New Jersey extends lead

BURLINGTON, N.J. — Under conditions that were beyond difficult, the New Jersey team extended its lead to more than 26 pounds on Day Two of the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter. Click to view the Day One or Day Two team standings. 

Fishing muddy, drift-laden water with a swift current, along with a B.A.S.S. 35 mph safety imposed speed limit, local knowledge paid huge dividends for the host team. Seven of their 12 members caught keepers and one member, Chris Smith, managed to drag four to the scales. That’s the most of any angler in the tournament so far.

To put their performance in perspective, consider that only 32 keeper bass were caught today — and once again every one of them released alive — with a total weight of 60 pounds, 12 ounces. That’s about half of yesterday’s catch, which was well below what was predicted before the tournament began. It’s been tough.

This is not about the Delaware being a poor fishery, however. That’s certainly not the case. It’s about two weeks of rain, heavy stuff that seems like it’s never going to stop. The river is a mess. Low tide levels are now close to normal high tide levels, and high tide levels are flooding streets and causing closures.

“We basically just moved up shallow and threw reaction baits,” said Eric Bennett, a New Jersey team member who’s currently leading with 10 pounds, 4 ounces. “It’s a matter of fishing local spots, mostly community holes, that we know about and know how to fish. It’s pretty much running and gunning, and showing them something they can find.”

The Pennsylvania team swapped places today with West Virginia to claim second place. Maryland is still holding down fourth place. Delaware and Virginia still hold the fifth and sixth slots.

In the individual standings, Scott Weiland (New Jersey) is less than 2 pounds behind Bennett. First-day leader Hobart Butcher (West Virginia) didn’t fish today because of his back injury. Nevertheless, he’s claiming third place and only 2 pounds, 7 ounces off the pace. (He did not withdraw and so is still considered an active competitor. He has said he will be able to fish tomorrow.)

West Virginia’s Chris Morrison caught a 3-pound, 6-ounce largemouth today which gives him the biggest bass of the tournament so far.

With tournament weights low, and anglers separated by ounces, nearly every angler expressed optimism about tomorrow and their chances for success. “It’s still anybody’s game. One big fish will turn things around,” said one unnamed angler as he walked toward his rig, splashing water and mud with each step.

Click to view the Day One or Day Two team standings.