COUNCE, Tenn. — Lonnie Cochran of Section, Ala., spent all day on his spot, but only needed the first two hours to sack up a Day 2 limit of 25 pounds, 3 ounces to take the lead at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open on Pickwick Lake.
Adding the tournament’s heaviest bag to his Day 1 limit of 18-10, Cochran rose from 11th place with a two-day total of 43-13.
After a cloudy, rainy opening round, Day 2 brought bright sunny conditions. However, Cochran credits his productivity improvement to timing — specifically, an earlier boat number.
“I didn’t get on my fish until 1 o’clock yesterday and I was able to get there early this morning,” Cochran said. “Once I got to my spot, I Power-Poled down and I never moved. I had a limit by 7:30; it was pretty fast and furious.
“I quit fishing about 8:30, but I didn’t move. I threw different baits, just to (guard the spot). I didn’t want to leave when I did, but I had to get in.”
Focusing on a 50-yard stretch of main-river shell bottom in 6 feet of water with scattered milfoil, Cochran said he caught his fish on a mix of reaction baits and slower presentations.
“I have both prespawner and postspawners on this spot,” he said. “They’re trying to group up in one area. They’re going in and out. There’s a little bit of a shad spawn going on at this spot.”
The key to his area’s attraction is proximity to the main river channel and the entrance to a major spawning area.
“You have a creek that runs in close to this spot and the river’s not far,” Cochran said. “It’s kind of the fork of a creek with the river coming by.
“I caught 12-14 fish. It wasn’t huge numbers, but they were all solid fish. I lost a 3 1/2-pounder on my second cast and I was like, ‘Oh lord, here we go.’ Then I changed baits and I didn’t lose any after that.”
Cochran said he relied heavily on his Humminbird 360 to survey his area and spot key fish.
“I was calling my shots,” he said. “The 360 tells you where they’re at all around the boat.”
John Garrett of Union City, Tenn., enjoyed a fast start to his day and added 18-12 to the 21-12 he weighed on Day 1. His 40-8 total keeps him in the second-place spot.
“I had some fish move offshore yesterday and I started fishing offshore this morning and caught about 18 pounds in probably 20 minutes on one of my spots, and then they just quit biting there,” Garrett said. “I went to my secondary spot and caught quite a few 3-pounders, just nothing that helped. I spent the rest of the day looking for new areas.”
Garrett’s main spot was a 16-foot ledge in front of spawning areas. His secondary area was a flat adjacent to where shad have been spawning in the early mornings. Garrett caught all of his fish on a powder blue back chartreuse Strike King 6XD.
Joey Nania of Cropwell, Ala., remained in third place by adding 17-13 to Thursday’s weight of 21-11 for a two-day total of 39-8. While he missed the momentous feeding window that Thursday’s storm created, Nania worked a multipart program that delivered what he needed.
“I was fishing grass and stumps on an offshore spot,” he said. “I had (approximately) 17 pounds at 10-12 o’clock, so I decided to go up in the river and flip a little bit. I caught a 3-pounder, culled one time and got to my 17-13.”
Nania caught his fish on a 3/4-ounce green pumpkin shad ZMan ChatterBait JackHammer, a Carolina rig and a Texas-rigged plastic.
“There are so many patterns going on right now, it just allowed me to be free and go fishing, but the main deal was the grass and the stumps,” Nania said. “I found a few deep schools today, so I’m excited about going fishing tomorrow.”
Nania is in the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award with his 8-2 from Day 1.
Chad Harvey of Cave Creek, Ariz., won the co-angler division with a two-day total of 19-6. On Day 1, Harvey caught a limit of 8-11 and landed in a five-way tie for 19th place. Adding 10-11 Friday allowed him to edge second-place Charles Watts by 10 ounces and claim the top prize of $19,100.
Harvey said a tougher Day 1 required him to use finesse baits, but he was able to fish more aggressively Friday. He caught fish on a white Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer and a white Norman crankbait, but his better bites came on a 3/8-ounce green pumpkin/purple Pepper Jig with a 4-inch green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw trailer.
“Yesterday, I only caught the three fish I weighed; but today, I caught 20,” Harvey said. “Today we were targeting rocky offshore bars in 3 to 6 feet of water with grass on the sides.
“This afternoon, they were crushing it. They were grabbing it and swimming with it and (nearly) ripping the rod out of your hand.”
Cory Weaver of Ankeny, Iowa, won the $250 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award among co-anglers with a 6-13.
Cochran leads the Central Open points standings with 200 points. Garrett is in second with 199, followed by Nania with 198, Andy Hribar of Lakeville, Minn., with 197 and Day 1 leader Brent Crow of Hartselle, Ala., with 196.
Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn., leads the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year overall points standings with 553.
The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off at 6 a.m. CT Saturday from Pickwick Landing State Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 2 p.m. The weigh-in will be held back at the park at 2 p.m. Coverage of the event will be available at Bassmaster.com.
The Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting the event.