Britt Myers swears that a smack across the face kicked-started him into the lead in the Douglas Lake Challenge.
As Myers told it, Friday
morning fishing in the Bassmaster Elite Series event was slow. Then he
finally got a hit. It felt like a big largemouth of 5 pounds.
“I’m fighting and fighting it, and it gets
right near the boat, and it’s got one itty bitty hook right in the
bottom of the lip,” he said. “It was a dumb decision, but I decided to
flip it (jerk it into the boat with the rod), and it came off.
“I turned to my (Marshal) and said, ‘Dude, just smack me.’ So he smacked me. Hey, I told him to — and I deserved it.”
Did the shock work?
“I didn’t do anything stupid the rest of the day,” Myers grinned.
he did not. With 24 pounds, 1 ounce to show by the end of the day,
Myers of Lake Wylie, S.C., moved from third place into the lead with
45-2 over two days. He was 3-14 ahead of first-day leader Aaron Martens
of Leeds, Ala., who dropped to second place with 41-4.
Third was Jeremy Starks
of Scott Depot, W.Va., who turned in 23-1, the day’s second-largest bag.
He improved from 12th place, a spot he shared Thursday with Alabama’s
Randy Howell. Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was fourth with
38-7, and Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., was fifth with 33-15.
Myers, hot off a
second-place finish April 22 in the Elite’s Bull Shoals Lake event, said
quality, not numbers, was the order of the day. He weighed only one of
his big bass separately, and it was a 5-8.
“It was one of those days
when — thank God — when I got a bite, it was a good one,” he said,
describing his catches as post spawners on the feed.
Douglas Lake’s huge schools of largemouth bass were
heavily hit by the 99-angler Elite field, Myers said, but he wasn’t
targeting the masses of bass. He declined to specify how he was catching
“Let me put it this way: I think I’m fishing a little bit different depth, and that was a key (at Bull Shoals),” he said.
Martens could not duplicate his huge first-day bag of 23-14, but his 17-6 of Friday was enough for second place.
He said it was his bad luck that Myers beat him twice to his best spots.
“I don’t know if he caught them there or not, but they were my best big-fish spots,” Martens said.
Martens spent much of his
fishing time kneeling at the bow of his boat, trying to work his lure
as deep as possible to the wads of bass he could see on his electronics.
He said his bigger fish bit sporadically and throughout the day.
Martens said he had the fish and was up to the challenge to reclaim the lead.
“I can catch right back up,” Martens said.
Starks, who cut his Day 1 short due to illness, made up for lost time with 23-1 Friday.
“I had a limit the first five casts,” Starks said. “They didn’t weigh a lot — about 15 pounds — and I upgraded from there.”
Starks said he looks for
balls of shad, which attract the bass. His action is in 35 to 40 feet of
water, he said. “I never caught anything shallow. That’s not my deal;
I’m not a bank-beater, and I get my butt handed to me every time I do
Rojas was taking no
chances with his Friday catch. In eighth place after Thursday, he
checked in an hour early to ensure all five of the big largemouth in his
livewell remained healthy. The last thing he wanted was to lose 4
ounces to a fish-care penalty.
“Four ounces is a lot at the end of the day,” he said
Rojas said he had three patterns going on Douglas: deep, shallow “and in-between.”
“I’m using the whole
water column, switching if one isn’t working with the crazy weather
we’ve been having,” said Rojas, who finished second to Rick Clunn at the
2001 Bassmaster Megabucks event, the last time that a high-level
Bassmaster event came to Douglas Lake.
“We’re only halfway
through this thing, so it’s a horse race from here on out,” Rojas said.
“I know what to look for, the right fish to go for and to stay in the
area that would get me the big bites so I’d have a run at winning this
Of the three Tennessee
favorites — Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, David Walker of Sevierville and
Brandon Card of Caryville — DeFoe was faring the best after two days. He
was seventh with 33-11, but Card was just one place behind with 33-1.
Walker pulled up from 73rd into 31st, enough to stay in the game.
The field was cut to the
Top 50 for Saturday’s competition. With 23 pounds, 5 ounces, Gerald
Swindle of Warrior, Ala., was the last angler in under the cutline. The
first pro out was Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., with 23-4 — just 1
ounce off the mark.
For Sunday’s final round,
the field will be weeded out to the best 12. They’ll compete for
$100,000 and a guaranteed berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.