Wind, higher than usual temperatures and a big fishing field made life difficult for the nearly 400 anglers competing in the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 on Friday in Kissimmee, Florida.
But of the 200 pros in the field, some were able to find sizable sacks and staked a lead going into the final day of competition.
Richard Howes of Oviedo, Florida is in the lead with a two-day, 10-fish total of 32 pounds, 8 ounces. His haul of 12-6 on
Friday gave him a 14-ounce lead over Tracy Adams of Wilksboro, N.C.
Both men were optimistic about their chances on Saturday, where only the top 12 pros and the top 12 co-anglers will fish for the tournament championship.
“I think I can do another 20 pounds,” Howes said. “There are 30-pound bags out there. The guys that catch them so far are going to catch them big again.”
Howes said he was pitching and flipping soft plastics into grass mats. He estimated he was fishing in 5 to 7 feet of water.
Adams said he too was flipping in Lake Kissimmee, where the overwhelming majority of anglers headed the past two days. Most cited a lack of grass and muddied water in Lake Tohopekaliga as the main reason they locked down the chain to Lake Kissimmee.
Said pro Sean Wieda after his two days of fishing yielded nine bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce: “You know it’s bad when you’re fishing for bass and the guys next to you are catching shiners right next to you that are bigger than your bass.”
Weida finished the Southern Open in 119th place.
Derek Remitz, another skilled pro fishing this Southern Open, said he too feels optimistic about his chances tomorrow. With
the field cut to 12 pros, Remitz sits in seventh place with a two-day total of 29 pounds, 4 ounces.
“I’d like to go fishing tomorrow,” he said. “There’s 30 pounds swimming out there somewhere. I hope I have the chance to get to them.”
The Alabama-born pro indeed will have that chance tomorrow when the final participants leave Big Toho Marina at 7 a.m.
It’s not too often that Elite Series pro Chris Lane has reason to deride himself about a day’s catch. But after finishing 19th with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 4 ounces, Lane wasn’t too happy about where he finished. That’s probably because a four-pound penalty he took yesterday kept him from making the cut to 12. Had Lane not arrive four minutes late for the Thursday weigh-in, he would have been in a tie for seventh with Remitz.
WORDS TO CONSIDER
Chris Lane’s brother Artie, the senior brother of the popular Lane Brothers angling trio, said if the Southern Open had started Saturday, the Kissimmee Chain could have produced the huge sacks for which it is renown.
Artie Lane, who lives in nearby Lakeland, Florida, finished the tournament with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. That 10-fish haul put him in 62nd place.