Smith maintains lead, Crochet moves into second

The first day was easy for Louisiana’s Mark Smith, with the pro easily culling up on one stretch of water. The bite was a lot more difficult today, but Smith still managed 11 pounds, 11 ounces to maintain his lead in the Bassmaster Central Open in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin.

“I caught two limits of keeper yesterday, and today I just caught five fish,” said Smith, whose two-day total jumped to 26-1.

Fishing was decidedly more difficult today across the board, with most anglers complaining about fewer and more-finicky bites. There were only 17 limits brought to the scales.

“It was a very, very peculiar bite today,” Smith said. “I think possibly it’s the high pressure.”

Louisiana’s Cliff Crochet, who lives minutes from the boat landing, moves into the final day of competition in second place with 22-9. Texas’ Dale Jackson was tied with 21-6, and Florida’s Kyle A. Fox rounded out the top five with 2-13.

At stake for the Central Open pros are two Bassmaster Classic berths and seven Bassmaster Elite Series invitations based on points standings, as well as a top prize of $45,000 (based on a full field). Co-anglers are competing for a $32,000 boat rig.

Smith said he didn’t change a thing today.

“I fished the same area I did yesterday,” he said. “I have three areas, and yesterday two of them had other boats on them. Today three of them did, so I just stayed in that same area.”

Muddy water has been the norm throughout the system, but Smith said that played into his favor.

“From what I understand, the area I’m fishing is always stained,” he said. “So I don’t think the muddy water makes that much of a difference in there.”

While Smith felt good about his chances of a wire-to-wire vicgtory, the difficult bite had him nervous.

“I’ve still got a lot of confidence, but the bite was tougher,” Smith said. “Today I was lucky to get five (fish).”

On the co-angler side, Louisiana’s David Cooper remained in first with a 17-2 total. However, he said it wasn’t easy even though he was fortunate enough to be in the same area as on the first day.

“There were a whole lot more boats in the area,” Cooper said. “And I guess this high-pressure had them shut down.”
The points race has been shuffled, with points-race leader Todd Castledine of Texas stumbling to a 61st-place finish in the Atchafalaya Basin event. Crochet, who came into the event in sixth place, looks to be in control with his strong performance.

Competition wrap up tomorrow with launch taking place at the Belle River Boat Launch north of Moran City, La., followed by a 2:20 p.m. weigh-in. All events are free and open to the public.