Kyle Welcher
B.A.S.S. / Chris Brown

Christie and Welcher Tied for Bassmaster Classic Lead

Christie and Welcher head into Championship Sunday tied at 36-7.

In the end, there can be only one, but after Day 2 of the 2022 Academy Sports and Outdoors Bassmaster Classic Presented by HUK on Lake Hartwell, Jason Christie and Kyle Welcher shared the lead with twin two-day totals of 36 pounds, 7 ounces.

Hailing from Opelika, Alabama, Welcher placed second on Day 1 with 18-13 and followed up 17-10. Christie, who makes his home in Park Hill, Oklahoma, caught a ninth-place limit of 17-1 on Friday.

Today, he added 19-6.

Where They Fished

Jason Christie

B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito

Christie targeted docks and anchored his bag with a pair of 4-pounders. The last one bit shortly before 3 p.m..

"I didn't get that many bites today," Christie said. "It was just a lot tougher day today.

"I just haven't gotten into a groove on the dock deal. Today, I fished new water; I went to a creek I haven't even been in and I didn't catch anything."

Christie said he started his day fishing deeper and catching fish that he was spotting on his Garmin LiveScope. This technique essentially allowed him to sight fish and drop to fish as he spotted them. Later in the morning, after securing his limit, Christie moved shallow.

Welcher fished a set of areas throughout the lake and focused on locating key habitat features. His priorities include a mix of clay and sand, the right type of rock and deep water close to the bank.

"I know where largemouth get sometimes and on these lakes that have a mix of spots and largemouth—and Hartwell has way more spots than largemouth—the largemouth aren't everywhere, but spots are," Welcher said. "So, if you can find those places where largemouth get, you're going to have a little better average weight.

"What I'm trying to do here is fish the places where the big largemouth get, mixed in with the spots. Today, I weighed in two largemouth and three spots, but I had two big largemouth—a 5-12 and a 4-12."

Welcher said his forward-facing sonar helped him catch several of his fish today. Lake mapping helped identify key areas of largemouth potential.

How They Caught 'Em

Kyle Welcher

B.A.S.S. / Chris Brown

Welcher said he employed a strategy that effectively covered the water column.

"I try to think about exactly where I'm going to fish," he said. "I know I'm going to fish some in 2 feet deep and I'm going to fish some all the way out to 40 feet. This week, it's a mix of swimbaits and small worms and jerkbaits."

"If there's a school of them set up right, you can catch them on a swimbait, a jerkbait or a dropshot," Welcher said. "It seems like when you get around one, they really bite here. That's why staying in good water and staying in productive areas is more important than technique."

Christie said he caught fish from 6 inches to 30 feet of water. He used a mix of power fishing and finesse tactics.

Noting the need to stay on his toes in the final round, Christie said: "I saw a lot of things change today. I saw some things that I liked and I saw some things that I didn't like."

On the positive side, Christie said he saw a couple of fish moving onto beds. However, he caught his biggest after it bit three times. While he was pleased with the catch, Christie noted that the scenario indicated that the fish was alone.

"I don't know that there are a whole lot of fish coming to my area," Christie said. "I think that's why the dock thing is getting tougher.

"I saw a couple of big ones today but there's two different kinds of fish that live on those docks: There are the ones that eat and the ones that just swim around and show themselves. I don't know how to catch the ones that are just up there suspending."

Rest of the Best

Bryan new

B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito

Day-1 leader Bryan New is in third place with 33-7. Adding 13-7 to his first-round weight of 20-pounds, the Saluda, North Carolina, pro returned to the dock pattern that yielded the event's heaviest bag.

New fished a mix of baits including a skipping jig, a finesse worm and a Neko rig. The latter also produced during his occasional offshore stops.

"I'd push and push and push the dock pattern and then I'd take a break and go fish offshore brush piles," New said. "It's a good thing I did—I caught a 5-pounder offshore."

Lee Livesay of Longview, Texas, placed fourth with 33-6. Justin Hamner of Northport, Alabama, was fifth with 33-2.

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, South Carolina, leads the Big Bass standings with his 6-12.