LAGRANGE, Ga. — George Crain had to put in a full day's work to take the lead today at the BASS Federation Nation Southern Divisional on West Point Lake.
The Cropwell, Ala., angler weighed in a 17-pound, 12-ounce limit to set the pace and finish 8 ounces ahead of Florida's David Mock. Although he is a non-boater in this event, Crain brought his boat to West Point and found some fish in practice this week.
"It was harder today than it had been, but they bit pretty well," said Crain, a 57-year-old retired firefighter and home builder who is competing in his third divisional. "I ended up with 10 or 11 bites and caught eight."
Slowing down his presentation made a difference for Crain today, who fished four areas throughout the day. "We fished two of my partner's spots and two of mine," said Crain. "I caught two or three behind him on his spots so that really helped me. The bite was so slow I really needed eight hours to fish."
The Shoal Creek Bass Chasers club member has competed in a couple of tournaments on West Point Lake in the last 25 years, so he is fishing familiar waters. He believes the lake is also similar to his home waters of Logan Martin, which allows him to fish his strengths.
"They are both winter drawdown lakes that fish alike," said Crain. Relying on three different lures today, Crain caught most of his fish about 3 to 5 feet deep.
The tournament pits bass club anglers from seven states competing for individual and team honors. The top finisher of each state's team qualifies for the BASS Federation Nation Championship. Crain and Mock are one step closer to a championship berth, by leading the Alabama and Florida squads.
Other state leaders are Ben Bennett, Georgia; Bill Lowther, Kentucky; Rob Digh, North Carolina, Brent Long, South Carolina; and Mark Pierce, Tennessee.
The contenders' daily catches are also counted towards their team's score as the seven states pursue a grand prize of a Skeeter ZX190 bass boat/Yamaha VZ150 outboard rig valued at $41,000. Leading the team standings is South Carolina with a cumulative weight of 107 pounds, 13 ounces, while Kentucky holds the runner-up spot with 88-10.
The Southern Divisional state champions and the divisional's top team will be determined at the conclusion of this three-day event on Friday.
Daily launches and weigh-ins are being held at the Highland Marina Resort. Weigh-ins begin at 3:15 p.m. ET each day.