Things have slowed considerably for Randy Howell, whom BassTrakk has holding the lead right now with 32-2. We've been dogging him from a distance for the past 20 minutes, and we've seen him catch a throwback. He's out in open water, as most pros are this time of day, chunking a topwater plug across unseen grassbeds. He told us his best period was from 9 to 10:30 this morning, "but it's slow now." He's hoping his noisy topwater plug will wake up whatever's down there.
Howell has plenty of company in this area, and some of them top contenders on Oneida. Clark Reehm of Shreveport, La., who was fourth after Day 1 with 15-15, and J Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga., who was third with 16-6, are just 150 yards to the north of Howell. All are facing and casting downwind. Just this moment, Reehm and Tucker jumped behind the consoles of their boats and raced south, pulling even with Howell before shutting down their engines. The two of them are a long cast apart now -- apparently both spotted the same bunch of fish schooling on the surface and raced to get in a few casts before the fish sounded. Neither hooked up in the flurry, best I could tell.