Percifield widens gap at Nation West

LAKEPORT, Calif. — Jeremy Percifield spent most of Thursday catching fish, trying to hold onto the big lead he set on the first day of the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional on California's Clear Lake. But he spent part of the day holding back tears, thinking of his 5-year-old nephew, Keegan.

“Good luck, Uncle Jeremy,” Keegan wrote on a drawing of Jeremy fishing from a boat. His mom texted the image to Jeremy on the water. He couldn’t hide his emotions.

“It just means so much that he would do that,” Percifield said after the weigh-in Thursday, where he finished with an even bigger margin than the previous day. Knowing he has such a big lead going into Friday — and that his family is at home in Washington rooting for him — gets to him.

The phrase “Do not drop the ball” keeps going through his head, he said. “I’ve never won a big tournament before. It would be so cool!”

Percifield weighed in 21 pounds, 15 ounces today, much less than his huge 34-pound sack on Wednesday, but it was enough to put 10 pounds, 2 ounces between him and second place, Tim Johnston of Kalispell, Mont., with 45-13. Percifield’s two-day weight is 55-15.

“I moved around more today,” said Percifield. “I got way of where I’d been catching them. The water got dirty and the wind screwed with me a lot.”

The fish are there for Friday, he explained. It’s just a matter of getting them in the boat.

If Percifield finishes tops on his state team of Washington, he’ll head to the national championship for the second year in a row, accompanied by the leaders from other states. The 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship will be Oct. 24-26 on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark.

Other anglers in the lead for their state are Brian Severson, Arizona, 38-10; Ron Welch, California, 38-3; Ed McCaw, Colorado, 43-12; Keegan Graves, Idaho, 41-14; Tim Johnston, Montana, 45-13; Jesse Milicevic, Nevada, 36-5; Kris Bosley, New Mexico, 39-5; Michael Gibney, Oregon, 36-6; Mike Powell, Utah, 34-8; and Bill Golightly, Wyoming, 36-12.

The Western Divisional is also a competition among states, based on all the team members’ weight added together. After Day Two, Oregon leads with 301 pounds, 5 ounces. Behind Oregon are Arizona with 296-9 and Colorado with 292-7.

Denton Crofts of Meridian, Idaho, caught the biggest bass of the day. His 10-pound, 9-ounce lunker is the current leader of the Carhartt Big Bass of the Tournament.

Competition concludes Friday, April 12. Launch is at the Konocti Vista Casino Resort at 6:30 a.m. PT, and the weigh-in at the same location at 2:30 p.m. PT. In addition, competitors in the one-day Junior Bassmaster Western Divisional will weigh in on the same stage with their adult counterparts. The weigh-in will be streamed live on