Matt Robertson Leads Day One of 2022 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite Series Pickwick Lake

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COUNCE, Tenn. — Matt Robertson has been waiting for a warm-weather tournament on a Tennessee River fishery since he qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series two years ago.

Matt Robertson Leads Day One of 2022 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake – photo by B.A.S.S. – Seigo Saito

He’s got one in the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake.

The 36-year-old Kentucky pro took the Day 1 lead with a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces and said he felt “at home” on Pickwick’s offshore ledges, which he exploited for his best bass, the heaviest weighing 5 1/2 pounds.

Unless something drastically changes, Robertson will head straight back to the ledges Friday when the derby resumes on this 43,100-acre impoundment that flows between Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“We’re doing what we like to do,” Robertson said. “I’m just rotating through some spots. Nothing special. Hopefully, we’ll go back out there and crack ‘em.”

Robertson has spent at least a quarter-century learning his sport on ledge fisheries like Kentucky Lake (his home water) and other lakes along the Tennessee River. He said the experience helped him Thursday.

“You’re not getting a lot of bites, but I think I’ve figured out some things to trigger some of the bigger bites,” he said. “There are one or two little things I don’t think (other guys are) doing. It’s only the first day, but we’ll go bang on ‘em tomorrow.”

The 91 pros entered in the derby predicted that getting away from boat traffic would be difficult on Pickwick, which is one of the country’s more popular recreational lakes, especially coming off the Memorial Day holiday. Robertson said he had no such problems on a hot and still Thursday, when temperatures stayed in the mid-80s and humidity was over 70 percent.

“I fished some community holes and I had a few guys let me fish behind them,” he said. “But places where I caught the weight, I was good to go.”

The trick, of course, will be getting a few repeat performances. True to his style, Robertson is confident he can get that done.

“I do feel at home,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this one a long time, a Tennessee River ledge-fishing tournament … I’ve had to really adjust my fishing the past couple of years, but I’m really an offshore fisherman. I love fishing deep. I know that’s how some of the (Elite) tournaments have been won (recently), but here, you have no other choice.

“You come to the TVA in the summer, you better get off the bank.”

Jason Christie, the reigning champion of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, is just behind Robertson with 22-2. Japanese-born pro Takumi Ito is third with 22-1 with veteran pros Brandon Palaniuk and Brandon Lester on their heels with 21-13 and 21-6, respectively.

Lester, of Fayetteville, Tenn., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with the 6-9 he weigh-in today.

Christie’s bite came offshore as well, with one bass caught in at least 30 feet of water. He said he was fishing scared Thursday and he wasn’t kidding.

“In practice, I wouldn’t stand up to fish,” he said. “If I saw (fish), I just kept on going. Today I’m even scared to fish. I pull in, look around, catch three or four and go to the next spot. I’m afraid someone’s going to see me.”

The potential threats came from land, too.

“There was a dude on a four-wheeler about 500 yards away on the bank watching me fish,” the Park Hill, Okla., pro said. “I was afraid he was gonna tell his buddy where I was.”

Christie’s biggest bass Thursday weighed 5-2, but he said many of his bites are “skinny.”

“If you interview anyone up here, they’ll say they got lucky and got five big bites,” Christie said. “My next five (heaviest) bass would have weighed 12 pounds.”

Ito is a finesse fisherman who said the muggy and warm conditions suit his style just fine. Like Robertson learning to fish ledges at a young age, Ito said fishing patiently is a reality for all anglers learning the sport in Japan.

Unlike Robertson and Christie, Ito said he tried his hand on the banks Thursday, as well his methodical approach on Pickwick’s ledges. He said he caught his heaviest bass on a baitcaster in the morning and found other sizable fish in relatively shallow (5 to 6 feet) water. Others came from as deep as 25 to 26 feet.

“If there’s a strong wind, I cannot hold bait (in place),” he said. “So, no current is perfect for me.”

Palaniuk vaulted up the leaderboard courtesy of a 6-2 bass he caught in the waning moments.

“It was a place I caught a bunch of 2-pounders in practice,” he said. “(The 6-2) was literally a 3-pound upgrade.”

Palaniuk, the veteran pro from Rathdrum, Idaho, maintained the lead in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 539 points. He is followed by John Cox of DeBary, Fla., with 490, Lester with 473, Drew Benton of Blakely, Ga., with 457 and David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., with 455.

Jacob Foutz, another Tennessee River specialist from Charleston, Tenn., took the lead in the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race with 365 points. Wisconsin pro Jay Przekurat, who has led the race much of the season fell to second with 353, followed by Alabamian Joseph Webster with 348.

Day 2 of the event will begin with a 7 a.m. CT takeoff from Pickwick Landing State Park. Weigh-in is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. The Top 47 anglers will advance to fish on Day 3. Full coverage can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and FOX Sports digital platforms.

The Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake is being hosted by Tour Hardin County.

2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC
2022 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

2022 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake 6/2-6/5
Pickwick Lake, Counce  TN.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY              5  22-06  100
Day 1: 5   22-06
2.  Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  22-02   99
Day 1: 5   22-02
3.  Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN              5  22-01   98
Day 1: 5   22-01
4.  Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID             5  21-13   97
Day 1: 5   21-13
5.  Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  21-06   96   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-06
6.  Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD                5  20-05   95
Day 1: 5   20-05
7.  Matt Arey              Shelby, NC               5  19-13   94
Day 1: 5   19-13
8.  Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  19-10   93
Day 1: 5   19-10
9.  Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN           5  19-01   92
Day 1: 5   19-01
10. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL             5  18-06   91
Day 1: 5   18-06
11. Cody Huff              Ava, MO                  5  18-05   90
Day 1: 5   18-05
12. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA  5  17-10   89
Day 1: 5   17-10
13. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC            5  17-09   88
Day 1: 5   17-09
13. Josh Douglas           Isle, MN                 5  17-09   88
Day 1: 5   17-09
15. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX           5  17-08   86
Day 1: 5   17-08
16. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN         5  17-07   85
Day 1: 5   17-07
17. Kenta Kimura           Osaka JAPAN              5  17-05   84
Day 1: 5   17-05
18. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              5  17-04   83
Day 1: 5   17-04
19. Scott Martin           Clewiston, FL            5  17-04   82
Day 1: 5   17-04
20. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA  5  17-00   81
Day 1: 5   17-00
21. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  16-15   80
Day 1: 5   16-15
22. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ            5  16-14   79
Day 1: 5   16-14
22. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN            5  16-14   79
Day 1: 5   16-14
24. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              5  16-13   77
Day 1: 5   16-13
25. Drew Benton            Blakely, GA              5  16-11   76
Day 1: 5   16-11
26. Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA  5  16-04   75
Day 1: 5   16-04
26. Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL              5  16-04   75
Day 1: 5   16-04
28. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC              5  16-03   73
Day 1: 5   16-03
29. Marc Frazier           Newnan, GA               5  16-01   72
Day 1: 5   16-01
30. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA             5  16-00   71
Day 1: 5   16-00
31. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX              5  15-14   70
Day 1: 5   15-14
32. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland AUSTRALIA     5  15-13   69
Day 1: 5   15-13
33. John Cox               Debary, FL               5  15-10   68
Day 1: 5   15-10
33. KJ Queen               Catawba, NC              5  15-10   68
Day 1: 5   15-10
35. Buddy Gross            Chattanooga, TN          5  15-08   66
Day 1: 5   15-08
36. Seth Feider            New Market, MN           5  14-13   65
Day 1: 5   14-13
37. Chad Pipkens           Dewitt, MI               5  14-10   64
Day 1: 5   14-10
38. Bryan New              Saluda, SC               5  14-07   63
Day 1: 5   14-07
38. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           5  14-07   63
Day 1: 5   14-07
38. Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX              5  14-07   63
Day 1: 5   14-07
41. Darold Gleason         Many, LA                 5  14-03   60
Day 1: 5   14-03
42. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              5  14-02   59
Day 1: 5   14-02
43. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  14-01   58
Day 1: 5   14-01
44. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR               5  14-01   57
Day 1: 5   14-01
45. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC            5  14-00   56
Day 1: 5   14-00
45. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI            5  14-00   56
Day 1: 5   14-00
47. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            5  13-12   54
Day 1: 5   13-12
48. Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL            5  13-12   53
Day 1: 5   13-12
49. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS         5  13-08   52
Day 1: 5   13-08
49. Alex Redwine           Blue Ash, OH             5  13-08   52
Day 1: 5   13-08
51. Joseph Webster         Hamilton, AL             4  13-07   50
Day 1: 4   13-07
52. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  12-15   49
Day 1: 5   12-15
52. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  12-15   49
Day 1: 5   12-15
54. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  12-12   47
Day 1: 5   12-12
54. Justin Hamner          Northport, AL            5  12-12   47
Day 1: 5   12-12
56. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX             5  12-11   45
Day 1: 5   12-11
57. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  12-10   44
Day 1: 5   12-10
57. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         5  12-10   44
Day 1: 5   12-10
59. Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA            5  12-10   42
Day 1: 5   12-10
60. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               5  12-09   41
Day 1: 5   12-09
61. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO         5  12-08   40
Day 1: 5   12-08
62. Hunter Shryock         Ooltewah, TN             5  12-04   39
Day 1: 5   12-04
63. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA             5  12-03   38
Day 1: 5   12-03
64. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                 5  12-02   37
Day 1: 5   12-02
64. Wes Logan              Springville, AL          5  12-02   37
Day 1: 5   12-02
66. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK             5  12-01   35
Day 1: 5   12-01
67. Joshua Stracner        Vandiver, AL             5  11-15   34
Day 1: 5   11-15
68. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            5  11-14   33
Day 1: 5   11-14
68. Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI        5  11-14   33
Day 1: 5   11-14
70. Drew Cook              Cairo, GA                5  11-13   31
Day 1: 5   11-13
71. Bob Downey             Detroit Lakes, MN        5  11-13   30
Day 1: 5   11-13
72. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            5  11-12   29
Day 1: 5   11-12
73. Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC          5  11-11   28
Day 1: 5   11-11
74. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  11-07   27
Day 1: 5   11-07
75. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC           5  10-14   26
Day 1: 5   10-14
76. David Williams         Newton, NC               4  10-13   25
Day 1: 4   10-13
77. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN           5  10-08   24
Day 1: 5   10-08
78. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             4  10-05   23
Day 1: 4   10-05
79. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  5  10-02   22
Day 1: 5   10-02
80. Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Shi JAPAN       4  09-06   21
Day 1: 4   09-06
81. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              4  08-14   20
Day 1: 4   08-14
82. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ          3  08-02   19
Day 1: 3   08-02
83. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             4  07-09   18
Day 1: 4   07-09
84. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           3  07-00   17
Day 1: 3   07-00
85. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           3  06-09   16
Day 1: 3   06-09
86. Derek Hudnall          Denham Springs, LA       2  05-08   15
Day 1: 2   05-08
87. Pat Schlapper          Eleva, WI                3  05-05   14
Day 1: 3   05-05
88. Daisuke Aoki           Minamitsurugun Yamanash  2  04-13   13
Day 1: 2   04-13
89. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI             2  04-05   12
Day 1: 2   04-05
90. Mike Huff              London, KY               2  03-15   11
Day 1: 2   03-15
91. Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC             1  02-08   10
Day 1: 1   02-08
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Brandon Lester           Fayetteville, TN    06-09      $1,000.00

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Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        76       425      1258-11
———————————-
76       425      1258-11