BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. — In racing terms, it's referred to as lapping the field, and if Russ Meyer were in a race car, he would have lapped the field by now. The laid-back Californian holds a healthy 7 pound, 10 ounce lead over California's John Murray in his quest for his first BASS victory.
"I could stumble," Meyer said in his unassuming manner. "I've done it before."
Meyer (43 pounds, 3 ounces) has remained relatively stationary in pursuit of his fish, beating up a few areas that have produced some behemoths. His dominance has spanned both days of fishing, as his bags on days one and two are two of the three biggest of the tournament thus far.
"I didn't move at all today," Meyer said. "I'm just going fishing ... and about that lead — I'll take it."
Meyer is working a variety of baits in his hot spots. Flipping has been his most successful tactic. It landed him his Purolator Big Bass (9-5) yesterday. He's also mixed in a crankbait, a frog and a swimbait on occasion. All of his fish have come from shallow water (2-5 feet).
Success is nothing new for Meyer. He has a penchant for fishing the Western Open waters, finishing second on Lake Shasta and eighth on Clear Lake in 2004.
"I love this time of year, and I love this lake," Meyer continued. "The fish are spawning, and this is my favorite time to fish this water."
If it wasn't for John Murray keeping things respectable, Meyer would have an astounding 13-pound plus lead. As it stands, Murray has just enough weight (35-9) to make Meyer work on the final day.
"I don't have enough to catch Russ," Murray said, the only non-Californian in the top five. "I just want to finish in the top five. My whole goal for the Opens is to stay consistent and qualify for the Open Championship."
Murray, who won the 2003 Open Championship, is flipping for his fish. It was a day of adjustment for him since he didn't catch a fish until 9:30 a.m. His first spot turned out to be a dud, and Murray made a long run in search of something better. The adjustment led Murray to the biggest bag of the day — 17 pounds, 14 ounces.
If he needed an omen that his move was the right decision, Murray got it early on. His first flip in the new area produced a 7-pound, 3-ounce largemouth.
"I was just real fortunate today," Murray said. "I had no plans to go to that second spot, but it turned out great. Tomorrow, I plan to try something different again. Why not?"
It would be a great tournament for Murray, if not for Meyer. He holds a 6 pound advantage over third-place California pro Steve Sapp.
Sapp (29-9), who finished second on the Delta in 2004, caught his limit on a variety of crankbaits and a creature bait. He was keying on mossy banks.
"I've seen some big comebacks before," Sapp said. "I saw a 9-pound comeback once, but these two in front of me won't slip tomorrow."
About the only thing Russ Meyer hasn't accomplished in the tournament is Day Two's Purolator Big Bass. That honor went to Ed Cummings, who caught an 8-2 leviathan on a Senko. Cummings earned an extra $1,000 for his big bass. The big fish was holding in the tules while the tide was out.
Rounding out the top five on the boater side are a pair of Californians, David Pereira (27-13) and John Varanai (27-0).
The California dominance continues on the non-boater side as well where California's Ryan Wake (22-2) holds a slim 10-ounce lead over Arizona's Mark White (21-8). Following Wake and White are Hideki Maeda (20-10), Rommel Bagay (20-8) and Greig Sniffen (20-5). White vaulted into second place on the strength of an 8-12 lunker which was good enough for Purolator Big Bass of the Day on the non-boater side and an extra $400.
The top 35 will make the cut and fish the final round on Saturday, but it appears that everyone not named Russ Meyer will be fishing for second place. It'll take a huge slip for Meyer and a huge catch from a top-10 angler for the lead to change hands.
"This is fishing," Meyer said of his big lead. "It's never cut and dry, and I know that better than anyone. Anything can happen out there"
Daily weigh-ins will be held at Russo's Marina beginning at 2 p.m.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Open Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).