JASPER, Texas – In some respects, Friday served up a helping of deja vu to pro Keith Caka of Huntsville, Texas. He fished the same area as on day one; he had nearly the same number of bites; and he again caught his kicker fish at the tail end of the day. The key difference? He ended today in first place, not fifth.
“I had seven bites today; I missed one fish,” he said. “In the last 10 minutes, I caught my kicker – just like yesterday.”
Caka improved upon his day-one weight of 13 pounds, 11 ounces by 14 ounces Friday for a two-day total of 28-4. He caught five-bass limits both days and is confident he can do it again during Saturday’s final day of FLW American Fishing Series competition.
“I think it’s just going to get better for me,” he said, adding that the long-awaited appearance of the sun this afternoon helped.
Also like yesterday, Caka wouldn’t specify the exact bait he is using, except to say he’s fishing “fast-moving baits” in 2 to 6 feet of water. If tomorrow is sunnier and warmer as predicted, the conditions will likely favor his shallow tactic, which he said he would reveal at the final weigh-in.
“I’m rotating between three spots on the south end of the lake (in the Buck Bay area),” he said.
Caka wasn’t the only pro to make a leap in the standings Friday. Randy Cisler of Mesquite, Texas, parlayed a massive 24 1/2-pound sack into a rocket ride up the leaderboard to land in second place with a two-day total of 28-1. He said his day started off with a good omen.
“A bird flies right over the boat and drops a perch in my lap,” he related. “I said, `This has got to be my lucky day.'”
Cisler’s stringer is by far the heaviest caught thus far in this Texas Division event, and he managed the weight with only four bass, one shy of a limit. Two of his largemouths were on par with the big bass for which Sam Rayburn has become famous over the years, including a 10 1/2-pounder that earned Cisler the day’s Big Bass honors and $294.
“My fifth fish came off twice,” Cisler said, though his spirits were far from dampened by the mishap – he was like a firecracker onstage when his weight, which dwarfed what he caught on day one by nearly 21 pounds, was announced.
“I was fishing in Norris Creek, in about 20-plus feet (of water), with a wacky worm on a Carolina rig,” he said. “I had about a bite an hour. I knew if I could stay slow, I could get the bites.”
Cisler has fished the same “football-field size area” both days of the tournament, and he’s one of the few in the field hoping for cloud cover again tomorrow, though he said he’s fishing deep enough that sunny skies may not hurt his pattern.
Bass-fishing luminary Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., came to Sam Rayburn this week to visit his friend Tommy Martin, another legend of the sport who made the cut today, and to basically give his boat a shake-down cruise before heading to Shreveport, La., for next week’s FLW Tour season opener on the Red River. And after about eight years away, he kind of missed Sam Rayburn. Apparently Sam missed Nixon, too, as it relinquished an 18-12 limit to the pro today to usher him into the top-10 cut in third place with a two-day total of 28 pounds.
“I decided I better get out and run my boat a little since I hadn’t … since September,” he said. “It’s a good thing I did; I had a bad battery.”
Nixon said he found a school of fish in about 32 to 34 feet of water “in the mid-lake area toward the bridge.” He caught a 9-4 limit yesterday, fishing a drop-shot with a black 5-inch Berkley Shaky Worm. Last night Martin told him that his co-angler had been catching them on a smoke-purple-flake worm, so Nixon gave it a try Friday.
“I did a lot better than I expected,” he said. “I just fished real patient the whole time.”
Instead of heading to Louisiana tomorrow to prefish for the Tour, Nixon will head back to his hot spot on Sam Rayburn that produced his 10-pound kicker fish.
Woods, Bebber round out top five
Pro Cody Woods of Jacksonville, Texas, dropped one slot Friday to fourth place with a five-bass limit weighing 11-5 for a two-day total of 27 pounds. Like yesterday, he said he fished a stickbait in the mid-lake area for much of his catch, switching to a Rat-L-Trap when the sun came out in the afternoon.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros after day two of the AFS Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir:
6th: Mike Moody of Alba, Texas, two-day total of 23-5
7th: Buz Craft of Vidalia, La., 22-9
8th: Robert Collett of Zapata, Texas, 21-5
9th: Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, 21-4
10th: Bud Pruitt of Houston, 20-9
Bo Standley’s big bass from day one – 10 pounds, 3 ounces – wasn’t quite enough to push him to the top of the Co-angler Division on Thursday, but it gave him the leverage to assume that position today. The Silsbee, Texas, native caught two bass yesterday and added two more today for a total weight of 15-13.
So while Standley remained consistent in numbers of fish, his weight dropped drastically. But yesterday’s co-angler leader, Clint May, zeroed today, opening the door for Standley, who will carry a 4-ounce lead into the finale.
Honeycutt vaults into second
The idea of a professional co-angler might constitute an oxymoron, but if such a thing could exist, Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, could be the poster boy. He has won more than $107,000 fishing from the back of the boat in FLW Outdoors events, including a 2007 championship win in the American Fishing Series (then called the Stren Series Championship) and another five top-10 finishes, one of which came from Sam Rayburn.
So it should hardly surprise FLW Outdoors tournament-fishing fans to learn that Honeycutt will earn another check here this week. More surprising is the fact that he had to climb 22 slots to claim the runner-up position today.
“I’ve caught fish both days on a Carolina rig and a (Zoom) Brush Hog,” he said. “I just downsized my line, downsized my bait and downsized my weight. I think it’s made a big difference.”
Indeed it has. Honeycutt caught his 10-14 limit Friday in the Buck Bay area from 25 to 30 feet of water. Yesterday he weighed in only 4 pounds, 11 ounces, giving him a two-day total of 15-9 and yet another top-10 finish, not to mention a chance at a second FLW Outdoors victory.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day two of the AFS Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir:
3rd: Clint May of La Porte, Texas, two-day total of 15-4
4th: Michael E. Taylor of Sam Rayburn, Texas, 15-0
5th: Kenneth Pellerin of Pasadena, Texas, 14-15
6th: Danny Cherry of Kountze, Texas, 14-14
7th: James “Bob” McKeithen of Baton Rouge, La., 14-7
8th: Brent Broussard of Nacogdoches, Texas, 14-2
9th: Sonny Kopech of Troup, Texas, 13-2
10th: Jeff Sprague of Forney, Texas, 12-13
Broussard earned the Co-angler Division Big Bass award and $196 for a 6 1/2-pound bass he caught while fishing with Nixon.
The top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers will advance to day three, the final day of the FLW American Fishing Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Takeoff will commence at about 6:45 a.m. Saturday from Umphrey Family Pavilion, located at 5438 Rural Route 255 West in Sam Rayburn, Texas.