OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Hot, humid weather kept the Lake of the Ozarks bass lethargic for the second consecutive day. While the majority of the field struggled, a handful of Stren Series Central Division anglers proved their mettle. Just as the conditions remained the same, so did the name on top of the leaderboard – Jason Christie.
While everyone else bellyached about bass in transition, Christie caught another 18-pound limit Thursday. To be precise, his five bass on day two weighed 18 pounds, 4 ounces, bringing his two-day total weight to 36 pounds, 10 ounces. In a tournament filled with experienced locals, the Oklahoman has established a 5-pound, 3-ounce lead at the halfway point in the event.
“Hopefully it keeps going,” said the pro leader. “It could, or they could run out on me. I’m not getting many bites, but the bites are big ones.”
The Park Hill, Okla., native said he caught 20 total bass on the day, 10 of which were keepers. Three of those keepers were over 4 pounds, one over 5 pounds. He continues to fish in 15 to 25 feet of water with a crankbait, although he said his fish moved slightly shallower today.
“I had about 16 or 17 pounds, so I quit. Then I ran to a place where I caught a bunch of smaller fish, so I could let my co-angler try and catch a limit. I ended up catching a 4-pounder there.”
Christie puts on roughly 100 miles each day, running 30 miles to his first spot, then 30 miles back and then 20 miles in the opposite direction before returning to the marina. He’s fished some docks, but he’s not focusing solely on them. Instead, he’s keying on shad.
“This is scary. Well, not scary, but I know my fish are moving. All it takes is for the shad to move and then I’m done. I can’t lay off tomorrow. I’m going to try and catch them like it’s the final day.”
Fitzpatrick retains second
For most of Thursday’s weigh-in, Roger Fitzpatrick was on top of the leaderboard. After catching 17 pounds on day one, the local pro from Eldon, Mo., caught 14 pounds, 7 ounces on day two. Still, with a total weight of 31 pounds, 7 ounces, he trails Christie by over 5 pounds.
“I was truly blessed today,” Fitzpatrick said. “I only had three bass in the boat at 2 p.m. I pulled a rabbit out of the hat and caught two at the very end. I had to go to the old archives to bail me out. I got lucky, real lucky. They were my two biggest fish.”
Fitzpatrick said the dock fish are struggling as they continue to see a barrage of fishing pressure.
“You can feel them take the bait, but they’ve just barely got it. You set the hook, and you move the fish 6 inches and end up with the trailer pulled off.”
Fitzpatrick caught most of his fish with a jig, fishing shallow, but he’s got a different game plan in mind for the future.
“The two that I caught at the end of the day surprised me. They’re where I want them to be.”
Dunbar bags 21-3, ties Maloney for third
Two local Missouri pros ended up tied for third after two days of competition. Mark Dunbar of Jefferson City did it the hard way by catching 21 pounds, 3 ounces on day two, which currently stands as the heaviest stringer of the tournament. He achieved that weight by fishing 200 docks in an area 20 miles from the Grand Glaize Recreation Area with a homemade jig and 20-pound fluorocarbon.
“Yesterday I learned a lot,” said Dunbar. “I caught fish today in places that I never prefished.”
In practice Dunbar had both a shallow pattern and a deep pattern working.
“The deep pattern is gone. The shallow pattern is getting shallower.”
Maloney, on the other hand, is pacing himself. The Osage Beach pro caught 14 pounds, 3 ounces yesterday and 15 pounds, 11 ounces today.
Although he is a Stren Series rookie, Maloney is fresh off a Missouri state victory in the TBF Divisional on the Columbus Pool of the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
“Fishing the TBF teaches you a lot because they’re all three-day events.”
Maloney said he is fishing a pattern, not a single spot. He was wetting his line in about 7 feet of water on day one, but today his fish came from 12 to 15 feet.
“My goal is to make that 15-pound mark each day and see where it takes me. Hopefully, that will put me in the top 10.”
Newby slips to fifth
Kellogg’s pro Sam Newby caught five keepers Thursday that weighed 13 pounds even to push his total weight to 28 pounds, 12 ounces. Newby said everything was the same as yesterday for him. He caught nearly 30 fish, 10 of which were keepers, on the same bait and in the same locations as Wednesday.
“I think I’ve got five spots left that I’m going to try and make the cut with,” said the 2005 Stren Series Championship winner. “I lost two fish that would have really helped me. I should have had about the same weight as yesterday.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros after day two on Lake of the Ozarks:
6th: Jason Weast of Camdenton, Mo., two-day total of 28-1
7th: Troy Eakins of Nixa, Mo., 27-7
8th: Lothar (Shawn) Kowal of Linn Creek, Mo., 27-5
9th: Steve Ruff of Wentzville, Mo., 26-12
10th: Jeremy Lawyer of Sarcoxie, Mo., 26-8
Spinks boats four, hangs on to co-angler lead
Tony Spinks of Springfield, Mo., leads the Co-angler Division after two days of competition on his home lake. He caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 7 ounces while fishing with pro Daniel Porterfield of Clinton, Mo., Wednesday and four bass weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces while fishing with pro David Mangelsdorf of Barnheart, Mo., Thursday for a total of nine bass weighing 21-11. Thursday’s catch consisted of three largemouth bass and one spotted bass.
“A lot of luck was involved today,” said Spinks, a full-time bricklayer. “I caught one off the corner of a dock at 1:30 in the afternoon with a Pop-R.”
His main presentation is a 5/8-ounce football jig with a green-pumpkin Pacacraw trailer. He also throws the same jig with a Zoom twin-tail grub.
“This is exciting. I have my sons at home in Springfield keeping me on the phone for three hours.”
To prepare for his first Stren Series event, the Wal-Mart BFL veteran fished from the back of the boat for over two months. When he fishes with his sons, he’s used to running the trolling motor.
“I’m so familiar with the lake. When a guy takes me someplace, I’ve either been there or I’ve been near there. That gives me a ton of confidence.”
Rest of the best
Joe Waggoner caught one of only three five-bass limits on the co-angler side Thursday. His five-fish stringer, the heaviest of the three, weighed 12 pounds even, moving the Carthage, Mo., native into second place with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 14 ounces.
Also catching a limit was co-angler Tommy Lowery. His five weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces, pushing his total weight to 19 pounds, 2 ounces.
Ron Abbott of Lafayette, Ind., caught four small bass on day two that weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces. His two-day total stands at 15 pounds, 11 ounces, which was good enough for fourth place. Abbott took second at the previous Stren Central event on the Columbus Pool and is looking for a little revenge.
“I fished a Senko today and a buzzbait yesterday,” he said. “I’m shooting for 8 pounds a day, but with as tough as it has been, 5 pounds a day might be enough.”
Ed Shay of Chesterfield, Mo., moved up to fifth place after catching five bass that weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. Combined with his day-one weight of 3-11, his total now stands at 15 pounds, 10 ounces. Shay finished second at the season-opening Central Division event on Bull Shoals Lake.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day two on Lake of the Ozarks:
6th: Randy Fraser of New Florence, Mo., two-day total of 15-9
7th: Eugene Robinett of Springfield, Mo., 15-1
8th: Jeary Wheeler of Batesville, Ark., 13-12
9th: Chris Darby of Mount Ida, Ark., 13-9
10th: Anthony Lowrance of Dora, Ala., 13-4
The final day of the opening round begins at roughly 6:45 a.m. Central time Friday at the Grand Glaize Recreation Area.