2006 Bassmaster Legends Day 2

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The lack of backwater in the

 6-hole area might keep weights down for the Top 12

 fishing Saturday in the Bassmaster Legends presented

by Goodyear, a local angler said, but he still expects

an exciting shootout.

 Bassmaster.com asked Matt Lea what to expect in the

 season's third and final major. Lea was excited that

 some of the sports biggest names, Gerald Swindle,

 Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn and Gary Klein, will be

 battling on his homewater, the Arkansas River.

 "How incredible is that field?" he said. "You've got

the best guys in the world. It's going to be stout.

 Whoever wins is going to earn it."

 With isolated thunderstorms moving through the area

 Friday night and party cloudy skies in Saturday's

 forecast, Lea holds out hope that the main river area

 9 miles around downtown Little Rock will produce

 better than usual.

 "They don't have the backwater, so I think the weights

 will be a little lower," Lea said. "Now if it rains,

 it could be a little bit better. The topwater bite

 will be better for everybody and be all day.

 "If the

 sun stays high, it will be few and far between. The

 clouds and rain, that would change everything.

 "If they get a big enough rain, there's several

 discharges around the city that they should be able to

 catch them at. The shad will back up and they'll be

 able to catch some fish there."

 Since the holes were off limits the first two days,

 Lea said knowing the nuances of the area will benefit

 the four anglers with in-state ties, which includes

 Mike McClelland, Greg Hackney, Kevin Short and Little

 Rock's Scott Rook.

 I really like Rook, he's got the hometown advantage,

 no doubt," Lea said. "Rook knows where every

 underwater rock and sandbar is. He'll have an

 advantage, so hopefully he'll be able to pull it off."

 The hole format does allow the Top 12 more fishing

 time as the runs through locks are eliminated, Lea

 said, which might help the likes of VanDam.

 "You get a solid seven hours to fish, so you've got to

 like VanDam, figuring it out Friday the way he did,"

 he said. "He's got seven hours to figure it out Saturday."

 But Lea goes back to Rook as his favorite to win on

 the river he grew up on. And Lea said a victory would

 be a satisfying accomplishment for Rook.

 "Rook couldn't ask for a better field to win it

 against," he said. "You've got the best field fishing

 your homewater, there's no better feeling than beating

 them on your home lake."