MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Pat Golden knew when he found the fish, his weekend was going to work out.
Golden weighed-in an impressive 18 pounds, 15 ounces on Friday to vault him into second place at the AutoZone Sooner Run on Fort Gibson Lake. Trailing Tommy Biffle by 2.5 pounds, Golden was optimistic at this morning's launch at Sequoyah Bay, because two areas he found on Friday produced large fish.
Golden has had to make bait adjustments in the way that he's been approaching the water to find those fish that could put him in front by this afternoon's weigh-in.
"They are a little funny and I don't know why, but they are staying there on those spots," he said. "They are the right size, so we'll just have to see."
Golden would like nothing better than to be fishing on Father's Day. Although he's not a father, he would be fishing for his dad, Pat Golden Sr.
"It would be great," he said. "I'm not a dad, but my dad is and I'm sure he'd like to see me win. He'd be real proud."
After catching a 17-8 limit on Friday to move up to 26th place, Chris Lane will be relying on his fish-finding consistency.
"I'm hoping to have a day like I did yesterday," Lane said. "It seemed like the top 12 fell off a little bit weight-wise from the first day. The key for me is going to be consistency and getting those two or three right bites.
To separate himself from the field, Lane will consistently have to haul in the 2- and 3-pounders like the top anglers in the tournament are getting.
"It seems like getting those 2.5-pound bites really separates you from the rest of the field," he said.
Lane wants to be among those who will be fishing on Father's Day, too.
"That's like a dream come true," he said. "I'm out here for my sponsors and really trying to make them happy. At the end of the day and while you are out there, it's for your kids, wife and family. For my dad, it'd be an honor for him."
Boyd Duckett's first two days on Fort Gibson Lake have been profitable, but he entered Day Three's competition concerned whether he'd be able to find those fish that has him in 13th place.
"The area I found worked well the first day and it about played out yesterday, so now I'm back searching for fish again," he said. "I don't know if I will stay in the same type of water. I am way up the river and there are a number of boats out there. I don't want to get in anybody's way, but at the same time I'm going to try to find some good fish."
Duckett hopes to have a little luck finding brush piles and promising points as the day goes on.
"I wish I could say that I have a pile of fish out there, but I don't," he said. "With a little luck, maybe I can find some new ones."
Duckett hauled in 14 pounds, 4 ounces on Day Two and believes it's going to take 13 or 14 pounds to make the top-12 cut.
"That'd be a good day," he added. "During practice I ran the whole lake and liked what I saw. Apparently it has fish everywhere, because the guys are catching them good."
Eighth-place contender Rick Morris would like to repeat what he did on Fort Gibson Lake in 2000.
That particular tournament, Morris was fourth, but this time he believes it's going to take an "awesome" day of fishing to be able to fish on Sunday.
"I'd like to have a top finish again like I did in 2000," Morris said. "It'd be pretty awesome to fish on Father's Day and it's going to be for somebody."
Simply put, Morris has made the most of his time on the water by trolling around and fishing large areas.
"I'm going to turn off the big engine and put the trolling motor down to cover water," he said. "I plan to fish a lot of water. This is not a very big lake so you are either going to fish points or brush piles, or go on the river. That's all there is."
Morris has been fishing the lower end of the lake and knows it will take at least 14 to 15 pounds to maintain his top 12 status after he brought in 18-6 on Day Two.
"Fourteen pounds solid and I'll be in," Morris said. "There are no guarantees. Yesterday I had some really big bites and maybe 13.5 might squeak in, but it'd be real cool to make it."
The situation on Fort Gibson Lake for Cliff Pace is no different than any other tournament: he has to get the right number of bites and capitalize on the opportunities that might arise.
"Fishing here has not been conducive to getting a large number of bites," Pace said. "When I get bites, the quality is there, but in a situation like this where guys are catching 20 or 30 keepers a day, it totally confuses me. Since I've been here, it's been pretty much a one-fish-at-a-time program."
And that strategy has been effective for Pace, who finds himself in fourth place after weighing in on Day Two with a 19-pound, 5-ounce limit.
"Hopefully today I can weigh 19 pounds, but you never know," he said. "That's the frustrating thing and the good thing about this sport. You never know what's going to happen and that part of it makes it interesting. It's an ever-changing, constant battle for us."