EVANS, Ga. — The strategy for the 50 Bassmaster Elite Series pros fishing the Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon on Saturday runs something like this: Hurry up and catch some fish, before the weather gets nice.
After weights generally increased Friday from Day One, the forecasted cloudless skies and calm conditions were bound to put a premium on the early morning bite.
"Guys are gonna have to slow down, once that sun gets up," Ashley said.
Anglers looking to take advantage of the cooler dawn hours were hoping to sack a quick limit of 10 to 15 pounds, then spend the rest of the day trawling for lunkers as the high skies and slick Clarks Hill Lake surface discouraged bites.
"I think the guys who caught 'em Thursday are gonna catch them today," said Kevin Short, who began the day in ninth place with 31 pounds, 13 ounces.
If that's so, it bodes well for the current top three — Chris Lane, Mike McClelland and Casey Ashley — who each turned in bigger bags on the tournament's lean first day than on its more productive second day.
Of the leaders, Lane seemed least concerned about pressured water. A local tournament and the usual surge in weekend boaters will have the pros looking harder for untrammeled areas. McClelland, for one, worried that his chosen spot, a main lake area with points and spawning creeks, was going to feel the effects of having him, Kevin VanDam, Kevin Wirth and Russ Lane pounding it Friday.
Weights were tight at the top of the board after two days. Lane (37-15) led McClelland by two ounces, while the next six anglers were within five pounds of them.
One plotline to follow this weekend will be the apparent surge by newcomers in this tournament. McClelland won an event last year, and fourth-place Derek Remitz, a rookie, won the first Elite Series event of this season — but everyone else in the current top dozen is looking for his first tournament win of this magnitude.
Also well in the hunt are Pete Ponds (5th, 35-7), rookie Bryan Hudgins (6th, 34-11), Jason Quinn (7th, 33-12) and Jon Bondy (8th, 33-2).
Hudgins said after Friday's weigh-in that he's catching fish in prespawn, postspawn and spawning patterns, on points, spots and in coves. "The fish are using points, coves and wood as their highways," he said.
Editor's Note: Sunday, April 22, ESPNOutdoors.com will be having LIVE Video coverage of the Pride of Georgia, presented by Evan Williams Bourbon throughout the entire day. Check in at 6:15 a.m. ET for The Launch: LIVE! and see your favorite BASS Anglers take off for the day of competition. Check back at 10:00 a.m., noon, and 2:00 p.m.ET for Live video updates from the event with Bassmaster TV hosts Mark Zona, Tommy Sanders, and Jerry McKinnis. Elite Series: Hooked Up, the Bassmaster Elite Series Final Day pregame show, begins at 3:00 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the Final Day Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in where you can see who wins the $100,000 prize!