MANY, La. — Talk about a dynamite two-for-one deal: Brent Chapman’s Friday performance in the Toledo Bend Battle yielded five lunker bass that pushed him into first place in the event standings, while also pushing him toward recapturing first place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race.
“They were all off one spot, within about one cast of each other,” he said of the five that weighed in at 25 pounds, 8 ounces. “These fish are feeding first thing in the morning, and I was there for that.”
The pro from Lake Quivira, Kan., had his Friday weight secure in his livewell by 8 a.m.
Combined with a first day of 18-1, Friday’s catch gave him a two-day total of 43-9 in the Bassmaster Elite Series’ fifth event of the season. He overtook first-day leader Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., who fell to third with 39-12.
“It’s an amazing spot, and I just hope it holds up,” said Chapman, who tapped into the 50-by-50 sweet spot the first day without as much success — 11th place with 18-1 — but got more out of it Friday.
“Hopefully, it will continue to produce,” he said. “It seems to be replenishing itself and the bigger ones moved up today.”
Chapman, who started his season with a lower-level win before following up with three Top 5 Bassmaster Elite Series finishes, leads the Top 50 who qualified to advance to the Battle’s semi-finals.
After Saturday’s round, the field will cut to the Top 12 for Sunday’s finals. The Elite pros will compete for a first prize of $100,000 and a 2013 Bassmaster Classic berth.
About 1 1/2 pounds behind Chapman on Friday was Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala. Herren’s daily weights have been even — 20-0 on Day 1 and 22-0 on Day 2 for a 42-0 total — but both days on the water have been anything but even for him.
Five cranking rods blew off his deck Thursday, and he was reduced to using one with a broken tip. He repaired it, and it served as his only cranking rod for the day. Still, he hauled in more than 100 fish Thursday. For Friday he borrowed one rod, bought another and put the mended stick back in service.
Again he tapped into huge schools of bass. He got all his big bites within a few hours of starting time.
“Yesterday I caught quite a few cranking, and a few on a football jig, but today I had to make a few adjustments,” he said.
“The school is still there, and I’m trying to take it easy on it, trying to pace it so come the last day I can really stand on it.”
His largest of the day was about 6 pounds, he said. “They’re all solid, chunky fish there,” he said. “But today I might have killed it, I don’t know.”
First-day leader Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., dropped to third with 39-12.
“I got fortunate and caught a big one (Friday), or I might have had about 12 pounds,” Pace said.
Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., maintained at fourth place with 39-3. He said he has a productive spot with a bite that seems to be dependent on wind direction.
“It’s a fine line when you play with the wind,” he said.
In fifth was Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., with 38-2. Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., brought in 21-12 Friday to jump into sixth place, up from 23rd.
Besides the Toledo Bend Battle trophy, Elite pros are competing for Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points, which are good toward post-season and Bassmaster Classic qualifications as well as the AOY title.
Going into the Toledo Bend event, Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., led the points standings, most closely followed by David Walker, Chapman, Brandon Card and DeFoe.
Besides Chapman, DeFoe is helping himself on Toledo Bend, inching closer to the top.
Berkley Big Bass of the day was set at 7-4 by both Kevin VanDam and Cliff Prince, beating Day One's largest lunker, a 6-14 by Russell Parrish.
The Toledo Bend Battle continues through Sunday. Fans are invited to Cypress Bend Park, 3462 Cypress Bend Drive, Many, LA 71449, to watch the pros take off at 6:30 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins are scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Fan Festival at the park opens at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday and at noon Sunday.
Saturday, the Evan Williams Bourbon Concert Series will present Bush Hawg following the weigh-in. Fat Boy South also will perform. The concerts will be followed by fireworks.
All Bassmaster events are free.
The local host of the Toledo Bend Battle is the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission.