February 27, 2012
From Major League Fishing
For complete event standings, click here.
As tends to happen during a fishing event, the weather conditions changed on the second morning of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing Challenge Cup presented by Busch Beer at Amistad Lake near Del Rio, Texas.
While Amistad seemed to welcome Major League Fishing with a warm, windless fall day for the first round, it certainly started to show its true colors on Elimination Day 2. A gusty wind blew over out of the south directly into competition zone two, over the top of the Diablo East takeoff and directly into the fishing area for the day. Along with the wind, the skies that were so clear and blue the previous day were tinted an overcast gray color.
The anglers in the field for the second day of Challenge Cup competition would be Oklahoma pro Tommy Biffle, a 17-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier with six B.A.S.S wins and an FLW Tour win and eight trips to the Forrest Wood Cup, 17-time B.A.S.S. Champion Denny Brauer, the 1987 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, 1998 Bassmaster Classic Champion and the FLW Tour Angler of the Year that same season, Edwin Evers, a six-time B.A.S.S. winner and 11-time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier, Todd Faircloth, a two-time Bassmaster Elite Series Champion, FLW Outdoors winner and 10-time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier, nine-time Bassmaster winner and 13-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Shaw Grigsby, 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion and 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Mike Iaconelli, 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion Alton Jones and 2004 Bassmaster Classic Champion Takahiro Omori.
The eight-man field could fish in a 4,900 acre area across from the Diablo East takeoff to the Northwest in the Castle Canyon area of the lake. The fishing zone featured several long creek arms that cut their way through the banks. Flooded Mesquite trees lined the banks of these creeks and several areas featured abundant hydrilla that looked promising to the pros.
Elimination Round Day 2 Fishing Zone - Approximately 4,900 Acres
Like the first day, and every other competition day, each of the Lowrance HDS units on the Nitro and Bass Cat competition vessels had been programmed with waypoints showing the borders of the day’s fishing area.
As the clock struck 7:15 a.m., the anglers hurriedly scouted the zone looking for the spot they would start on. With only 15 minutes to look around, the session was a frantic one with boats crisscrossing each others’ paths before settling down to start their fishing day.
It took four minutes for the first angler to post a fish to the leader board on the second day. While fishing a creek channel bend around grass, Evers scored a 2.25-pound largemouth on a spinnerbait that put him on the board. His first keeper was followed soon after by Biffle, who used a surface buzzing frog to fool his first keeper – a 1.75 pounder – which also came out of a creek channel area.
The next angler to strike was Brauer, who managed to post a 1.75-pounder of his own on a shallow crankbait off a main lake bank. Jones would quickly follow suit in the next several minutes by boating back to back keepers by 7:41 a.m. It would take another 22 minutes for the next bass to be posted when Iaconelli managed to catch his first keeper out of a mesquite laden bank on a spinnerbait.
The rest of the period would prove to be tough for the anglers as they worked to put together a program that would produce a string of catches. The anglers who did manage to put things together seemed to fair pretty well.
Biffle used his soft buzzing frog and topped the list at the end of the first period with five fish for 13 pounds, including his final bass of the period, a six-pounder at 9:47 a.m. His solid performance provided him a comfortable cushion over fellow Oklahoman Evers, who produced six bass of his own for 9.75 pounds.
Behind Evers in third was Iaconelli, who alternated between a spinnerbait and a jig. Faircloth managed to boat three keepers for 5.75 pounds on a dropshot rig, placing him in fourth, with Jones hot on his tail at 5.5 pounds with four fish caught on a jerkbait.
Rounding out the rest of the field for period one were Grigsby in sixth place at 3.75, Brauer in seventh with 3.25 pounds, and finally Omori with 2.75 pounds. All told, the field produced 30 keepers for their 2.5- hour morning session.
The one thing that seems to be constant in the sport of fishing is change, and when the midday period began it was Jones who took command of the session. The Waco, Texas, pro returned to his jerkbait pattern and strung together a flurry of fishing from 10:46 a.m.to 11:31 a.m. that produced six fish. He would finish the round with four more bass for a total of 10 fish weighing 16 pounds, which catapulted him into the lead with 21.5 pounds.
Biffle struggled to produce two keepers, but one of them, a 3.75-pounder helped boost his total weight to 18 pounds, which was good enough for second place. Evers also slipped a spot to third, managing two more keepers for 3.25 pounds, bringing this two-period total to 13 pounds. Omori abandoned his shallow creek approach from the first round and produced six fish that added 8.75 pounds to his weight, bringing his total to 11.5 pounds and landing him in fourth place.
When his dropshot rig failed to produce a keeper, Faircloth abandoned his main lake hole and moved deep into a grassy creek. He picked up his flippin’ rod and salvaged one keeper bite at 12:34 p.m. That fish proved to be a 4.5-pounder and landed him in fifth place. Iaconelli only managed to produce one keeper and his total of 9.75 pounds put him in sixth place heading into the final period.
Brauer caught three more bass for 5.25 pounds, which brought his total to 8.5 pounds, putting him in seventh place ahead of Grigsby, who produced only one keeper to bring his total to 6.5 pounds.
The winds of change again met the pros and taking what he learned from his two-keeper first period, Iaconelli again picked up his spinnerbait and boated 11 Amistad largemouth for 24.75 pounds. His afternoon performance boosted his final weight to 34.5 pounds, making him the top Elimination Day 2 qualifier.
Also learning from his lone keeper in the second period was Faircloth. The Texan returned to his grassy creek and snagged nine keepers good for 21.75 pounds of bass in the boat. His afternoon flurry resulted in a second-place finish with a total of 32 pounds.
Jones only managed to produce one keeper in the afternoon session on his jerkbait, but riding the strength of his mid-morning performance, was able to hold on to third place with 23.25 pounds.
Omori also found a groove in the afternoon session. When he returned to an offshore point with an Alabama rig, Omori put four more keepers in the boat, adding 11.5 pounds to bring his total for the day to 23 pounds. He finished in fourth, the final qualifying position.
Biffle managed two keepers for 4.25 pounds and missed qualifying by three quarters of a pound. However, he reported having a seven- to eight-pound fish break his line off over a hardwood tree. Evers also fell out of qualifying position with two keepers. His 16.5 pounds found him in sixth overall. Meanwhile, Brauer finished seventh with 15.25 and Grigsby placed eighth with 12.25 pounds.