Fed Nation competition is heating up

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. -- Three anglers will try to win a second consecutive trip to the National Championship today, in the final round of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Central Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter on Table Rock Lake.

And one of them is hoping that he can make it all the way back to the Bassmaster Classic.

Coincidentally, they are competing on the same fishery where they won those National Championship berths in 2010.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Oklahoma’s Dale Hightower, who would like nothing better than to live the dream a second time.

“These Oklahoma guys are tough to beat. If you go (to the Classic), you’ve earned it.”

Indeed, Hightower is behind two teammates and looking over his shoulder at several others. Jared Miller leads the Sooners with 31-2, while Shawn Clark has 30-4, and Hightower 24-12.

On the Missouri team, Brian Maloney also has some catching up to do if he hopes to repeat. With 20-14, he trails both Daniel Stark with 26-6 and Justin Pace with 21-2.

TomJessop, meanwhile, owns a healthy lead on the Texas team. The reigning state champion from Dalhart has 32 pounds, while Tony McBride has 21-1 and Brannon Long 21-0.

Nebraska’s Pat Klausen, anon-boater, remains first overall, thanks to a 20-3 limit on Day One and a 13-8 bag yesterday for 33-11. Jessop is in second with 32 pounds, with Miller and Clark third and fourth respectively.

Although the quality of Klausen’s fish declined, plenty of other competitors caught more and bigger fish. Nearly half of the 96 anglers brought in limits, with quite a few 5- and 6-pounders.

In fact, both days have produced both good quantity and quality, confirming the assessment of local anglers who say fishing has been good for much of the spring. They attribute that success to steadily falling water in the wake of record rains and flooding in late April.

As a team, Arkansas made the most of those cooperative bass on Day Two, amassing 125-2 to jump past Oklahoma, the defending champion, by 3 pounds, 4 ounces.

Kansas is in third, Texas fourth, Missouri fifth, Nebraska sixth, Louisiana seventh, and Mississippi eighth.

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