Card Overcomes Setbacks To Lead Bassmaster Elite Event On Lake Fork
Apr 25th, 2021 by Keith Worrall
Modified Apr 25th, 2021 at 9:51 AM
Brandon Card, of Salisbury, N.C., maintains the lead after Day 3 of the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork with a three-day total of 77 pounds, 1 ounce.Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.
April 24, 2021
Card Overcomes Setbacks To Lead Bassmaster Elite Event On Lake Fork
QUITMAN, Texas — Despite a slow start, a big loss and a painful injury, Brandon Card caught a Day 3 limit of 21 pounds, 10 ounces and retained the lead at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork.
Entering Semifinal Saturday with an 11-ounce lead over Louisiana pro Quentin Cappo, Card bolstered his first two days’ weights of 27-6 and 28-1 to tally a three-day total of 77-1. Card heads into Championship Sunday with a 3-pound cushion over Cappo.
Camping in Little Caney Creek the first two days, Card spent most of his time on a shallow point he called his “Hammer Hole” and leveraged a shad spawn for the majority of his fish. Today, that bite proved elusive and Card had to make position and presentation changes.
“My morning bite was completely dead today, and I only caught two little fish on my Hammer Hole,” said Card, a veteran pro from Salisbury, N.C. “I moved to another spot about 7 to 8 minutes away and fished one of the schools I had found. There wasn’t a shad spawn there; it was just prespawners staging on a point.
“I had fished that spot the two previous days and two of my weight fish came from there on Day 1. I was just trying different baits and different depths.”
After catching bass on a jerkbait, swimbait and crankbait throughout the first two days, Card made a key adjustment and pulled out a 1/2-ounce white hair jig. Noting that this bait has served him well on Tennessee River reservoirs, Card said he felt the fish needed a different look and the pulsing hair skirt seemed to be triggering reluctant bass.
He also caught fish on an unnamed crankbait. That 10- to 14-foot diver definitely helped his cause, but not without significant grief.
“I lost a 6-pounder on that bait and then the next cast, I hooked a 2-pounder that shook as I was releasing it and stuck a hook in my (right index finger),” Card said.
Card and his marshal tried to remove the hook with the common technique of pushing down on the shank to rotate the barb angle and then using no-stretch braided line, tied to the bend, to quickly snap the hook free.
Two attempts failed, so Card had to push the hook through his skin far enough for fellow competitor Matt Herren to clip the point and barb. From there, the hook easily slid back out of his finger.
“I had two options: I could go to the emergency room or I could push it through,” Card recalled. “Thankfully, my finger was numb, and it really didn’t hurt as bad as it looked.”
Card said he still believes in his Hammer Hole’s potential, so he’ll give it a good look Sunday morning and then adjust as needed. With only the Top 10 anglers fishing, he’s expecting greater freedom of movement.
“I really put the time in during practice and spent hours upon hours idling and not seeing anything and I found three schools of fish (in Little Caney),” Card said. “Hopefully, between those schools, it will hold up and we can go catch another big bag tomorrow.
“That shad spawn may or may not be there, but I think tomorrow I’ll be able to rotate my spots a little bit better. A couple times today, I’d run and there would be a boat sitting on my spot and I’d just have to turn around.”
Looking at Sunday’s forecast for warm, stable weather, Card has this final-round expectation: “There have been a few of us flirting with 30 pounds this week. I think somebody will catch 28 to 30 tomorrow.”
Maintaining the second-place spot since Day 1, Cappo experienced a dip in productivity and turned in a limit of 19-4. Adding this weight to his previous limits of 28-15 and 25-13 sends him into Championship Sunday with 74 pounds.
Sticking with the pattern he’s exploited since the tournament’s start, Cappo is targeting shallow areas with shell bottom. His key spots are the submerged root masses, where deflecting a Strike King KVD 4.0 squarebill has consistently triggered bites.
Wind and the presence of jumbo gizzard shad have been the keys to Cappo’s bite. Both elements were there today but in a different form.
“Today, it was a different wind (direction) and it positions the bait differently,” Cappo said. “Today, (the bass) never showed themselves. Usually, they’ll come up between 1 and 3 o’clock. They’ll start eating shad at the surface and you’ll see exactly where they’re positioned.”
Without that surface action, Cappo never got bit on the Strike King Sexy Dawg topwater he threw Friday. Also, changing squarebill colors from citrus shad to sexy shad seemed to trigger more bites.
“I’m committed to that pattern because one swing of the bat, you can be right back in this game,” he said. “I’m going to live by it or die by it. That pattern has gotten me this far, so I’m going to go out swinging tomorrow and try to get that blue trophy.”
Chris Zaldain of Fort Worth, Texas, is in third with 71-14. Rising from 12th place on Day 2, Zaldain added 29-3 — the day’s biggest bag — to his first two limits of 27-1 and 15-10.
Zaldain targeted windward points where bass were eating giant gizzard shad. He used an 8-inch Megabass Magdraft swimbait and a 10-inch Tater Hog glidebait designed to closely mimic this hefty forage.
“While a lot of guys are fishing for spawning fish, I’ve been targeting pre- and postspawn fish,” Zaldain said. “I like fishing for these fish when they’re actually feeding and chasing.
“I’m just running and gunning, throwing big baits and doing what I like to do. It was an amazing day today and I hope to have an amazing day tomorrow.”
Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 9-13 largemouth caught on Day 2.
Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., leads the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 434 points. Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., is in second with 430, followed by Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 387, Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Canada, with 383 and Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, with 381.
Josh Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 333 points.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. CT at Sabine River Authority (SRA) — Lake Fork. The weigh-in will be held at SRA at 3 p.m
Live coverage of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast the action live with the leaders beginning at 7 a.m. CT.
The tournament is being hosted by the Sabine River Authority and Wood County Economic Development Commission.
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO
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