The rest of the excitement centers around North Carolina’s Marty Stone, California’s Aaron Martens and the battle for Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
VanDam, the 2001 Bassmaster Classic champ, three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Greatest Angler Debate semifinalist, fished Table Rock fast and furiously on Day Two to catch a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, one ounce to take a one-pound, 11-ounce lead over hard-charging Aaron Martens, who brought in one of the day’s best catches (21-15) and the Purolator Big Bass of the day (9-0) worth $1,000.
“I’m covering a lot of water out there and using reaction baits,” VanDam said. “I love fishing fast, and the fish were cooperating today.”
Martens, whose banner day put him in serious contention for the 2005 Bassmaster Angler of the Year award, used all of his resources to catch his big bag. He worked a 15 year-old plastic worm to catch the day’s biggest bass. He even offered $100 to anyone in the crowd who could produce a similar worm.
“It’s all about location here,” Martens said. “I caught three keepers in one spot, and I figured some stuff out, but tomorrow will be all about location again.”
Rounding out the top 12 and making the cut for Saturday’s semifinal round are Madison, Mississippi’s Pete Ponds (33-8), Shawnee, Kansas’s Brent Chapman (32-15), Gonzales, Louisiana’s Greg Hackney (32-12), Warrior Run, Pennsylvania’s Dave Wolak (29-0), Scottsdale, Arizona’s Andre Moore (28-3), Reeds Spring, Missouri’s Stacey King (27-14), Tyler, Texas’s Jay Yelas (27-0), first round leader Dion Hibdon of Stover, Missouri (26-15), Platter, Oklahoma’s Jeff Reynolds (26-14) and Muscle Shoals, Alabama’s Tim Horton (26-13).
Considering the standings, the final days of the tournament should provide fans with some close finishes. The Angler of the Year race can’t get much tighter.
Bass fishing’s biggest regular season prize, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award has come down to Martens and Stone.
Stone missed the cut at Table Rock by just six ounces, finishing 13th with 26-7. Martens must finish the tournament in fourth place or higher to take the Angler of the Year award. Stone can only sit and watch.
“I didn’t leave anything out there today,” Stone said. “I did everything I could. I’m cool with my performance, and I’m tickled with my performance this year regardless of the Angler of the Year outcome.”
Dion Hibdon, who looked untouchable after yesterday’s catch of 23-5, fell to tenth after catching only one fish weighing 3-10. Hibdon was working a saltwater-sized Rapala jerkbait on the first day, and stuck with it most of Day Two to no avail.
“I finally picked up a Carolina rig and caught my one bass,” the 1997 Classic champion said. “You either catch those big bass or you don’t. I’ll do some other stuff tomorrow.”
Brent Chapman made the biggest move of Day Two by bringing in the Busch Heavyweight catch of the day. His 22-pound, five-ounce limit is the best so far of the event. After his huge day, Chapman is champing at the bit to get on the water for tomorrow.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this today,” Chapman said.
The storybook year for Pennsylvania rookie David Wolak continued at Table Rock. In addition to qualifying for the final 12 at Table rock, Wolak was presented with a $10,000 check and the 2005 Toyota Rookie of the Year award.
“This is all a blur,” Wolak said. “It hasn’t set in quite yet. I’d like to thank my wife for really supporting me through everything.”
On the non-boater side, Ohio’s Kenneth Davis leads the way with a shared weight of 38 pounds. He leads Kansas’ Ralph Hines (36-8) and Florida’s Terry Bloom (35-10). Grabbing the Purolator Big Bass award of the Day was Missouri’s Steven Earle who caught a 5-15 lunker.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Table Rock Lake will be telecast on The CITGO Bassmasters on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil). Local Sponsors include Kimberling City Lodging Association.