The most capable bass tournament fishermen have an uncanny ability to change gears and stuff their livewells when plans A, B and C go awry. North Carolinian David Williams, who led the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open No. 3 presented by Allstate at Lake Norman Thursday, clearly demonstrated that he has what it takes.
Thursday morning, Williams had a limit by 8 a.m. Friday, his livewell was empty until 10 a.m. He switched tactics, caught six more bass and carried 13 pounds, 5 ounces to the scales to hold the lead with a total of 27 pounds, 6 ounces.
His limit Friday consisted of four largemouth bass and one spotted bass. Thursday, he weighed in four spots and the only largemouth he caught. The reason for the topsy-turvy fishing was due to the weather. Thursday’s sunny, calm conditions gave way to clouds, wind and rain Friday.
“The spots just quit on me,” Williams said. “ I had to go for largemouth.”
South Carolina Elite Series pro Andy Montgomery also demonstrated how to cope with the changing weather. His 13-pound, 12-ounce limit Friday jumped him from fourth to second place, only 8 ounces behind Williams.
“Dave is one of the top five fishermen at Norman,” Montgomery said, referring to Williams. “It will be a shootout tomorrow.”
Given Montgomery’s remarkable skill at skipping jigs and chattering baits far under cover, he is one of the best dock fishermen to ever drive a bass boat. However, today’s cloudy weather wasn’t conducive to fishing boat docks. Bright sun is predicted for Saturday, which could work in his favor.
Elite Series pro Chad Morgenthaler of Coultetville, Ill., maintained his hold on third place with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 11 ounces.
“The bass weren’t on the bottom today like they were yesterday,” Morgenthaler said. “I had to fish shallower to catch them.”
Morgenthaler’s best spot was a bank he had been avoiding because it didn’t fit into the patterns that worked for him on Day 1.
Virginia’s Barry Brandt Jr. leads the co-angler field with 13 pounds, 4 ounces. He claimed the Livingston Leader award for leading the co-angler pack on Day 2. The award is good for $250 worth of Livingston Lures. Williams received $250 cash for winning the Livingston Leader award on the pro side.
Brandt is understandably tight-lipped about how he is catching his bass. Should he hold on to win tomorrow, he will receive a Triton 17 Pro rigged with a Mercury 115 Pro XS and prop, a Triton single axle trailer, a MotorGuide FW46 42” 12v trolling motor, Lowrance Mark 5 graphs on the dash and bow and a boat cover.
Ronald Farrow of Rock Hill, S.C., won the $250 Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award on the pro side for rocketing from 106th place on Day 1 to 10th place on Day 2. He caught a 16-pound, 10-ounce limit today, the heaviest of the tournament, thus far.
On the co-angler side, Reid McGinn of Fort Mill, S.C., earned $150 for the Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award for leaping from 90th to 29th place with a Day 2 catch of 6 pounds, 15 ounces.
Alabama’s Jordan Lee brought in the day’s Carhartt Big Bass of 5-14, currently the lead for the tournament for the prize of $500.
The field has been cut to the Top 12 pros and co-anglers for the final day of competition Saturday.
The winner on the pro side will pocket $5,980 and receive a Skeeter ZX200 rigged with a Yamaha VF200LA outboard and prop, a Skeeter Single Axle Trailer, a Minn Kota Max 80F 42” 24v Trolling Motor and an in-dash Humminbird 788.
If the winner after Saturday fished the two previous Southern Opens this year, he will also qualify to fish the 2015 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
Since this is the final Southern Open of 2014, the tournament will determine which anglers qualify to compete against the world’s best bass fishermen next year on the Bassmaster Elite Series. The invitation goes to the division’s Top 5 anglers in the point standings. In the Top 5 spots after Day 2: David Williams (560 points), Jesse Wiggins (545 points), Todd Auten (538 points), Matt Lee (499 points) and Stephen Longobardi (499 points).
Takeoff for the Top 12 anglers and co-anglers will be at 7 a.m. ET Saturday at Blythe Landing, 15901 State 73, Cornelius, N.C. The weigh-in Saturday will be at the Bass Pro Shops at 8181 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord, N.C. at 4 p.m. ET.