LAKE WALES, Fla. — The Kissimmee Chain produced four 20-pound-plus bags Thursday and three Friday. But Kelly Jordon was the only Bassmaster Elite Series angler to have a 20-pound bag both days. That jumped Jordan into first place on Day Two of the Citrus Slam, presented by Longhorn.
"The weather changed today, and it didn't affect me at all," said the Mineola, Texas, angler, who caught 22 pounds, 14 ounces Thursday and 21-5 Friday for a 44-3 total. "I've got some areas that have got some really quality fish on them."
And Jordon, who has relied on sight-fishing spawning beds, saw what he estimates as a 10-pounder move onto a bed Friday afternoon, but didn't catch it.
"She just came in today," Jordon said. "I saw her, and she's huge. She's as long as your leg."
Byron Velvick, like everyone else who caught 20-plus on Day One, had to settle for less on Day Two. But the Del Rio, Texas, angler dropped only one place. His limit of 11-6, combined with his Thursday bag of 25-0, gave him a total of 36-6 — almost 8 pounds behind Jordon.
"That's one bite," said Jordon of his lead. "We've got two more days to go, and that's a long way off."
Saturday may be the most interesting day of the tournament, as winds up to 25 miles per hour out of the southwest are expected to warm temperatures into the mid 80s. That's 20 degrees higher than it ever got Friday, under overcast skies. The wind will hurt sight-fishermen, like Jordon, but the warmer weather should improve bass fishing overall.
"The fish should bite a lot better," said Kevin VanDam, who moved from eighth to third Friday with a 17-11 limit (which included an 8-10 lunker) and gave him 35-11.
VanDam and Mark Davis, who moved from 42nd to ninth with a 30-5 total, are fishing in the same area. They aren't sight-fishing, and neither thinks the tournament will be won that way.
"I don't think so, either," said VanDam when informed of Davis' opinion. "Not if that wind blows tomorrow. One of us is going to catch them out there. (Todd) Faircloth (19th, 28-3) is out there, too."
"No sight-fishing for me," said Davis, the Mt. Ida, Ark., angler, who returned to BASS this year after two years on the FLW tour. "I've stayed out. Yesterday was a just a hard day, but it worked out today.
Davis, with 20-3, had the third-largest limit Friday.
"I'm just fishing hydrilla, the deepest hydrilla I can find," he said. "It's textbook post-spawn fishing. I'm cranking and throwing a worm a little. But you can't just throw that crankbait and wind it back. I'm finessing it a little bit."
Terry Scroggins of Palatka, Fla., who is a local favorite and was second Thursday with 23-2, dropped into fourth place with 11-11, giving him 34-13. Scroggins capitalized on some bedding bass in Lake Toho the first day. But he left there just before noon and fished lakes Kissimmee and Cypress to scratch out a limit, burning a lot of gas and time in the process.
"It's really tough for me to catch a fish now," he said. "When I've only got half a day, it's really, really tough.
"It's hard to catch them if you don't have your bait in the water."
Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., stayed in fifth place for the second straight day, finishing with 33-10. Like Davis and VanDam, he's fishing thick vegetation in deeper water.
"I'm swimming a junebug-colored worm, and when I see a hole, I drop it in there," Rook said. "I had to keep moving around to find them today. That's all I've got. All my eggs are in that basket.
"When it gets slick, they don't bite too good. When you get a little wind, they bite pretty good."
If Jordon manages to catch that 10-pounder he saw Friday, it won't be the first bass that size to be caught in this tournament. Kenyon Hill took Purolator Big Bass honors with a 10-3 Friday, helping him tie Bobby Lane for sixth place with 33-7.
"I found that fish yesterday," Hill said. "It looked like a submarine.
"I marked a (GPS) waypoint, and came back to it, and it was my second fish of the day."
Hill caught the 10-pounder on one of the giant soft plastic Ish Tubes, threaded on a 12/0 hook, thrown on 65-pound test braided line.
"When something starts swimming off with that thing," Hill said, "it's 'Jaws.'"
Jay Fuller of Kingston, Okla., had the Berkley Big Bag on Friday of 22-8. He was in 75th place on Day One and jumped all the way into 13th.
The field was cut to the top 50 for Saturday's semifinal round. Sixty-eight-year-old Guy Eaker edged Aaron Martens by 5 ounces, taking 50th place. He assured himself of a $10,000 check and gets to fish another day.
The Citrus Slam field will be cut to the top 12 before Sunday's finale, which will pay $100,000 to the winner.
Velvick, whose 25-pound bag Thursday remains the biggest here, hasn't given up on that dream of winning this tournament. But his confidence took a hit Friday.
"I didn't get any Easter eggs today," Velvick said. "I feel like I've got to go find some new areas and some fresh fish."