RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — At the Day Two launch of the 2009 Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive on Lake Dardanelle, word around the dock was that today would be the day to make a move up the leaderboard.
With severe thunderstorms including possibilities of large hail forecasted for this afternoon and overnight, 2009 Classic champion Skeet Reese expects to see bigger bags coming in today with tougher conditions setting in over the weekend.
"Today is movement day," Reese said. "This will be the day to catch a big bag. I had the opportunity for a big bag yesterday, but I lost six fish including a couple in the 4-pound range."
Reese was understandably upset with his Day One performance, but his 15-pound, 13-ounce limit still put him inside the top 10 and well within striking distance of the leader. On a day when less than half the field caught a limit, every keeper proved critical, and those that didn't catch five fish now find themselves with a big hill to climb.
Shaw Grigsby finished with only four keepers yesterday and isn't looking forward to the weather that is forecast for the Russellville area.
"I was sight fishing yesterday and the fish are getting picked over, so opportunities will be limited today," Grigsby said. "These conditions make it so tough to see with the clouds and milky water. Sight fishing is all I've got though."
Even for a veteran sight-fisherman like Grigsby, just finding the bass has been getting more and more difficult. On Thursday, he went to where he knew a 4-pounder was locked on a bed, but it still took him three passes to even get a glimpse of the fish.
Sight fishing does allow Grigsby to bypass smaller fish and just target larger keeper-sized bass, as evidenced by his 14-pound, 13-ounce bag. That weight put him in the top 20, but changing conditions may force him to adapt if the sight bite isn't there today.
With the weekend expected to bring in lows in the 30-degree range, anglers talked about catching everything they could on Day Two.
"I know the cold front is coming tomorrow, so I'm going to have to catch as much as I can today," Dean Rojas said. "All those people who caught one or two fish yesterday are behind the 8-ball. It almost mirrors this shortened season we have this year, opportunities are decreased and you have to do well at every tournament."
Rojas has made the top-12 cut at his three previous visits to Dardanelle during BASS competition and once again is in contention after catching 14 pounds, 14 ounces.
"A lot of guys struggled yesterday with the shortened day," Rojas said. "So while 14 pounds is a good start, I think you are going to see the cut weight go up a couple of pounds."
The cut weight going up is just what Charlie Hartley expects to see on Day Two and he regrets laying off his fish yesterday after catching 13 pounds.
"That front is moving through today and these guys have had another day of practice," Hartley said. "The ones that didn't catch them yesterday are mad and ready to get after them. I almost regret not pounding the fish yesterday. You almost have to think about sitting there are going from 13 pounds to 15 pounds."
Even with the changing conditions, Hartley still likes his chances of staying consistent based on the area he is fishing.
"I'm in a place where spawners are coming and going," Hartley said. "I'm really close to the main river and that's always a good place to be."
The changes that likely won't effect Hartley have had and will continue to have a much larger impact on Elite Series rookie Matt Herren. Currently in fourth place with 17 pounds, 1 ounce on Day One, Herren was surprised by the weight he pulled out from his spot after a tougher practice.
"This river is changing daily," Herren said. "I think that helped me yesterday — the water came up from practice. The water has come up another 8 inches today and that should make the shallow bite even better. Although, the cover I am fishing is getting deeper and deeper and harder to see."
Even as a rookie, Herren is dangerous on any river system. A resident of Trussville, Ala., Herren grew up on the banks of the Coosa River and has won a major tournament at Dardanelle.
"If it has anything like a river, I like it," Herren said. "River fish are dictated by current. These fish are determined to go shallow and these conditions aren't going to change that."
Only the weigh-in will tell if predictions of bigger bags will hold true. The weigh-in starts at 5:00 p.m. ET at the Lake Dardanelle State Park on ESPN360. Catch episodes of "Hooked Up" on the hour all day and the live leaderboard during the weigh-in at Bassmaster.com.