Day 4: 5, 13-01 (20, 55-15) Reed hopes he can sustain the momentum he's picked up over the past two derbies.
"It's a pleasant surprise," he said of his finish. "I fished by the seat of my pants for 4 days and just covered new water every day, and I fished really clean all week. I had one big one come off the first day, but it wasn't even close to the boat. I've got no complaints.
"It feels good to be making good decisions again. Most times you don't know what made you turn left when you should've gone right, but times like now are when it all flows. It's amazing how much of this game is mental, whether you know what's causing it or not."
He fished a jerkbait most of the time and handled seven keepers on the final day. Mixed bags were the norm for him.
"I never knew what I was going to catch. I was actually fishing for smallmouth, but I ended up weighing in more of the others." Read more
A SPRO McStick 110 jerkbait in chartreuse shad was the ticket for Matt Reed’s fourth-place finish.
> Day 1: 5, 17-15 - Reed said he went all-in on the smallmouths in practice, but had some trepidation about whether he could catch a limit of keepers.
"I had one good day in practice, but that 18-inch limit is a scary thing," he said. "I had to commit and go do it and I caught more today than any other day I've been here. I got into an area and started running stuff and I ended up fishing stuff I'd never seen before."
He took four smallmouths and one largemouth to the scale. One of the brown ones weighed 4 3/4.
"It took me until about noon to get my weight – I caught one real quick, then I had five short ones before I caught the next keeper. I had one big one come off that I saw – it came to the top and just came unbuttoned.
"The scary thing on this lake is trying to catch a good bag on multiple days. I'm just going to keep covering a lot of water." Read more
> Day 4: 5, 12-06 (20, 64-14) Reed stuck with his simple Carolina rig strategy today in Lake Eustis, but he sensed the population of fish inhabiting the shell beds he kept visiting was starting to dwindle. Still, he was thrilled to collect his best finish in a tour-level event since he placed 4th at the Clarks Hills Elite Series back in May 2010.
“It was a great week,” he said. “I just ran out of fish. Any time you finish in the top 5, you have to be happy. I fished clean all week and didn’t lose a fish that would’ve mattered.”
With the slight change in weather, the fish started biting differently.
“Today, they just got weird on me,” he said. “They were biting like perch. There was one I caught that was hooked on the outside of the cheek. It just didn’t eat it right.”
To counter that, he resorted to a shaky-head to catch two of his weigh fish.
“I think they got tired of me and it didn’t replenish last night and the cupboard just went dry,” he added.
The top-5 is so far the highlight of his first year competing on the FLW Tour after more than a decade on the Elite Series and Bassmaster Tour. He stepped away from the Elite Series in the middle of the 2016 season, but feels rejuvenated now.
“Personally, things are in a much better place now,” he said. “My mind is in a much better place. At (Lake) Travis two weeks ago, I didn’t get paid and finished a pound out of the money. But practice at Travis felt right. Things fell into place. Everything was going good and even after Travis, I felt like I was getting the tires back on the road.
“Here, every day in practice, I found something new and added to it. When you’re doing this as long as I have been, when it’s broke, it’s hard to know what’s broke about it, so it feels good to walk on stage on the final day. There were years where I was accustomed to that and I’ll admit this dry spell I’ve had, you start to question yourself.” FULL STORY
Day 3: 5, 18-10 (15, 52-0Reed is taking a cautiously optimistic approach into the final day. His stringers have increased in weight each day while Cox’s and Lehew’s continue to shrink.
“If I can catch another bag like I’ve been catching, we’ll lay all the cards on the table and see how it plays out,” the Texan said when asked if he felt he could win. “I’ve fished clean for 3 days and I wouldn’t change anything.”
He said the fishing was considerably tougher this morning, but he remained committed to the area that’s produced each day for him.
“At 11:30, I had three for 3 1/4 pounds,” he said. “Then they turned on and I rotated back through some stuff and caught a 6 and two 4 1/2s.”
Those 4 1/2-pounders came off a spot where he caught a 5 1/2-pounder Friday. He has several other spots within the area that have been key as well.
“There are about 20 to 30 spots that are very small and a couple have been key to me,” he said. “I keep rotating through as many as I can and rotate back through the key ones.”
Hard bottom out in the middle of the lake is how he described the area he’s targeted.
He’s anything but nervous entering the final day.
“I’m as calm as can be,” he said. “Going into this event, I looked at (travel partner) Billy McCaghren and said, ‘It’s possible that we could 16- to 18-pound them to death.’ I got on a deal where I think they’re coming to me. I may not catch another one, but I’ve managed to catch good ones every day. I’m just hoping they’ll replenish.” FULL STORY