UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Wham, bam, thank you, Sam

Wham, bam, thank you, Sam
Stephen Johnston took the lead at Sam Rayburn with a 19-pound, 9-ounce day-two catch that brought his total weight to 38-1.

JASPER, Texas - Some had predicted the bite on Sam Rayburn would be even stronger today, and those projections turned out to be very true, as Stren Series Texas Division competitors hauled in 1,131 bass weighing more than 2,683 pounds on the second day of competition.

Indeed, competitors weighed in 200 more bass today than yesterday, and Thursday's total weight exceeded Wednesday's by almost 500 pounds. One hundred and nineteen anglers brought in a limit, compared to just 82 yesterday. And the granddaddy of them all, a massive This 10-pound, 14-ounce monster earned Ronnie Hopkins Jr. $300 as the pro big-bass winner and is easily the heaviest bass caught in the tournament so far.10-pound, 14-ounce whopper, was weighed in by Ronnie Hopkins Jr. to take the pro Snickers Big Bass award, and co-angler Steve Evans brought in an impressive 8-pound, 15-ouncer to take the Snickers Big Bass award in his division.

Leaping out in front of the Pro Division is Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, with a two-day total catch of 38 pounds, 1 ounce. He brought in 18-8 yesterday to land in the No. 2 spot and followed that up today with 19-9 to take the lead by 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

A local guide, Johnston applied his extensive knowledge of Sam Rayburn to catch his bass, running around when a lot of people thought the smart thing to do was to sit still.

"I first went to an area where I did not catch anything yesterday," Johnston said. "I caught a 5 1/2-pounder right off the bat and then caught two more small fish."

With fish swimming in his livewell, Johnston began roaming around, essentially practicing for the final two days of competition.

"I covered a bunch more water, looking for something for the third day," he said. "I caught 10 keepers."

Because Johnston is so familiar with Sam Rayburn, he had a handle on what these terribly confused fish might be up to. Conditions that have thrown them in a tizzy include a cold front, then a warming trend, plus high water followed by a drawdown.

"These fish, they're not staying (in one place)," he said. "I'm trying to find fish that are swimming up and feeding. Today I went to a place I hadn't been to in a couple of years."

So far, Johnston's ticket to success has been the Sebile crankbait, which he says was effective early in the day today. Then he was forced to slow down.

"The whole deal is getting the big bite," he said. "It's been tough - it's changing daily."

What is definitely changing is the weather, as temperatures tonight will dip into the low 40s with a high tomorrow of only 53. That's notably cooler than the upper 60s and low 70s that the competitors have enjoyed the last few days. Even with a cold front coming in, Johnston expects to find his fish where he left them.

"I think most of mine will stay where they are," he said. "They'd already backed off because of the falling water. These fish are in shock, really."

Randy Millender caught the dayNot much hinders Millender

Behind Johnston in the second position is Randy Millender of Teague, Texas, who brought in 35 pounds, 7 ounces over two days, including today's heaviest pro catch, a limit that rang in at 22 pounds even. That's quite a ways from the 13 pounds, 7 ounces Millender brought in yesterday.

"The fish are kind of ganged up in small areas," Millender said. "You can fish a lot of areas and not catch one, but there's liable to be six to 10 of them in one spot. The fish aren't spread out."

Millender obviously hit the mother lode today and said he figured out a little something on his last day of practice.

"The fish are at the mouth of a spawning area," he said. "The clouds helped today, and I expect it to be better tomorrow."

If that holds true, Millender could be one to watch.

"I've got two or three spots where I can catch them, and I've got three different ways to catch them," he said.

Behind Millender in third place is yesterday's leader Charles Haralson with a two-day total catch of 34 pounds, 7 ounces.

No. 4 pro Frank LeBaron boosted his catch with an 8-pound, 7-ouncer.No. 4 LeBaron brings in a big one

Aided by an 8-pound, 7-ouncer, Frank LeBaron of Lake Charles, La., eased into the No. 4 position with a two-day catch of 32 pounds, 1 ounce. LeBaron caught 12-9 on the first day and improved his catch today with a limit totaling 19 pounds, 8 ounces. He owes his success today to the 8-7 which he says was a challenge getting in the boat.

"It was wrapped around a tree in 3 1/2 feet of water," LeBaron said. "My partner (Toby Wallace) reached down and got it. He really got that fish for me."

LeBaron reported catching his bass today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and he caught them out of three different spots.

"We caught a few deep fish today," he said. "Every day I've been able to catch two or three 4-pounders, and I hope I can do it tomorrow. I may have to cover new water."

Dicky Newberry retained his fifth-place position with a total weight of 31-9.Newberry holds steady at fifth

Yesterday's No. 5 pro, Dicky Newberry of Houston, held that position today with a two-day total catch of 31 pounds, 9 ounces. His weight of 14-6 was a little down from his day-one catch of 17-3.

"I'm running all over the lake," said Newberry, adding that he has spent most of his life fishing Sam Rayburn. "I'm burning 30 gallons of gas a day. My deal is I don't think there is a group of fish that can hold up for four days."

Newberry admits that the next two days will demand that he slow down his fishing style.

"I've got three to four areas with fish in them, and I'm doing whatever it takes to catch them," he said. "I struggled mighty hard today. I'm getting it narrowed down to two to three places, and I will start slowing down. Right now I'm just looking for the aggressive fish."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day two on Sam Rayburn:

6th: Cody Malone, Morgan, Texas, 10 bass, 31-3
7th: Jeff Buchanan, Zavalla, Texas, 10 bass, 30-6
8th: Tommy Durham, Waxahachie, Texas, 10 bass, 30-3
9th: John Bond, Owasso, Okla., 10 bass, 28-7
10th: Rusty Hall, Shelbyville, Texas, 10 bass, 28-3

Kerry Barnett leads the Co-angler Division by more than 4 pounds with a two-day total weight of 32 pounds, 6 ounces.Barnett takes commanding lead of Co-angler Division

Jumping out to a 4-pound, 6-ounce lead in the Co-angler Division is Kerry Barnett of Waldron, Ark. Barnett brought in 13-5 on day one and followed that up today with another 19 pounds, 1 ounce for a two-day total of 32 pounds, 6 ounces. That weight, which would have been good for fourth on the pro side, was anchored today by an 8-pound, 6-ouncer.

"I had a good day," Barnett said. "I had my limit by 10:30, and that big fish was the third fish I caught. I've done the same thing the last couple of days, doing the same thing I've been doing for years. I've had two tremendous partners."

Barnett said the cold front that recently hit Sam Rayburn actually helped his bite.

"The cold front changed the fish," he said. "They've pulled back out to the bushes, which has made it to where I could catch more of them."

Barnett edged his brother Emmet Barnett, who ended day two in 20th place with a two-day catch of 17-9.

No. 3 co-angler Joey Teer holds up an 8-pounder.Cherry, Teer enjoy huge catches

Bringing in the heaviest stringer of the day was No. 2 co-angler Danny Cherry of Kountze, Texas, with a 22-pound, 3-ounce limit that was a far cry from his day-one catch of 5 pounds, 13 ounces. He fished today with well-known Texas pro Wade Middleton, currently in 78th place in his division.

No. 3 co-angler Joey Teer brought in the day's second-heaviest weight, 22 pounds, 2 ounces, to bring his two-day total to 27 pounds, 8 ounces.

"I think they were turned on by the weather," Teer said. "It was better today. My partner, David Vance, put me on some fish. I think I found what lure they'll eat best."

Vance is currently in 26th place on the pro side and brought in 18-8 himself today for a boat total of 40 pounds, 10 ounces.

Best of the rest

In fourth place with 24 pounds, 7 ounces over two days is perennial co-angler contender Bill Rogers of Jasper, Texas. Phillip Hudnall of Newkirk, Okla., also posted a 24-7 two-day total to sit behind Rogers in fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day two on Sam Rayburn:

6th: Kenny Moser, Alba, Texas, nine bass, 24-6
7th: Jay Childs, Houston, seven bass, 23-15
8th: Jimmy Ballard, Powderly, Texas, 10 bass, 23-12
9th: Alan Moore, Lufkin, Texas, nine bass, 23-4
10th: Clint May, La Porte, Texas, seven bass, 21-1

The full field will continue competition tomorrow, following which both the pro and co-angler fields will be cut to the top 10 based on combined three-day weights. Saturday's winners will be determined by the heaviest four-day catch. Friday's takeoff will commence at 7 a.m. CST from the Umphrey Family Pavilion, located off Highway 255 West in Sam Rayburn.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-02-07-sam-rayburn 

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