JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Sam Carris and John Berry of Tennessee Tech University brought 15 pounds, 15 ounces to the scales and maintained their lead with a two-day total weight of 31-7 at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Cherokee Lake Friday.
Although the morning period was tough on the duo, they persevered and caught the biggest five-bass limit of the tournament.
For Carris and Berry, decision making was critical on Friday as they arrived at their first spot of the day only to find several other boats congregated on their offshore smallmouth haven. The teammates only fished around one competing team on Thursday, but a late boat draw prevented them from setting up on their starting spot in a prime position.
“Good decisions made our day,” Berry said. “Unfortunately, there was another boat directly on top of the fish we were casting at.”
With only one bass at 9:30 a.m., the pair made a wise adjustment based on the knowledge of the lake they acquired in practice.
“This is the most we’ve ever practiced for a tournament,” Carris said. “We may not be fishing spots we found in practice, but our local knowledge has helped us bounce around and find a spot without pressure from other anglers.”
The Golden Eagle duo extended their 3-ounce lead to 2 pounds over Garrett Enders and Cody Huff of Bethel University. Enders and Huff will know exactly how the leaders are doing on the final day, as both teams have shared their starting area and are fishing within sight of one another.
“We were able to get more bites than the crowd around us because of our bait selection,” Enders said. “Cody has been throwing a moving bait and getting some key bites, and I’m throwing something a lot of anglers have utilized, but mine is altered just slightly.”
“We’ve been able to bounce around to other areas, but they have been beat up so bad that our best population of fish is where we’ve been starting,” Huff said. “We just need a 4-pounder on Saturday. We caught fish that size in practice, but we haven’t gotten that big bite in the tournament yet.”
Nathan Bell and Cole Sands of Bryan College hold the third place spot and trail by 2-6 heading into the final day. The 2016 College Classic Bracket Champion, John Garrett, and his teammate Brian Pahl of Bethel University are in fourth with 28-15. Rounding out the Top 5 are Lee Mattox and Anderson Aldag of the University of Alabama with 28-0 after two days.
The Top 21 teams advance to Championship Saturday and have already punched their ticket to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops to be held later this summer.
Tristan Thomas and Ty Johnston of the University of North Georgia were the last team to make the Top 21 with a two-day total weight of 23-7. Jacob Foutz and Jake Lee of Bryan College landed the Bassmaster Big Bass of the event so far — a 4-6 smallmouth.
For leading on the second day of the tournament, Carris and Berry received the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 in merchandise.
The Top 21 teams will launch from the Cherokee Lake Dam and TVA Boat Ramp at 6:30 a.m. ET. The final weigh-in festivities will move to Carson-Newman University (1645 Russell Ave. Jefferson City, TN 37760) beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The event is hosted by the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Tenn. and Carson-Newman University.