UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Helton heads to the top

Helton heads to the top
A day of junk fishing pushed Mike Helton into the co-angler lead on day two of the Forrest Wood Cup.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - With Lake Ouachita returning to its typical summer complexion after a cloudy, rainy and much cooler day one, Forrest Wood Cup co-anglers knew their standings would likely change, but few could have predicted the tight groupings at the top end.

Mike Helton, of Jeffersonville, Ind. moved up two notches to take the lead with 21-11, while day-one leader Spencer Shuffield slipped to second, just 7 ounces back at 21-4. Chris Hults follows in third with 20-9 - only 8 ounces ahead of fourth-place Jeffrey Cummins who had 20-1. Fifth-place Patrick Stines trails by a mere 1 ounce at 20 pounds.

Mostly sunny skies prevailed today, but Helton found the moderate morning conditions conducive toMike Helton holds a 7-ounce margin over Spencer Shuffield. the surface bite. Initial success had his hopes high, but the day slid into an arduous task of looking for fish willing to bite in the bath water.

"This morning, we went out and I caught a couple good fish early with the cloud cover," he said. "I thought that might be the ticket, but that died out, so we went to a couple of other locations and I ended up catching one on a dropshot and a couple of them on a worm.

"We kind of just junk fished around but my partner today, Jeff Michels did everything he could to get me everywhere I needed to be. He's a great guy and I really appreciate it."

Helton held his cards low on the topwater specifics, but he said he was dropshotting a Zoom trick worm and Texas rigging a 10-inch worm - both in plum color. The big worm produced his biggest fish of the day.

"Today, the better catches were right at the end of the day," he said. "The bigger fish came with an hour to go. The ones I caught this morning were smaller fish and I was able to cull at the end of the day, which helped out. My fifth fish was my biggest - it was close to three pounds. That was a good upgrade."

Shuffield sinks to second

Day-one leader Spencer Shuffield had a tough time sticking his topwater fish today.Hailing from Bismark, Ark., Shuffield caught just three keepers for 6 pounds, 2 ounces on day two, but his strong day-one weight of 14-8 buoyed his total and kept him within striking distance. Nevertheless, Shuffield said he was disappointed with his second-round performance.

Like his pro partner, Bryan Thrift, he threw a topwater all day - his was a Luckycraft Sammy in American shad. He managed to attract plenty of attention, but most of the fish that rose for a look were either non-committal or lackadaisical in their attempts.

"I actually had the opportunity to have another 14 and a half pounds like I did yesterday," he said. "They just wouldn't commit to it today. They'd just nip at my bait. Honestly, I was lucky to get the three that I got."

Shuffield said his day started slowly and the late morning hours held his only streak of productivity. "I didn't catch my first keeper until probably 10 o'clock today and I caught my third one at 11:30 and I never caught another keeper after that.

"I had a 3 1/2-pounder this morning right off. It was hooked for a second and it came off. I had a couple more that would come up and grab the bait bait but I didn't get a hook in them. It's kinda funny that you have six hooks on that bait and a fish can grab it and not get hooked. I don't know how that can happen."

Consistent Hults improves to third

Hults, who makes his home in Vancleave, Miss., has been Mr. Consistency over two days of fishing.Another 10-pound bag on day two moved Chris Hults up five notches to third. After posting a day-one weight of 10-3, he bagged 10-6 today. The same could not be said for the day-two weather, so Hults had to make an adjustment from his topwater tactics of day one. Day two again saw him seeking the surface bites, and while he wouldn't divulge his lure selection, he did say that it differed significantly from what he threw yesterday.

"I had to catch them a different way because it was really bright and sunny," Hults said. "I caught all but one of my fish on a topwater but it was a different topwater than yesterday."

Hults said that a shad-colored bait worked best. He caught one of his topwater fish in about 35 feet of water and the rest came in three to four feet. Three of his fish bit around old bridge rubble.

"It was a grind, so I just had to keep my head down," Hults said. "I caught five keepers yesterday and I caught the last keeper with a few minutes left to go. It was the same thing today. The last keeper came with about five minutes left to go."

Fourth place

The biggest comeback of the tournament belonged to Jeffrey Cummins who rose 42 spots to fourth place with the dayCummins, of Marion, Ohio, got off to a disappointing start on day one with a single fish that weighed 2 pounds, 6 ounces. Today, he overcame what was nearly a self-defeating outlook and rallied to a huge comeback by catching 17-11 - the day's biggest sack - and jumping from 46th place to fourth.

"Words really can't describe this," said an emotional Cummins. "I was planning on going home last night. I was packing things up. This is my first time at the Forrest Wood Cup and it's an honor to be here. I just couldn't believe I could make this big of a comeback today.

Paired with day-one leader Scott Martin, Cummins fished Texas-rigged plastics today. A creeping pace, he said, was essential to getting his bites.

"I was fishing really slowly," Cummins said. "It's hot out there. I'm not used to this heat and I know these fish aren't either."

Sunshine helps Stines

Stines, who moved up from 11th place, caught his fish by working a ¼-ounce shaky head with a greenWorking a shaky head around brush piles was the ticket for Patrick Stines. pumpkin Zoom trick worm around brush piles. Today's sunny weather had the fish holding tighter to cover and that worked in his favor.

"I don't know if it was the cloud cover yesterday that pushed the fish off the brush, but today, I just happened to get a couple of key bites," Stines said. "I caught one early in the morning but it got better as the day went on."

Best of the rest

Hometown angler Dakota Lucy bagged a 5-pounder that helped him make the final cut in ninth place.Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the Forrest Wood Cup were:

6th: Paul Mueller, of Southbury, Conn., 19-6
7th: Shane Winchester, of Glasgow, Ky., 18-5
8th: Matthew Nadeau, of Grass Valley, Calif., 17-0
9th: Dakota Lucy, of Hot Springs, Ark., 16-15
10th: Guy Williams, of Menifee, Calif., 16-5

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Central time from Brady Mountain Resort & Marina located at 4120 Brady Mountain Rd. in Royal, Ark.

Tags: david-a-brown  co-angler-headline  2011-08-11-forrest-wood-cup-lake-ouachita 

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