2008 Elite Series - Southern Challenge Wheeler Lake - Decatur, AL, Jun 5 - 8, 2008

The Target Remains The Same

Even after big first day, 15-pound average is the goal at Wheeler

DECATUR, Ala. — Even though two anglers caught

 20-pound-plus bags and 19 pros had more than 15 pounds on Day One, that original

 15-pounds-per-day prediction holds going into the second day of the Bassmaster

 Elite Series Southern Challenge presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 Wheeler Lake did produce better than expected Thursday, as

 Terry Scroggins headlined it with a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 3

 ounces. But no one at the top of the leaderboard is confident in his ability to

 approach the 20-pound mark two days in a row.

 The difference yesterday was that I got some quality

 bites," said Todd Faircloth, who is second to Scroggins with 20-9. "Without

 that, I'm sitting at 10 or 12 pounds like a lot of other guys."

 In this case, the definition of "a lot of other guys" would

 be 30. That's how many pros are bunched in that 10- to 12-pound range - between

 37th place (Boyd Duckett and Derek Remitz, 12-12) and 65th

 place (Kurt Dove and Chris Lane, 10-1).

 The launch conditions and forecast Friday were exactly the

 same as Thursday: 72 degrees at 6 a.m., no clouds, a southerly breeze of 5 to

 10 miles per hour, with a high temperature in the lower 90s predicted.

 "I still say if a person can average 15 pounds a day over

 the course of three days, you'll have a shot at winning this tournament,"

 Faircloth said.

 Timmy Horton, the pre-tournament favorite in this event

 because of his local knowledge and past success on Wheeler Lake, agrees, for

;It may have raised a little bit," said Horton, who is

 eighth with 17-6. "But I said 15 to 16 a day at the beginning, and I'm sticking

 with that."

 Only one of the 107 Elite Series pros failed to catch a

 limit Thursday. Several anglers mentioned having 100-fish days. But you've got

 to go through a lot of little bass to find a lunker or two. That brings into

 play a stronger-than-usual luck factor.

 "It's kind of strange," Faircloth said. "I'm catching a lot of

 fish. I might have to catch 12 or 15 fish before I catch a good one.

 "My best day of practice was probably 10 or 15 pounds. I 

could go out there today and catch 10 or 15 pounds, or I

could catch less than

 that. It's very possible."

 The other unpredictable factor in this event is the

 concentration of anglers in the Decatur Flats area, located just outside the

 Ingalls Harbor launch and weigh-in site. It's a relatively big spot: Ken Cook

 

estimated it at 10 miles long and two miles wide. But when you consider that

 Wheeler holds 68,000 surface acres of water and as much as half the field

 (maybe more) is bunched in this one area, fishing pressure is bound to take its

 toll sooner or later.

 As Matt Reed (11th, 16-12) stated it Thursday:

 "The crowd is an issue. We're going to run out of fish. I just don't know

 when."

 It might be today; it might not. That will become apparent

 at Friday's 3 p.m. weigh-in, after which the field will be cut to the top 50

 for Saturday's semifinal round. Going into the day, Ken Cook sat on the cut

 mark in the 50th spot with 11-13.

 "I thought going in if I could catch 12 pounds, I'd be in

 pretty good shape," Cook said. "But I'm sitting on the bubble."

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