Oklahoma won the team title of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional on Lake Guntersville today after posting a combined, two-day score of 365 pounds, 4 ounces and amassing a 30-pound lead over runnerup and host state team Alabama, which weighed in 335 pounds.
The weights include the combined catches of up to 10 boaters and 10 non-boaters from each state. A total of 19 states sent teams to the Central Regional at Guntersville.
Louisiana finished third with 325-5, Ohio was fourth with 318-4 and Wisconsin claimed fifth with 300-9.
Oklahoma was helped mightily by the lone Texas resident on the team, James Biggs of Euless. Biggs caught nearly identical five-bass limits — the two heaviest individual catches of the tournament — on Wednesday and today, and he leads the individual competition with 50-9.
Biggs’ game plan was based as much on weather preparation as it was on fishing strategies, and he worked both to perfection today. He caught a five-bass limit that weighed 25-5 today, giving him a huge 16-7 lead over his nearest competitor.
Biggs said he worked his spots for all they were worth in anticipation of a fierce weather system headed for Guntersville, he wasn’t taking any chances.
“With the weather getting bad — we’re supposed to have torrential rains tonight and thunderstorms — I wanted to catch as much as I could today, so I don’t have to catch as much tomorrow,” Biggs said. “If it muddies up, it can change things enough to where they don’t bite tomorrow. That’s why I wanted to get what I could today, so maybe I only have to catch 15 pounds tomorrow.
“I wanted to have more weight in my bag than the second-place angler had yesterday. I said ‘I’m going to fish until I get at least 23 pounds (Jeremy Montgomery placed second on Wednesday with 22-8) and try to make it hard on them. With this stormy weather, sometimes those big (female bass) will bite, but you just have to play the odds, and that’s what I tried to do today.”
Biggs returned to the same tactics he used Wednesday. He fished a mix of bridge habitat and some offshore structure.
“It was more offshore today, but I checked both of them every day and whatever the fish were responding to, that’s what I rolled with,” Biggs said. “It was the same mix of baits as yesterday — a little bit of dragging (plastics), some swimbaiting and a little bit of cranking.
“It was a blessed day. They kept biting and I kept catching them.”
Howard Hartley of Patterson, La. is in second place with 34-2. Adding 15-9 to the 18-9 he caught the first day, Hartley said he was pleased to find the bass doing what he wanted them to do — advancing to the shallow bedding areas.
“Being from south Louisiana, I like to power fish and bed fish,” Hartley said. “I was able to pick up one of my better bass on a bed today, but I also think I have the staging area locked down for prespawners.
“Where I was fishing yesterday and today, they were coming up and heading to the bank; but with that stormy weather tomorrow, if they pull out, I have an idea what I need to do.”
Today, Hartley caught spawning bass on a Texas-rigged Senko, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a Zoom Speed Craw. He caught the prespawn fish on a lipless crankbait and a bladed jig.
Larry Franks Jr. of Wilsonville, Ala., is in third place with 33-3. Gaining one spot from his fourth-place position on Day 1, Franks added 14-6 to his initial limit of 18-13.
“Today was a lot tougher with the boat pressure; there were a lot of people fishing the same area I was in,” Franks said.
Targeting postspawn fish in grass of varying depths, Franks used a mix of reaction baits and plastics. He stuck with two main areas and caught 25 to 30 fish.
Josh Hilton of Clarksville, Ark., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with an 8-12 largemouth.
Justin Hymel of Norco, La., leads the co-angler division with 21-1. Alternating between pitching a Missile Baits Baby D-Stroyer and a wacky-rigged stick bait, he reported struggling most of the day. The grind was highlighted by a late-day surprise.
“I caught my last keeper with like 10 minutes left in the day,” he said. “I got the D-Stroyer hung in a laydown on a bluff. I broke that off and threw a wacky worm in there and caught my last limit fish.”
Lacson Reid of Eclectic, Ala., holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with an 8-pounder.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6 a.m. CT at Guntersville State Park State park ramp. The weigh-in will be held at Guntersville State Park State at 2:15 p.m.