Webster jumps into Day 2 lead

GROVE, Okla. — With conditions changing on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees by the minute, Mike Webster adjusted his game plan and caught 14 pounds, 15 ounces on Day 2 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional to claim the lead with a two-day total of 32-14.

After catching 17-15 on the first day, the Pottsville, Ark., native holds a slim lead over Arkansas teammate Doug Thompson and Day 1 leader Brandon Pedigo. 

More storms and rain pushed through the area overnight and into the morning hours of Thursday, and as a result, water levels rose quickly during the first couple of hours of Day 1.

In his first day at Grand, Webster focused on offshore rock structures in 11 to 13 feet of water for prespawn and postspawn bass using an Omega Custom Tackle football jig on Day 1. The water rose to around 14 to 16 feet deep Thursday, however, and the bass scattered. 

With nothing working offshore, Webster moved to the bank and landed all of his keepers on an Evergreen CR-6 crankbait. 

Things were not easy around his shallow areas either.

“There was a lot of trash in the areas I’m cranking from debris coming off the bank with the water rising. That hurt me,” Webster said. “It is hard to get a crankbait through it.”

Prior to the rise in lake levels, Webster said the weather did not bother his offshore bite. Before Thursday, he caught them just as good under sunny conditions as he did in the rain. Very few of his competitors were fishing offshore, electing to fish the boat docks in front of where he is fishing. 

If the water stabilizes, he said he will go back to fishing in his primary area in hopes the bass settled down. 

“I hope the offshore bite picks back up tomorrow, but if not, I’ll have to stick with the cranking bite,” he said. “I’m hoping the rest of today and tonight the fish will adjust and get tucked in somewhere and I’ll be able to find them.”

Webster also keeps his lead for the big bass of the tournament on the boater side with the 6-4 largemouth he caught on Day 1.

Mitch Thomas claimed the lead in the nonboater division with a two-day total of 19-4 with catches of 9-13 on Day 1 and 9-7 on Day 2. Ray Cates is second with 17-8 and Hieu Nguyen is third with 17-4.

Day 1 nonboater leader Ben Parker still holds the lead for big bass of the tournament honors for the nonboater division with his 6-2 largemouth from Day 1.

The Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation took home the team title with 368-15, earning $5,000 for their organization. Arkansas finished second with 317-14 and secured a $3,000 check. After landing in fifth after Day 1, Kansas jumped into third with 317-0.

The Top 16 boaters and nonboaters, plus the Top 2 boaters and nonboaters from each state if they are not already in that range, will launch from Wolf Creek Park starting at 6:15 a.m. CT and return for weigh-in at 2:15 p.m. 

The top boater and nonboater from each state after the final weigh-in will advance to the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which will be held on Lake Pickwick Nov. 9-11. Those anglers will compete for a chance to qualify for the 2023 Academy + Sports Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at Tennessee River.

This week’s event is being hosted by the City of Grove.