GROVE — Japanese angler Takahiro Omori, who now calls Emory, Texas, his home, recently earned his seventh Bassmaster title at the first event of the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series season on Alabama’s Lake Martin.
Thursday, April 26, his dominating streak continues thanks to a pair of 6-pound bass that anchored a 23-pound, 12-ounce five-bass limit at the 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Grand Lake in Grove.
“I didn’t have a very good practice earlier this week,” he said. “I knew the fish were about to spawn, but I was surprised with what I caught today. The rest of the field also caught quite a few big fish, and that’s going to keep things interesting for the next three days.”
The 47-year-old angler has been fishing with B.A.S.S. for over 27 years, and he said this was his best day ever on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.
“The best finish I’ve had on this lake was 30th place, so I’m very happy with how I did today,” said the 2004 Bassmaster Classic champion. “I know more fish are moving to shallow water, but it will be tough to catch this much again tomorrow.”
The last angler to win back-to-back Elites was the 2016 Classic Champion Edwin Evers of Talala, who won on Kentucky Lake then again at the next tournament on the St. Lawrence River in 2015.
Looking at a second $100,000 paycheck in a row, Omori is cautiously optimistic.
“I probably fished over 50 different spots today. It’s important to keep moving,” he said. “Grand Lake is fishing very well right now, and I expect the fishing to only get better with the forecasted weather over the next few days.”
The weather is also a factor for third-year pro Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Mississippi. After catching five fat bass that weighed 23-5, the 29-year-old angler will be starting the second day of competition in second place.
“I knew I had a good sack of fish, but they ended up being heavier than I figured. There was a 6-pounder and a 5-10 in the mix, and that helped tremendously,” he said. “I think the fish are moving in to spawn, so I’m confident my spots will reload again tomorrow, but that should make the fishing better for the bulk of the field, too.”
Typically sight fishing is a very productive technique at this time of the year. However, the darker waters of Grand Lake will make consistent sight fishing a challenge.
“I think there are some fish to be caught sight fishing this week, but I’m not committed to it at this point,” Mosley said. “If I see a good fish on a bed, I will slow down and try to catch it. But my plan of attack is a little different.”
While Omori showed winning form at Lake Martin, Bassmaster rookie Kyle Monti, of Okeechobee, Florida, finished dead last in that tournament — his first Bassmaster Elite event ever.
Monti showed up at Grand Lake with an axe to grind. The 26-year-old pro caught 22-6 during Thursday’s opening round, and he will be starting Friday’s second round of competition in third place.
“I am very happy with how today went, and I’m confident my pattern will stay productive,” he said.
At this point in a tournament, most anglers won’t provide many details about how they are catching their bass, but Monti did say that fishing slow was key.
“I feel like these fish are very spooky, and that means fishing very slow is important to being successful,” he said.
Rounding out the Top 5 are bass fishing superstar Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, with 21-15, and California pro Brent Ehrler with 21-8.
Daily takeoffs will occur at 6:15 a.m. out of Wolf Creek Park, and weigh-ins are scheduled in the same location beginning at 3 p.m. each day.