SMITH LAKE STILL STINGY WITH BASS FOR DAY TWO
JASPER, Ala. - The thunderheads are gone from Smith Lake, but a different kind of cloud is still hanging over the anglers competing on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer. Friday weights were so low that it took just one bass to put Connecticut's Lee Bailey into the lead.
Bailey caught a 4-pound 6-ounce bass on a crankbait, despite the aftereffects of Thursday's showers. After more than six inches of rain fell on Day 1, many anglers predicted that the added water would help fishing, but only two anglers weighed in a five-fish limit on Friday. Bailey, like most anglers, suffered badly from the rain swell.
"I was fishing way up the river yesterday," Bailey said. "When I went up there today, it was just rolling mud. Every once in a while the fish can get crazy; even when the mud's rolling you can catch them.
"It looks like things will be better tomorrow in the area I'm fishing," Bailey added. "It's been tough, but I like spot fishing. I won an invitational at Table Rock and I've always done well at this kind of fishing. I got lucky today and caught that one 4-6."
California's Charlie Weyer leaped from ninth place into seconds with 9-7 catch on Day 2 to give him a total of 17-8. Weyer used a different pattern than most to catch his two fish Friday and thinks he may have the Smith Lake bass figured out.
"Today I figured out that the creeks are blowing in," he said. "I stayed outside the creeks 40 or 50 feet and cast in them. If the water level rises a lot, that's okay. They're just going to move up. If the temperature drops, that's okay, too. That'll bunch them up more."
Bailey and Weyer led the 12 anglers who survived Friday's field cut. A second cut will drop the field to just six anglers after Saturday's round.
While the weights were nearly as low as the temperatures Friday, Arkansas' Scott Suggs came screaming back from a zero on Day 1 to 9th. The four-fish sack of 13-12 felt like a breath of fresh air for the Rookie of the Year leader.
"It's like it was meant to be," Suggs said. "Went into the first day pretty uptight. Fishing yesterday was tough. I fished today with Kim Striker and it was great. It was just relaxed. It's pretty awesome to get the biggest sack from a zero yesterday."
The 13-12 catch qualified Suggs as the Busch Heavyweight of the day. If his weight remains one of the top 10 heaviest qualified catches through all six Tour and four Bassmaster Elite 50 events, Hackney will earn an invitation for the $160,000 Busch Shootout Tournament that will be held at a mystery lake on Sept. 18.
With temperatures expected to plummet below freezing at launch tomorrow, Missouri's Mark Tucker thinks the top 12 will be hurting again for Day 3. His two-day total of 17-2 brought him up to the third spot Friday and included a 6-11 spotted bass that earned him the Purolator Big Bass award for Friday's round. He'll take home a $1,000 bonus for Friday's catch and currently has the tournament's largest bass. If the 6-11 weight hangs on through Sunday, Purolator will reward him with another $1,000 for the biggest bass of the tournament.
Virginia's Rick Morris (17-0), Kentucky's Jack Gadlage (16-3), Louisiana's Greg Hackney (16-0), Oklahoma's Edwin Evers (15-5), Alabama's Gerald Swindle (14-7), Illinois' Chad Morgenthaler (13-5), Tesas' Ben Matsubu (13-3) and Arkansas' Kevin Short (12-10) complete the list of competitors for day three.
On the amateur side, Alabama's Red Berry claimed the lead with a limit weighing 14-11. He was followed by the Purolator Big Bass award winner on the amateur side, fellow Alabamian Shawn Striker. Striker's 10-7 catch included a 5-14 lunker that earned him an extra $500. Another Alabamian and day one leader Timothy Hatcher zeroed Friday, but his day one weight of 8-7 was strong enough to keep him in third. The amateurs will wrap up their competition on Saturday.
Day three at the Smith Lake gets under way Friday with launch at 7 a.m. from Lewis Smith Lake Dam. Friday's weigh-in, beginning at 4 p.m. will also be held at the Old Walker County Airport.
Fans can catch a telecast of the Smith Lake tournament on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season feature the highly interactive and family friendly BASS Sponsor Expo area. Sponsors present interactive exhibits and provide a fun family experience for all ages. The Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Old Walker County Airport.
The CastingKids program, presented by CITGO will be held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Old Walker County Airport. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn a scholarship. The event and instruction to youngsters will be facilitated by the Alabama BASS Federation.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats and Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning.
Local Sponsors include the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.
Source: bassmaster.com (2004-02-06)