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Analysis: Bassmaster Legends Day 2

5/7/2007

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The lack of backwater in the
6-hole area might keep weights down for the Top 12
fishing Saturday in the Bassmaster Legends presented
by Goodyear, a local angler said, but he still expects
an exciting shootout.

Bassmaster.com asked Matt Lea what to expect in the
season's third and final major. Lea was excited that
some of the sports biggest names, Gerald Swindle,
Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn and Gary Klein, will be
battling on his homewater, the Arkansas River.

"How incredible is that field?" he said. "You've got
the best guys in the world. It's going to be stout.
Whoever wins is going to earn it."

With isolated thunderstorms moving through the area
Friday night and party cloudy skies in Saturday's
forecast, Lea holds out hope that the main river area
9 miles around downtown Little Rock will produce
better than usual.

"They don't have the backwater, so I think the weights
will be a little lower," Lea said. "Now if it rains,
it could be a little bit better. The topwater bite
will be better for everybody and be all day.

"If the
sun stays high, it will be few and far between. The
clouds and rain, that would change everything.

"If they get a big enough rain, there's several
discharges around the city that they should be able to
catch them at. The shad will back up and they'll be
able to catch some fish there."

Since the holes were off limits the first two days,
Lea said knowing the nuances of the area will benefit
the four anglers with in-state ties, which includes
Mike McClelland, Greg Hackney, Kevin Short and Little
Rock's Scott Rook.

"I really like Rook, he's got the hometown advantage,
no doubt," Lea said. "Rook knows where every
underwater rock and sandbar is. He'll have an
advantage, so hopefully he'll be able to pull it off."

The hole format does allow the Top 12 more fishing
time as the runs through locks are eliminated, Lea
said, which might help the likes of VanDam.

"You get a solid seven hours to fish, so you've got to
like VanDam, figuring it out Friday the way he did,"
he said. "He's got seven hours to figure it out Saturday."

But Lea goes back to Rook as his favorite to win on
the river he grew up on. And Lea said a victory would
be a satisfying accomplishment for Rook.
"Rook couldn't ask for a better field to win it
against," he said. "You've got the best field fishing
your homewater, there's no better feeling than beating
them on your home lake."