CLINTON, Iowa — While sight fishing in clear water is his strength, Steve Lee has used his shallow-water expertise to take the lead after Day 2 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on Pools 13, 14 and 15 of the Mississippi River with a two-day weight of 29 pounds, 3 ounces.
After landing in fourth on Day 1 with 13-3, the Minnesota angler secured the biggest bag of the tournament on Day 2 with 16-0. Lee also currently holds the Big Bass of the Tournament on the boater side with his 4-14 largemouth that he caught on Day 1.
Lee holds a 2-ounce advantage over Ohio’s Eddie Levin, and a 2-pound advantage over Indiana’s Nick Uebelhor.
“The day was really good,” Lee said. “I had a limit by 8:30 and got one within the first five minutes. I culled three times and once at the end of the day; that gave me a couple more ounces. They were biting pretty good. My co-angler was incredible, and he ended up with a limit too.”
His two biggest bass, the 4-14 on Day 1 and another 4-0 on Day 2, both got hung up in trees, but Lee managed to get them unstuck and in the boat.
“The tree was a little smaller (today) so I just ripped it out of there,” Lee said. “They are in nasty spots.”
Lee has a specific milk run and narrowed down his areas even more on Thursday. His primary areas have received little pressure — which has surprised Lee — and they have produced quality bites all week. After using several baits on Day 1, he used one primary technique Thursday.
“It was pretty much one rod today,” he said. “I expanded it a little today, and it paid off with a big one and another 3-pounder.”
While he has limited experience on the Mississippi River and no experience on these particular pools, Lee has been able to use his strengths as a visual angler to excel.
“It fits my style,” he said. “I don’t mind running through nasty stuff in shallow water. I blew a hub the other day, but that is part of the game if you want to get into some stuff other guys won’t get into.”
Heading into the final day, Lee knows things could change in his areas. But he left his primary area after catching a limit and thinks there are still some bites to be had.
“I knew going out today I could go out and blank. It could happen tomorrow, but I think I will be able to catch a few,” he said. “I left after I had my limit, so I didn’t beat them up as bad as I could have. I tried to save a little bit, but we’ll see.”
Nebraska’s Tom Leblanc Jr. leads the nonboater standings with a two-day total of 14-12, and is followed closely by two Indiana anglers: Jeff Wehner in second with 14-7 and John Albertson in third with 14-1.
Indiana dominated the team division, catching 130-15 on Day 2 to increase their two-day total to 270-15 with 130 total bass. Wisconsin finished second with 227-15; Minnesota finished third with 213-9; Ohio finished fourth with 194-1; Nebraska finished fifth with 193-5; Iowa finished sixth with 169-10; Illinois finished seventh with 166-3; Michigan finished eighth with 156-3; and South Dakota finished ninth with 138-6.
The Top 18 boaters and nonboaters, along with the top two boaters and nonboaters from each state if they are not already in the Top 18, will compete on Championship Friday. Anglers will launch from Clinton Marina on Friday at 5:30 a.m CT and return for weigh-in beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The top boater and nonboater from each state at the end of the tournament will advance to the 2022 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Pickwick Lake Nov. 9-11.
This week’s event is being sponsored by the Clinton, Iowa Convention & Visitors Bureau.