LAKE GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — If fishing success was measured by number of fish caught, Day Two of the Marine Formula STA-BIL Southern Challenge on Lake Guntersville would be considered half as good as the first day of competition. A tougher day on this Tennessee River fishery was still above average for most lakes and 20-plus-pound bags were again par for the course.
Mark Davis was one Elite Series angler that found his fish not biting as strong on Friday and he "only" boated 100 fish, the best five of which weighed 21 pounds, 11 ounces.
"Today I only caught about half of what I caught yesterday, when I caught at least 200 fish," Davis said. "I'm just playing the odds by catching numbers of fish on a crankbait. You can't key on just big fish. That may be going on for someone else, but not for me."
Despite his bag being over five pounds lighter than on the first day, Davis easily made the top-50 cut, entering Day Three in 19th place with 48 pounds, 9 ounces.
Davy Hite also suffered from a lighter sack on Day Two, bringing on 18 pounds, 8 ounces to the stage, as opposed to his Day One sack of 23 pounds, 10 ounces. Hite still loaded the boat with smaller fish, but increasing pressure on his spots meant less quality bites.
"Yesterday the fish were really eating the bait," Hite said. "Today, I lost two 4-pound bites and I could see that the bait was on the outside of the mouth. Pressure was the biggest difference as these fish are starting to see these baits over and over. Changing color is the first change you can make. In my boat I have multiple colors of the same lure on the deck."
Hite will be fishing on Saturday, barely squeaking into the cut in 47th place and was worried that it might be too late to start trying to find places that are less pressured.
"Especially by Day Three, when you start running new water, you start running into other guys," Hite said.
Another angler putting pressure on his fish was Ohio's Bill Lowen who found himself in 35th place at the end of the day. Like Davis, Lowen caught 75 to 100 fish, but the bigger bite has eluded him over the first two days.
"You have to go through a lot of fish," Lowen said. "I'm beating my fish up, but I'm just happy to make the 50-cut after Smith Mountain. I've been fishing some offshore grass, but I actually went up to the bank to cull a 2-pounder and caught a 5-pounder."
Veteran Guy Eaker increased his weight from Day One, with a 21-pound, 1-ounce bag on Friday, but missed the cut after not being able to adjust quick enough to the dropping water.
"My best stringer on Monday would have easily gone 30 pounds," Eaker said. "They dropped the water a foot and it spooked the big fish so they moved out. We watched them drop the water yesterday morning and that was probably the reason so many bigger stringers came in yesterday. They were sucking water and those fish were biting, but today you didn't see the same size stringers."
Weights may have gone down slightly, but not much, as it took over 20 pounds a day to make the top-50 cut and the top 12 anglers all have over 25 pounds a day. Only Saturday will tell if the weights will continue to hold steady, as the field of 50 anglers launches at 7:00 a.m. ET with the weigh-in starting at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN360.