Ultimate Bass

Jami Fralick Takes Lead

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. – With rain falling mid-afternoon and temperatures dropping Saturday, Jami Fralick of Martin, S.D., stayed as cool as the water around him to move up from second place into the lead…

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. – With rain falling mid-afternoon and temperatures dropping Saturday, Jami Fralick of Martin, S.D., stayed as cool as the water around him to move up from second place into the lead on Day Two of the 39th Bassmaster Classic on the Red River.

Fralick’s two-day total of 38 pounds, 9 ounces gave him a thin cushion of 8 ounces over 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif. Reese moved up from 13th place, thanks to his Saturday bag, a five-fish limit of 22 pounds, 9 ounces that gave him 38-1 overall.

Only the top 25 contenders advanced to Day Three and will compete for the $500,000 top prize. Adding to the suspense of Sunday’s final round of competition, the record overall weight at a Bassmaster Classic – 56 pounds, 2 ounces – could fall.

Fralick, who qualified for his second Classic via the Bassmaster Central Open division, has been flipping a jig around grass and laydowns in one location. He credited his success in part to the fact that he fishes the Red River regularly, second only to his home waters in South Dakota, becoming quite comfortable on the Red’s Port Lake in particular.

“I really just try to keep everything on a pretty even keel,” Fralick said. “I didn’t approach this tournament any differently than I approach any other.”

While Fralick enjoyed relative solitude in his spot Friday, a few more anglers arrived Saturday. With the field cut to 25 for the final day of competition, he said he felt sure he would have to share Sunday only with Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., who is in sixth with 34 pounds, 13 ounces.

Reese’s Saturday haul – caught on a white Lucky Craft Redemption spinnerbait – was just shy of being the big bag of the day, an honor that went to fellow Bassmaster Elite Series pro Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., with a 22-11 haul.

“I had a game plan and it somewhat paid off a little bit better than I anticipated today. What’s going to happen tomorrow with this cold front is a whole other story,” Reese said. “I made an adjustment in some water and actually fished where I was supposed to be fishing, the really pretty water where the bass really were. I caught them and thought, well, why didn’t I fish here yesterday?”

As Day One leader, 2007 Classic champ Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., and several other front-runners struggled, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. (36-3), Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas (35-15) and Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala. (35-10), remained consistent, capitalizing on an aggressive bite that Martens called a “rampage.”

“These fish, when they get a cold snap like this, they go on a feeding binge,” Martens said. “The conditions aren’t right for spawning, so they go ahead and start feeding again. If you were on them today, they were biting aggressively.”

Martens added that the bite would stay strong regardless of the changing weather conditions. Sunday’s temperature forecast for Sunday’s 7:15 a.m. launch was in the low 30s.

“The weather before we got here was really, really warm,” Evers said. “Air temperature changes a lot more quickly than water temperature, so what’s really changing for our bodies is not changing the water like you think it would.”

Some among the top five anglers believe a bag of 20 pounds or more will be possible.

“Somebody’s going to bring in 20 pounds tomorrow,” Fralick said. “This place just has a bunch of 4-pound class fish in it.”

Added Reese: “I think this tournament is going to be won in the last two hours.”

The 2008 Toyota Tundra Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year Kim Bain-Moore of Alabaster, Ala., who made history Friday in becoming the first woman to fish the Bassmaster Classic, finished the tournament in 47th place with a two-day total of 12 pounds, 2 ounces.

The 2008 Classic Champion, Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, made the cut in 21st place with 26-1 overall, while two-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., the 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, finished 30th with 23-11. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., withdrew from the competition at the start of Day Two because of illness.

The public is invited to attend the final launch and weigh-in and witness the crowning of the 2009 Classic champion.

The daily launches presented by the Red River Waterway Commission are set for 7:15 a.m. at the Red River South Marina, Highway 71 South in Bossier City. The daily weigh-ins will be at the CenturyTel Center, 2000 CenturyTel Center Drive, Bossier City. CenturyTel’s doors will open Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

The 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods continues at the Shreveport Convention Center, 400 Caddo St. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

All events are free and open to the public.

ESPN2, ESPN360.com and Bassmaster.com are providing extensive coverage of the three-day competition. ESPN Classic will feature five hours of Bassmaster Classic specials Sunday, Feb. 22, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Schedules are posted at http://www.Bassmaster.com.

Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.

About BASS

For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

Leave a Reply