Anyone in Top 50 could make Top 12

Consistency is, of course, crucial to success in a four-day bass fishing tournament. But Day 2 at Kentucky Lake re-emphasized the point illustrated last week at Oklahoma's Grand Lake: Consistency is difficult during the spawn.

Of the top 10 anglers on Day 1 at Kentucky Lake, only three remained there on Day 2 - Skeet Reese, Jason Christie and Bobby Lane. Chris Zaldain was the most obvious example of those falling out. He dropped from first place on Day 1 with 24 pounds, 3 ounces to 40th place on Day 2 with only three fish weighing 7-2. But there were wilder swings in the standings, both up and down, than Zaldain's 39-place fall.

Boyd Duckett vaulted from 60th place to 8th with the 24-0 big bag of Day 2. Aaron Martens moved from 55th place to 10th with 22-7. Paul Elias dropped from 9th to 55th with 9-4. And there were plenty of other examples, like Timmy Horton rising 50 places from 89th to 39th, and Kyle Monti falling 62 places from 22nd to 88th.

With the field cut to the Top 50 today, everyone seemingly has a chance to make the Top 12 for Monday's final. There's a difference of only 7-3 between 12th place (Jordan Lee, 36-14) and 50th (Jake Whitaker, 29-11).

"I finally got on some," said Timmy Horton, who caught a limit weighing 11-7 on Day 1 and had 20-0 on Day 2. "I caught 'em pretty good in the morning on the shad spawn. Then I lost one about 7 or 8 pounds later in the day right at the boat."

Horton found bass that were moving in with another wave of spawners later in the day, saying, "They're coming. I'm pumped."

So, yeah, anyone in the Top 50 could make the Top 12 at the end of the day.

Boom Boom's big move

BASSTrakk shows Fred Roumbanis making a quantum leap into second place. This morning “Boom Boom” told me he only had six bites on Friday

“It was a grind and it took everything I had to catch those six fish. Today with the rain it’ll hopefully keep the fish suspended, roaming more.”

Roumbanis said on Saturday he will keep grinding, covering a lot of water. Looks like that is paying off. And so is the momentum he is carrying over from last week’s 11th place finish at Grand Lake.

Martens breaks streak of 3-pounders

Aaron Martens was a frustrated angler yesterday. He caught plenty of bass on Day 1, but nothing over 3 pounds. He was left in 55th place with 14-14. Martens caught 10 more today before breaking the streak. His 11th fish of the day was a 5-10 and it jumped him up to 19-12 on BASSTrakk and into 12th place.

Martens has one of the biggest bags of the day. The other bass in his livewell are, of course, 3-pounders: 3-12, 3-10, 3-12 and 3-0.

Standings are flip-flopping

Problems with consistency were predicted, and they're showing up in the standings in a big way so far today. Only two anglers in the Day 1 top 10 are still there in the BASSTrakk standings at noon today - Skeet Reese and Jordan Lee.

Kelley Jaye, who was second with 22-0 yesterday, is just out of that pack in 11th. But Chris Zaldain, who started the day in first and is now 52nd, is hardly the only guy struggling. Paul Elias, who was 9th with 20-1, has dropped 70th after catching only a 1 1/2-pounder so far today.

Zaldain scrambling to make the 50 cut

Chris Zaldain started the day in first place, and now he's scrambling just to make the Top 50 cut after today's weigh-in. BASSTrakk has him in 49th place at 11:30 a.m., with just a single 1-pound, 6-ounce bass added to his 24-3 big bag from Friday.

Zaldain has changed tactics, according to Gettys Brannon, who is following him on the water today. Zaldain just made a long run and started fishing boat docks. After just missing a big fish that left teeth marks on his swimbait, Zaldain said, "I should have been doing this hours ago."

Zaldain still has plenty of time to get back in the hunt, considering how fast you can do that on Kentucky Lake. But he's had to resort to a fall-back plan.

Skeet having a 'hot mess' day

In most instances, being described as a "hot mess" isn't a compliment. But Skeet Reese is putting a positive spin on the term today.

"How is that for a hot mess?" said Reese, after winding his kill switch cord around his reel handle while reeling in a 5-12 bass. The slight mishap didn't keep him from landing the fish, which allowed him to cull up to a conservatively estimated 22-0.

There is still a lot of time left to fish under what are proving to be ideal conditions for Reese - heavily overcast skies and occasional rain. The smallest two bass in his livewell weigh 3-4 and 4-0.

Grigsby lands a lunker

Shaw Grigsby caught the biggest bass of the tournament at 10:04 - a 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth. It puts him up to 19-6 for the day, and he's got room in his livewell for a big cull. Grigsby still has a 1 1/2-pounder in his 5-bass limit.

Grigsby had a good day Friday as well, finishing in 11th place with 19-12.

Skeet drops a hint

Did Skeet Reese drop a hint earlier this morning about what’s to come?

“I should go flipping but that would be boring,” he said on Bassmaster LIVE.

Boring? Well yeah, when you have already caught nearly 20 pounds doing anything else would be boring.

Why would Reese bring up flipping now? I just checked the weather forecast and came up with a possible answer.

Mostly sunny skies with a high temperature of 81 degrees are in the forecast for Sunday.

That easily justifies the aim of exploring a flipping bite, as the sun will concentrate those shallow, shoreline fish tighter to the cover. There’s another reason why doing that might be a wise move.

Today the shad spawn bite is prolonged by the low light conditions brought on by the rain. Tomorrow, it won’t last so long, or be as reliable, with the brighter light coming earlier.

What struck me as ironic about Skeet’s comment was his forward thinking. That is, if he’s already thinking about tomorrow. That is a trait of a seasoned pro whose mind is conditioned to think ahead, stay ahead of the game.

It also reminds me of what happened last week with Kevin VanDam, who switched gears from a semi-offshore jerkbait bite to casting square bill crankbaits along the shoreline. He did that going into the 50 cut and it paid off with his 25th win.

DeFoe's irony

BASSTrakk shows Ott DeFoe in second place and while it’s early in the game, and the season, being there comes with a tinge of irony.

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is on the very opposite end of this very Tennessee River. That side of the river is DeFoe’s home water. In fact, I was at his home outside Knoxville for a Toyota Bonus Bucks photo shoot the day prior to the Classic announcement. DeFoe lives on the Holston River, which marks the beginning of the Tennessee River just outside of Knoxville.

As we stood on his back porch, overlooking the river, DeFoe expressed excitement about the chance to compete in a Classic on the very waters where he learned to fish. That all comes with the mental burden of first qualifying for the Classic.

“This announcement came after just one Elite Series tournament,’ he told me. “That makes the season for me and the other guys from around here much longer than normal.”

DeFoe is off to a good start in the right direction. The Toyota Angler of the Year standings show him in 15th place. A strong finish on familiar water, putting him solidly on the top side of the AOY standings, will be beneficial for the unknowns ahead on the schedule. The types of fisheries coming up are the reason. Next up is the tidal Sabine River and then the Midwest turn to the Mississippi River in Wisconsin and then the big unknown, Lake Oahe in South Dakota. The good news for DeFoe is his win on the Mississippi River in 2016.

None of the above has gone through DeFoe’s mind. It shouldn’t. But a good finish here will certainly make the drive back home easier when he looks out his back porch.

Lane's conundrum

Bobby Lane Jr. is doing what he does best. That is fishing the long rod in shallow water, power fishing baits aimed at bass holding tight to cover. 

Yesterday it worked. Lane charged into sixth place with a limit weighing 20 pounds, 7 ounces. 

“I haven’t had a good first day in a long time and everything just clicked,” he told me yesterday. “Execution. It was perfect.”

Well, how long ago that first good day was before yesterday is a question. He probably meant in Elite Series competition. Last January, Lane staged a wire-to-wire victory on Lake Kissimmee at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open. Of course, he won the tournament pitching a flipping. 

Same thing here with an exception. 

“Yesterday there was a brief moment of sunshine and that’s what I need the most,” he said this morning. 

Rain is forecast all day and the sun certainly won’t shine. 

“I also need more water in the bushes,” he added. 

That could be the silver lining in the otherwise rainy outlook. Whether or not the water comes up at all is unknown. What is known is the sun will come out tomorrow

“All I can do is just keep grinding it out, try and make it to the 50 cut.”

The outlook for doing just that is better, considering where Lane is in the current BASSTrakk standings. 

If he can stay on the top side of the 50 cut then Lane stands a good chance of having all his needs falling into place. That, and the fact that Lane is still riding off the confidence boost of the win early in the season.

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