JENKS, Okla. - Pennsylvania's George Acord earned every ounce of his lead Friday at the CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer. On a day when he estimates he threw his lures 840 times, the steady, persistent angler got just four bites and two bass for his effort.

"I'm making, say, two pitches per minute and I ran around for, say, an hour, so do the math," he said. "I didn't waste a minute. It's just simple fishing but you have to grind it out."

Acord's two bass weighed in at 4 pounds, 9 ounces and, when added to his 10-pound, 10-ounce catch from Thursday's first round, gave him a pound-and-a-half lead over his closest competitor. Acord, who competed in the 1995 Federation Championship, says his real advantage is that the fishing conditions and the structure of Keystone Lake are remarkably similar to his home waters on the Susquehanna River.

"What happened is the lake's coming up and the temperatures are coming down," he said. "The only fish I'm able to catch are, for whatever reason, coming in shallow. They're coming in to feed.

"It's a lot of casting on empty water and every so often you run into one."

Acord, who owns and operates Susquehanna Fishing Tackle, is joined on the lake by 54 other anglers, including the 2003 Federation champion and the Paralyzed Veterans of America Grand National Champion, plus the top anglers from 46 state Federations, the District of Columbia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. They range from math teachers to mechanical engineers and all are competing for the $51,000 purse and the biggest prize of all: five berths in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer in Charlotte, N.C. this summer.

The berths will go to the highest-finishing anglers in each of the Federation's five geographic divisions. Currently, Acord, who qualified for the Classic in 1995 through the Federation, is the top angler from the Eastern division. Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., (13-11) leads the Southern division, Thad Takes of Center Point, Iowa, (12-14) leads the Northern division, Bob Thomsen of Lincoln, Neb., (12-7) leads the Central division, and Jeff Boyer of Auburn, Wash., (10-2) leads the Western division.

Thomsen also earned $1,000 on Friday for bringing in the Purolator Big Bass of the Day. Thomsen's lunker weighed 3-15, not enough to unseat Danny Shanz's 5-1 bass from Thursday's round. That fish is worth another $1,000 from Purolator if it remains the biggest bass caught in the tournament.

Anglers launch at 6:30 a.m. from the New Mannford Ramp. The final weigh-in will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

During the live weigh-ins at the Aquarium, fans can also visit the BASS Sponsor Expo, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to free interactive games and exhibits, the Expo will also include a Big Air Dogs competition as featured in the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.

Saturday's activities will include the national semifinals of the Bassmaster CastingKids program presented by CITGO, a scholarship competition for children 7-14 who pitch, flip and cast a hookless lure at a target. The CastingKids semifinals will be held at Jenks High School gymnasium from 8:45 until noon.

Fans can watch the 2004 CITGO Bass Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer on "The CITGO Bassmasters" on ESPN2, Saturday, July 24 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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 BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, BankOne, and Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Associate sponsors include G3 Boats.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit