Colorado leads Western Divisional

 BLOOMFIELD, N.M. -- Colorado jumped to a nearly 16-pound lead on Day Two of the Western Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.

          On the first day, the Rocky Mountain State anglers managed just a 17-ounce lead over host team new Mexico, with none of its anglers higher than ninth place in the individual standings. On Day Two, it continued the team-effort strategy, with Russell Crites in eighth place as its top competitor.

          New Mexico’s Jay Salisbury maintained his individual lead with a 9-14 limit that gave him a two-day weight of 25-7. And teammate Kenny Hansel managed a 7-6 bag for third place, behind Montana’s Curtis Spindler who boasted the day’s heaviest sack with 13-7.

          But the rest of the New Mexico team didn’t keep pace, as Colorado solidified its advantage and Montana moved into second. With one more day of competition, Colorado has 147-4, Montana 131-7, and New Mexico 124-10.

Along with Spindler, Sid Ziegler, Jay Evans, Willie Reed, Jim Conlin, and J.D. Wood caught limits to lead the charge for Montana, which had been in eighth on Day One.

          “Our Juniors are really going to have to step up big time to help get us back up there,” said Steve Ragsdale, president of the New Mexico B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.

          Juniors for 9 of the 11 western teams will join the competition on Friday. They will compete to advance to the Junior Bassmaster World Championship later this year. Additionally, their weights will be added to team totals.

          Adult anglers are hopeful that the youngsters will enjoy good fishing on Friday, as the temperature is expected to rise to near 80 under a sunny sky with little wind.

          “This probably would be a great fishery if it hadn’t snowed yesterday (Wednesday),” said Spindler with a laugh.

          Following unusually warm weather for the Four Corners area of New Mexico, a cold front blew in early this week and bass that had fully cooperated in practice suddenly contracted lockjaw.

          On Day One, the early morning temperature dropped into the high 30s, as blustery northwest winds and cold rain chilled anglers before takeoff. Today, the temperature rebounded into the 70s, despite brisk winds.

          But whether the fishing improved on Day Two because of moderating weather depended on who you asked. More limits were checked in, 33 versus 27 on Wednesday, but fewer anglers overall caught fish.

          “Warming weather on Friday will help,” Ragsdale said. “These fish are just waiting to move up again.”

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