Florida’s fickle bass not only played with the heads of the first-round leaders in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by AllState, but they also scrambled the leaderboard.
On a day when the sun shined and the fish were supposed to bite, big bags were few and far between. That was just fine for Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., whose 13-pound, 15-ounce limit gave him a two-day total of 38-8, good enough to move him from third to first.
To illustrate how goofy fishing was Friday, New York’s Andrew Slegona – who caught 31 pounds to lead the event after the first day, only had two small bass Friday but fell no further than fourth (34-9).
“Man, hard to believe that I could stay in the Top 5 with a day like that on a lake like this,” Slegona marveled.
Meanwhile, Todd Auten of South Carolina jumped from 13th to second (36-8), Bobby Lane of Florida moved from 18th to third (34-13) and Gerald Swindle of Alabama climbed from 17th to fifth (34-3). Only 4 pounds, 5 ounces separate the Top 5 who will join seven other anglers in Saturday’s final.
In the co-angler division, Floridian Alan Agnoli stunned the crowd with three bass weighing 17-11 to take the lead with 24-15. Other Floridians in the Top 5 among co-anglers include Steve Jarrett (18-2), Robbie Anderson (17-13), Terry Law (17-10) and Daniel Lanier (17-9).
McMillan admits he was just “scrounging round” to catch the fish that put him in the lead Friday.
“I knew I couldn’t duplicate what I did yesterday because I beat on them pretty hard,” he noted. “So today I was doing a little bit of everything from flipping to swimming a jig to catch what I caught.”
Lane, who calls the Kissimmee Chain his home waters, said the water temperature dropped 5 degrees after Thursday night’s cool-off and rain, and that left the bass in a tizzy. His 20-pound, 6-ounce sack Friday was one of the biggest and was anchored by a 9-8.
“It really helps knowing the lake and how these fish react when you get fishing conditions like this,” said Lane. “The fish really want to spawn, but the water just hasn’t been right for them to get it going.”
McMillan’s second-day leadership earned him the $250 Livingston Lures Leader Award. Agnoli captured the same title among co-anglers, pocketing a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250.
Ohioan Charlie Hartley recovered from a bad first day to win the Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award ($250) for moving from 158th place to 17th, thanks to a 20-pound, 15-ounce limit, the largest in the pro division.
Among co-anglers, Mike Spears of Jasper, Ala., moved from 115th to 30th to garner $150 from Allstate.
The tournament takeoff on Saturday is at 7 a.m. ET at Big Toho Marina. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m.