DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — A drastic weather change during any major bass tournament invariably shakes up the standings. Yesterday a cold, incessant rain made for challenging fishing conditions.
Even in that weather, Shane Lineberger slammed 24 pounds, 6 ounces of bass and topped a field of 180 anglers at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open at Douglas Lake in eastern Tennessee.
Today started out overcast, calm and dry and gave way to sunny skies and warmer temperatures. It was a welcome change for most of the anglers. Not so for Lineberger. He managed only one bass that weighed 3-12 and dropped to 17th place.
This isn’t a knock on Lineberger. It simply demonstrates the humbling nature of big-time bass tournament fishing.
Patrick Bone of Cleveland, Ga., added 20-5 to the 22-13 he caught yesterday and is the new leader with 43-2.
“I got fewer bites today and had to fish some new water to get them,” Bone said. “I can’t get a bite anywhere I’ve already caught a bass.”
Bone feels that he has learned a few things about how to deal with Douglas’ rising water level and the warming weather. Tomorrow’s forecast is partly cloudy with a high of 70.
David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., jumped from fifth to second place with the day’s biggest bag, 21-8. His total of 41-11, positions him well for victory. Mullins credits his vast knowledge of Douglas Lake for his success.
“Nobody in the Top 12 knows this lake better than I do,” Mullins said. “I haven’t fished the same spot twice since I’ve been here.”
Mullins claims that he and his partner caught 20 keepers today. On both days, the fishing picked up substantially for Mullins after noon.
With 37-5, David Kilgore finds himself in third place and in serious contention to win the Douglas Open.
“I’ve been fishing shallow, but I might try something different tomorrow,” Kilgore said. “I’m here to win. I’m not afraid of finishing in 12th place.”
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., caught only four bass each day, but they were giant economy size. He is tied with Josh Bragg of Jacksonville, Ala., for fourth place with 33-10.
Whoever wins tomorrow will likely need to catch more than 20 pounds. That angler will also catch $10,000 and a Triton boat rigged with a Mercury motor.
The winner can top that off with a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic for any champion who competes in all three Southern Opens this year. Points toward a spot in the Bassmaster Elite Series will keep all the anglers in the finale casting feverishly throughout the day.
Standout Elite Series angler Aaron Martens was the Carhartt Big Bass Leader on the pro side with a 7-7 bass.
Mike Spears of Jasper, Ala., leads the co-angler field with 22-10. He has more than a 3-pound lead, which puts him on track to win a Skeeter boat and Yamaha motor combo.
A 6-1 bass caught by Tony Johnson of Altamonte Springs, Fla., made him the co-angler Carhartt Big Bass Leader.
Tomorrow the Top 12 pros and co-anglers will compete in the final round. The weigh-in will take place at Bass Pro Shops in Kodak, Tenn.