WETUMPKA, Ala. — After two days of practice for the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase on Lake Jordan, the bottom is looking like it might have the top hand.
Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle and Todd Faircloth, all considerably behind Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points leader Kevin VanDam, should be considered pre-tournament favorites if going by how they fared in practice.
Iaconelli, who entered the tournament in 11th place in the standings, located a very strong bite on the first day of practice. He decided to check the area for an hour Friday morning and the fish are still there.
"My area is probably 70/30, spotted bass to largemouth," Iaconelli said. "I've caught some nice spotted bass between 2 and 4 pounds, but I'm really looking for those bigger 4- to 5-pound largemouth."
If the fish that Iaconelli described are there, he is going to be around the quality of fish that would allow him to do well this weekend, and he will need every one of those 5-pound largemouth bass if he wants to challenge Kevin VanDam's 30-point lead.
Swindle has an equally-large deficit to overcome this weekend, but like Ike, the G-man also found quality fish in practice. The thing about Swindle is he might have found something different from the rest of the field.
"As you work your way down the Coosa River chain, from Lay to Jordan, the water starts clearing up," Swindle said. "Down here, the water is gin clear and that makes the shallow water bite tough compared to up on Logan Martin Neely Henry."
Indeed, many of the competitors have spent time fishing deeper for the suspended fish, but the clear water hasn't dissuaded Swindle from fishing his strength in the shallow water, and it has proven successful thus far.
Part of the shallow water puzzle this week has been the current. With two dams on Lake Jordan, there are twice as many opportunities for precious current, which can activate both the shallow and deep fishing.
Faircloth found the upper Mitchell Dam running as early as 10 a.m. ET, and that made the bite better than it was on the first day of practice. His pattern could best be described as "junk" fishing, as he mentioned fishing docks, trees, grass and rocks.
Like many of the other competitors, Faircloth has not set the hook on most of his fish, not wanting to sore-mouth his fish prior to the tournament, but he did pull up a 4-pound largemouth and a few good-sized smallmouth.
Faircloth, who is in fifth 25 points behind VanDam, was off-the-radar for most of the first day of practice, so there is the additional possibility that he is tucked up somewhere the rest of the competitors have overlooked.
These three anglers may have a leg-up on the competition after practice, but when the tournament starts, anything is possible. Weigh-ins start at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN360, with full coverage from the event on Bassmaster.com.