Thursday, May 23, 2024

Practice with Clayton Batts

Date:

Of the locals in the field for the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula, sophomore pro Clayton Batts is about as local as they come. He has roots all around Eufaula and has about as much experience as anyone on the lake. Typically he competes out of a Ranger wrapped by Mid-State RV Center, but motor troubles had forced him to miss some practice time and borrow a boat from FLW Tour co-angler Josh Weaver. Luckily, he is well-equipped will local knowledge to make up for lost time. I joined him for a few hours the last morning of official practice to see how he approached the lake.

 

Batts wanted to check some areas where shad might be spawning, so we had to get started early to take advantage of every ounce of daylight and get to the ramp early. As you can see from the rod selection, the shad spawn wasn't the only thing on his mind.

Batts wanted to check some areas where shad might be spawning, so we had to get started early to take advantage of every ounce of daylight and get to the ramp early. As you can see from the rod selection, the shad spawn wasn’t the only thing on his mind.

 

It's hot down here. It was t-shirt weather from the beginning. Batts began by running down the lake scanning for spawning shad - typically denoted by herons queued up along the bank.

It’s hot down here. It was t-shirt weather from the beginning. Batts began by running down the lake scanning for spawning shad – typically denoted by herons queued up along the bank.

 

Like this one. Ideally he would have a bunch of buddies and there would be bass nearby.

Like this one. Ideally he would have a bunch of buddies and there would be bass nearby.

 

After starting on the main channel, the Macon, Ga., pro opted to work a couple of pockets filled with peanut grass and pads. Almost every bank in Eufaula has some vegetation on it, so the fact that a shallow bite exists nearly year-round is no surprise.

After starting on the main channel, the Macon, Ga., pro opted to work a couple of pockets filled with peanut grass and pads. Almost every bank in Eufaula has some vegetation on it, so the fact that a shallow bite exists nearly year-round is no surprise.

 

A popping frog is a time-tested bait in the grass, and it was Batts' weapon of choice around the peanut grass on the surface.

A popping frog is a time-tested bait in the grass, and it was Batts’ weapon of choice around the peanut grass on the surface.

 

After working a pocket, Batts paused for the breakfast of champions - Gatorade and white chocolate Reese's.

After working a pocket, Batts paused for the breakfast of champions – Gatorade and white chocolate Reese’s.

 

While Batts was up against the bank, Walmart pro Mark Rose was working something offshore in the distance.

While Batts was up against the bank, Walmart pro Mark Rose was working something offshore in the distance.

 

Like Batts, Jacob Wheeler was up shallow looking to take advantage of the cloudy conditions. He was also slinging a frog.

Like Batts, Jacob Wheeler was up shallow looking to take advantage of the cloudy conditions. He was also slinging a frog.

 

Later in the day, Batts moved offshore himself, sampling a few areas he expected fish to be with a big deep-diving crankbait.

Later in the day, Batts moved offshore himself, sampling a few areas he expected fish to be with a big deep-diving crankbait.

 

Batts paused to re-rig before changing up his strategy. Batts was very organized despite being in a borrowed boat, and seemed to have a bait for every possible situation.

Batts paused to re-rig before changing up his strategy. Batts was very organized despite being in a borrowed boat, and seemed to have a bait for every possible situation.

 

Time to idle. Batts scanned some offshore ledges, but he primarily concentrated on checking bush piles that he had fished previously. He re-marked them when necessary and put a second waypoint down nearby to mark where he needed to position his boat to cast in it.

Time to idle. Batts scanned some offshore ledges, but he primarily concentrated on checking bush piles that he had fished previously. He re-marked them when necessary and put a second waypoint down nearby to mark where he needed to position his boat to cast in it.

 

This is the juice.

This is the juice.

 

In addition to scanning over the piles, Batts sometimes cast a worm in to check the responsiveness of fish. Though he didn't set the hook, he could sometimes get multiple bites per pile.

In addition to scanning over the piles, Batts sometimes cast a worm in to check the responsiveness of fish. Though he didn’t set the hook, he could sometimes get multiple bites per pile.

 

That's not a bass! This whiskery critter grabbed Batts' worm while he was getting it free from a limb. He was so enthusiastic that he had no choice but to bring it aboard.

That’s not a bass! This whiskery critter grabbed Batts’ worm while he was getting it free from a limb. He was so enthusiastic that he had no choice but to bring it aboard.

 

And that's our day. I headed back for lunch and another bottle of water and Batts headed back out to dial them in some more.

And that’s our day. I headed back for lunch and another bottle of water and Batts headed back out to dial them in some more.

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