CORNELIUS, N.C. – Nitro Boats pro Edwin Evers of Oklahoma and Megabass pro Shinichi Fukae of Texas are tied for the lead with 14.96 pounds caught on Lake Norman in the first day of the PAA Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix.
Fukae’s catch was anchored by a 6.13-pound largemouth, the biggest bass of the day. He and Evers are fishing similarly in that they’re making multiple moves to specific targets.
“I’m only using a shaky head worm and going to a lot of areas,” Fukae said, adding that he’s fishing in “medium deep” water.
Evers also is making numerous stops on the 32,510-acre lake northwest of Charlotte. He was buoyed by his limit of largemouth bass that came in a few pounds above his pre-tournament expectations.
“This lake has a lot of fish in it but I didn’t know how well I’d do,” Evers said. “I thought 12 or 13 pounds would be pretty good, so I’m happy. I lost a couple of good fish that would have helped a little more. So, who knows what will happen Friday?”
Evers would have claimed the top spot alone if not for a 1-pound penalty for late arrival at check-in. Fukae and third-place angler Guy Eaker of North Carolina sustained fish care penalties of a quarter- and half-pound, respectively, but those would not have affected their places in the standings.
The field will launch Friday morning Blythe Landing at 6 a.m., with weigh-in scheduled for 3 p.m. The top 30 pros will advance to Saturday’s final day and weigh their catches at 4:30 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops at Concord Mills Mall, preceded by free pro angler seminars in the store beginning at noon.
The field is competing for cash and a new Nitro Z-8 boat with a Mercury 250 and T-H Marine Atlas Jackplate, along with qualifying points for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic in October on Lake Conroe in Texas. Live weigh-in coverage will be streamed daily on AnglersChannel.com, along with daily reports and photo galleries on FishPAA.com.
Eaker brought in the first big bag that included a 4.75-pound bass. He said a day on the lake before last month’s cutoff clued him into a new area that, along with a drop shot strategy, paid off well Thursday.
“I haven’t been on the lake in two years but that day I found a little something that I thought might hold up and it did,” said the Bojangles pro who lives in nearby Cherryville. “I typically fish up the lake above the (Highway) 150 bridge, but I didn’t fish up there. I don’t know if it’ll hold up, but I’m going to find out Friday.”
Duckett Fishing pro Boyd Duckett of Alabama, in fourth with 12.87 pounds, said the bass are feeding, “but not around the stuff we like to fish. They’re off the cover or getting off, and you have to find them. They’re suspended and moving a little bit. It’s tough.”
Extensive experience with dock fishing paid off for Prowler pro J.T. Palmore of Virginia, who is fifth with 12.33 pounds. That included a 5.33-pound lunker that helped push him into contention.
“I live on Lake Gaston and have about a thousand docks up there,” he said, “so I just did what I know to do.”
PAA Associate Sponsors: The PAA Tournament Series is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, E21 Carrot Stix, Lazer Trokar, Markel Insurance, Phoenix Boats, Nitro Boats, T-H Marine, Fishouflage, SolarBat, U.S. Reel, Sign Designs, BoatU.S. Foundation, Mercury Marine and Jasper Engines and Transmissions.
PAA Hosts: VisitLakeNorman.com, Cabarrus County (VisitCabarrus.com), Visit Charlotte (CharlottesGotALot.com), and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation