APPLING, Ga. — With weather playing a role in the fortunes of 222 anglers competing to get into bass fishing's premier event, Shonn Blassingame of Sunset, Texas, took over the lead Thursday in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship operated by American Bass Anglers.
As a cold front moved in Thursday on Clarks Hill Lake, Blassingame weighed in a five-fish limit that weighed 11.90 pounds, bringing his two-day total to 20.32 pounds with one more day of fishing to go before the cut to the top 25.
Blassingame hopes his next destination is the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 22-24 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C. The winner of this weekend's championship nets a berth in the premier fishing tournament and also will take home $100,000.
Corey Waldrop of Fort Worth, Texas, is right behind Blassingame after boating 10.15 pounds Thursday. Waldrop's two-day total is 19.87 pounds.
Blassingame declined to discuss details. Waldrop said a cold front had completely changed the patterns from Wednesday to Thursday.
"From yesterday's fishing, I thought I had them figured out, but they changed, they moved," said Waldrop, 19. "I went with the moment and changed my game plan and went ahead and hit some new water, changed techniques and started catching fish."
Wesley Cashwell of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., is in third, Mark Pack of Old Hickory, Tenn., and Jeff Coble of Beaufort, N.C. round out the top five. Douglas Young of Salisbury, N.C., who led after Wednesday's Day One, slipped to 14th Thursday with four fish weighing just 4.59 pounds.
Everyone in the Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship field had to qualify by finishing in the top eight within their respective regional divisions —25 divisions overall. One wild-card qualifier from each division also made the Weekend Series Championship field.
For Waldrop, much like the other 221 anglers at the championship this week, the prize money is a good incentive, but it's not the big catch this weekend.
"I told my co-angler this morning," Waldrop said, "the money's great, but I'm really here to make the Classic. It just makes me speechless thinking about it."
For complete results after Day Two, visit the American Bass Anglers, Inc., site at www.abaproam.com.
The event continues through Saturday, when only the top 25 anglers will fish. Fans can check for daily updates at www.Bassmaster.com.