Vinny Ferreri, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees that it will likely take a couple of true hawgs to put the winner over the top. If the bass are already on their beds and anglers can see them, he believes, it’s going to come down to picking one or two really big fish. If anglers can’t spot them, having prior knowledge of which creeks they favor for spawning should be a big help.
“I’m fortunate to fish here a couple of times a year, but with 200 competitors, you can bet there will be some local sharpies that know what they are doing. That home field advantage can be tough to beat,” says Ferreri. “Still,” he continues, “there’s nothing you can’t catch bass on in these two lakes at this time of year, so fish to your strengths. There are lilies, wood, grass, current, water willow, cypress trees, open water and creeks here. Any way you like to fish, opportunities abound.”
For Hobie B.O.S. reigning A.O.Y., Jordan Marshall, 26, from Maryville, Tennessee, start time can’t arrive fast enough. He has his heart set on enjoying some warm weather and active fish. “I’ve only fished here once before, so I’m pretty much coming in blind,” he reveals. “But that means I can just fish the way I like, which will entail power fishing with Z-Man Chatterbaits in shallow water, covering a few topwater prospects, and targeting some staging pre-spawn fish. I’m also going to look for backwaters that haven’t been hit by recent tournaments; places where I can fish alone.”
To cut down on his searching, Marshall plans to focus on Lake Marion. Like Wallen, he’ll be counting on his Hobie Pro Angler 14 180 to probe far back into the shallow grass. “That Mirage drive is just fantastic when it comes to pushing through brush, stumps and slop,” he offers. “It sheds the grass better than any other drive I’ve seen – and the kick-up fins are a big plus, too.”