Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
Putting on a show on Live Coverage, Michael Catt leads the NPFL season finale on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes with a two-day total of 42-pounds, 13-ounces. Adding 21-pounds, 14-ounces to his day one weight of 20-pounds, 15-ounces, Catt is fishing one main area loaded with bass. Working a Carolina rig and camping out, Catt is weeding through numbers of bites to cull up with bigger fish.
After a slow start on Live Coverage, Taylor Watkins put together a 17-pound, 7-ounce bag to go with his 23-pound, 12-ounce bag on day one. With a two-day total of 41-pounds, 3-ounces, Watkins goes into the final day in the 2nd place spot, just 1-pound, 10-ounces back of Catt.
“It was a grind out there and me and Ron both were dealing with changing conditions in the area. I stayed with it all day and fished some new water and made some crucial culls later after live went out.”
Rotating between a worm and a one-ounce weight he adjusted two at the end, Watkins knows he needs to keep positive and keep covering water if his main area is not firing again in the morning.
“I have nothing for tomorrow other than probably fishing all new water. I have to give that main spot some time but the wind has completely changed the area and it’s not the same. I have a long day so maybe they will set back up.”
With 20-pounds, 2-ounces on day two, Bryant Smith sits in the 3rd place spot with a two-day total of 39-pounds 9-ounces. Rotating through a combination of shell bars, Smith is sharing water with another angler and fishing a couple different baits.
“I am getting them on both dragging and moving baits and another angler and I are rotating a few spots and plucking off a few bass each. Coming into the event I had one area I knew had some potential to be good and I caught some good ones early on day one.”
After a quick start, Smith had little else to go fish and working with his travel partner, the two figured out how they could both catch fish on only a few spots.
“I am hoping it keeps up for another day, but the both of us have been going easy on them out there. After a couple fish, we leave and let it rest, and are able to pull in and catch a few more. It seems like the group breaks up and you have to let them get back in position.”
With a tougher day two, Ron Johnson added 12-pounds, 2-ounces to his day one bag of 26-pounds, 3-ounces to end the day in the 4th place spot with a two-day total of 38-pounds, 5-ounces. With increased winds in his area, Johnson dealt with moving fish and cooler water temperatures making it hard to present his bait efficiently.
“The biggest thing was the wind; we had white caps and the boat was bouncing and in the shallow water, the fish get spooky. I could see them on Active Target but they were on the move and difficult to catch.”
With no other options but to stick it out for the day and rely on his stellar day one, Johnson is hopeful for a change on Showdown Saturday that could give him a shot at the win.
“It looks like it could calm down over night and until mid-morning tomorrow. These fish live here and deal with these conditions all the time – I am hopeful that those fish might move back in and set up where I can catch them like day one.”
With the biggest bag of the tournament, and the current lunker weighing 8-pounds, 13-ounces, Matt Massey added 28-pounds, 13-ounces to his day one weight of 9-pounds, 7-ounces. With a two-day total of 38-pounds, 4-ounces, Massey goes into the final day in the 5th place spot.
After talking himself out of running to his main area early on day one, Massey didn’t make the same mistake two days in a row. He went up and got set up and went to work on making a comeback in the event.
“I am kicking myself for yesterday but I was able to get up there today and give Mike his space and I was still catching fish. The trick is weeding through the smaller fish and getting the bigger bites.”
With 4 good fish and one smaller one in his well, Massey planned on leaving the spot for the day once he could get one more good cull.
“I had one 3-pounder to get rid of and I caught that big one. I got out of there and got back. We all have a long day tomorrow and I am going to go and give it my all.”
With 20-pounds, 12-ounces on day one, Jake Boomer added another 17-pounds, 8-ounces on day two. Rotating shell bars with his travel partner, Boomer goes into the final day in the 6th place spot with a two-day total of 38-pounds, 4-ounces.
Adding 20-pounds, 14-ounces to his day one weight of 16-pounds, 9-ounces, Texarkana angler Michael Yoder sits in the 7th place spot going into the final day with a two-day total of 36-pounds, 13-ounces. Fishing close by two others in the top five, Yoder is
Adding 15-pounds, 12-ounces to his day one weight of 21-pounds, Patrick Walters goes into Showdown Saturday with a two-day total of 36-pounds, 12-ounces in 8th place. With changing conditions on day two, Walters dealt with increased winds and tougher conditions for his grass beds.
“It muddied up a little, but the main thing was the increased winds and a slightly different direction. It makes it tough to be efficient and make the exact cast along the grass edges. It was typical Florida, changing conditions daily but I still had a chance for a better bag and I really burned my area up.”
Walters plans on making a long run for Showdown Saturday and has been saving an area for the final day.
“It’s the final day of the year – I am going to have some fun, gamble and go for broke!”