By BassFan Staff
Keith Combs' bag on day 2 of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Fork wasn't anywhere near the size of the one he weighed the previous day. Nonetheless, it moved him a big step closer to his third win in the event in the past 4 years.
The Texan backed up his 42-pound opening-day stringer with a 33 1/2-pound haul that pushed his 2-day total to an eye-popping 75-08. That's right; his 10 fish thus far have averaged 7 1/2 pounds apiece.
It's not like he has this thing wrapped up, though – not even close. Sure, he has a 4-pound lead over 2nd-place Stetson Blaylock, but that's really not a lot on a lake that many who competed this week are calling the top big-bass fishery in the country.
Blaylock moved up one place with a 33-04 sack that gave him a 71-08 total. He switched positions with Russ Lane, who caught a 31-08 stringer for a 69-12 aggregate.
Justin Lucas boxed a day-best 35-04 to climb from a tie for 7th to 4th with 68-00. Similarly, Jason Christie went from a tie for 9th to 5th with 64-08 after catching a 32-08 bag.
Here are the totals for the other five anglers who'll return to the water on Sunday:
6. Randy Haynes: 63-00
7. Matt Reed: 62-12
8. Mark Rose: 62-08
9. Brandon Coulter: 60-04
10. Todd Faircloth: 57-00
The event is decidedly an offshore shootout now. The competitors who'd loaded up near the banks on day 1 found the going much tougher today as more and more fish continue to leave the shallows and head toward their warm-weather hangouts. The ones who are already there will likely determine the outcome of the event.
There were only two changes among the Top 10 – Rose (30-08 today) and Faircloth (27-00) moved in, displacing Luke Clausen (17-12) and Terry Scroggins (15-12). Clausen's weight was nearly halved from day 1, when he caught all of his fish from water that was 3 feet or shallower.
The final-day weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 88 degrees and a south wind to 14 mph.
Combs had Magic Hour
> Day 2: 5, 33-08 (10, 75-08)
Combs did the majority of his damage during a 1-hour window at mid-morning.
"I caught all of my weight at my third stop," he said. "I have one really good hole and I had a pretty good flurry. Other than that, it was a pretty slow day.
"It was a good bag, and if I can catch that again tomorrow, I'll take my chances. I don't know for sure if that'll be enough to get it done."
An 8-pounder was the biggest of the 20 keepers he caught.
"I might've lost a pound's worth of fish today. It was crazy, I hooked them both cranking and when they came up, I could see the bait was completely gone (inside their mouths). Then the bait just shoots out and I'm like, 'Are you kidding me?'
"They weren't giants, but I think both would've helped a little bit."
His confidence level will be high when he leaves the launch for the final day.
"I had a good week of practice and I've still got a lot of stuff I haven't hit. I know I can win, but I just have to time things right. I'll hit some stuff in a different order tomorrow.
"I know I'm fishing a winning pattern, but I'll have to get the timing right and get them all in the boat."
2nd: Lots of Bites for Blaylock
> Day 2: 5, 33-04 (10, 71-08)
Blaylock moved up one spot despite a weighing a bag that was 5 pounds lighter than his haul from the previous day.
"I'm catching a lot of fish to get what I've got," he said. "I caught a couple of nice ones right off the bat and that kind of set the pace for the day, and I was able to cull up a few times after that."
His bag contained three 7-pounders, including one that bit late in the day.
"I know that's a big bag of fish, but it seemed like the school didn't really fire – they never started biting all at one time like they did the first day. If I can get them all going (on Sunday), I think I can catch a really big bag that way."
He has a specific weight in mind for the final day.
"I'm 4 pounds behind, and Keith has the potential to catch 40 pounds again (Combs weighed 42-00 on day 1). I'm sure he's saving some water and he's going to be tough to beat, but I think if I caught 35 pounds I'd have a chance."
3rd: Lane Slowed Down
> Day 2: 5, 31-08 (10, 69-12)
Lane caught another hefty stringer, but dropped a place in the standings and saw his deficit to Combs increase from 1 3/4 pounds to 5 3/4.
"I kind of did the same deal (as on day 1), but I just worked the place over a little more and slowed down," he said. "I caught a bunch this morning on a Spro Fat Papa (crankbait), and then I started throwing a (Big Bite Baits) Kriet Tail Worm and a 5/8-ounce Buckeye Mop jig. I got some good bites later in the day when I started dragging those two baits around.
He went through 20 keepers, the best of which weighed 6-12. He said he'll need some larger bites to have a shot to win on day 3.
"I'll have to have what I had yesterday, in the upper 30s, and that's if nobody below me catches a 40-pound bag. I'll just go out and catch what I can catch.
"I found a great spot, so I'm not going to run around any. I'll hang there and take whatever shows up. That's all I can ask for."
He'd like to catch at least 30-04 in order to eclipse the century mark for the event.
"I was talking to my cameraman about it and I think that'd be a good goal. I've weighed in the 90s two or three times on cranking deals, but I've never had 100 pounds in a tournament yet."
4th: Lucas Will Share No More
> Day 2: 5, 35-04 (10, 68-00)
Lucas has been sharing some offshore water with fellow competitors, but they fell shy of the Top 10 and he should have it all to himself for the final day.
"There's only so many deep places on the lake and they really do get pounded," he said. "There's only so many spots the fish can swim to when they coming out. I only have two or three places, and I timed them a little differently today. I think that helped."
He went through about 20 keepers, all caught on swimbaits, and didn't lose anything of consequence. His bag included a 9 1/4-pounder and an 8.
"I got the two big bites today and I saw another 8 and a 7 caught, so that gives me more confidence for tomorrow. The problem is you only have so much time to figure out the angles for the casts you have to make."
5th: Christie on Shad Spawn
> Day 2: 5, 32-08 (10, 64-08)
Christie has been fishing shallow for a couple of hours each morning, targeting fish keyed on the shad spawn, before spending the remainder of the day offshore.
"I haven't been able to catch them deep early," he said. "I'll probably need about 45 pounds to have a chance to win tomorrow, so I'll fish deep the entire day."
He's catching about 15 keepers a day. A 7-12 he caught today was his biggest fish of the event.
"I haven't caught a 9- or 10-pounder yet and that's what's got me behind. I need to catch a couple of those to make up some ground."