CLARKSVILLE, Va. — Hallucinations are not uncommon for sweltering hot conditions like those plaguing Day 2 of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional on Buggs Island/Kerr Reservoir. However, when Daniel Gray starting seeing double, it was a good thing — good, as in a pair of 4-pound, 1-ounce bass that pushed him into first place with a two-day total of 18-6.
The angler from Butler, Pa., caught only those two fish today, but with temperatures reaching 95 degrees and productivity down across the board, his 8-2 weight was actually among the day’s better sacks.
“It was tough today,” Gray said. “Yesterday, I had a limit by 11 a.m. Today, I caught these fish in the last hour. I fished yesterday’s pattern today and it was totally different.
“I was running around, trying to figure it out all day. I pulled into this one spot, got a bite and lost a 2 1/2-pounder. On the next cast, I caught one of my fish and about 15 minutes later, I caught the other one.”
Gray, a member of Pennsylvania’s Extreme Anglers bass club, said he had caught a 5-pounder in the area during practice, so he was confident that it held big fish. Targeting breaks, Gray positioned his boat in 20 feet, cast up to 2 feet and slowly worked his bait down the contour.
“Yesterday, I was fishing some wood cover with heavy tackle; today, I had to go finesse,” Gray said. “I fished a little deeper on specific stuff I found. I tried to find out what these fish want and I think I have a good idea now.”
Overall, the Day 2 weights were significantly lower than Day 1. The average fish was a little more than 1.8 pounds. The Top 10 had 14 pounds or more, but the vast majority of competitors brought in 5 to 10 pounds for their total weight. Only four anglers boasted limits.
Tomorrow’s forecast shows partly cloudy conditions with possible afternoon thunderstorms for Day 2. The expected cloud cover will hold the air temperatures to the mid-80s.
“Today, we had clear, blue skies and the generators at the dam weren’t running at all, and that makes the water start backing up,” said Mike Bryant, Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation president. “When the water backs up, it makes for a very tough bite because you have to go find the fish. On this lake, they move out deeper.”
Gray, who had the biggest bass of Day 2, is tops on the Pennsylvania team, which sits four spots behind first-place Virginia, the host state. The Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation state team has one angler in the Top 10 (Day 1 leader John Conway) and a 1-pound, 8-ounce lead for the state competition.
Virginia has 119 pounds, 15 ounces, followed by Delaware with 118-7 and New Jersey with 113-14.
If Gray maintains his lead for Pennsylvania, he’ll be invited to the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 6-8, on Louisiana’s Ouachita River. Other state leaders are Greg Alexander, Delaware; Joe Devoe, Maryland; Michael Sentore, New Jersey; John Conway, Virginia; and Randy Huffman, West Virginia.
Ronald Littleton’s 5-pound, 1-ounce bass is currently in the lead for Carhartt Big Bass honors, a $500 prize awarded to the angler who catches the biggest bass of the tournament. Gray won the $250 Livingston Lures Leader award, which goes to the Day 2 leader.
Competition resumes Friday at 5:45 a.m. ET for the launch at Occoneechee State Park. The weigh-in will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com.