BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo-area co-anglers are putting on a clinic about how to fish their favorite of the Great Lakes. For the second consecutive day, a local angler led the co-angler side of the Empire Chase presented by Farmer's Insurance.
Tim Creighton, the 34-year-old owner of a Buffalo-based construction company, caught a three-fish limit of Lake Erie smallmouth weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces, opening up a near 3-pound lead on his closest competition at 27-9.
Creighton's catch — so far the biggest sack coming from any co-angler in the tournament — came on a day of fishing with personal friend and Elite Series pro Matt Sphar, who is from nearby Attica, N.Y.
"I think he capitalized on a couple of my big ones," Sphar said loudly as the two anglers were interviewed in close proximity following their Day Two weigh-in.
Both men laughed after Creighton overheard the pro's remarks.
But it's no laughing matter for the remainder of the field. Shawn Maynor of Oklahoma weighed in 12-10, good for second place. In third place again on the second day of action, Brazilian Marcos Malucelli turned in a steady 11-6 bag.
Twenty-year-old Dane Odom vaulted into fourth place, improving on his previous day's efforts with 12-11. In fifth place heading into the Saturday's action is Marlon Whoolery, who caught 13-9 Friday.
"One of my other good friends (Brad Brodnicki) beat me yesterday by 2 ounces," Creighton said, hinting at possible motivation.
With less wind Friday, Sphar and Creighton hit a number of different locations in search of scattered smallmouth bass. Both men found drop-shotting and dragging tubes the ideal recipe to catch more fish than the previous day.
"It was basically one here, one there for most of the day," Creighton said.
But at 4:45 p.m., with minutes remaining until the anglers were to return to the weigh-in — or face penalty deductions — Creighton hooked into something heavy.
"I could just tell by the way it was shaking its head, it was a big one," the married father of a 9-year-old boy said.
After a short fight, Creighton pulled a 5-pound, 11-ounce fish from the water and became the Purolator Big Bass leader.
Learning to fish from his father, Creighton credits a life of fishing all over Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes for his success.
"There are just subtle differences to pick up," he said. "I use lighter line, for example."
Even with friends at the top of both sides of the tournament, Creighton will need a strong final day to hoist the trophy in victory on Saturday.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Empire Chase with weigh-in host Keith Alan, July 31-Aug. 3, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 4:15 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" with hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.