Weekend Series Championship: Collins maintains lead

Editor's note: For full boater and non-boater results from the Weekend Series National Championship, click here.

ATHENS, Ala. – With another solid bag, Clifford Albert Collins extended his hold on the top spot during the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship tournament, operated by American Bass Anglers and held Nov. 7-10 on Lake Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas.

The 48-year-old angler from Nacogdoches, Texas, caught 11 keepers on Day Three to bring in 19.70 pounds, increasing his lead to more than 10 pounds. In three days, Collins has caught 15 bass weighing 64.19 pounds, including a 6.20-pound kicker.

 After catching the largest single-day bag so far at 24.53 pounds, he held the lead on Day Two with 44.49 pounds. On Day One, Collins held second with 19.96 pounds.

“I struggled in the morning,” Collins said. “By 10:30 a.m., I still didn’t have a limit. I was really getting anxious and had to start over. I finally got a limit and things started to pull together. I was throwing a 6-inch crankbait, E2 lizards and Texas-rigged worms. I fished creek ledges in eight to 12 feet of water. I also fished main-lake points.”

Remaining second among the 175 boaters was David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, who had 14.98 pounds on Day 3. His three-day total is 54.12.

Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, remained in third place with 50.70. He had 14.63 pounds Friday with a 6.21 kicker. Jeffry L. Wade of Cabot, Ark., stands in fourth at 45.91 pounds. John Hutchins of Warrenton, Va., moved up from eighth to fifth with a 14.26-pound bag.

Brian R. Brown of Kuttawa, Ky., leads the tournament lunker competition with a 10.51-pounder he landed on Day One. That fish was about one half of his total as he stands 39th with 22.62 pounds.

In the Co-Angler Division, Richard Michalski of West Port, Ky., moved into the lead with a 6.47-pound bag on Day Three. He has caught eight fish over three days weighing 22.62 pounds.

“I had never seen the lake until coming down to fish this tournament,” Michalski saud. “We had to search to find fish. We fished crankbaits in about six to 10 feet of water. I used quite a few different baits. I caught about nine keepers and culled a few fish out.”

With the largest single-day catch from any co-angler, Sidney Weaver of Cherryville, N.C., vaulted from 74th place into second on the strength of a 13.52-pound Day Three bag. With seven keepers, he’s at 21.25 pounds with a 6.70-pound kicker.

Joe Dorcy of Smithville, Mo., also made a major leap, jumping from 12th place to third with a three-day total 20.94 pounds. Michael M. Smith of Laurel Hill, Fla., is fourth after his third consecutive limit and a total of 20.79
On Friday, Keith A. Vann of Cedartown, Ga., unseated Travis Malphrus of Ridgeland, S.C., for the co-angler big bass lead with an 8.18-pounder. Malphrus brought in a 7.24-pounder on Day One. 

The event concludes Saturday, when only the top 25 boaters and co-anglers compete. The champion boater will receive $100,000 and could win up to $105,000 with bonuses from Triton Boats, Mercury Marine and MotorGuide. In addition, the winning boater will earn a chance to compete in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, slated for Feb. 22-24 on Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Okla. The champion co-angler will take home $50,000 and could grab up to $52,500 including sponsor bonus money.

The public weigh-in begins at 3 p.m at Umphrey Pavilion in Jasper, Texas, on Sam Rayburn Lake. For more information on this tournament, call  ABA at (256) 232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com. For full boater and non-boater results from the Weekend Series National Championship, click here.