main area and hope they’re still there. If they’re not, then I’ll have to scramble like everybody else and hope to bump into some big girls. There’s plenty of them in here, but there’s no guarantees in this tournament.”

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 166 anglers, 72 limits, 19 fours, 26 threes, 22 twos, 15 ones, 12 zeroes.

> An FLW communications official confirmed that Matt Wittekiend and Lendell Martin Jr. were involved in a minor boating accident shortly after take-off when both were traveling at less than 20 mph in foggy conditions. Martin’s boat sustained some damage to a shallow-water anchor and the engine cowling. Both anglers felt their equipment was okay to continue competition and they remained on the water to finish the day.



Day 1 Standings

1. Braxton Setzer -- Montgomery, Al -- 25-15 (5)

2. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 25-9 (5)

3. Bradford Beavers -- Summerville, Sc -- 25-2 (5)

4. Sheldon Collings -- Grove, Ok -- 23-14 (5)

5. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 23-3 (5)

6. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, Tx -- 20-5 (5)

7. Tyler Woolcott -- Port Orange, Fl -- 19-14 (5)

8. Miles Howe -- San Juan Capistrano, Ca -- 19-13 (5)

9. Dicky Newberry -- Houston, Tx -- 19-7 (5)

10. Brian Latimer -- Belton, Sc -- 19-1 (5)

11. Austin Felix -- Eden Prairie, Mn -- 18-15 (5)

12. Kyle Weisenburger -- Ottawa, Oh -- 18-9 (5)

13. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 17-14 (5)

14. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 17-10 (5)

15. Hunter Freeman -- Monroe, La -- 17-9 (5)

16. Austin Wilson -- Citrus Heights, Ca -- 16-12 (5)

17. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 16-10 (5)

17. Jason Abram -- Piney Flats, Tn -- 16-10 (5)

19. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 16-7 (5)

20. Andy Young -- Isle, Mn -- 16-2 (5)

21. Ron Nelson -- Berrien Springs, Mi -- 16-1 (5)

22. Josh Douglas -- Isle, Mn -- 15-15 (5)

23. Eric Jackson -- Walling, Tn -- 15-12 (3)

23. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, Tx -- 15-12 (5)

25. Greg Bohannan -- Bentonville, Ar -- 15-7 (5)

26. Miles Burghoff -- Hixson, Tn -- 15-4 (5)

27. Chris McCall -- Palmer, Tx -- 15-2 (5)

27. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 15-2 (5)

29. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 15-1 (5)

30. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 14-14 (5)

30. Ryan Salzman -- Huntsville, Al -- 14-14 (5)

32. Dylan Hays -- El Dorado, Ar -- 14-13 (5)

33. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, Ga -- 14-12 (5)

34. Matt Wittekiend -- Angleton, Tx -- 14-10 (5)

35. Terry Bolton -- Benton, Ky -- 14-4 (5)

36. Kurt Mitchell -- Milford, De -- 14-3 (5)

37. Corey Neece -- Bristol, Tn -- 13-11 (5)

38. Ron Farrow -- Rock Hill, Sc -- 13-9 (5)

38. Joey Cifuentes -- Clinton, Ar -- 13-9 (5)

40. Billy Hines -- Vacaville, Ca -- 13-7 (5)

41. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 13-6 (5)

42. Joshua Weaver -- Macon, Ga -- 13-4 (5)

42. Randy Despino -- Colfax, La -- 13-4 (5)

44. James Niggemeyer -- Van, Tx -- 13-3 (5)

45. Luke Dunkin -- Lawrenceburg, Tn -- 13-2 (5)

45. Jay Kendrick -- Grant, Al -- 13-2 (3)

47. John Hunter -- Shelbyville, Ky -- 12-14 (4)

48. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 12-8 (4)

48. David Williams -- Maiden, Nc -- 12-8 (5)

50. Sam George -- Athens, Al -- 12-7 (5)

51. Jared McMillan -- Belle Glade, Fl -- 12-5 (5)

52. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 12-4 (4)

53. Bradley Dortch -- Atmore, Al -- 12-3 (5)

54. Joel Willert -- Prior Lake, Mn -- 12-1 (4)

55. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 11-15 (3)

56. Brandon McMillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 11-12 (5)

57. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 11-7 (4)

58. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 11-6 (5)

58. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 11-6 (5)

58. Matt Becker -- Finleyville, Pa -- 11-6 (5)

61. Chad Randles -- Elkhorn, Ne -- 11-5 (5)

62. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 11-4 (3)

63. Russell Cecil -- Willis, Tx -- 11-3 (4)

64. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 11-1 (5)

66. Jon Englund -- Farwell, Mn -- 10-13 (5)

67. Kyle Cortiana -- Coweta, Ok -- 10-12 (5)

68. David Wootton -- Collierville, Tn -- 10-11 (5)

69. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, Al -- 10-8 (5)

70. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 10-7 (5)

71. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, Nc -- 10-6 (5)

71. Rob Jordan -- Flowery Branch, Ga -- 10-6 (3)

71. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 10-6 (5)

74. Craig Rozema -- Simpsonville, Sc -- 10-5 (4)

75. Bill McDonald -- Greenwood, In -- 9-11 (5)

76. Grae Buck -- Harleysville, Pa -- 9-10 (4)

76. Evan Barnes -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 9-10 (2)

78. Brad Knight -- Lancing, Tn -- 9-8 (4)

79. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 9-6 (5)

80. Tommy Dickerson -- Orange, Tx -- 9-3 (4)

80. Charles Sim -- Nepean, On -- 9-3 (5)

82. Blake Smith -- Lakeland, Fl -- 9-2 (5)

83. Clayton Batts -- Butler, Ga -- 9-0 (5)

83. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 9-0 (5)

85. Wade Strelic -- Alpine, Ca -- 8-15 (5)

85. Cody Kelley -- Conway, Ar -- 8-15 (5)

87. Chad Warren -- Sand Springs, Ok -- 8-13 (5)

88. Jason Meninger -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 8-7 (4)

89. Randy Allen -- Gilliam, La -- 8-2 (4)

90. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 8-1 (4)

91. Cody Murray -- Nampa, Id -- 8-0 (4)

91. Michael Matthee -- Centurion, Gp -- 8-0 (2)

93. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 7-15 (2)

93. Jimmy Reese -- Witter Springs, Ca -- 7-15 (5)

95. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 7-14 (3)

95. Tony Dumitras -- Winston, Ga -- 7-14 (3)

97. Bailey Boutries -- Daphne, Al -- 7-11 (3)

97. Daryl Biron -- South Windsor, Ct -- 7-11 (3)

97. Robert Case -- Point, Tx -- 7-11 (4)

100. Johnny McCombs -- Morris, Al -- 7-10 (2)

100. Drew Ratley -- Shreveport, La -- 7-10 (3)

102. Brandon Mosley -- Choctaw, Ok -- 7-5 (3)

103. Buddy Gross -- Chickamauga, Ga -- 7-3 (2)

104. Aaron Britt -- Yuba City, Ca -- 6-14 (3)

104. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 6-14 (4)

104. Nick Lebrun -- Bossier City, La -- 6-14 (2)

104. Larry Nixon -- Quitman, Ar -- 6-14 (3)

108. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 6-9 (3)

108. David Gaston -- Sylacauga, Al -- 6-9 (4)

110. Jacob Wall -- Jacksonville, Or -- 6-8 (3)

111. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 6-7 (3)

112. Tim Frederick -- Leesburg, Fl -- 6-6 (4)

112. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 6-6 (2)

114. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 6-2 (3)

115. Tim Cales -- Sandstone, Wv -- 5-15 (3)

116. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 5-14 (3)

117. Rex Jaeger -- Hamilton, Oh -- 5-13 (3)

118. Pete Ponds -- Madison, Ms -- 5-11 (2)

118. Troy Roder -- Brookeland, Tx -- 5-11 (3)

120. Clark Reehm -- Elm Grove, La -- 5-9 (4)

121. Curtis Richardson -- Belleville, On -- 5-8 (2)

122. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 5-0 (3)

122. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, Ok -- 5-0 (3)

124. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 4-13 (2)

124. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 4-13 (3)

126. Cody Hahner -- Wausau, Wi -- 4-9 (2)

127. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 4-4 (2)

128. Chuck Medley -- Owens Cross Roads, Al -- 4-3 (1)

129. Kevin Finley -- Phoenix, Az -- 3-14 (1)

130. Hensley Powell -- Whitwell, Tn -- 3-13 (1)

131. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, Sc -- 3-12 (3)

132. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 3-8 (2)

133. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 3-5 (1)

134. Wes Logan -- Springville, Al -- 3-3 (1)

135. Andy Wicker -- Pomaria, Sc -- 3-2 (3)

135. Mark Fisher -- Wauconda, Il -- 3-2 (2)

137. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 3-1 (2)

138. Tyler Stewart -- West Monroe, La -- 2-15 (1)

139. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 2-14 (2)

140. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 2-13 (1)

140. Timmy Thompkins -- Myrtle Beach, Sc -- 2-13 (2)

140. Derek Fulps -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 2-13 (1)

143. Bill Hutchison -- Bessemer, Al -- 2-11 (2)

143. Jeff Dobson -- Bartlesville, Ok -- 2-11 (2)

145. Marty Lawrence -- Mesa, Az -- 2-10 (2)

145. Jim Jones -- Big Bend, Wi -- 2-10 (2)

145. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 2-10 (1)

148. Derrick Snavely -- Piney Flats, Tn -- 2-8 (1)

149. Jonathan Canada -- Helena, Al -- 2-5 (1)

150. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 2-4 (1)

151. Alton Wilhoit -- Noble, Ok -- 1-14 (2)

152. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 1-11 (1)

153. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 1-5 (1)

154. AJ Slegona -- Pine Bush, Ny -- 1-1 (1)

Chris Whitson -- Louisville, Tn -- 0-0 (0)

Ryan Chandler -- Hebron, In -- 0-0 (0)

Tim Malone -- Kodak, Tn -- 0-0 (0)

Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Chuck Stratton -- Chaffee, Mo -- 0-0 (0)

Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 0-0 (0)

Charlie Evans -- Berea, Ky -- 0-0 (0)

Chip Harrington -- Olathe, Ks -- 0-0 (0)

Brant Grimm -- Church Hill, Tn -- 0-0 (0)

Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 0-0 (0)

Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 0-0 (0)