DANDRIDGE, Tenn. - Once again, Bobby Ferguson of Chuckey, Tenn., stood head and shoulders over the field as he weighed the heaviest bag of the day, a 20-6 stringer that brings his 2-day total to 45-10, more than 7 pounds ahead of his nearest competition. Ferguson was once again reluctant to divulge his methods, but he did say that he employed the same pattern that he did on Day One.
“I was a little off of yesterday’s pace, but I lost a good fish early this morning that was maybe four pounds,” he said. “Most of my fish came early; the later bite died off today more than it did yesterday. I’ve fished Douglas Lake a long time, and it can cut off just as fast it cuts on. There’s no guarantees. Regardless of what happens, I’ve had a ball.”
Ferguson’s nearest competitor is Tim Smiley of White Pine, Tenn., who had another good day, catching five fish that weighed 19-15, giving him a 38-8 total. Smiley focused on deeper water, typically in the 20- to 40-foot range.
“A lot of the fish that I’ve caught in the last two days have been suspended,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to catch suspended fish and I’m not a great at it. Maybe tomorrow I can catch up a little bit.”
Smiley said that Douglas holds the caliber of fish that he’ll need to catch up, but Ferguson needs to stumble for Smiley to capitalize.
“If I can get three or four more of those big bites, I’ll give him a run for his money,” he said. “I’ll have to catch a 25-pound bag and he’ll have to catch a 19-pound bag. I know this entire lake, and with fewer anglers, I’ll be able to fish more holes, which gives me more chances to catch ‘em.”
In third place is Rogne Brown of Hixson, Tenn., who caught 19-6 today for a total of 37-11. Brown had a hot morning bite in deep water, but it petered out as did Ferguson’s.
“I’ll catch ‘em tomorrow for sure,” he said. “I need to close the deficit, and you never know, there are plenty of 6-pounders out there.”
In fourth place is Elite Series pro and local favorite Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., who caught 15-7 today for a total of 32-4, and in fifth place is Jimmy Crum of Afton ,Tenn., whose 16-10 brings his total up to 31-10.
For anglers concerned with points, a lot is on the line tomorrow, as the top five anglers in the running will be offered an invitation to fish the 2012 Elite Series. The winner tomorrow will be awarded a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic - provided he fished the first two 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Opens.
On the co-angler side, Jack Morgan of Lake Placid, Fla., made a monster move, catching 12-12 for a total of 15-10. It should be no surprise that he was Bobby Ferguson’s co-angler. Morgan was asked not to divulge his tactics.
“Bobby drove me around and got me on fish, so it was pretty cool,” he said. “This is tough fishing up here, it’s nothing like fishing at home. Bobby helped me out a lot.”
Behind him is Jason Williams of Winder, Ga., whose 7-3 gave him a total of 15-2. In third is Kibbee McCoy of Crossville, Tenn., who caught 7-8 today for a total of 14-14, in fourth place is Steve Pugh who caught 8-3 today for a total of 14-9 and in fifth place is Tim Robinson of Creedmoor, N.C., who caught 8-7 today for a total of 14-1.
The winning co-angler will receive a certificate for a brand new boat and motor package.
The field was cut today to the top 12 anglers, who will fish tomorrow. Anglers in 13th-40th place received checks today. Tomorrow’s weigh- in moves to 3 p.m. ET at Bass Pro Shops, 3629 Outdoor Sportsmans Place, Kodak, TN 37764; 865-932-5600. All events are free and open to the public.