MANNING, S.C. — After they landed enormous sacks of bass Thursday during the opening round of the Santee Cooper Showdown, many of the competing anglers said they thought fishing would be even better on Friday.
Some pundits may have found the predictions a little far-fetched. After all, how often do you see multiple limits over 30 pounds and more than 2,100 pounds of fish weighed?
But it turns out the pros were right on the money.
The 103 pro anglers and their respective co-anglers totaled more than 2,557 pounds Friday during the second round of the Santee Cooper Showdown presented by MotorGuide — the third stop on the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series. That total was more than 450 pounds heavier than Thursday's weight.
The eye-popping numbers don't stop there. Seven anglers bagged five-fish limits that weighed more than 30 pounds. And with two days of competition remaining, eight anglers are more than half way to the BASS record for total weight in a four-day event.
Preston Clark didn't catch a 30-plus pound bag like he did Thursday. He had to "settle" for a 29 pound, 5 ounce catch that helped him maintain his lead with a two-day total of 68-11. Kelly Jordan has consecutive bags over 30 pounds and is in second place with 63-9. Terry Scroggins is third with 61-2, Skeet Reese is fourth with 59-15 and Kevin Wirth is fifth with 59-5. John Crews (58-13), Dean Rojas (57-4) and Steve Kennedy (55-3) round out the top eight anglers.
Rojas holds the BASS tournament record with a 108 pound, 12 ounce total he produced on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga in 2001.
But Clark has his eyes on breaking that mark.
He certainly has a good start. No one has been more impressive so far on the Santee Cooper Reservoir where the Palatka, Fla., resident has taken advantage of perfect sight-fishing conditions to pull ahead of the field. He said warm weather and clear water have made it ideal for landing bedding bass. He did say, however, that the areas he's fished the first two days are running out of the lunkers he'll need to maintain his lead. Besides his big catches, Clark had to contend with several local anglers who were fishing next to him Friday.
"My spot's starting to get thin," Clark said. "I kind of put a hurting on them the last couple days, but I got on my trolling motor today and started searching for new water about noon — I think I found something that just might work. If it'll hold out for me for a couple more days, the 108 (pound) record might go down. There's a chance."
Clark said he'll continue sight fishing in his new spot and said it's a "completely different" set up than the ones he's been fishing. He wouldn't divulge more than that.
"I'll let you know a little bit more about that Sunday," he said.
Jordan won the last Bassmaster event held on Santee Cooper in 2004 and he's picked up right were he left off. He landed a 31-10 bag Friday after weighing in 31-15 on Thursday. His caught his biggest fish (a 9-3 lunker) just before weigh-in on Friday.
"I just had a great day again," the Texas pro said. "I just went fishing. It was all new fish. I was looking around. It just went my way. What can you say?.I like them when they're shallow and catching. For tomorrow and the next day, who knows? But I know where there's a lot of fish. I'll just go make the rounds again and maybe hook something I didn't (today.)"
Scroggins, who also is from Palatka, landed a 27-pound, 12-ounce bag to pug him within striking distance of Clark. He could have gotten closer, but Scroggins missed an 8 pounder three different times on Friday.
"Every time she bit, I let her eat it good," Scroggins said. "I don't know what happened. I'm just clueless on her. But it's starting to get personal with her now. I'm going back tomorrow to catch her."
Reese totaled 30 pounds, 3 ounces on Friday, but his day started slowly. He only had one fish in the boat by noon, but boated heavy fish to close the day. He said he was "pretty panicked' when the bass didn't cooperate early.
"Other guys were whacking them the first couple hours of the morning and I really thought I was going to catch them then," Reese said. "I couldn't get them to go."
Other anglers boating 30 pounds or better Friday were Kennedy (31-13), Wirth (31-15), Tim Horton (30-14), Mark Menendez (30-3) and Rojas (31-11).
Rojas knows his record is in jeopardy. He also realizes he's one of the anglers in position to break it.
"At least I'm there and I'm going down fighting," Rojas said. "There are new ones coming in. A lot of the big ones I found today weren't even there yesterday. So I know I'm in the right area with big ones moving up."
Fifty anglers survived today's cut and will fish Saturday. The top 12 will compete on Sunday for the tournament title and $100,000.