DECATUR, Ala. — Erie, Pa., angler and Bassmaster newcomer Dave Lefebre is the second-day leader after catching an impressive limit of bass that weighed 21 pounds, 3 ounces.
Like most of the anglers, Lefebre had a difficult practice and was only able to isolate a single area that was producing the kind of fish he thought could carry him through to Championship Sunday at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake.
Lefebre is competing during his first year as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro, but he is no rookie. He spent 13 years fishing the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tour, earning six wins and nearly $2 million in prize money.
“I knew I had more weight than yesterday, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I had caught better fish today than I had expected,” Lefebre said, who weighed 18-12 on Thursday for a combined two-day total of 39-15. “I feel like I could have weighed even more yesterday and today if I executed better. I’ve been leaving that area after I have a good limit hoping to keep some fresh bass for the next day.”
During a four-day tournament, the anglers need to manage their bite, which means not catching every single willing bass. Lefebre said that bigger fish seem to be moving into his area, and he’s eager for the semifinal round on Saturday.
“I saw a huge bass today,” he continued. “A big fish tried to eat my lure, but missed it and I saw the whole thing. I don’t want to sound unrealistic, but at first I thought it might have been a 10-pounder. But it was probably more like a 7 or 8-pound fish.”
Improving on Thursday’s weight by more than 2 pounds, and after seeing a big fish in the area, Lefebre has confidence that he is capable of producing a competitive five-fish limit of bass on Saturday that will carry him into Championship Sunday.
Veteran Bassmaster competitor Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, has appeared in 30 GEICO Bassmaster Classics during his illustrious career, and was able to produce another solid limit of bass on Friday’s second round of competition that weighed 19-7 for a total of 35-8. The successful day on Wheeler Lake bumped him up 13 places, and he is currently sitting in second place.
“I’m fishing a little area, and I got very fortunate with today’s catch,” Klein said. “I honestly don’t think that the winning fish are in my area, but it’s all I’ve got that is producing the kind of fish I need to stay competitive. I was surprised today, so maybe I’ll be surprised again tomorrow with another quality limit.”
Klein is fishing a pattern that is dependent upon the shad spawn, which occurs only at night. As the sun comes up in the morning, there’s only about 45 minutes to an hour of productivity that he can take advantage of. As with any spawn-related fishing pattern, things change daily and can be hard to predict.
Speaking of hard to predict, the 2014 Bassmaster Classic champion Randy Howell had every intention of running up the river to the Guntersville dam today, but an early morning smallmouth bite kept him near the main launch.
“Yesterday I ran to the Wheeler dam, and today I had plans to head the opposite direction,” Howell said. “I decided to make a quick stop on the way, and I quickly learned that making the run wasn’t worth it because I was catching the kind of fish I needed to stay in this tournament.”
Howell’s bite was exciting during the early morning hours, but later in the day he managed to catch the biggest bass of the day, which weighed 6 pounds even. That big bass contributed to his 18-pound, 11-ounce limit, increased his total weight to 35-2 and put him in third place.
After Friday, the remaining Top 10 anglers include: Takahiro Omori (33-10), Casey Ashley (33-7), John Crews (32-7), James Elam (32-6), Bobby Lane (32-6), Steve Kennedy (31-12) and Josh Bertrand (31-8)
The Top 50 anglers will compete during Saturday’s semifinal round, and will be cut to the Top 12 for Championship Sunday’s final round.
Lefebre also earned the Livingston Lures Leader award of $500 for leading the second day of the event.
Daily takeoffs are scheduled for 6:15 a.m. ET at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur, Ala., with weigh-ins scheduled at the same location each afternoon at 3:15 p.m.
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Toyota, Triton Boats, Yamaha, GoPro, Berkley, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats
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