By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


The number of 20-plus-pound bags that came to the scales jumped from 10 to 15 on day 2 of the St. Johns River Bassmaster Elite Series and the 35th-place cut weight climbed from a 13 1/2-pound average to well over 14 1/2. However, the escalating numbers could trend in the other direction for the weekend.

Weather and its impacts on cold-hating Florida largemouths will be a big player for the final two days of the circuit's season opener. Another storm front is set to hit the region, bringing an end to the sunny, calm conditions the 75-angler field has enjoyed thus far. Wind, showers and cooler temperatures are on the way, and those elements are prone to making big Sunshine State bass stop biting and sometimes seemingly disappear.

Canadian Chris Johnston, a transplant from the FLW Tour who won that trail's event at the Harris Chain (also in Florida) a year ago, moved into the lead with a 25-11 stringer that gave him a 47-00 total. He's 14 ounces ahead of Texas rookie Lee Livesay, a Lake Fork guide who boxed a tournament-best 26-06 to move up 10 places.

Veteran Mark Menendez remained in the No. 3 slot as his 21-06 haul pushed his total to 45-14. Brandon Cobb, another former FLW competitor in his first season on the Elites, is 4th with 42-14 (23-01 on day 4).

Rick Clunn, the winner at the St. Johns in 2016, is tied for 5th with Johnston's brother, Cory, at 41-00. Clunn sacked 23-11 on the day and Cory Johnston weighed 19-15.

Day-1 leader Robbie Latuso dropped to 9th as his 13-15 stringer was more than 11 pounds shy of his previous-day mark. John Crews, who began day 2 in 2nd, fell to 7th with a 15-15 bag.

Palatka resident and St. Johns ace Cliff Prince is lurking in 14th after his second straight 18-pound effort he could have a big edge on the weekend when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Scott Canterbury weighed 25-12 to rocket up to 17th from 55th and Jay Yelas, competing in his first B.A.S.S. event since the 2006 Classic, grabbed the final position inside the cut with a 16-03 bag that gave him a 29-07 aggregate.

Clifford Pirch, who's in 22nd, caught the day's biggest fish a 10-04 bruiser.

Johnston said his day transpired pretty similarly to the one that preceded it.

"Where I caught them late on day 1, I caught them in that same place this morning," he said. "I left about noon because I felt like the pressure of two days fishing for pre-spawners that are pulling up might be getting to be too much. The weather change might really puta damper on it."

He's been sight-fishing whenever he comes across one on a bed and he employed that tactic to catch an 8-pounder that topped his day-2 bag. He also looked at a 3 1/4-pounder that made its way into his livewell.

"My problem is I'm not getting that many bites, and that's scary. Today I marked a few beds that have 2 1/2-pound males, but they might be tough to see tomorrow. I'll probably end up doing similar stuff, but in some different areas. We'll just have to see what happens."



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Lee Livesay's 26-06 stringer is the biggest of the tournament thus far.

The 33-year-old Livesay, who qualified for the circuit through last year's Central Opens, didn't have a fish over 6 1/2 pounds in his bulging bag.

"They were kind of all clones, but they grew a little bit today (he weighed 19-12 on day 1)," said Livesay, who's on his maiden visit to Florida. "I really need one of those 10- or 11 pounders that would help a lot.

"I caught some on a weedless vibrating jig and some on something else that I'm not ready to divulge yet."

He fished around some other competitors, but doesn't know how many of them survived the cut.

"I've got three or four small areas, but the one main area, a couple of guys started there today and I got out quick because of the pressure. There were definitely more fish that had moved up today, but a lot of them might disappear tomorrow. You might have to run to three or four spots to catch one.

"It's all about the weather coming in and who makes the right adjustment and who has enough fish left. I hope it will hurt the sight-fishermen. I don't think my fish will leave, but I just don't know if they'll bite."

Menendez's bag was 3 pounds lighter than his day-1 stringer, but only because he lacked a giant bite (he caught a 9-04 in the opening round).

"I changed baits and I got a limit a lot quicker today," he said. "The day flowed a lot better with five in the boat early. I caught my biggest fish, a 6-04, in the first 10 minutes and that set the tone for the day.

"I probably culled a couple of limits. I lost one fish, but I never saw it and I don't know how big it was. I did catch a 5-pounder late and that helped a whole lot."

He's pretty certain he'll have to alter his approach for day 3.

"I like to think I know what's going to happen, although I don't really know. If it stayed like it was today, I'd have the potential to catch a really big bag of fish tomorrow. I'll just have to keep adjusting and trying different things."

Cobb looked at three of his four biggest fish before catching them. His bag was topped by a 7-pounder.

"I basically did the same thing today that I did yesterday I just hit one little patch that was real good and I caught a lot of my weigh-fish real quick," he said. "My main area from yesterday got crowded, so I got away and found a place that hadn't been messed with. I'm a little concerned that the wind might blow it out tomorrow.

"I doubt any new fish will come up tomorrow, but I think there will be some left. I might be able to catch some blind-casting in the same general area, but I'll have to experiment to find out. The lack of grass right now won't be beneficial because there's nothing to block the wind."

Notable

> Day 2 stats 75 anglers, 64 limits, 4 fours, 4 threes, 2 twos, 1 one.

Weather Forecast

> Sat., Feb. 9 P.M. Showers - 75/65
- Wind: From the NNE at 16 mph

> Sun., Feb. 10 Showers - 78/61
- Wind: From the E at 14 mph

Day 2 Standings

1. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON 10 -- 47-00 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 21-05 -- Day 2: 5, 25-11

2. Lee Livesay -- Longview, TX -- 10, 46-02 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 26-06

3. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 10, 45-14 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 24-08 -- Day 2: 5, 21-06

4. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 10, 42-14 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 19-13 -- Day 2: 5, 23-01

5. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 10, 41-00 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 23-11

6. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 10, 41-00 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 19-15

7. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 10, 40-12 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15

8. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 10, 39-02 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 18-08 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10

9. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 10, 39-01 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 25-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15

10. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 10, 38-02 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-11

11. Patrick Walters -- Summerville, SC -- 10, 37-06 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 5, 23-07

12. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 10, 37-06 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 18-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08

13. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 10, 36-13 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 14-13 -- Day 2: 5, 22-00

14. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 10, 36-09 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 18-06

15. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 9, 36-06 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 23-04 -- Day 2: 4, 13-02

16. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 10, 36-00 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 20-10 -- Day 2: 5, 15-06

17. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 10, 35-15 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 10-03 -- Day 2: 5, 25-12

18. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 10, 35-02 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 10-13 -- Day 2: 5, 24-05

19. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 10, 34-12 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 22-08 -- Day 2: 5, 12-04

20. Derek Hudnall -- Baton Rouge, LA -- 10, 34-09 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 17-02 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07

21. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 10, 34-04 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 11-15 -- Day 2: 5, 22-05

22. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 10, 34-00 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 13-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-05

23. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 10, 33-13 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 17-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-06

24. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 10, 32-15 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 11-09

25. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 9, 32-10 -- 76
Day 1: 4, 14-04 -- Day 2: 5, 18-06

26. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 10, 31-11 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 19-03 -- Day 2: 5, 12-08

27. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 10, 31-10 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 11-02 -- Day 2: 5, 20-08

28. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 10, 31-05 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 17-08 -- Day 2: 5, 13-13

29. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 9, 30-10 -- 72
Day 1: 4, 10-10 -- Day 2: 5, 20-00

30. Rob Digh -- Denver, NC -- 10, 30-09 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 12-06

31. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 10, 30-08 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 19-02 -- Day 2: 5, 11-06

32. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 8, 30-06 -- 69
Day 1: 3, 07-13 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09

33. Shane Lehew -- Catawba, NC -- 10, 30-05 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 09-13

34. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 10, 29-14 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 13-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-07

35. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 10, 29-07 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-03

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 3.

36. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 9, 28-11 -- 65 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 17-08 -- Day 2: 4, 11-03

37. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 9, 28-08 -- 64 -- $5,000
Day 1: 4, 11-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11

38. Mike Huff -- Corbin, KY -- 10, 28-08 -- 63 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 12-09 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15

39. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 10, 28-07 -- 62 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 13-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-13

40. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 10, 27-13 -- 61 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 11-13

41. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 8, 27-10 -- 60 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 08-11 -- Day 2: 5, 18-15

42. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 10, 27-07 -- 59 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 13-07 -- Day 2: 5, 14-00

43. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 10, 26-15 -- 58 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-00

44. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 9, 26-10 -- 57 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 08-10 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00

45. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 9, 26-07 -- 56 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 11-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08

46. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 10, 26-06 -- 55 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 14-03 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03

47. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 10, 26-04 -- 54 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 08-00 -- Day 2: 5, 18-04

48. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 10, 26-00 -- 53 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 07-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08

49. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 10, 25-02 -- 52 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 08-05

50. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 10, 24-03 -- 51 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 08-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-06

51. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 10, 24-02 -- 50 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 10-15 -- Day 2: 5, 13-03

52. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 10, 23-15 -- 49 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 5, 11-03

53. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 8, 23-11 -- 48 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 06-05 -- Day 2: 5, 17-06

54. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 10, 23-01 -- 47 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 11-07 -- Day 2: 5, 11-10

55. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 9, 22-05 -- 46 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-09 -- Day 2: 4, 09-12

56. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 9, 22-04 -- 45 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 13-08 -- Day 2: 4, 08-12

57. Jesse Tacoronte -- Kissimmee, FL -- 10, 22-04 -- 44 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 5, 09-08

58. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 10, 21-15 -- 43 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 08-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-14

59. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 10, 21-12 -- 42 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 11-08 -- Day 2: 5, 10-04

60. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 10, 21-10 -- 41 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 11-06 -- Day 2: 5, 10-04

61. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON -- 7, 20-14 -- 40 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 06-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-09

62. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 10, 20-12 -- 39 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-00 -- Day 2: 5, 08-12

63. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 10, 19-07 -- 38 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 09-08 -- Day 2: 5, 09-15

64. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 18-15 -- 37 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 07-13 -- Day 2: 3, 11-02

65. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 7, 17-01 -- 36 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 04-09 -- Day 2: 5, 12-08

66. Harvey Horne -- Bella Vista, AR -- 9, 16-06 -- 35 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 09-05 -- Day 2: 5, 07-01

67. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 8, 15-15 -- 34 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 10-00 -- Day 2: 3, 05-15

68. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 8, 15-10 -- 33 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 11-05 -- Day 2: 3, 04-05

69. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 7, 14-14 -- 32 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-10 -- Day 2: 2, 02-04

70. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 8, 13-14 -- 31 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 05-12 -- Day 2: 5, 08-02

71. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 7, 12-01 -- 30 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-04 -- Day 2: 5, 09-13

72. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 4, 11-08 -- 29 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 05-02 -- Day 2: 3, 06-06

73. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS -- 5, 11-06 -- 28 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 07-05 -- Day 2: 2, 04-01

74. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 5, 05-12 -- 27 -- $2,500
Day 1: 0, 00-00 -- Day 2: 5, 05-12

75. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 1, 01-00 -- 26 -- $2,500
Day 1: 0, 00-00 -- Day 2: 1, 01-00