PRATTVILLE, Ala. — The anglers competing on Day 2 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Allstate did more flip-flopping than the bass they were catching from the Alabama River.
The constantly changing water level, current flow and water clarity forced many anglers to switch locations, change tactics or do both. The fishermen who made the right adjustments flipped up in the standings. Those who didn’t, flopped down.
Local angler Jamie Horton, an Alabama River bass wizard, was in second place Thursday with 19 pounds, 5 ounces. Friday, he brought in a 5-13 limit and fell short of making the Top 12 cut that will fish tomorrow’s final round.
Day 1 tournament leader Dustin Connell, another Alabama River bass ace, nearly flopped, as well. Friday, he had only two bass for 3 pounds with half his fishing time spent. His water had risen 4 feet and had gotten muddy, which shut off his bass bite.
Undaunted, Connell raced to another pool and switched tactics to pull together a 14-8 limit. His two-day total of 36-11 allowed him to stay in first place and receive the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $250.
“Tomorrow I’m not going to the pool where I caught my fish the first day,” Connell said.
That would appear to be quite a gamble, given that Connell caught more than 22 pounds there on Thursday. However, he believes he has a good shot at another 20-pound limit elsewhere on the final day.
Flopping also wasn’t an issue for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala. Lane knows the intricacies of the Alabama River as well as anyone, and it shows.
Yesterday Lane sacked a mixed bag of three largemouth and two spotted bass for 16-13, which landed him in seventh place. His 17-4 limit today consisted of five spotted bass, good enough to hoist him to second place.
It took Lane two hours Thursday to boat his first limit of bass. Friday, it took him only 12 minutes.
“The current was stronger today than yesterday,” Lane said. “That had my bass more stacked up.”
Lane is fishing three key places and is confident they will reload with bass for tomorrow’s final day.
Given the unique challenges the Alabama River presents to bass tournament anglers, it’s no surprise that Clent Davis, another Alabama angler, is in third place with 32-3. Davis is targeting spotted bass, but he caught one largemouth Thursday that weighed 6-14. It earned the big bass award for the day.
“Yesterday I caught 40 bass,” Davis said. “My water came up 4 feet today. I didn’t figure out the right adjustment until 10 o’clock.”
If Davis can figure things out earlier in the morning Saturday, he might be the last man standing at the final weigh-in, which will take place at the Bass Pro Shops in Prattville, Ala., at 3 p.m. CT.
Florida angler Matthew Olley leads the co-angler side of the tournament with 15-11 and received the Livingston Lures Leader Award of the co-angler side of $250 in Livingston gifts. Olley is just 1 ounce ahead of Alabama’s Steve Callins, who is 6 ounces ahead of North Carolina’s Jason Rice.
The 6-14 largemouth that Davis caught on Thursday is leading the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass, which is worth $750.
The Bass Pro Shops Big Bass on the co-angler side weighed 6-5 and was caught by North Carolina’s Taylor Schneider. That trophy bass earned Schneider $250.
Kazunori Okuma won the $250 Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award for climbing the most places from Day 1 to Day 2. His 16-5 limit on Day 2 rocketed him from 121st place to 26th place.
Kenneth Moore won the Allstate Good Hands, Great Day co-angler award of $150 for leapfrogging from 142nd place to 17th place.