GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Patrick Walters and Tyler All of the University of South Carolina stayed consistent and caught 13 pounds, 12 ounces to take the lead at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Winyah Bay, bringing a total weight of 27-3 on Friday.
Some adverse conditions were presented to the full field of anglers as the temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight. The strong north wind that was present on Thursday blew in a cold front, and teams had to adjust on the fly Friday.
The Summerville, S.C., anglers used their local knowledge to the fullest as they capitalized on their area and brought another 13 pounds to the weigh-in scales. Even with the change in weather, they stuck to their plan and executed.
"Everything went as planned today," Walters said. "Consistency pays the bills. If you're fluctuating weights day-to-day, then you probably aren't in contention to win."
With water temperatures in the 60s, and bass thinking about spawning, the last thing anglers want is a cold front that may stall the bite and reposition the bass. The 35-degree air temperature seemed to impact the anglers more than the bass, but another night of cold temperatures could tell the fish to move from their staging areas.
"The fish weren't as active as they were Thursday," Walters said. "We had a chance at a bigger bag yesterday and didn't make it happen. We are interested to see how the weather changes things, but if I had to fish an area for a 5-pounder on Winyah Bay it would be the area we are in for sure."
The former college champion is cautiously optimistic, but nothing is a given on Winyah Bay where consistency isn't the easiest thing to duplicate. They take a 1-4 lead into the final day over the Coastal Carolina teammates Jonathan Kelley and Max McQuaide.
Kelley and McQuaide jumped from sixth into second place because they brought the biggest bag to the scales on Friday. Their 14-12 weight vaulted them up the leaderboard and put them in contention to not only qualify for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, but to also contend for a title on Saturday.
The Coastal Carolina duo desperately needed sunshine on Thursday and the windy, cloudy conditions didn't do them any favors, but with a full day of sunshine they put together the second-biggest limit of the week.
"It didn't come easy at first," Kelley said. "We had to change up and fish slower with a worm until we solidified our limit."
"We've been getting plenty of bites," McQuaide said. "Today we got the right bites, and we have to hope to hook into a giant tomorrow."
Slowing down paid off for Kelley and McQuaide, but they also found a "magic tree" that they relied on for a lot of their success on Friday.
"We found this tree, and we caught four fish off it," Kelley said. "Three of those fish were our biggest today."
They passed their teammates John Duarte and Chesley Alford who were the Day 1 leaders. They now go from the hunted to the hunters as they dropped to third. The duo caught 10-2 on Friday, but feel like they are dwindling their population of fish and they aren't reloading, so they plan to make a big change in areas for Saturday's final day.
The gap between the Top 3 and the rest of the field is significant as Armando Ortiz and Dylan McKee of Auburn University are in fourth place with 22-14, almost a full 3 pounds behind third place. Cody Stahl and Daniel Kennedy of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia sit in fifth with 21-7.
The full field is now cut to the Top 20 and the surviving teams will fish one more day on Winyah Bay in hopes of jumping into the Top 13 to qualify for the National Championship, which will be held this summer and announced at a later date.
Jarrett Brown and Porter James of the University of Montevallo in Alabama are on the Top 13 bubble, and the bottom seven teams are within a pound and a half of the final qualifying spot so the final day should be interesting.
Takeoff will happen at 6:30 a.m. ET at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, which is located at 101 River Walk Drive, Georgetown, S.C. 29440. Weigh-in will now shift to Downtown Georgetown and will be held at 729 Front St. Georgetown, S.C. at 3:30 p.m.
2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Presenting Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Premier Sponsors: Humminbird, Huk, Skeeter Boats, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, Power-Pole, Shell Rotella, Triton Boats
2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Supporting Sponsors: ABU Garcia, St. Croix Rods, Shimano, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Costa, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels