GREENSBORO, N.C. Just a day following the non-stop cacophony of complaints about the slow fishing on High Rock Lake, the noted Carolina impoundment came through strongly for the 51 competitors in the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts.
Leading the charge was a trio from the Midwest. Oklahoman Edwin Evers stands at the top with a 19-pound, 8-ounce sack, with Missouri native Brian Snowden (18-10) and Arkansan Mike McClelland (18-7) close behind.
Ten anglers topped the 15-pound mark for the day, a weight more than a few anglers had thrown out as a two-day total needed to make the top 12 cut to fish Saturday.
As it stands, there are plenty of spots in the top 12 where the anglers move to nearby Lake Townsend and everyone goes back to zero up for grabs.
Evers said he pretty much tossed aside the main pattern he discovered in practice, which was only producing smaller fish. The secondary game plan paid off nicely in putting him in good position to advance past Friday's cut.
"I'm fishing two different creeks, and really just four different spots," Evers said. "I think I'm on a pattern I can stay on. I got away from my main fish because they were all out of a cookie cutter, about two to two and a quarter pounds."
Snowden, as well as most of the field, had a similarly dismal practice, but he put things together on a shallow bite around docks and laydowns. He said oftentimes anglers don't really know what they've got in practice with the limited time on the body of water.
"I think in practice we do so much running around that it's tough to get a feel for what's really there," Snowden said. "Many times it's a matter of bearing down and being able to fish an area."
McClelland put his mastery of deepwater structure to the test and aced it with a strong limit anchored by a 6-9 lunker, good for big bass of the day. He said a poor practice for him often means good things when it counts.
"My practice was like everybody else. But what that does for me is it forces me to slow down and key on the subtle things that really can make a difference," McClelland said. "In this practice, I didn't fish a lot. I looked and I graphed a lot of area and threw a bait out there to see what the bottom was like. I think that had a lot to do with what I brought in today."
Editor's Note: Sunday, May 20, ESPNOutdoors.com will have live video coverage of the Bassmaster American at 3:30 p.m. ET as Bassmaster TV's Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders host Hooked Up. The final day weigh-in follows immediately after where you can see who wins the $250,000 prize!