LAKE WALES, Fla. — Sean Dassau breathed easier Friday when he learned he stretched his Thursday lead of one pound to more than two pounds in the Bassmaster Southern Open on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.
By padding his margin, Dassau set himself up for a possible win on Saturday and the top pro prize of $6,000 in cash and a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $50,000.The Helena, Ala., angler's five-fish limit of 8-1 Friday increased his two-day total to 36-2. Closest to catching him was three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 1995 Bassmaster Classic champion Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., with 34-0."My lead yesterday is what carried me," said Dassau, 37, who has a job as a salesman and also owns a contracting business. "Today I lost my focus. I lost maybe 20 pounds out there. There were probably 40 boats around me and I panicked. But I knew I had to catch five, so I settled down and did it."
Dassau, a successful BASS Federation Nation angler, is looking for his first Bassmaster win in a pro tournament. This is his second year competing at the Bassmaster Open level.Dassau and Davis both said wind was the one factor that hurt them on the water Friday."Today the wind was my No. 1 concern where I was fishing," said Davis, 43, who said he spent his fishing time on shallow Cypress and Hatchineha lakes. "The wind caused silt to come off the grass and muddy the water. I'm going to Toho [Lake Tohopekaliga] to clearer, deeper water tomorrow.""Tomorrow," Dassau said half-joking of the wind. "I'm going to strap myself in the boat."Dassau is in prime position to get the win, but the tournament has not been an easy one. He fished both days burdened with concern for his mother-in-law, who was airlifted from Mississippi to a Birmingham, Ala., hospital on Thursday for emergency surgery."The surgery went well, but my wife and 4-year-old daughter are not with me, and they usually are. They and my parents are my support."
Dassau and Davis led the list of 30 pros who made the cut for Saturday's finale. In third was Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, with 32-15. Fourth was Kyle Fox of Lakeland, Fla, with 31-13. Fifth was Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., with 31-5.Friday's Purolator Big Bass honors went to pro Lee Cox of Hagerstown, Md. He received a bonus of $1,000 for his 9-0 catch.In the co-angler division, the Purolator Big Bass award of $300 went to Joey Thomas of Fayetteville, Tenn. His bass weighed 6-3.Leading the list of 30 co-anglers who made the cut to fish the final day were Joe Edwards of Kissimmee, Fla., who jumped from 16th into the lead with a 21-5 limit. If he holds on, he'll win $2,000 in cash and a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $32,000.
Behind Edwards were Joshua Fiedler of Maryland with 19-7; Justin Walker of Canada with 16-8; Stephen Schneider of New York with 16-4; and Joey Thomas of Tennessee with 16-0.
2007 Bassmaster Southern Opens
Stop No. 1
Kissimmee Chain of Lakes
Lake Wales/Polk County, Fla.
March 1-3, 2007
Camp Mack Resort
14900 Camp Mack Road
Lake Wales, FL 33898
Day 2 Purolator Big Bass
Pro: Lee Cox, Hagerstown, Md., 9-0
Co-Angler: Joey Thomas, Fayetteville, Tenn., 6-3