EVANS, Ga. — Norman, Okla., angler Kenyon Hill was asked if there was any reason why he and fellow Okie Edwin Evers would be atop the leaderboard after the second day of the Bassmaster Elite Series Pride of Georgia tournament presented by Evan Williams Bourbon."We don't have anything like this (in Oklahoma)," said Hill, who moved from fifth place to the runner-up spot at Clarks Hill Lake on Friday.In fact, Evers, who jumped from 12th to the top on Day Two, admitted he's just now learning how to fish this 71,000-acre reservoir located on the Georgia-South Carolina border.
"I've fished way too deep here in the past," said Evers, who lives in Talala, Okla. "In this clear water, you feel like you need to go deeper."Evers stayed shallow Friday and landed both the Berkley Heavyweight Bag of 18 pounds, 13 ounces, and the Purolator Big Bass, which weighed 6-7. It gave him a two-day total of 33-14 — two pounds and an ounce more than Hill's 31-13.Evers didn't want to say exactly how shallow the water is where he's catching his fish, but admitted that he's moved out to depths of 30 and 40 feet on Clarks Hill in the past. You can probably take the zeroes off those two numbers and be real close to the depth where Evers has concentrated this week.Hill was a little more upfront about the depth he's fishing, saying, "I start where it's dry and come out. Sometimes I don't know how they are swimming up there."Evers admitted he's having a hard time believing what he's seeing at Clarks Hill."It just blows my mind," he said. "I don't have a clue why they are that shallow."The 6-7 bass Evers caught on his third cast of the day also blew his mind."I probably didn't deserve that fish," he said. "I was bringing (his lure) through some rocks. I thought I was caught up for a second. Then I was like, 'Oh, crap, that thing is swimming off.' I set the hook, and that big ol' fish jumped out of the water."Without that big fish, I've got a mediocre stringer."It proved to be a day of mediocre stringers for most anglers in the 108-man field, which was cut to the top 50 for Saturday's competition. Day One leader Denny Brauer added only 9-12 to his first-day total of 22-0 and dropped to third place with 31-12.
Paul Elias did something on Lake Falcon that nobody, including himself, thought possible. He averaged nearly 7-pound bass over four days to capture the all-time heavyweight record.See, for the first time, every bass he pulls into the boat (and some he missed), including an interview with Elias that walks you through the emotions of the final day.
Did he think he had enough to win? What did Aaron Martens tell him before the weigh-in? Find out in the full-length, Bassmaster.com exclusive show that debuts Tuesday at Noon ET on the Bassmaster.com home page.
It's something we'd never seen before and might never see again: Paul Elias, 132 pounds, 8 ounces. Don't miss it.
Day One runner-up Davy Hite weighed only 9-2 and fell to 10th place with 28-1. David Sherrer started the day in third place and finished it in 19th after catching only three fish that weighed 7-3.Evers wasn't the only angler climbing up the leaderboard Friday. Timmy Horton had the second-biggest bag of the day at 17-11 and leaped from 74th place to 16th with a two-day total of 26-12.Casey Ashley had a slow start to this tournament, but the Donalds, S.C., angler put his local knowledge to good use and moved from 29th to seventh with the third-best bag of the day, 16-12, giving him a 28-15 total. And Greg Gutierrez moved from 16th to fourth with the fourth-best sack Friday (16-10), giving him 31-2 overall.
Friday morning it was unanimous that the bass fishing would pick up on Clarks Hill as a warming trend set in. The temperature climbed into the 80s under mostly clear skies and a light southerly breeze, but the bass fishing remained tough. That didn't, however, change the predictions that better days are on the way."I'm fishing places where I'll see 10 or 20 bass in a school," said Alton Jones, the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion, who moved from eighth place to fifth Friday. "They are roaming across a flat, but there's nothing to trigger them."You can throw a bait at them, and they'll just turn and laugh as they are going in the other direction. You can't hardly catch those fish. But if the blueback herring arrive, it will be chaos — in a good way. I've seen some brief flurries of that."Ashley fished his first bass tournament at Clarks Hill. He was 10 years old and paired with his father in a buddy tournament when he caught a 9-10 largemouth. Clarks Hill is famous for its strong topwater pattern. Ashley said before this tournament that he was going to throw nothing but topwater baits, and he claims to have stuck to that plan.Friday it started to pay off, and Ashley thinks that's just the beginning. He finally started catching fish in some of his favorite Clarks Hill fishing holes Friday – places he had been skunked Thursday "I keep going back to them," Ashley said. "Today (the fish) bit. That tells me the bait is coming."
It's that bait — the blueback herring, a saltwater species that can live in fresh water and has been introduced in many lakes throughout this area — that makes the bass here move so shallow in this post-spawn period. The key water temperature for blueback herring to begin spawning is 70 degrees. Several areas of Clarks Hill warmed into the 70s Saturday."I never caught a fish deeper than two to two-and-a-half feet today," said Hill, who finished second in the Elite Series tournament here in 2006. "Those herring spawn on shallow, flat points. I saw some that were six to eight inches long that (the bass) were chasing today."That's what's unique about this lake."
Jim Murray and Ish Monroe shared the top 50 cut mark of 21-2 Friday, assuring themselves of at least a $10,000 check for this tournament. Wade Grooms, an Elite Series rookie from Bonneau, S.C., finished in the dreaded 51st spot, just two ounces behind Murray and Monroe.After Saturday's competition the field will be cut to the top 12 for Sunday's final and the chance to earn the $100,000 first-place check. Only six pounds separates the top 12 anglers after two days.
The 6:30 a.m. takeoffs and 3 p.m. weigh-ins are being held at Wildwood Park.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series' Pride of Georgia., May 1–4, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 3:00 p.m. ET, and watch for Hooked Up, a live Internet pre-game show, at Noon and 2:15 p.m. ET on Sunday.