Slow and steady for Blue Mountain

I had the opportunity to catch up with Isaac Duncan and Fisher Young of Blue Mountain College. At the conclusion of the Day 2 weigh-in, Duncan and Fisher found themselves in second place just one pound and three ounces out of the lead.

Duncan and Young had 3 keepers in the boat when I left them, two of which are good ones.

The one thing that is concerning to them is the lack of bites they are getting. They caught large numbers of fish on both days 1 and 2. “I think they’re locking on beds”, said Duncan, when I asked what has changed. Duncan also mentioned hat they have seen two big fish on beds that won’t bite. He estimated they were both around 5 pounds. If they can get both of those fish in the boat, they feel as if they have a great chance to win today.

EKU heating up

By 8:30 Am, Joshua Boone and Blake Riley of Eastern Kentucky University had a limit in the boat. They have since culled up to around 11 lbs.

Boone and Riley have had no problem getting bites so far. They have caught around 25 fish since the time that I caught up with them. “You’ve just got to weed through them” said Boone, after catching a small non-keeper.

They feel as if they are one or two good bites away from having a good chance to win.

One thing worth mentioning, is that they also mentioned that their best bites have came later in the afternoon.

EKU feeling confident

I’ve started my morning with tournament leaders Joshua Boone and Blake Riley of Eastern Kentucky University. This morning they are starting in an area that they have yet to start in on either of the first two days.
With that being said, this is the area that they have done the majority of their damage.

This particular stretch is in the very back of a long creek off of the main lake and I’ve noticed that the water is considerably more stained than the rest of the lake.

“I think it’s the wind and sun”, said Boone, when I asked what their ideal conditions were. Those conditions are a little different than the ideal conditions I’ve heard from the majority of the top 12, which could give this EKU team an advantage on Championship Saturday.

St. John and Fain struggling

Trevor St. John and Bailey Fain of Bryan College, had a solid Day number 1 on Bull Shoals with 15 pounds even. That would have them planted in 26th place when weigh-in concluded.

So far on Day number 2, they have had a much tougher day. Their key spot on Day 1 provided a limit of fish in the first 10 minutes of fishing. Going out in the last flight, their starting spot was loaded with boats which changed their plans significantly

Right as we pulled up, the team from Bryan College boated only their second keeper.

Wilson and Hall running and gunning

Like most, Jackson Hall and Walker Wilson of the University of Arkansas figured that 13-5 would have landed them much higher in the standings than 84th place after Day 1.

Although Hall and Wilson were surprised, they haven’t let that get them down. Today, they already have 11 pounds in the boat with a lot of time left to fish. They have been running and gunning all morning, fishing as many high percentage areas as possible. If they can make a couple solid upgrades, they could certainly charge back up the leaderboard.

Bardill and Nesbit catching numbers

Joe Bardill and Parker Nesbit of Murray State University are having no problem putting fish in the boat. Unfortunately, the majority of the fish they’ve caught have not been keepers.

Bardill and Nesbit ended up in 14th place after Day 1 with 15-14. Today, they have fished the same areas they did on Day 1 but the size just hasn’t been there.

The conditions are the exact opposite as what we saw on Day 1, and both Nesbit and Bardill accredit that to be the problem here on Day 2. They have four small keepers in the box and know that if the want to be inside the cutline by the end of today, then they will new some bigger fish.

Wind is key for Joshua Butts

Joshua Butts, of Wallace State Community College, has two fish in the box early on Day 2. Butts has a solid margin to make up today, so he is swinging for the fences. He told us that he thinks he would need about 19 pounds to make the Day 3 cut.

Butts emphasized how different the conditions are today. For him to be able to reach that 19 mark, he told us that he needs more wind. 

B.A.S.S. benefits Baxter County

Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass said bass fishing, and fishing in general, bolsters the coffers of the region.

"It's a huge financial boost to the county economy," he said while watching the Day 1 weigh-in of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops at Bull Shoals Lake. "What Bassmaster has done here is a huge boost. All the hotels listed with our chamber are all located in Baxter County. All the guys are staying here, eating here. These kids can eat.

"They're spending all that money. We're a sales tax revenue dependent economy in our county and city governments. I had one group who met me come up and ask, 'Where's the best place to eat tonight?'"

Baxter County is on the east side of Bull Shoals Lake and site of this week's host, Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce. Marion County, which begins when crossing over the dam, benefits as well. That's where the crew at Bull Shoals Boat Dock has been kept busy with the 199 boats.

And Pendergrass isn't just some politician watching tax percentages. He's an angler. A tournament angler who is interested in the competitions. He's even served as a Marshal when the Elites last visited. The area, which many agree plays a major role in the berth of tournament bass fishing, has so many fishing related businesses.

"We have some major boat manufacturers in the area. It's brought us a lot of notoriety," he said. "Of course, two lakes, three rivers, we draw a lot of people. We don't have the really big bass, but we have lots of bass." Besides the rarity of clean lake water, Bull Shoals offers more fish and better size. Yet Pendergrass said his best bass was a 6 ½ pounder from Norfork.

Unfortunately, the lifetime B.A.S.S. member landed it in practice, not in a tournament.

"That's what just happened to me on Chickamauga (which led him to a side trip the Classic in Knoxville). I caught one that weighed 9 pounds, but it was not the tournament day -- but that's how it goes. I couldn't find them on tournament days."

Sounds like a fish story.