Mosley stays consistent and takes a slight lead in Bassmaster Elite event in Chickamauga

The Bassmaster Elite Guaranteed Rate at Lake Chickamauga was anything but your typical early April event in the South.

At one point during Saturday’s semi-final, anglers were sight-fishing for sleeping bass in 52-degree water with sleet crushing them. Any angler will tell you that this is not only a strange scenario, but one of the most difficult to understand.

Through it all, however, Mississippi pro Brock Mosley remained consistent, building a total of 58 pounds, 1 ounce over three days to take the lead heading into the championship on Sunday. He caught 19-6 Thursday, 18-11 Friday and 20-0 Saturday and will now head into the final round with five anglers within 4 pounds of him.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” Mosley said. “I had no idea if I could catch a fish until the first day of the tournament. I caught five that weighed 17 or 18 pounds early that first day and then laid them off because I didn’t know if I would be able to find anything else on day two.

“But what I do has worked pretty much every day.”

While Mosley stayed in the same basic areas each day, he alternated between several lures, including a blade jig, a lipless crankbait, and an assortment of flip baits. He said it’s been a process of trial and error to figure out which of these offerings the bass wants.

“Every day they’re in a different mood,” said Mosley, who has 13 Top 10s with BASS. “The last two days it’s been slow biting. So it’s the moving baits that worked. I kind of have to mix things up until I figure out what mood they’re in.

Mosley has benefited from fast starts every day – something he says has given him the confidence to mix and match his lures and find the one the fish want most in the moment.

“Getting a few goalkeepers early on was important for me,” he said. “I think I got a limit every day at 11:30 a.m., and that really calms me down and allows me to fish without being rushed and stressed.

“People won’t believe it, but like I said, I was a little worried about catching a limit every day.”

Mosley will carry the pressure of four previous second-place finishes through Sunday with Japanese pro Daisuke Aoki just 3 ounces behind in second place at 57-14. Oklahoma pro Jason Christie, who is a month away from winning the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, is just 6 ounces in third place.

After using two models the first two days, Aoki saw one sparkle on Saturday.

“Days 1 and 2, I started in a shallow spawning area,” Aoki said, with interpretation from longtime BASS photographer Seigo Saito. “It’s a really tiny place and the fish were gone from there. It was really rough this morning.”

Luckily for Aoki, the offshore spot where he used a collection of finesse tactics actually improved in the freezing conditions. The only downside was that it took more time and patience to establish the solid 17-10 boundary he brought to the scales.

Another weather change is forecast for Sunday – sunny skies, calm winds and a high temperature of 75 degrees. But while it looks like Aoki’s offshore model would be less sensitive to weather changes than shallower models, he wasn’t sure how the fish in his area would react.

“I know there will be fish there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of whether or not the big fish move into that area. If they do, I think I can make them bite.

Christie, who seemed to be struggling a little with a classic hangover – finishing 93rd in the next Elite Series event after the Classic at Santee Cooper Lakes – found her form this week with 16-0 holds , 20-15 and 20-12 .

This puts him in excellent position to claim his eighth career BASS win.

“I’ve never seen a situation quite like the one we have this week,” Christie said. “The water temperature is 50 to 52 degrees and it is snowing. But I think a few of these fish just decided that the water is rising and it’s time to get up there and try to spawn.

“I caught fish in inches of water today, and I know they spawn because yesterday I missed two on open schools. Then today I made the same casts on these schools and caught these fish.

Christie uses his usual selection of baits – spinnerbait, bladed jig and jig – and each has worked well in certain water colors. But Christie’s priority on Sunday will be to find areas that have not been fished.

“There’s so much pressure there right now that you don’t know where you’ll be in the rotation when you go into a pocket,” he said. “They may not even be doing the same thing, but when there’s a boat in a pocket, you move on to the next one.

“In some pockets there are five casts to be made and in others there are 50.”

Tennessee rookie Jacob Foutz won Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day honors with a 7-12 bigmouth, but Wisconsin pro Pat Schlapper still holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Week lead with the 10- 5 he caught on Thursday.

Hawaii’s Matty Wong failed to crack the Top 10 for the championship on Sunday, placing 14th at 48-5. But he still leads for VMC Monster Bag of the Week with the 25-13 limit he weighed in on Friday.

With a 33rd-place finish, Florida pro John Cox maintained his Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year lead with 353 points. Idaho pro Brandon Palaniuk moved up to second with 343, followed by Clifford Pirch of Arizona (337), Drew Benton of Georgia (322) and David Mullins of Tennessee (321).

Wisconsin pro Jay Przekurat leads the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race with 293 points, followed by Alabama’s Joseph Webster (249) and Foutz (199).

The top 10 remaining anglers will take off Sunday at 7 a.m. from the Dayton Boat Dock with a weigh-in at the dock at 3 p.m. The winner will take home $100,000 and the fourth blue trophy awarded on the Elite Series this season.

FS1 will broadcast live with the tournament leaders from 8am on Sunday. Live coverage can also be streamed on Bassmaster.com and FOX Sports digital platforms.

The tournament is hosted by Rhea County, City of Dayton, TN, and Fish Dayton.

Joseph K. Bennett