A solid start plus a late-day surge gave Marshall Deakins a limit catch of 20 pounds, 11 ounces and kept the Dunlap, Tenn., boater atop the T-H Marine BFL All-American hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism on Pickwick Lake with a two-day total of 45-1.
Before examining Deakins’ day, a few stats merit a mention. First, he holds a 10-pound, 10-ounce lead over second-place boater Brent Anderson of Kingston Springs, Tenn. Also, Deakins has caught the biggest sack both days and he’s the only All-American competitor to break 20 pounds in each round.
Deakins started his day on the same stretch of rocky bottom where he caught most of his sack the first day. Located about 30 minutes downriver from the launch site at McFarland Park in Florence, Ala., the magic spot covers about 50 yards, but a particular feature seems to be the key target.
“There’s one place with a little jutted-out spot or a pile of rocks or something; but that’s where most of my fish came from,” Deakins says. “That’s where I caught most of my weight yesterday, too. I’m throwing down the break. It’s rough down there and then there’s the part that’s sticking out.
“Yesterday, I had two good ones right off the bat and it wasn’t long after that I caught another big one. It was tough today; I had about 15 pounds early but I couldn’t get a big bite. I had 15 [pounds] until about two hours before check-in when I stopped on another place coming in and got the two biggest bites I had today. That’s what did it.”
Deakins describes that late-day spot as being similar to the one from which he secured his early morning limit. Notably, he actually started on this spot first thing on day two, but to no avail. Deakins surmises that meteorological fluctuations prompted the fish into an afternoon feeding rally.
“A storm came by and the wind got up really strong and that had to be it,” Deakins says. “The wind was blowing really hard and it made a lot or current. They [the TVA] hadn’t been pulling that much water, so that wind current must have made them want to bite.”
Deakins says he fished a total of seven spots Friday from 7-Mile Island to Waterloo. He caught fish on all of his spots, but the majority were undersized.
Sticking with what’s been working, Deakins caught all of his fish on a 3/4-ounce Profound football jig. The jig’s color and trailer remain a closely guarded secret, but Deakins says the key to his success was a slow, dragging presentation.
Top 10 pros
1. Marshall Deakins – Dunlap, Tenn. – 45-1 (10)
2. Brent Anderson – Kingston Springs, Tenn. – 34-7 (10)
3. Jeff Knight – Cleveland, Tenn. – 34-6 (10)
4. Justin Atkins – Florence, Ala. – 34-4 (10)
5. Brandon Gray – Bullock, N.C. – 32-13 (10)
6. Ronald Nutter – Saint Louisville, Ohio – 32-11 (10)
7. Mike Brueggen – La Crosse, Wis. – 32-2 (10)
8. Brad Fowler – Townville, S.C. – 31-11 (10)
9. William Merrick – Mount Juliet, Tenn. – 31-11 (10)
10. Lloyd Pickett Jr. – Bartlett, Tenn. – 31-4 (10)
Hester takes co-angler lead
Moving up from seventh place on day one, Alex Hester sacked up a day-two limit of 15 pounds, 3 ounces and took over the co-angler lead with 28-2. His catch was the day’s second-heaviest, behind the 16-8 that second-place co-angler Randy Westerfield weighed.
Hester reveals that his second-day outline was considerably different from his first. On day one, his boater hit several spots, while day two found him (Brad Fowler) making a single stop.
“We sat down on one area and never picked up the trolling motor after we stopped,” Hester says. “There were fish moving in and out, so we just kept the trolling motor in the water and waited for them to come to us.”
Hester says the spot was an offshore ledge system where the pair fished as shallow as 8 feet and as deep as 25. He caught fish on a wide range of bait including a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm, Zoom Trick Worm, Zoom Brush Hog and a Zoom Centipede. Hester fished the latter on a Carolina rig and a heavy drop-shot configuration.