Texas Roots Key to Big Day

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – James Niggemeyer, a guide on Texas bass-factory Lake Fork, tapped into his knowledge of home waters to jump from fifth place into the lead of the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour on Lake Okeechobee.

He’s not only leading, the 34-year-old was able to put more than 3 pounds between himself and Thursday’s leader, Terry Scroggins.

“This was very similar to Texas fishing,” Niggemeyer said. “I love to flip and pitch in heavy cover and that is just what you had to do today to succeed.”

With today’s bag of 23 pounds, he amassed a two-day total of 40 pounds, 10 ounces. If he can hold on to his 3-pound-plus lead in Saturday’s final day of competition, he will collect $26,100 in cash in addition to a fully-rigged Triton boat valued at $45,000.

Niggemeyer said he caught his fish by flipping a Lake Fork craw tube into cattails and mats, punching through the thickest cover with a 1-ounce tungsten weight.

This tournament marks the first visit for the Lindale, Texas, angler to Okeechobee, but a first in a BASS event would not be a new experience for him. Niggemeyer holds the title of a 2005 ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series tournament on Louisiana’s Red River.

Tomorrow, to achieve a second and more lucrative BASS victory, he must hold off Scroggins, who has proved he can be tough to beat on a Florida fishery.

“It’s just another day for me tomorrow and I plan to fish hard and stick to my guns,” Niggemeyer said. “But it would be so incredible to get this win.”

Scroggins, who won a 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Okeechobee, used the word “wild” to describe his day: He boated his two biggest keepers in the last hour of competition, pulling his day’s catch to 12 pounds, 15 ounces — all while overcoming boat trouble.

“I had a wild last hour out there,” the Florida CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro said. “My boat had some problems on the way back and I had to get some help and rush in to get here in time. Right now, my boat is floating in the middle of the lake and I have to go get it.”

The Florida pro sits in second with 37 pounds, 4 ounces. Trailing Niggemeyer and Scroggins are North Carolina’s Rodney Sorrell (35-0), Floridian Mark Lamb (34-5) and South Carolina’s Marty Robinson (34-5).

As on Thursday, today’s action brought several impressive fish to the scales. Elite Series pro Eric Nethery’s 8-15 lunker was the $1,000 Purolator Big Bass of the day.

On the co-angler side, Floridian Bruce Kane leads the chase for a fully-rigged Triton boat valued at $30,000 with 21 pounds, 12 ounces of bass. Following Kane is Georgian Heath Pack (19-11), Floridian Joel Hazelbaker (17-10), Virginian Randal Aldred (17-5) and Mississippi’s Jerry Gordon (17-3).

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit