EUFAULA, Ala. Patrick Tierney did what any smart angler would do on Lake Eufaula when the mercury reaches into the 90s, the sun is bright and the current is flowing on the Chattahoochee River.
And that is throw topwaters early on the shallow flats of the sprawling fishery before switching to crankbaits, and then grinding it out on the lake's trademark ledges on the main river channel.
In doing just that, Tierney proved the textbook summertime pattern that has produced here for decades is in play at the BASS Federation Nation Southern Divisional kicking off today on the lake.
Tierney, a member of the North Carolina Federation Nation and its 12-angler team, brought a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth to the scale that took the day's big bass honors while pushing him into the lead with an overall weight of 15-8.
"Yeah, it was definitely the textbook thing," he said. "I caught 20 fish today anywhere from 2 feet of water out to 22 feet."
The competition begins at sunup, an ideal time for catching schooling fish that herd baitfish up onto the shallow flats in the creeks and tributaries, where they feed aggressively during the coolest part of the day, before retreating to deep (and cooler) water.
"Then after the sun gets up and the topwater bite is over, I'm moving out deep and cranking the ledges for the remainder of the day."
Tierney belongs to a contingency of anglers from seven states that are competing in this unique event, which combines a team format with an overall competition. The object of this tournament is not necessarily to finish in first place. Rather it's to take the top position in the team standings. In doing so, seven state leaders advance from here to the BASS Federation Nation Championship, amateur bass fishing's premier event.
In addition to North Carolina's Tierney, other state leaders include Sean Dassau (Alabama); Justin Willits (Florida); Mike Prindle (Georgia); Marc Thomas (Kentucky); Mitch Driggers (South Carolina) and David Faulkner (Tennessee).
The seven team champions, overall winner, and top-performing state all will be determined when the tournament concludes on Friday.
Lakepoint State Park and Resort is the official launch and weigh-in site for the Southern Divisional. Weigh-ins begin at 2 p.m. CDT each day.