DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — Leveraging lower water clarity, David Williams of Newton, N.C., amassed a two-day total of 30 pounds, 6 ounces to lead Day 2 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open on Douglas Lake.
Williams caught a sixth-place limit of 15-9 on Day 1 and added 14-13 Friday. He enters Championship Saturday with a 2-ounce lead over Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tenn. Only 7 ounces separates Williams from Day 1 leader Jackson Swisher of Lake City, Fla.
“It was a lot tougher today; there was no wind, and I’m relying on the wind to make some mudlines,” Williams said. “The only thing I could rely on today was the boats stirring up the mud.
“Today, the boats ran around a little bit and (later in the day) got pretty good. I caught most of my better fish in the afternoon.”
As Williams explained, the mud benefited his cause by providing temporary cover that bass and baitfish favored.
“This lake’s usually pretty clear and anytime the fish can get up and get into some dirty water, they like to do that,” he said. “That dirty water also warms up quicker and the baitfish get up in there. They like to hide in it; they feel safer in the (lower visibility).”
Fishing the lake’s lower and upper ends, Williams said he tried to keep himself near spawning areas where he could intercept bass coming and going.
“I mostly fished gravel banks and if they had any kind of wood or structure, that made it better,” he said. “I was just burning the banks with reaction baits and happened to catch a couple good ones.
“I had a limit by 9:30 and then I upgraded throughout the day. I didn’t have any of the ones I weighed early; most of them came later in the day.”
Boggs placed 27th on Day 1 with 13-10 and made a big move Friday by adding 16-10 for a two-day total of 30-4. Speed was the key, as Boggs focused on spawning pockets in the lower to midlake and covered as much water as he could.
“I put the trolling motor on 8 and I was going down the bank as fast as I could,” he said. “I’m catching what I feel like are fry guarders (adults protecting recent hatchlings).
“There’s no rhyme or reason for where I’m finding the fish, but I’m fishing new water every day. I went back through two pockets that I fished yesterday and didn’t catch anything, so I have to remain open-minded about running new water tomorrow.”
Boggs threw reaction baits around rock/gravel transitions and flipped any laydowns he encountered.
Swisher is in third place with 29-15. Having celebrated his 19th birthday Thursday, he added 13 pounds to his Day 1 limit of 16-15 — the event’s heaviest bag.
Swisher began Friday by replicating the pattern that delivered all of his first day’s weight — fishing a 7-inch white Megabass Magdraft swimbait along bluff walls near Douglas Dam. With Friday’s weather offering considerably less wind than Day 1, Swisher had to add another element to his game plan.
“In the first 10 minutes, I put two pretty good smallmouth in my boat, but then I had to go to my offshore fish about 11 o’clock just to finish out a limit,” Swisher said. “I was fishing isolated rocks off of points in about 21 feet with a Neko-rigged Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General.
“I went back to the bluffs in the afternoon and I caught a 4-9 smallmouth at about 1 o’clock on the same bluff point where I caught a 5-10 yesterday. Before I had that one, I had about 8 pounds and then I culled up twice after that.”
Swisher is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 5-10.
Darren Kelly of Wartburg, Tenn., won the co-angler division with 17-15. Placing fourth on Day 1 with 9-2, Kelly added 8-13 Friday and took home $18,587.
“I had to switch up my presentations today, based on where we were in the lake,” Kelly said. “I just kind of read the conditions and when the wind would pick up, I’d throw a spinnerbait, crankbait or a ChatterBait.
“I had a small limit on a shaky head, but I got rid of those by using bigger baits. I used shad imitations and if I had some shad following my bait, I knew I had the right one, because if a shad follows it, you have to think a bass is going to eat it.”
Alex Prince of Blue Ridge, Ga., won the $250 Phoenix Boats Big Bass prize among co-anglers with a 4-12.
Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn., leads the Southern Open standings with 387 points. Williams is second with 383, followed by Blake Smith of Lakeland, Fla., with 369, Keith Poche of Pike Road, Ala., with 363 and Scott Ashmore of Broken Arrow, Okla., with 360.
The Top 10 remaining pros will take off Saturday at 6:45 a.m. ET from Dandridge Boat Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at the Bass Pro Shops in Kodak, Tenn., at 3:45 p.m.