DEL RIO, Texas – They'd probably prefer to have a little more shallow habitat than the low water levels Lake Amistad is currently offering, but anglers were able capitalize on the big shoreward movement of spawn-ready largemouth bass that day two delivered at the EverStart Series Texas Division event.
For starters, the second round saw eight bags over 20 pounds; six of them over 22. Also, quality bass were fairly commonplace, with several anglers weighing fish over 6 pounds for the Big Bass award. Pro leader Austin Terry held that distinction for about 20 minutes with one over 10 pounds, until T.W. Hardy lifted his 11-1 to the scales.
The fact that Lake Amistad has lost several feet of water to downstream irrigation needs has certainly done a number on the resident bass, as several competitors lamented a lack of consistency. However, warming water, sunny days and the approach of Saturday's full moon have triggered the fish's spawning instinct. Multiple reports of big fish cruising the shorelines underscored this much-anticipated occurrence and several anglers were able to capitalize on the opportunity.
Terry started the day in seventh place, but after sacking up the tournament's heaviest catch – 26 pounds, 1 ounce – the angler from San Angelo, Texas, moved into the top spot with 45-6 and a leading margin of 5-1. Terry said he did his damage in a spot where he knew that ripening conditions could deliver knockout potential.
"I found this area in practice and I knew that with the weather warming up it was going to turn right – I just didn't know if it would turn right in time for the tournament," he said. "I kind of keyed on something there yesterday that helped me out and I started catching them. Today, I keyed on something earlier and I started running with it – the same kind of pattern, but I changed up my baits and how I was working them."
"I was struggling, so I started swinging for the fence and I was like, 'Man, I need a big one,'" Terry said. "I caught a big one and I realized that I did something different on that cast and I thought I might have figured something out. I caught another big one; lost another big one. It's about to get good in there. It's an area that's getting better every day."
Terry didn't want to divulge too much about his area or tactics, but he said he was targeting shallow spawning areas where knew the fish would soon arrive. He's alternating among a trio of moving baits, with his better action coming in the second half of the day.
"The weather we've had the last couple of days has hurt me because I can't catch them until late," he said. "All the cloud cover and fog we've had in the morning has been putting them in a weird mood. The ones I'm catching earlier are only getting one hook, but later in the day, they're starting to eat."
Wilson rises to second
In terms of quantity, Montgomery, Texas pro Kris Wilson had a tougher go on day two. However, he did better in the quality category and improved his position from 10th to second with a 22-pound sack that raised his total to 40-5.
"The bite completely shut off on me and I caught like eight fish all day," Wilson said. "I caught (approximately) 20 yesterday, but I couldn't figure out what I needed to be doing to catch numbers today."
Wilson said he caught his day-two fish on jerkbaits and crankbaits. Targeting the lake's abundant hydrilla was the key for him. Most of his catches came in 3 to 4 feet.
Early action lifts Moore to third
Also making a big move was Shane Moore, of Argyle, Texas, who caught a limit of 22-12 and gained nine spots to place third on day two with 40-3. While many of his competitors reported faring best later in the day, Moore got off to a strong start.
"On my third cast, I caught (a 7-14) so that was a good start and I thought I was going to have a blessed day," he said. "I had a limit pretty early – probably 19 or 20 pounds by 9:30. I culled a few times, but it sure makes your day a lot easier when you have a good bag early."
Moore said he found most of his fish up shallow where he fished a squarebill crankbait around the fringe edges of the grass and ripped a lipless crankbait over grass with a couple feet of clearance. He also caught a 4-pounder out deep on a Carolina rig.
Schultz slips to fourth
Day-one leader Dusty Schultz saw his productivity decline on day two, as he yielded three spots to place fourth. The Willis, Texas, pro added 16 pounds to his first-day's catch of 23-2 for a total of 39-2.
Schultz said he caught his fish on moving baits. He had plenty of action, but just struggled to find the bigger fish.
"I had to go through a lot of fish today," he said. "I started out with a limit really quick and then there was a little lull from 10-11 a.m. I heard people say that when the sun came out they caught 'em. For me, when the sun came out, it died. Once we had some clouds the last hour or two, it picked right up."
Combs climbs to fifth
"I only got one day of practice so yesterday I just fished and covered water," Combs said. "Today, I did the same thing and covered new water. It was better water. I didn't get many bites, but they were good ones today.
"I'm fishing reaction baits. I think I have something special, so I'm not going to mention anything (about baits) yet, but I'm just covering water. They're not stacked up anywhere."
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Lake Amistad event:
6th: Mark Rouse of League City, Texas, 38-2
7th: Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, 37-7
8th: Gene J. Eisenmann of Frisco, Texas, 36-14
9th: TW Hardy of Silsbee, Texas, 35-15
10th: Lamonte Loyd of Gilmer, Texas, 35-6
Scott stays atop co-angler division
"It was a little slower today; I only culled once," Scott said. "Fortunately, I had a few decent fish."
Similar to day one, Scott caught his fish on a variety of baits including a jig, chatterbait, crankbait and drop-shot. All of his fish came shallow.
"We saw several big fish cruising shallow today," Scott said. "There's carp everywhere; it's warming up and things are starting to look good."
Johnny Matthews, of Laguna Park, Texas placed second with 28-9, while Kevin Gressett, of Tioga, Texas, took third with 27-9. Justin Cogburn, of Eastland, Texas, moved into fourth place with 26-13 and David Wharton, of Del Rio, Texas was fifth with 26-9.
Best of the rest
6th: Dan Wilson, of Pilot Point, Texas, 26-6
7th: Kerry Barnett, of Waldron, Ark., 26-1
8th: James Lynn, of Georgetown, Texas, 26-0
9th: Justin Lampier, of San Angelo, Texas, 25-13
10th: Brendan Kennell, of Del Rio, Texas, 25-11
Walter Caddell earned Big Bass honors on the co-angler side with a 6-10.
Day three of EverStart Series Texas Division action on Lake Amistad continues at Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. (Central) at the Diablo East Boat Launch in Del Rio, Texas.