DETROIT — Mullygrubs?
Yup. Mark Davis said he had them on Thursday, the first day of the Bassmaster Elite Series Plano Championship Chase out of Detroit, Mich. He said he caught the mullygrubs after not boating two big smallmouth bass he hooked. He settled for second place.
He shook off those mullygrubs Friday. Not hard to do after spending a great day on the water, weighing 20 pounds, 10 ounces of smallmouth bass, and taking the Chase lead with a two-day tally of 42 pounds, 11 ounces.
“Mullygrubs,” the pro from Mount Ida, Ark., explained, is an old Arkansas term that means something that falls between the grumps and the blues, and maybe is tangled with regrets over missed chances.
“No mullygrubs today, everything was good. Everything went pretty well. I caught a limit pretty quick. I did lose one huge fish, but you aren’t going to catch all these big smallmouth,” said Davis, the 1995 Classic winner who also took the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title that same season. He went on to claim another AOY crown in 1998, and a third in 2001.
Davis was in front by 1 pound, 4 ounces over Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., who moved up from third into second place with 41-7. In third place Friday with 40-7 was Kotaro Kiriyama, breaking free from a Day One tie at fifth place.
First-day leader Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala., fell to fourth with 39-10. Fifth place was taken by Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, also with 39-10. (The tie-breaker of largest bag over two days was applied, with Lane winning for his 22-9 of Day One.)
The field was cut to the Top 50 for Saturday’s third round. On Sunday, only the Top 12 will compete for the Chase prize of $100,000 and an entry in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Davis has been a model of consistency at the Chase, following his first-day weight of 22-1 with 20-10.
“I really thought if I you catch over 20 (pounds) every day, you could win the tournament,” he said, “and I’ve caught over 20.”
Unusual for him, Davis has made a long run, and endured it two days in a row. Traveling from the takeoff point on Lake St. Clair to his productive spots south into Lake Erie has been a gamble he’s been willing to take. His jackpot would be earning enough points to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic (which he could also achieve with a win).
He vows he won’t change his game plan for Saturday, the third of four competition days.
“I’m all in on that,” he said. “That’s the only thing I have going. I was sort of between a rock and a hard place, trying to make the Classic. I have to have a real good finish to make it. When I found those fish in practice, all my eggs went in that basket.”
Davis said he is dropshotting to smallmouths, but tweaking his presentation to get the bites. Exactly what his adjustments have been, he understandably wasn’t ready to reveal.
Davis earned the Livingston Leader Award, a $500 bonus to the leader after the second day of competition.
In second place, Martens positioned himself not only to make a run at an event win, but at the biggest award of the Elite season, the Angler of the Year title.
His title bid got a boost Friday when the AOY frontrunner coming into the Chase, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., fell out of the cut by 8 ounces. He finished in 54th place.
The upshot was that by Friday, interim points standings had Martens 22 points ahead of Evers.
While Martens still has control over how many points he’ll have by tournament’s end, Evers has earned all he can: 640 to Martens’ 662 (as of Friday).
Behind both Martens and Evers in the points standings was seven-time AOY Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich. VanDam needs to make up 34 points to catch Martens. VanDam’s window is still open a crack. Like Martens, he made the cut — but at 27th place.
Martens won the AOY title in 2005, and has come close several other times. Evers is looking for his first.
The Chase is based just north of Detroit on Lake St. Clair, the fishery that’s No. 1 on Bassmaster Magazine’s 2013 list of 100 Best Bass Lakes. Elite pros also are allowed to fish in the adjoining St. Clair and Detroit rivers, as well as Great Lakes Erie and Huron.
Lane weighed the heaviest fish of the day, a 5-12. It matched his 5-12 of Thursday — that day’s biggest bass. He’s the leader for the event’s Carhartt Big Bass award of $1,000 plus another $500 for wearing Carhartt apparel.
Lane also set the bar Thursday at 22-9 for the Berkley Heavyweight Award of $500 for the Chase’s best five-fish limit.
In the season’s Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race, Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C., stayed ahead of Cliff Pirch of Payson, Ariz. Cherry has 522 points to Pirch’s 467.
The 2013 ROY will qualify for the Sept. 27-29 postseason, the Toyota All-Star Week and Evan Williams Bourbon Championship out of Muskegon, Mich. The ROY will join 13 other Elite pros for that event on Muskegon Lake. They’ll compete for a piece of the $100,000 prize pie, including $50,000 to the winner.
The 50 Elite Series pros who made Friday’s cut will return to the water Saturday for the third of four rounds. They will launch their boats from Lake St. Clair Metropark at 6:30 a.m. ET. They’ll bring their catches back to the park for a 3:15 p.m. ET weigh-in. (GPS help: The address of the Metropark is 31300 Metropolitan Parkway, Harrison Township, MI 48045.)
At the park on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon, the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo will showcase sponsors’ products. Two free concerts are on tap: The Sun Messengers, the official band of the Detroit Pistons, will take the stage at noon Saturday. On Sunday at noon, the band Purdy Good will perform.
Bassmaster.com will provide extensive, daily coverage of the competition. Features include live blogs and BASSCam videos from the water; live, streaming video of the weigh-ins; a real-time leaderboard; and extensive photo galleries.
Saturday and Sunday, the online coverage ramps up with BASSTrakk catch data coming straight from the water, Lowrance War Room analysis and interviews, and the live show Hooked Up! with Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona from the Toyota Hooked Up! stage.
There’s no admission to Bassmaster events. Access to online features is also free.
Local sponsors of the Chase are the Detroit Sports Commission and the Lake St. Clair Metropark.
ESPN2 will air The Bassmasters coverage of the Plano Championship Chase Aug. 31, 7-8 a.m. ET. Fans can catch the same show again that day on ESPN Classic at 9-10 a.m. ET.
The show will reair Sept. 14 on ESPN2 at 6-7 a.m. ET, and Sept. 15 on ESPN Classic at 8-9 a.m. ET.
NOTE: The Bassmasters television program covering the recent Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown on the St. Lawrence River, which failed to air on ESPN2 on Sunday, Aug. 18, as scheduled, has been rescheduled for 8 a.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 25. It will follow a special presentation of the AutoZone Winning Ways program highlighting the most successful techniques from the Bassmaster Elite Series; it airs at 7 a.m. ET.