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Eufaula leaderboard shuffled; Lawrence leads

Eufaula leaderboard shuffled; Lawrence leads

EUFAULA, Ala. – The offshore game stayed strong on Day 2 of the MLF Invitational on Lake Eufaula, but not everyone was able to take full advantage, as evidenced by the amount of fluctuation on the leaderboard. Moving up from sixth, Jake Lawrence of Buchanan, Tenn., caught 22 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead with a 43-6 total. In second, Guntersville, Alabama’s Cal Lane moved up from fifth with 20-11 for a 41-15 total, just 1-7 back of Lawrence.

In third, Paul Marks Jr., of Cumming, Ga. tallied 41-3, and Day-1 leader Tucker Smith of Birmingham, Ala. caught 18-1 to drop to fourth with 40-12.

Born and bred on the Tennessee River, Lawrence is no stranger to offshore fishing – his first Toyota Series win came back in the days before forward-facing sonar, with fish he wormed up off a Kentucky Lake bar. Now, with his knowledge from years past and some great technological skills, Lawrence is in hot pursuit of his first Invitationals win.

“We’ve had a lot of changes with the water level, and the color of the water, and it’s really changing a lot of stuff,” Lawrence said. “It’s moving them around, and I’m fortunate that I’ve got one little hole that’s really holding up so far. And nobody seems to be messing with it, so I’m able to go in there and get a decent little limit, and then catch one or two here and there.”

Fishing mostly offshore schools and ledges, Lawrence says the bites are not very easy to come by.

“I’m straight Tennessee River,” he said. “I’ve got some brush, but I really haven’t been able to make that happen this week. I’ve caught a few, and I caught a big one in practice, but I can just tell that’s not the deal – or at least in the areas that I’m doing it. These schools are so sporadic. You really have to spend all day to get five to seven big bites. It’s not your typical school fishing, where we know we’re going to catch 30 or 40 of them. You just don’t get very many of them to bite.”

According to Lawrence, rising water has scattered the bass around the offshore spots, when they should be grouping up better by the day.

“With all this current you would think that it would really congregate them and pull them together, but it’s actually done the opposite,” he said. “It’s really scattered them. A lot of them have gone up top (on the ledges), like way up on top of it, on the flat portion of it, and just scattered out. On top, there will be one every 10 or 15 feet. You have to have competition – something to make these fish bite – because if you find a solo out there, you might as well not even throw at it.”

On Days 1 and 2, Lawrence caught some of his best weight out of a school in the back of a creek, which he should be able to get on again on Day 3. Putting time in behind the console looking for offshore fish is right up his alley.

“It was the second [day of practice] that I started finding a bunch, so that’s when I knew that things were going to line up and be what I wanted them to be,” he said. “It’s one of those deals – out there is my comfort zone. My home away from home. I think it’s going to be fun.”

Lawrence is coming off a close call in the season-opener on Sam Rayburn, when he finished second to Drew Gill, and then a disappointment at his home waters of Kentucky Lake. So, he badly wants to win.

“Even in a $100 jackpot I’ve never come that close to winning and not won; I just needed five more minutes,” said Lawrence of his runner-up at Rayburn. “That lit a fire under me. I thought I wanted to win before Rayburn, but when I got that close …

“And of course, coming on the backside of Kentucky Lake, which was kind of a subpar – you know, it didn’t really pan out the way I expected. It would mean the world to me. I almost can’t even put that into words what it would mean to me. I want a win so bad.”

Here's how the 30 anglers who'll compete on the final day stack up:

1st: Jake Lawrence, Buchanan, Tenn., 10 bass, 43-6
2nd: Cal Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 41-15
3rd: Paul Marks, Jr., Cumming, Ga., 10 bass, 41-3
4th: Tucker Smith, Birmingham, Ala., 10 bass, 40-12
5th: Mark Condron, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 10 bass, 39-10
6th: Ethan King, Wilsonville, Ala., 10 bass, 38-7
7th: Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 10 bass, 37-4
8th: Colby Miller, Elmer, La., 10 bass, 36-7
9th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 10 bass, 35-14
10th: Justin Barnes, Ellaville, Ga., 10 bass, 35-9
11th: Emil Wagner, Marietta, Ga., 10 bass, 35-7
12th: Marshall Hughes, Hemphill, Texas, 10 bass, 35-4
13th: Nick Hatfield, Greeneville, Tenn., 10 bass, 35-4
14th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 35-3
15th: Brock Reinkemeyer, Warsaw, Mo., 10 bass, 34-0
16th: Buddy Benson, Dahlonega, Ga., 10 bass, 33-7
17th: Braxton Setzer, Wetumpka, Ala., 10 bass, 33-6
18th: Kyle Cortiana, Broken Arrow, Okla., 10 bass, 33-4
19th: Jaden Parrish, Liberty, Texas, 10 bass, 33-3
20th: Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 10 bass, 33-1
21st: Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 10 bass, 32-15
22nd: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 32-15
23rd: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 10 bass, 32-8
24th: Alec Morrison, Peru, N.Y., 10 bass, 32-7
25th: Flint Davis, Leesburg, Ga., 10 bass, 32-2
26th: Matt Baty, Bainbridge, Ga., 10 bass, 32-2
27th: Blake Hall, Rogersville, Ala., 10 bass, 32-1
28th: Jacob Walker, Springville, Ala., 10 bass, 31-15
29th: Rusty Salewske, Alpine, Calif., 10 bass, 31-6
30th: Andrew Nordbye, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 31-5

The final 30 anglers will launch at 6:30 a.m. CT Sunday from Lakepoint Resort State Park, located at 104 Lakepoint Drive in Eufaula. Sunday’s weigh-in will also be held at the State Park and will begin at 2:30 p.m.

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