GROVE, Okla. — Kelly Banks, a firefighter from nearby Ramona, Okla., bided his time from the back of the boat Friday and made a clutch upgrade with time running out in taking a 1-pound, 6-ounce lead into the final day of co-angler competition.Banks backed up his third-place showing on Thursday (15-13) with another solid day (13-4, again the third best bag of the day for a co-angler) on Day Two of the BASS Elite Series presented by Longhorn Tobacco.
The young angler, fishing his first Elite Series event, endured a long stint in the bushes as partner Rick Ash whacked fish after fish Friday before moving offshore."My partner caught a limit up shallow, but I only had one fish at 10 o'clock. I just couldn't get bites fishing behind him that way," said Banks, who said he began the day flipping.
Banks admitted it was hard to keep his mind in the game as Ash continued working shallow cover — co-anglers are not allowed to give pros any advice — knowing how well he did on Day One on the deeper pattern.
"We finally moved offshore and I picked up the first four fish on the first spot," Banks said. "We moved off of that spot and I went through a little lull. At around 2:30, I caught a three-pounder and was able to cull a fish that really helped me."
Chad Kallina of San Marcos, Texas, climbed from 22nd to third with a 17-5 bag. The aspiring pro, who fishes the Central Division Open Tour when not guiding for geese and deer in south Texas, said he used a Strike Pro crankbait to generate enough bites that he was looking to cull at 9:30 a.m..At 1 p.m., Ben Matsubu, sitting in third place on the pro side going in to Friday, had only one fish and finally asked Kallina for one of his baits."I was glad to help Ben out," Kallina said. "The baits have a really good detailed color patterns. It was an awesome day. But there was a little tension on the boat."Fourth-place Bryan Talmadge, a road crew member for American Bass Anglers, said he fishes the co-angler side of the Elite Series in hopes of simply soaking up enough knowledge to become a competitive weekend angler. He's more than done that thus far, having weighed 26-13 for two days this week to go along with a win at Lake Guntersville and an eighth-place showing at Lake Amistad this year.
The New Mexico native, who calls Logan-Martin Lake in Alabama home now, said the key to his success was drop-shotting a six-inch fat roboworm recommended by the angler many refer to as the dean of the increasingly popular finesse technique."Aaron Martens saved my butt the past two days and I guess he'll save it again tomorrow," said Talmadge, explaining how he bummed some worms from Martens. "The fishing in New Mexico really stinks and that's where I learned to drop shot. It's the ticket for the co-angler. It's your best friend."Sneaking into second place as one of the final competitors to weigh in was Texan David Stewart. His 12-10 bag gives him 27-11 going into Saturday's finale. Rounding out the top five is first-day leader Michael Vintges, who dropped off 10-3 to lock in at 25-3.
Editor's note: This week, ESPNOutdoors.com invited the University of Oklahoma bass fishing team to join coverage of the Sooner Run presented by Longhorn Tobacco. The collegiate anglers will post a regular blog on this site and appear on Hooked Up, the live Internet shows that air at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the live weigh-in. Daily live weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard will be at 4 p.m. ET. Please feel free to post comments to this blog via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.