LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The fishing certainly didn’t get any better for most on day two of the $1 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American on the very tough Ohio River. In fact, numbers and weights were down, though a lucky few, like No. 7 boater Matthew Mize, rose from the depths to score good finishes.
There were a few shakeups in the top-10 lineup, with Calvin Davidson of Plainfield, Ind., assuming the lead with a two-day catch of 12 pounds, 12 ounces. That gives him a nice 1-pound, 8-ounce cushion heading into tomorrow’s final day, when the top 10 pros and co-anglers will compete for top prizes worth $140,000 and $70,000, respectively, based on heaviest three-day weights.
Notably falling out of the top 10 were yesterday’s No. 2 and 3 boaters, Dick Shaffer and David J. Wright, who fell to 11th and 17th, respectively. That said, more than half of the top 10 managed to improve their weights on day two, including Davidson, whose day-one catch of 5 pounds, 9 ounces was followed up today with a four-bass catch weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces.
“We fish the river every Saturday where I’m from, so I didn’t want to miss this,” Davidson said of final-round competition. “Tomorrow I’m going to try to pull another rabbit out of my hat. I didn’t know what I was doing today.”
He’s not alone – more than one final-round angler credited their performance today to sheer luck. Davidson does have one distinct advantage, though – he fishes the Ohio River, albeit a section a couple hundred miles up, on a regular basis.
“Being from Indiana, we fish the river a lot, though not necessarily the same water,” he said. “It’s a good thing my friends aren’t here, or I’d be getting my butt kicked.”
Davidson caught fish today on what he calls “the blind squirrel pattern,” working the river with mainly a jig on the end of his rod. He did not make one of the long runs that have characterized many an angler’s experience this week.
“I’m undecided for tomorrow,” he said on the prospect of fishing close versus running far. “I’ll probably have to stay with plan A; it’s working at this point.”
Davidson, who describes his final-day chances as “really good,” has attracted as much attention for his family and his crazy headwear this week as his fishing performance. Accompanying him this week are his wife and four daughters, three of whom are triplets born on Christmas Day in 1999. His wife is responsible for his wacky hat, which can best be described as a makeshift visor.
Davidson ranked 29th in 2006 Hoosier Division points standings, which sent him to the Kentucky Lake Regional, where he finished fifth to advance to his first All-American championship.
Veteran Samo moves up to second
Samo has come close many times – in his seven All-American outings, he has finished in the top 10 five times. The last angler to weigh in today, Samo’s day-two catch of three bass weighing 6 pounds knocked Shaffer out of the top 10 and thrust Samo back into the spotlight.
“I’m fishing really close,” he said. “There are two theories – run 100 miles and go for quality bites, or stay close and work on a limit. I’ve got fish in both places. I decided to stay close these first two days and keep my bait in the water. The problem is, I’m not getting a lot of bites.”
Samo said he currently remains undecided as to where he will fish tomorrow.
“I’ll make a decision in the morning,” he said. “Most likely I’ll end up staying because there is less fishing pressure.”
Samo reported catching fish on a variety of baits and said no matter the outcome, he achieved his objective.
“I’m kind of junk fishing on 20 different spots,” he said. “I made the top 10, and that was my goal, so I’m thankful for that.”
Samo was the 17th-ranked angler in 2006 Illini Division points standings, which qualified him for the Fort Madison Regional, which he won to advance to the All-American. His FLW Outdoors resume includes 29 top-10 finishes and three wins since 1995.
Goodwin limits to jump to third
Moving from 12th place to third place is Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., with a two-day catch of 11 pounds, 1 ounce. He caught 3 pounds, 15 ounces yesterday but followed that up today with one of the day’s three five-bass limits, his weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces, to earn a top-10 berth.
Goodwin, like yesterday’s leader Dicky Newberry, could not access the spots he found up north in practice due to scheduled lock maintenance that prevented him from locking through. Luckily for him, his practice also included some time spent in other areas, which propelled him to his current third-place position.
“I’m running way down south,” Goodwin said. “I was excited about going up north, but luckily I spent a day and a half in practice down south and found some fish. In the one creek I fished yesterday, which was 80 miles down there, I caught three and broke one off. But there were two other guys there, and 14 fish were caught out of that creek. A creek around here can’t handle that pressure.”
Goodwin stepped it up a notch today, running 120 miles south to ultimately find some good areas.
“I’m fishing shallow cover with a crankbait,” he said. “Every one of my fish I’ve caught on that crankbait except one.”
Goodwin says he feels good about his chances tomorrow thanks to a change he made today that proved prolific.
“I spent an hour in one area and never caught a fish,” he said. “I made a little change and caught four in one hour. Hopefully I can focus on that tomorrow and catch them, but it’s hard to count on fish replenishing. It’s the Ohio River.”
Goodwin finished fifth at the Wright Patman Regional to earn a ticket to the All-American, having advanced to the regional by ranking fourth in the Okie Division in 2006. This is his first All-American.
Newberry, Yurko round out top five
“I was fortunate; it was very tough today,” Newberry said. “If it’s meant to be, I’ll pull it off tomorrow. I caught everything I could. We had some locals that caught a couple of them, and that hurt, but it’s part of it. To win, I’ve got to take some chances. I’m going to go to win, not take second or third.”
Behind him in fifth is Ronald Yurko of East Point, Fla., with a two-day catch of 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Yurko caught one of the day’s three limits, his weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces.
Rest of the best
6th: Thomas Southern, Sylacauga, Ala., four bass, 9-0
7th: Matthew Mize, Ben Lomond, Ark., five bass, 8-15
8th: Richard Heath Jr., Beaverdam, Va., five bass, 8-9
9th: Jamey Black, Sheridan, Ark., five bass, 7-11
10th: Jeff Benson, Holmen, Wis., four bass, 7-3
Wells takes co-angler lead
No. 1 on the co-angler side after day two is Kevin Wells of South Shore, Ky., with a three-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces. Wells qualified for this event via the TBF National Championship, and he said then that he was stoked about this tournament because it is on his home waters. Today, that inside knowledge showed itself, as he followed up his day-one catch of 4 pounds with three more bass weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces that gave him a very wide 4-pound, 8-ounce lead in a cumulative-weight tournament.
“I’m catching all shallow fish,” Wells said. “I may not get a bite tomorrow, so I wanted to get as much as I could today. I’ve caught seven keepers in this tournament on seven different baits. I’m going to have to go to Wal-Mart.”
Wells also brought in the day’s heaviest co-angler bass, a 3-pound, 10-ouncer that earned him $500. That’s half of what he says is probably his biggest tournament check ever, not including the $5,000 he won at the TBF Championship. Should he hold on to his lead and win tomorrow, Wells would claim $70,000 as he is qualified for both Ranger and Yamaha contingencies.
“I’ve fished the river all my life,” Wells said. “I know what to look for, and God has blessed me with the right bites. I’d love to finish the deal, and I’d love to go to Arkansas for the big tournament.”
Both the boater and co-angler champions of this event earn entry into the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup, to be held this August on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark.
Williams, Mull in top three
Behind Wells is No. 2 co-angler Mike Williams of Lancaster, Ky., with 5 pounds, 13 ounces over two days. He said he caught his bass today on a jig.
In third is 17-year-old soon-to-be high school senior Jeremy Mull of Chatham, Ill. Mull caught 2-4 yesterday and followed that up today with a pair of bass weighing 3 pounds for a two-day total of 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
Rest of the best
In fourth is co-angler Jeffery O’Connor of Charlotte, N.C., with 4 pounds, 15 ounces over two days. Behind him in fifth is yesterday’s leader Chad Hartzog of Bush, La., who did not catch any bass today. His day-one catch of 4 pounds, 8 ounces, though, was enough to keep him in contention.
6th: Dick Martin, Baltimore, Md., two bass, 4-3
7th: William Feyh, Brandon, Miss., three bass, 3-7
8th: Stacy Metz, Staley, N.C., two bass, 3-1
9th: Glen Mire, Jackson, Miss., one bass, 3-0
10th: Paul Stokes, Grand Ledge, Mich., two bass, 2-12
The final-round boaters and co-anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EDT Saturday from Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park located at 3730 River Road in Louisville. They will weigh in their final catches beginning at 4 p.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center located at 937 Phillips Lane in Louisville.
Surrounding the weigh-in is the FLW Outdoors Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show featuring dozens of exhibits from Ranger Boats, Chevy, Berkley, Lowrance, Evinrude, Yamaha and many more premier companies. The doors open at noon Saturday. Admission is free and the first 200 children 14 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show on Saturday will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in will win a new Ranger bass boat powered by Yamaha.