CORNELIUS, N.C. — Fletcher Shryock spent a few dollars on a shovel Monday night. Those few dollars could prove to be a valuable investment after the last fish hits the scales Saturday.
While practicing Monday, Shryock spied a promising backwater that he knew he needed to get into, but he got stuck when trying to cross a rocky bar that blocked his access. While waiting to be towed off the bar, he saw a 3-pounder bust on the surface and started casting as he killed time.
"I made a few casts with a crankbait and caught one that was three pounds and thought it was a fluke," the Newcomersville, Ohio, pro said. "Then I caught a six, then thought I'd try to get one off of the bottom, so I tossed a jig."
Shryock felt a tap on the end of his line, but when he tried to pull the jig away from the fish, it wouldn't budge.
"I started getting bites all over the place," he said. "So I went back there on Tuesday and dug the rocks out of the way so I could get back in there."
On Day One, Shryock wound up with 14 pounds, 8 ounces for seventh place, and he did it almost without breaking a sweat. Friday he went back to his spot and had his 17-12 limit in the boat by 10 a.m. He ran back toward the ramp so his co-angler could try for a limit.
"I lost three giants today," he said, and that including one bigger than the 4-15 anchor he brought to the scales. "The key for today was finding the bigger bites. You're not going to do well if you start your day looking for two and three pounders."
Shryock plans on heading back to his honey hole first thing Saturday to add to his two-day total of 32-4. He feels confident that the fish will still be there despite the foul weather that will hang around the lake tomorrow. He believes that if all goes according to plan, he could show up at Bass Pro Shops with 20 pounds in the livewell.
"The key for today was making repetitive casts, like KVD did in the Classic," he said. "It might have taken 10 casts, but they'd eventually hit it. I left 'em biting today."
In second place is Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., who caught 12-10 on the day, giving him a total of 30-2. Adams was one of the few anglers who sought bedding bass, despite the pickings being slim and the conditions less-than-ideal after a cold front moved through late Thursday.
"I think that we got most all of 'em the first day," he joked on stage. "I know it's going to rain tomorrow, and they don't like that, so I'm going to have to change up what I'm doing."
Adams plans on chucking spinnerbaits and crankbaits around Norman's abundant docks.
In third place is Brandon Card of Caryville, Ky., whose Day Two catch of 14-1 gives him a total of 29-10. Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., who added 14-10 to his Day One weight for a total of 29-4, stands in fourth and Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., is fifth with 29-0.
Swindle caught 12-9 despite food poisoning ailing him all day.
"I don't know if you've ever tried sight fishing with it coming out of both ends, but let me tell you what, it's tough," he said.
On the co-angler side, Glynn Goodwin of Marietta, Ohio, enjoyed another "blessed" day on Lake Norman as he caught three fish that weighed 4-11, giving him a total of 13-4 and retention of the lead.
"Today was tougher; the cold front had them off a little bit," Goodwin said. "They didn't seem to want to eat very well."
Goodwin said that he caught his fish the same way as he did Thursday, but again declined to share details of his pattern.
Also in contention for the first-place prize of a fully rigged Triton/Mercury boat is Dan Jolly, who shared the Day One lead with Goodwin. Jolly, of Houston, caught 4-7 for a total of 13-0.
In third place is Marc Mode of Mooresville, N.C., with 12-2, in fourth is George Hirapetian of Charlotte, N.C., with 12-2, and in fifth place is Robert Jeffrey with 12-0.
Tomorrow is the final day of competition. The winning pro will receive a check for $10,000, a new Triton/Mercury rig and a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic set to be held in Shreveport, La.
Tomorrow's weigh-in will be held at the Bass Pro Shops in Concord, N.C., at, 8181 Concord Mills Blvd., 28027; phone: 704-979-2200.
The action starts on stage at 4 p.m. ET. The event is free and open to the public, as is the launch tomorrow at 7 a.m. at Blythe Landing in Cornelius, N.C.