Lack of wind, a lack of fish, and a broken trolling motor were all major storylines on day two of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, but the one that topped them all comes from Petal, Mississippi.
Cliff Pace managed to actually improve on his brilliant first-day performance, bringing a five-fish limit of 21 pounds, 12 ounces to the scales. His total weight of 43 pounds, 4 ounces puts him well out in front of second-place Brandon Palaniuk’s 36- 4, a seven-pound difference that looks almost insurmountable the way Pace has been fishing.
The Mississippi pro has a six and seven-pounder to thank for his big lead; any angler would love to have just one of those fish as a kicker, let alone two.
Pace himself can't explain why he's been getting the big bites.
“I really didn’t think I would catch them this well," Pace said. "I’ve been blessed to get some big bites and that’s why I’m in the lead. I had to commit to one thing - I had to commit to fishing the way I know I can catch a big one. I don’t get as many bites but I’ve gotten the right ones. I didn’t catch one until 10 a.m. today. If you get an opportunity in these tournaments you need to learn how to fish to win.
“Leading the Classic is awesome, but all that matters is tomorrow.”
Making a great charge on day two was Idaho’s Bradon Palaniuk, bringing in 19-10 to the scales. He had the same amount of bites today as he did on Friday, but fortunately for him they were quite a bit bigger on day two.
On stage at the weigh-in, Palaniuk told MC Dave Mercer that Grand Lake sets up a lot like back home, a big reason why he’s been finding success at this Classic.
“When I first saw this lake," Palaniuk said, "the first thing I noticed was identical water color to my home lake. The unique thing about Grand Lake is you have clear and stained water areas, allowing me to adapt to specific fish behavior. I am extremely focused and ready for whatever Mother Nature throws my way.
"I’m going to stick with my game plan because my bite is getting stronger every day."
While Palaniuk soared, day-one co-leader Mike Iaconelli faltered. Bringing just 13-11 to the stage on Saturday, Ike now sits eight pounds off the pace at 35- 3.
Unlike many other anglers in the field, the lack of wind did not stop Iaconelli from catching ‘em. Instead, a broken trolling motor just as the afternoon bite was heating up forced Iaconelli to switch boats.
The time it took to switch over gear and his electronics took valuable time away from a tournament that has so far been defined by limited windows of production.
Hank Cherry was one angler done in by the weather conditions. He blames to drop in wind velocity greatly contributed in his lack of bites, and it showed as he brought just 10-13 to the scales to sit at 31-12.
Rounding out the top five is Jason Christie with 31- 5. Like Cherry, the wind played a factor in Christie's performance.
“It was one of those days where everything that bit was 14 inches instead of 4 pounds," Christie said. "I had one big bite today and didn’t get it. Grand Lake is one of those lakes where when the wind doesn't blow it can be really tough."
While on stage getting his fish weighed, Christie said that anglers have to be within seven-eight pounds to have a realistic chance at winning the classic.
With his parameters in mind, only the top three current anglers could be crowned the winner of the 43rd edition of the Bassmaster Classic.
Seeing as how Pace is so far ahead, the only chance Ike and Palaniuk has is if they bring in monstrous sacks of their own, and that Pace falters.
Fortunately for many anglers in pursuit, wind is on the forecast for the final day, so more and bigger bites should be out there as well. Check back for more photos and updates from the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, with coverage provided by Wired2Fish.