LAKE WALES, Fla. — Butch Tucker suffered a significant drop in weight on Day Two of co-angler competition on the Kissimmee Chain.
But the strength of his opening-day catch was more than enough to keep him atop the leaderboard.
Tucker, who has fished as both a boater and co-angler in BASS Open events, caught 7 pounds, 14 ounces, Friday for a two-day total of 25-2 in the Citrus Slam, presented by Longhorn.
"At 1 p.m. I didn't have a single fish," said Tucker, who fished Friday with Elite Series pro Cliff Pace.
A change in the weather changed Tucker's fortunes. As clouds increased and wind started whipping the water, the bite turned on for the 60-year-old cardiovascular technician from Moultrie, Ga.
"Finally, the clouds and wind picked up and we started catching them," Tucker said.
Tucker didn't need much on Friday. His 17-4 total on Day One was good enough for top 12 in the professional division. His closest competitor going into Day Two was Tom Mahoney of Land O' Lakes, Fla., who was just 1 1/4 pounds off the pace. But Mahoney stumbled Friday, weighing two bass that went 3-11, for a two-day total of 19-11.
Bill Williams of Corbin, Ky., is now the co-angler nipping at Tucker's heels. Williams made a big move Friday on the strength of 16-6 limit, the second-heaviest co-angler stringer of the tournament. He moved from 21st to second, anchoring his Friday bag with a 5-13 bass that tied for Big Bass honors in the co-angler division.
"It was a big turnaround," said Williams, who fished Friday with Elite Series pro Randy Howell. "Randy was a super guy, and he gave me the freedom to share in what he had found. It was all about location, location, location."
While Mahoney slipped to third place, Larry Butler of New Haven, Vt., took over fourth with 16-5. Takuji Naruo of Moriyama, Japan, fishing in his first BASS event, took over fifth place on the strength of an 11-1 limit that pushed his two-day total to 15-15.
Williams alternated between a Carolina-rigged soft plastic and a crankbait for his big limit on Friday. But he said the success resulted more from the area than the bait.
"We just found a spot where the fish were stacked," Williams said. "And it was easy pickings."
It wasn't nearly as easy for Tucker to maintain his advantage. Once the wind and clouds increased, he picked up a Zoom Speed Worm to scratch out a limit.
"We stayed in the same area, going around and around," Tucker said. "I'd catch one and then 30 minutes later I'd catch another one. It came in spurts."
The co-angler field was cut to 50 following Friday's round. Co-angler competition concludes Saturday. Weigh-in begins at 4:10 p.m. at Camp Mack's River Resort.