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000241692_original_650x650.jpg> 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

000241679_original_650x650.jpgDay 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

Before the tournament started, Reed was convinced the winning fish were going to come from off-shore schools. His thinking appears to be spot-on so far. He worked “a bunch” of deeper-water spots to catch his weight. His bag was anchored by a 5-03 brute and his smallest fish was 4 pounds.



Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Matt Reed stuck with his deep-water plan and it paid off.

“I felt like if I caught them, I’d have a big weight, but it’s scary as crud trying to catch one,” he said. “You don’t know if you can catch them. You know if you do, they’re going to be good ones.

“In my mind, there’s no doubt it’s going to be won out there. That was my thinking before it even started. If you wanted to fish for a check you better go fish the bank.”

Patience is a huge factor this week, especially with the community holes taking a beating.

“It’s a huge gamble and you have to commit to it because if you get one of the schools to fire you can catch it in a hurry,” he added. “I panicked at one point this morning. I started on a spot and couldn’t work on it. I didn’t catch one there and ran to the bank for about 20 minutes. I basically looked in the mirror and said, ‘You idiot.’ I went back out by 8 and had a limit before 10. I hit two areas where I caught them, then I could breathe.” Full Story

        

Photos by BASS - Gary Tramontina - Seigo Saito - Read More