MANNING, S.C. — Brett Mitchell of Timmonsville, S.C., surged from 21st place to capture the lead on Friday at the Bassmaster Southern Open event on Santee Cooper Reservoir by reeling in 20 pounds, 6 ounces of largemouth. His two-day total was 34 pounds, 11 ounces.
Less than a pound behind Mitchell was Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, who jumped from fifth to the runner-up position with a Friday catch of five bass that weighed 15 pounds, 4 ounces. His two-day total was 33-13.
Mitchell, 41, a homebuilder, leads the list of 30 pros who made the cut for Saturday's competition for the top prize of a $50,000 Triton/Mercury boat rig and $6,000 in cash.
"I got the big bite today and just hope that it will hold out tomorrow," said Mitchell, who said he fishes Santee Cooper Reservoir an average of once a week. "The bass have been doing the same thing for two weeks now and I have the area all to myself. There's no competition for the spot I'm on."
Mitchell said he used a variety of lures the first two days of the tournament, including soft plastics and crankbaits, and targeted trees and grass.
Hartley, 42, said he fished water 1 to 2 feet deep. He described his pattern as bed-fishing but not sight-fishing, and said his primary lure was a green-pumpkin Venom soft plastic.
"The key was to let the bait sit so long you think you should have left an hour ago," joked Hartley. "I'm dead-sticking the bait and have to go to fresh water each time to find the bass. I'll make about 20 casts before I move forward."
Georgia's Clint Brownlee moved from 22nd on Thursday to third on Friday with a total of 32-14. Moving from 16th to fourth with 32-8 was Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., looking for his second Bassmaster Open win of the year. First-day leader Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., fell to fifth with a two-day weight of 32-4.
Friday's Purolator Big Bass pro bonus of $1,000 went to Terry Bloom of Groveland, Fla., for his 8 pound, 8 ounce lunker.
Besides prize money and merchandise, Bassmaster Southern pros are competing for qualifying points for next year's Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic. The top three in the points standings at the end of the season will qualify for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, and the top five will be eligible in 2008 to enter the upper echelon of competition, the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Friday's co-angler leaderboard was topped by Fred Hood of Monroe, Ga., whose catch included a 7-14 fish that earned him Friday's co-angler Purolator Big Bass award of $300. Hood's two-day total of 24-5 moved him up from 10th place.
Trailing Hood was Wayne Morgan of Tifton, Ga., with 20-12. Chuck Thurlow of Auburn, Ala., was third with 17-14; Lee Davis of Fitzgerald, Ga., was fourth with 17-7; and Donnie Dodd of Guntersville, Ala., was fifth with 15-6.
Co-anglers are after the top prize of $2,000 in cash and a Triton/Mercury boat rig worth $32,000.
2007 Bassmaster Southern Open
Bassmaster Open Stop No. 2
Santee Cooper Reservoir
May 3-5, 2007
Day 1 Purolator Big Bass
Pro: Terry Bloom, Groveland, Fla., 8-8
Co-Angler: Fred Hood, Monroe, Ga., 7-14
Launch & Weigh-in
Land, III, Boating & Sportfishing Facility
State Route 260
6:15 a.m./2:15 p.m.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsor is Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce
Bassmaster Southern Open sponsors: Toyota Tundra, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Purolator, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide