Maurice Hudson and Sean Cummins of Penn State University maintain the lead Friday at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops on the James River after landing four fish worth 11 pounds, 8 ounces.
With a two-day total of 28-10, Hudson and Cummins take a 7-ounce lead into the final day of competition. Even though the duo extended their lead, it wasn’t easy as they had many opportunities to fill their five-fish limit, but couldn’t hold on to their fifth keeper.
“We started out rough,” Hudson said. “We lost multiple fish including one that was about the size of our (6-5 big fish) from Day 1. If we can get out there and get the bites we did Friday then we should be just fine.”
It took Hudson and Cummins roughly two hours before they boated their first keeper, and they believe the shift in weather directly affected the number of bites they got. Thursday was a cloudy and windy day, while today featured high skies and bright sunshine.
“I hope that the forecasted rain and wind will put a ripple on the water,” Cummins said. “The wind should help us get bit with our moving baits.”
This week’s tournament has featured a weather change each day, and the 78-boat field has had to adapt to the changing conditions as well as the tide, which changes by an hour daily.
The team of Jacob Miller and Kyle Waller of Ohio State University caught 13 pounds, 8 ouncesThursday and jumped into the second.
Today, the duo ran around on a shallow gravel bar and partially damaged their outboard. After only fishing productively for three hours on Friday they managed to bring 13-8 to the scales.
Fortunately for them, Waller’s family is coming in to town and will bring his boat for them to use on Championship Saturday.
“The tide hasn’t been a factor for us this week,” Waller said. “I think we are fishing for spawning bass or bass that recently spawned, so our area is replenishing for the most part.”
They have relied on a one-two punch for the most part this week, and with the sunny skies Friday, they cashed-in with their slower presentations. With the incoming weather they expect their moving bait bite to pick up.
Carson Orellana of Strayer University is in third place and within striking range heading into the final day; a familiar spot for the solo angler. In 2015, he had a shot at the win in an Eastern regional on Lake Norman.
Orellana grinded through numerous 12 to 13-inch keepers on Friday to weigh 13 pounds, 5 ounces. He has yet to catch a big fish on either tournament day, but he’s hopeful that a rainy final day will bring that big bite he needs.
“I am confident because my best day of practice was in the pouring rain,” Orellana said. “My only concern is that I’ve been fishing the same water the last few days, and I don’t know if it is replenishing or not. Maybe the incoming weather will bring some fresh fish up to the cover I’m fishing.”
After Friday’s weigh-in the field was cut to the Top 20 teams. Those teams will battle it out on Saturday at the James River for the Top 13 spots and a berth to the national championship.
Takeoff will start at 6 a.m. ET at Osborne Landing and weigh-in will be on Virginia Commonwealth’s campus at 3:30 p.m. ET.