OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Lake Okeechobee's "chickens" came home to roost.
That's roughly how Kelly Jordon characterized the fishing Friday on Lake Okeechobee in the Bassmaster Elite Series Power-Pole Slam — a day that saw many bag weights increase considerably, compared to Thursday's results.
"It was all feathers yesterday," Jordon said. "Today I found the chickens."
Jordon, who climbed from 80th to 33rd with his 19-pound, 1-ounce bag, was one of several anglers that struggled on Thursday but rallied Friday to climb above the 50-cut to fish another day. Jordon weighed only 8-12 on Thursday.
Steve Kennedy sacked 20-5 Friday to jump from 61st to 16th — a nifty numerical switcheroo that positions him well to challenge to make the 12-cut and fish again on Sunday.
Marty Robinson also caught 20-5 today, pulling up to 29th place from 89th. James Niggemeyer rallied from an 8-0 bag Thursday to 19-13 Friday to climb from 85th to 34th. And rookie Brandon Card salvaged his tournament by following up a 9-3 day with a 16-14, jumping from 75th to just above the 50-cut, at 44th.
Friday's weigh-ins shuffled the top 12, everywhere but at the top, where — barring disaster — Ish Monroe will likely stay.
Monroe followed Thursday's whopping 34-5 bag with 24-15 Friday for a 59-4 two-day total. He's got more than a 13-pound lead on 2012 Bassmaster Classic Champion Chris Lane, who's in second.
"I'm trying to put it away. …" Monroe said. "There are so many big fish swimming around."
As the leader, Monroe got respect from other anglers, who did not fish near him.
"People kind of kept away from me," he said.
Elsewhere on the lake though, anglers could be seen practically on top of each other, especially in the popular "Monkey Box" area of the giant Big O.
And while Monroe will enjoy another huge lead heading into tomorrow, he most likely will toss and turn again all night tonight, as he did Thursday night.
"I'm not going to sleep until this thing is over," he said.
Chris Lane was one of five anglers in the Top 12 to move up on the leaderboard Friday. He knocked Davy Hite out of second place, moving up from fourth with 23-10 Friday for a two-day total of 45-9.
Lane said he caught most of his bag flipping reeds, but he lost some. He's not too worried about the ones that got away, however; he's fished here enough to know it comes with the territory.
"I just plan on losing two a day," he said.
Others moving up in the Top 12 were: Jeff Kriet, 10th to third; Skeet Reese, eighth to fourth; Kyle Fox, 12th to fifth; and Todd Faircloth, ninth to sixth. Falling, but remaining in the Top 12, were Hite, second to seventh, and Scott Rook, sixth to ninth.
Fox, a rookie from Florida, is giving good value to the Fantasy Fishing players that picked him in Bucket E. Despite a bad practice, he said, in competition he's had "an angel on [his] shoulder."
"This lake is getting awesome. … " Fox said. "It's calming down. The fish are starting to bite."
Kriet, who said last week he just wanted to survive the Florida swing and then missed the 50-cut, said he need a good showing today in order to keep his head in the game.
"I needed that, I'll be honest with ya," Kriet told Dave Mercer, Elite Series emcee, on stage Friday after weighing in his bag. In a rambling account that included descriptions of nightmares, considerations of jumping of a bridge and a reference to a sports psychologist, Kriet opened up further to Mercer.
"I spin out a lot," he said. "I'm a head case. I'll be the first to admit it."
Falling out of the Top 12 were Nate Wellman, third to 26th; Bobby Lane, fifth to 17th; Bradley Roy; seventh to 31st; and Randy Howell, 11th to 14th.
"I could have had a pretty decent day today," Bobby Lane said, citing missed opportunities. Still, he's fished here as much, or more, than anyone in the field and knows the Big O can get you healthy really quickly.
"You never know when you're going to get you one of them 7- to 10-pounders," he said.
Climbing into the Top 12 on Friday were: Ott DeFoe, eighth, and Mike Iaconelli, 10th.
"Florida's been tough on me. …" Iaconelli said, likely still stinging from missing the 50-cut last week. "To have a shot to make the Top 12, it's a good feeling."
DeFoe upgraded from 14-13 on Thursday to 20-13 Friday, to jump up from 24th place. Iaconelli upgraded from 15-8 to 18-15 to move up from 20th.
Kevin VanDam, however, fell from Day 1 to Day 2, with 14-7 and 12-2 bags, respectively. He finished the day in 39th place.
Notable anglers that missed the 50-cut include last week's St. Johns River champ Alton Jones (69th); and Fantasy Fishing Bucket A anglers Dean Rojas (66th) and Aaron Martens (58th). Bucket A comprises the anglers that Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing Challenge staff handicap as most likely to finish in the top spots in any given tournament.
Missing the 50-cut, Martens said is "pretty sad" and "really frustrating."
"I just didn't find 'em. …" He said. "It happens."
The third day of competition is scheduled to launch Saturday at 7:30 a.m. EST. To see what happens in as close to real-time as technology allows, tune in to the War Room for live on-camera updates from B.A.S.S. staff, read the Live Blog, and watch the weigh-ins live, starting at 4 p.m. Eastern.