DECATUR, Ala. — The nerves from yesterday were noticeably missing from this morning’s launch as competitors from all over the world gathered for the second day of the 2012 Cabela's Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship at Wheeler Lake.
“I’m just ready to go,” said Pieter de Beer, who crossed the Atlantic to represent his home country of South Africa in the championship.
His sentiment was echoed by many as the 56 anglers waited in the queue to take off. Several contenders said they feel haunted by a few missed strikes or lost from yesterday, especially because one fish could make the difference between going to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic and watching it on TV.
For instance, in the Western division, leader Josh Polfer of Idaho has a margin of only 12 ounces over his closest competitor, Timothy Klinger of Nevada. And in the Mid-Atlantic division, Richard Svoboda of Maryland has only 1 pound, 3 ounces separating him from Zimbabwe’s Gerry Jooste and Paralyzed Veterans of America contender Tony Choe.
Choe competed in last year’s championship as well. “Last year, my goal was to bring a fish every day,” he said at yesterday’s weigh-in. “This year, it’s to bring a limit every day.” He accomplished that yesterday with five fish that weighed 11 pounds, 11 ounces.
The sky was clear this morning and the temperature was in the mid 50s, very similar to yesterday. But tomorrow’s forecast is cold and rainy, which has a lot of anglers anxious about their bite holding up. Others are looking forward to the change, hoping for friskier fish in the cooler temps. A few even noted that a chilly drizzle may be good enough to hold off lots of local fishermen for the weekend so the contenders can keep their spots to themselves.
Currently, Dale Hightower of Oklahoma holds the overall lead with 16 pounds, 1 ounce. Behind him are George Crain of Alabama with 14-14 and Polfer of Idaho with 13-6. The top angler in each of six divisions will be invited to fish the 2013 Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Okla.
Contenders will weigh in at 3 p.m. CT this afternoon, and it will be streamed live on Bassmaster.com. Competition concludes tomorrow. Stay tuned!