By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


There were seven anglers on pace to weigh 100 pounds of smallmouths after day 1 of the St. Lawrence River Bassmaster Elite Series. There was only one after day 2, and he wasn't a member of the original group.

Brandon Lester, who needs a very high finish in the regular-season finale to qualify for next month's Angler of the Year Championship event in Georgia, boxed 25-13 to move from 11th place to 1st at the halfway point with a 50-01 total. He had the vast majority of his day-best stringer by 9:30 a.m.

He'll go into the weekend with an 11-ounce edge over David Walker, who retained the No. 2 position by catching a 22-14 stringer that gave him a 49-06 aggregate. Josh Bertrand, a serious contender in the AOY race, was next with 48-09 (22-14 on day 2).

Jesse Wiggins moved into the 4th slot as he caught a 22-11 bag for a 47-04 total. Justin Lucas, Bertrand's good friend and his closest pursuer on the points list, boxed 23-00 to complete the top 5 with 46-12.

Here's a look at the top 12 after two rounds (deficit margins from the leader are indicated by red numbers in parentheses):

1. Brandon Lester: 50-01
2. David Walker: 49-06 (0-11)
3. Josh Bertrand: 48-09 (1-08)
4. Jesse Wiggins: 47-04 (2-13)
5. Justin Lucas: 46-12 (3-05)
6. Brandon Palaniuk: 46-11 (3-06)
7. Bobby Lane: 46-07 (3-10)
8. Jason Elam: 46-01 (4-00)
9. Mike McClelland: 45-14 (4-03)
10. Chris Lane: 45-13 (4-04)
11. Mike Iaconelli: 45-13 (4-04)
12. Jacob Powroznik: 45-13 (4-04)

Overall weights were down a tick in the wake of a phenomenal day 1 that saw 53 bags of 20 pounds or more come to the scale in Waddington, N.Y. There were 34 such stringers on Friday.

Previous leader Matt Lee, who caught 27-12 in the opening round (an Elite Series record for an all-smallmouth haul), managed just over half that on day 2 and dropped to 31st place. Dean Rojas (7th to 28th with 17-04 on day 2) and Dave Lefebre (8th to 39th, 15-02) also dropped out of the top 25.

Of the six new members of the top 12, 2013 St. Lawrence winner and reigning AOY Brandon Palaniuk made by for the biggest move, climbing from 43rd to 6th with a 46-11 stringer. None of the other newcomers jumped more than 11 places.

It's become evident that the tournament will be won with dropshot rigs in deep, moving water where the big bronzebacks are gathered up and feasting on gobies. A few quality fish are coming from 10 feet or shallower, but they're mostly random bites.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

David Walker's action was slower on day 2, but he nonetheless ran into some quality.

The day-3 weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 83 degrees with winds from the south/southwest remaining light to moderate.

The field will be reduced to the top 12 following Saturday's weigh-in, with the winner determined Sunday based on cumulative weight.

Lester Loading Up Early

> Day 2: 5, 25-13 (10, 50-01)

Many competitors are compiling most of their weight in the latter part of the day. Lester is an exception, as he's been enjoying some hot action in the initial hours.

"They've been biting good early for me," he said. "I got a 5-pounder on my first drop and for the next couple hours it was wide open. Every time I'd set the hook it was a big one.

"I lost one big one that went back down to the bottom and cut me off on a rock. I'd just got done catching my biggest one (a 5 1/2) and that bite came from the same spot and I'm sure it was a 5-plus. That's just part of smallmouth fishing with light line."

He's working a fairly wide depth range 25 to 40 feet. He made one cull late in the day from much shallower water as he caught a 4 1/2-pounder while he was basically killing time.

"I fished two little places this morning one that I had all to myself and one that I'm sharing with one other competitor. Honestly, I wasn't catching these big ones in practice, but I was just getting a bite or two and then leaving.

"I know there's more there and I hope there's more coming, so I'm hoping I can keep doing it."

2nd: Walker's Action Slower

> Day 2: 5, 22-14 (10, 49-06)

Walker's bag was 3 1/2 pounds lighter than the one he caught the previous day, but that didn't cost him in the standings and he's actually now closer to the lead from a weight perspective.

"It was definitely a slower bite and I don't know why," he said. "Some of it is up to the fish. This was really what felt like the first slow day this week (including practice).

A 5-12 specimen was the biggest fish in his bag. He boated, "a good number" of keepers, although most were on the smallish side. He lost a few fish early in the day, but said they wouldn't have helped in the end.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Josh Bertrand gained a spot in the standings despite a bag that was almost 3 pounds lighter than his day-1 haul.

"I'm ping-ponging around a bunch and hitting some key places. I keep trying to find new spots, but I really haven't as of yet. It's probably going to be more of the same tomorrow and hopefully the results are the same.

"Whoever wins is going to keep catching them there's not going to be some dramatic deal where no more fish will be caught. I'll stick with the game plan and grind it out and see where I end up."

3rd: No Monsters for Bertrand

> Day 2: 5, 22-14 (10, 48-09)

Bertrand gained one position in the standings even though his bag was almost 3 pounds less than what he scaled the previous day.

"It went pretty much the same way, but I just didn't get any of those really big bites today," he said. "The biggest I had was a (4 3/4-pounder).

"I caught 15 to 20 keepers, but they were spread out and I had a couple lulls again. I just kept chipping away toward the final weight all day long."

He sees no reason why he can't continue to catch big bags.

"I think I can, but I need to time things right. There are plenty of fish where I'm fishing and throughout the whole river. I need to fish well, fish clean and stay patient.

"There aren't a bunch of opportunities for big bites and if you're lucky enough to hook a 5-pounder, you need to put it in the boat."

4th: Late Bite Lifted Wiggins

> Day 2: 5, 22-11 (10, 47-04)

Wiggins said the number of keeper bites he got dropped from 25 on day 1 to about 15 in the second round.

"I'm not out there catching a bunch of 4-pounders by any means," he said. "I caught one that was almost 6 late in the day and it really saved me. Without it, I'd have had just a little over 20 pounds.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Jesse Wiggins thinks he'll need at least 25 pounds on day 3 to stay in contention for the win.

"The fish I weighed in were the only five really good ones I caught. I think the main thing was we plucked a lot of 'em dry yesterday."

He's not fishing as deep as some contenders his range is 8 to 30 feet.

"I have no idea what I can catch tomorrow I just know that a lot of big fish live in this place. I'll need 25 pounds tomorrow to have a chance to win. I still think it's going to take almost 100 pounds."

31st: Lee Befuddled

> Day 2: 5, 14-04

Lee was at a loss to explain where all of his big bites went.

"I have no clue," he said. "I had probably 15 bites yesterday and six were big ones. Today I fished all the same areas and added some more and I got three bites, and all of them were little. It's just crazy and last time I was here I had almost the same thing happen."

He said he went approximately 4 1/2 hours without a bite. He went shallow at 12:30 and improved his weight from 9 pounds to 14.

"I caught them all on a dropshot yesterday and today I tried a Ned rig and all kinds of stuff like that and I could not get them to bite. You can't throw too many different baits because the current's so swift; like a nail rig is out of the question because it'll just drift right past them.

"I'll have to go and try it again tomorrow because I don't have any other way to catch 25-plus. This game is so frustrating; yesterday I caught the biggest smallmouth bag in the history of the Elite Series and (the thrill of that) lasted for about 10 hours."

Notable

> Day 2 stats 107 anglers, 99 limits (5 fewer than day 1), 1 four, 1 three, 1 two, 2 ones, 3 zeroes (three more than day 1).

Weather Forecast

> Sat., Aug. 25 Partly Cloudy - 83/66
- Wind: From the SSW at 9 mph

> Sun., Aug. 26 Scattered T-Storms - 80/66
- Wind: From the SW at 11 mph

Day 2 Standings

1. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 10, 50-01 -- 110
Day 1: 5, 24-04 -- Day 2: 5, 25-13

2. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 10, 49-06 -- 109
Day 1: 5, 26-08 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14

3. Josh Bertrand -- San Tan Valley, AZ -- 10, 48-09 -- 108
Day 1: 5, 25-11 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14

4. Jesse Wiggins -- Cullman, AL -- 10, 47-04 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 24-09 -- Day 2: 5, 22-11

5. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 46-12 -- 106
Day 1: 5, 23-12 -- Day 2: 5, 23-00

6. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 10, 46-11 -- 105
Day 1: 5, 20-15 -- Day 2: 5, 25-12

7. Bobby Lane Jr. -- Lakeland, FL -- 10, 46-07 -- 104
Day 1: 5, 24-00 -- Day 2: 5, 22-07

8. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 10, 46-01 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 21-04

9. Mike McClelland -- Bentonville, AR -- 10, 45-14 -- 102
Day 1: 5, 24-01 -- Day 2: 5, 21-13

10. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 45-13 -- 101
Day 1: 5, 23-14 -- Day 2: 5, 21-15

11. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 10, 45-13 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 23-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09

12. Jacob Powroznik -- North Prince George, VA 10 -- 45-13 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 22-14 -- Day 2: 5, 22-15

13. Mark Daniels Jr. -- Tuskegee, AL -- 10, 44-09 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 22-11

14. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 10, 44-08 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 22-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-04

15. Ott DeFoe -- Blaine, TN -- 10, 44-05 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 22-14 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07

16. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 10, 44-04 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10

17. Randall Tharp -- Port St. Joe, FL -- 10, 43-12 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 22-09 -- Day 2: 5, 21-03

18. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 10, 43-11 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 26-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11

19. Roy Hawk -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 10, 43-11 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 22-05

20. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 10, 43-10 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 25-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-15

21. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 10, 43-08 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 21-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-04

22. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 10, 43-07 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 25-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00

23. Seth Feider -- Bloomington, MN -- 10, 43-06 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11

24. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 10, 43-00 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09

25. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 10, 42-12 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 23-04 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08

26. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 10, 42-12 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 22-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12

27. Gerald Spohrer -- Gonzales, LA -- 10, 42-08 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 22-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09

28. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 10, 42-04 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 25-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04

29. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 10, 42-03 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 23-14

30. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 10, 42-01 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 22-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-14

31. Matt Lee -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 42-00 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 27-12 -- Day 2: 5, 14-04

32. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, TN -- 10, 41-15 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10

33. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 10, 41-00 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 20-13

34. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 10, 40-12 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14

35. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 10, 40-11 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 21-10 -- Day 2: 5, 19-01

36. Dustin Connell -- Clanton, AL -- 10, 40-06 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 19-05

37. John Murray -- Spring City, TN -- 10, 40-05 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 23-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-08

38. Alton Jones Jr. -- Waco, TX -- 10, 40-02 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 18-07

39. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, PA -- 10, 39-15 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

40. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 10, 39-14 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 23-03 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11

41. Darrell Ocamica -- New Plymouth, ID -- 10, 39-13 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 19-02

42. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 10, 39-13 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 19-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-02

43. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 10, 39-10 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 21-10 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00

44. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 10, 39-09 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10

45. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 10, 39-07 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13

46. Shaw Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 10, 39-06 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 22-09 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13

47. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 10, 39-02 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 19-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-15

48. Fred Roumbanis -- Russellville, AR -- 10, 39-00 -- 63
Day 1: 5, 18-06 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10

49. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 10, 38-14 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 17-15 -- Day 2: 5, 20-15

50. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 10, 38-11 -- 61
Day 1: 5, 17-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-05

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 3.

51. Jonathon VanDam -- Gobles, MI -- 10, 38-05 -- 60
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-15

52. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 10, 38-02 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 18-09 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09

53. Chris Zaldain -- Laughlin, NV -- 10, 38-02 -- 58
Day 1: 5, 19-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-10

54. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 10, 38-00 -- 57
Day 1: 5, 20-09 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07

55. Jacob Wheeler -- Harrison, TN -- 10, 38-00 -- 56
Day 1: 5, 17-12 -- Day 2: 5, 20-04

56. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 10, 37-14 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07

57. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 10, 37-14 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 19-01 -- Day 2: 5, 18-13

58. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 10, 37-09 -- 53
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 17-06

59. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 10, 37-07 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 17-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08

60. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 10, 36-14 -- 51
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11

61. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, CA -- 10, 36-12 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 23-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10

62. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 10, 36-05 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 22-06 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15

63. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 10, 36-02 -- 48
Day 1: 5, 17-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-10

64. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 10, 35-14 -- 47
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12

65. Shin Fukae -- Palestine, TX -- 10, 35-14 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 17-06 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08

66. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 10, 35-13 -- 45
Day 1: 5, 19-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-03

67. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 10, 35-11 -- 44
Day 1: 5, 15-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11

68. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 10, 35-09 -- 43
Day 1: 5, 17-06 -- Day 2: 5, 18-03

69. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 35-08 -- 42
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01

70. Jordan Lee -- Grant, AL -- 10, 35-03 -- 41
Day 1: 5, 18-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-15

71. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 10, 35-01 -- 40
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 15-10

72. Kelly Jordon -- Flint, TX -- 10, 34-12 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 14-02 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10

73. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 10, 34-11 -- 38
Day 1: 5, 19-04 -- Day 2: 5, 15-07

74. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 10, 34-07 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11

75. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 10, 34-07 -- 36
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 17-10

76. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 10, 34-04 -- 35
Day 1: 5, 17-12 -- Day 2: 5, 16-08

77. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, TN -- 10, 33-15 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 15-04

78. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 10, 33-12 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 13-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12

79. Gerald Swindle -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 33-11 -- 32
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 12-00

80. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 10, 33-11 -- 31
Day 1: 5, 15-03 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08

81. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 10, 33-09 -- 30
Day 1: 5, 20-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-08

82. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 10, 33-09 -- 29
Day 1: 5, 18-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15

83. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 10, 33-08 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03

84. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 10, 33-07 -- 27
Day 1: 5, 18-02 -- Day 2: 5, 15-05

85. Gary Klein -- Mingus, TX -- 10, 33-05 -- 26
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

86. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 10, 33-01 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 15-08 -- Day 2: 5, 17-09

87. Fletcher Shryock -- Dennison, OH -- 10, 32-06 -- 24
Day 1: 5, 18-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05

88. Randy Howell -- Guntersville, AL -- 10, 32-03 -- 23
Day 1: 5, 17-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

89. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 10, 32-01 -- 22
Day 1: 5, 16-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-00

90. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 10, 31-14 -- 21
Day 1: 5, 16-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15

91. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 10, 31-12 -- 20
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 17-02

92. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 9, 30-14 -- 19
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 4, 16-06

93. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 8, 30-11 -- 18
Day 1: 3, 12-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-03

94. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 10, 30-06 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 11-05 -- Day 2: 5, 19-01

95. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 10, 30-06 -- 16
Day 1: 5, 13-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-00

96. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 10, 28-15 -- 15
Day 1: 5, 14-04 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11

97. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 10, 28-04 -- 14
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 12-02

98. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 10, 28-02 -- 13
Day 1: 5, 12-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15

99. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka, Japan -- 10, 27-14 -- 12
Day 1: 5, 12-02 -- Day 2: 5, 15-12

100. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 7, 24-07 -- 11
Day 1: 4, 12-11 -- Day 2: 3, 11-12

101. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 7, 22-12 -- 10
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 2, 04-05

102. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 6, 20-09 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 1, 04-07

103. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 19-04 -- 8
Day 1: 0, 00-00 -- Day 2: 5, 19-04

104. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 17-03 -- 7
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00

105. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 6, 17-01 -- 6
Day 1: 5, 15-11 -- Day 2: 1, 01-06

106. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 14-14 -- 5
Day 1: 5, 14-14 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00

107. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 12-10 -- 4
Day 1: 5, 12-10 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00