The Auburn, Calif., angler, 37, who is seeking his first BASS win of the season, caught a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces to lead in the battle for the $100,000 top prize.
Fishing fans can watch the action of the Table Rock event on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m. ET.
Morning fog delayed the start of fishing by nearly two hours, forcing many of the 102 anglers to change their plans of attack for the day. While many of the competitors brought in bags containing smallmouth and spotted bass, Reese caught all largemouth bass.
“This lake has kind of showed me up every time I’ve been here so I got a little redemption today,” said Reese, who finished in 70th place at Table Rock in 2005 and 67th in 2004. “I fished some of my strengths today and that was shallow-water power fishing.”
Experiencing a late-season surge, Reese nearly secured his third BASS win at the Capitol Clash presented by BUSCH Beer on the Potomac River in August, but Texan Kelly Jordon prevailed over Reese by a slim 7-ounce margin.
Kevin Short of Mayflower, Ark., who finished third in the recent Bassmaster Legends presented by Goodyear, continued his own late-season charge with a five-fish haul of 14-1 for second place.
“I needed a surge about five tournaments ago but you take it when you can get it,” said Short, who did not want to discuss his tactics. “I’d like to see a little bit of wind (Friday). I was really surprised I caught them as well as I did (Thursday) with no wind.”
Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, had the third-highest total on Thursday at 13-9, followed by Bill Lowen of Cincinnati, Ky., with 13-3 and Guy Eaker of Cherryville, N.C., with 13-2.
CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year leader Mike Iaconelli was tied for 26th Thursday with 7-0. Iaconelli is on pace to win the $125,000 award if he finishes strongly in the season-ending event. Iaconelli’s closest competitor, Steve Kennedy, sits in 43rd place. Kevin VanDam, who entered the day in fourth place in the AOY standings, sits in 10th place in the tournament and could make a serious run at the title with a strong Day 2.
On the co-angler side, Wisconsin’s Keith Kavajecz led the way at 7-6, followed by Arkansas’ Shannon McClelland with 7-1 and Texan Michael Bass with 7-0. The champion co-angler, determined on Saturday, will take home a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $45,000.
All anglers will fish again on Thursday, with the field cut to 50 for Saturday’s competition. Only the Elite 12 anglers will fish on Sunday.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Kimberling City Lodging Association and White River Valley Electric Cooperative.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and TheraSeed®.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation 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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.