Robert “Stump” Morrison, a U.S. Army veteran from Winston-Salem, won his first major bass-fishing victory at High Rock Lake by topping the field at the Sept. 14-15 Bassmaster Weekend Series N.C. Division 5 tournament.
Morrison had 17.56 pounds on Day 1, a catch anchored by a 5.22-pound bass, and 17.29 pounds on Day 2 for a two-day haul of 34.85 pounds that paid $2,017.
While most competitors hammered away at the piers in Abbotts Creek, Morrison chose to fish the upper stretches of High Rock to avoid other fishermen.
“I practiced in Abbotts Creek, but when a good number of boats headed to Abbotts, I decided to motor upriver,” said Morrison. “I hate fishing in a crowd.”
While some people read tea leaves to direct their actions, Morrison read the wind Saturday and Sunday to determine his fishing strategies. Saturday was breezy, and the breeze blew the forage close to the bank where Morrison could see shad flickering. In response, he selected a half-ounce blue/white Fat Ratz spinnerbait and stuck seven keepers, culling to his 5-fish limit to tie Mt. Pleasant’s Steve Dyer for the lead.
On Day 2, the water was slick, with no sign of shad in the shallows. Morrison could only catch non-keepers with the spinnerbait, so he made a significant wind-related adjustment.
“I looked for water that had a little ripple to it and tied on a Strike King KVD Redeye Shad lipless crankbait to fish slightly deeper,” said Morrison, who caught another limit.
Morrison said the water temperature was also a factor.
“The water temperature was two degrees cooler up the river than it was on the main lake or in the creeks, making the fish more eager to bite,” he said.
The battle for first place was decided quickly at the final weigh-in when Morrison and Dyer stood back-to-back in line with weigh-in bags in hand.
Morrison posted his limit catch first. Dyer followed with another limit, but his five fish weighed only 13. 85 pounds, giving him a two-day total of 31.41, good enough for second place and $1,009.
Paul Tsiolkas of Winston-Salem finished third with 31.14, winning $772. He also caught a 5.81-pound bass on Day 1 to take the big-fish award of $100. Clayton Williams of Taylorsville placed fourth with 29.34 pounds and earned $471.
Ethan Lyon of Elkin finished first among the co-anglers with 14.92 pounds and collected $1,065.
The other top co-anglers were: Chris Teague of Lincolnton, second, with 13.33 pounds for $519; and Charles Wood of Thomasville, third, with 12.95 pounds for $292. Robbie Lane of Granite Falls took the co-angler big-fish prize of $45 with a 4.73-pound bass.