College: Bethel keeps Day 2 lead

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Cully Scroggins and Nathon Portch say they are using intuition to key in on the best locations to find bass during the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Tour presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Whatever the method, it’s working.

Scroggins and Portch, who compete for Bethel University, maintained their lead in the college tour stop on Cherokee Lake. They caught a five-bass limit of 12 pounds, 5 ounces, that when combined with their total of 17-7 on Day 1, gives them a two-day total of 29-12.

It’s a lead, but there are 31 teams right on their heels on an extremely tight leaderboard. After cutting the field from 263 teams to the Top 32 today, less than 6 pounds of bass separates the leaders from the team in 32nd place.

Bethel University is located in Tennessee, but it’s about 330 miles away in the northwest corner of the Volunteer State. So Scroggins and Portch don’t have a home-water advantage on Cherokee.

Quite the opposite, in fact. They said their knowledge of the fishery is limited enough that they decided to cover a lot of water this week looking for something that “looked right.”

“Junk fishing,” they called it, but the results have been anything but junk.

“We fished all new stuff again today,” Portch said. “We’ll probably do that again tomorrow.”

Scroggins said he and Portch had no plan in particular when they began this tournament, and they don’t expect to make one now. After all, the results have them right where they want to be.

“There’s some stuff we like and some stuff we don’t really like,” Scroggins said. “We run onto something and we decide if we like it. If not, we take off and move to the next spot. We trust one another on that. It’s just a feeling. We just have an idea about certain things we’re seeing out there. And the Lord is directing us where to go.”

They’ll have to find the right stuff again on Saturday to hold off a bevy of talented collegians. The University of Alabama’s Lee Mattox and Anderson Aldag are sitting in second place, and Grand Valley State (Mich.) University’s Lucas Murphy and Nolan Hitt are in third. Both tandems have two-day totals of 29-1 and have produced consistent catches through two days.

Brad Ableman and KJ Queen, also of Bethel University, had the biggest catch on Day 2 – a limit that totaled 15-2.

After a rainy Thursday afternoon, the sun shined on Friday and temperatures climbed into the upper 80s. There weren’t as many limits on Friday (110 compared to 146 on Thursday), but the biggest bass were heavier.

After a multitude of 3-pounders were weighed on Thursday, the first few 4-pound bass of the tournament came to the scales on Friday. The largest, a 4-7 largemouth, was caught by Bethel’s Tyler Powell. That bass puts him and partner Ryan Winchester in the lead for the Carhartt Big Bass Award. The $500 certificate will be awarded to the team with the heaviest bass weighed in the tournament.

In all 263 tandems from 125 colleges and universities started the tournament here on Cherokee Lake. The winning duo will earn $2,500 for their school’s fishing team.

Saturday’s launch will begin at 6:30 a.m. ET at the TVA Dam Ramps in Jefferson City. The final weigh-in will switch venues, however, and be held at Carson-Newman University at 3 p.m.

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