Changing weather threw most anglers a curve Friday, but it was the locals who came on strong with the 180-degree wind shift. Taking full advantage was Chris King of South Amherst, Ohio, who boated 25-14 worth of Detroit River smallmouth at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open to take the lead heading into the final day.
King's limit was the heaviest of the tournament and he accumulated it by repeating Thursday's milk run of old, proven fishing spots.
"I went back today and hit the same spots, and one had an especially good stock of fish in it," King said. "I hope the weather holds out Saturday, because I think I can do it again."
King's 25-12 gave him a two-day total of 47-4, a nearly 5-pound cushion over second place and Day One leader David Hasty.
Hasty, a long-time guide on Erie, followed up Thursday's performance by adding 20 pounds, 2 ounces, to bring his two-day total to 42-5. The Toledo, Ohio, native followed the same general pattern he was on yesterday, with one key shift.
"I left (Lake) St. Clair a lot earlier today," said Hasty, a carpenter when he's not fishing. "The sun was out a lot earlier today than it was yesterday, and that killed my bite up there. After I got two, I ran to the north end of the Detroit River and caught my other three. There were good quality fish there."
Hasty believes that if the weather doesn't offer any surprises, he could be in contention for the $45,000 top prize the event boasts.
In third place was Jared Rhode of Port Clinton, Ohio. Rhode brought a 20-14 bag to the scales for a two-day total of 42-2. In fourth was Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., with 38-11. Rounding out the top five was Bryan Coates of Amherst, Ohio, whose 19-15 limit gave him 38-6 going into the final day.
There was a lot of movement on the co-angler side as Kenneth Taylor of Shelby Township, Mich., caught a monster three-fish limit that weighed 13-12, shooting him up into the lead with a two-day total of 26-2. Taylor credits his partners with putting him on good fish the last two days.
Also in the chase for the top prize, a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $32,000, was Ken Ramsey of Cassopolis, Mich., whose Day Two catch of 10-0 brought him up to 22-4 and second, and Jay Clingenpeel of Bridgeport, W.V., in third with 22-03.
Saturday, for the third and final day, the field is cut to the top 30. Anglers will launch at 6:30 a.m. ET on the Detroit River at Elizabeth Park Marina, located at 202 Grosse Ile Parkway, Trenton, Mich. Weigh-in begins at 2:30 p.m. ET. All events are free and open to the public.