LEWISVILLE, Texas -- Despite less-than-ideal conditions, Mark Tucker of St. Louis topped his Day 1 catch that increased his lead and put him in position to win on Lewisville Lake.
After bringing 16 pounds, 10 ounces to the scales Friday, the former Elite Series angler topped it with 17-4 Friday. With a total of 33-14, Tucker holds a 3-14 lead in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open.
"It was disheartening to have to quit the Elite Series this past year, but to be out here catching 'em good felt really great," he said. "The anglers today were exceptional, most everyone left me alone to fish."
Most did want to stay huddled in their hoodies after temperatures dropped some 30 degrees to around 39 for the launch, and wind blowing steady at 10 to 15 mph had much of the field worried. But, Tucker enjoyed relative privacy on Day 2 and has high hopes for a win and a Bassmaster Classic berth.
Wind pounding his primary spot kept Tucker off it early, but he picked up where he left off on Thursday when it abided. The day finished much milder, with temperatures approaching 60.
"I caught eight keepers today, and I learned that I can't fish slow enough," said Tucker, who will offer a full report on his technique tomorrow.
Billy Cline of Grapevine, Texas, is on Tucker's heels with a two-day total of 30-0. Cline also enjoyed solidarity, seeing only one boat the entire day.
"I think I can get what I got again, but I don't think they'll get any bigger," he said.
In other words, Cline will most likely have to count on Tucker to slip on Saturday to claim victory. Among the final 12 to fish Saturday, third-place Casey Scanlon is another four pounds back at 26-3. In fourth is Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif., with 22-2, and in fifth place is Chris Ford with 19-13.
Janet Parker of Little Elm, Texas, has only weighed in six fish, but her 18-7 is good enough for sixth.
Four-time Classic winner Rick Clunn headed back to Missouri after missing the cut with 13-4, good for 17th. Tommy Martin, who won the 1974 Classic, finished 21st. Elite anglers James Niggemeyer, Jami Fralick, Jeff Kriet, Todd Faircloth and Clark Reehm were in the top 40.
On the co-angler side, Clayton Coppin of Wagoner, Okla., leads the pack with14-12.
"I feel nervous," Coppin said. "I feel like there's a target on my back."
Not far behind him is Wade Garcia of Alma, Ark., with 13-13. Alma's bag was anchored by a 7-5, the big bass of the day. In third is Darryl Hanks of Pineville, Mo., with 12-2.
Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine will host the top 12 weigh-in at 4:45 p.m. EST Saturday. The Bass Pro address is 2501 Bass Pro Drive, Grapevine, Texas, 76051; (972) 724-2018.
While the Central Open finalists fish on Lewisville Lake, recovering soldiers from the Warrior Family & Support Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, will be paired with Bassmaster Open anglers for a day of friendly competition on nearby Lake Grapevine.
About 15 three-angler teams will participate in the Wounded Warrior Benefit Tournament, according to Chris Bowes, B.A.S.S. senior tournament manager. One of the team members will be a pro who provides the boat, and the other two team members will be soldiers. Each boat can bring in one five-fish limit of legal-length bass (14-inch minimum).
There are no entry fees and no big prizes, but braggin' rights are on the line. The teams will officially weigh their fish on the Bassmaster stage on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST at the Grapevine Bass Pro Shops before the Central Open's final weigh-in.
Besides the Classic berth, the Open winner will receive $10,000 cash and a fully-rigged Skeeter/Yamaha boat package valued at $35,000. The co-angler winner receives a similar boat package.