GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. Mike Wurm just needed one more day.
After a terrible Day One on Lake Guntersville, the Arkansas pro nearly doubled his weight to sack the biggest bag of Day Two, a 22-5 limit that for a few moments put him in the top 12.
"I know fish are there," he said then of the offshore point near an island that generated most of his limit. "I'll definitely start there tomorrow."
He won't get the chance. He wound up 13th, 2 ounces behind Alton Jones, and a likely casualty of the shortened tournament. He and other anglers just outside of the single cut in the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator regretted that they had only one day to learn from their early missteps.
Scott Rook, another Arkansan, improved his Day One catch by more than 8 pounds Saturday, jumping 48 places in the standings. "I know there's plenty of fish there," he said of his most productive Day Two spot. "I wish I had another day."
Jeff Kriet echoed that sentiment. "I think I found the winning fish. I'm as serious as a heart attack," he said after finishing 19th. "I guarantee you I would have caught them tomorrow."
Howard Stephens is as prolific as any co-angler in the history of BASS, so when he jumped to a first-day lead on Friday during the opening round of the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator, it seemed logical that the Columbia, S.C. resident would be in the mix for the $50,000 boat/motor package that goes to the winner of the co-angler division.
Fishing with Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer, Stephens started Saturday with a nice bass early in the morning, but soon experienced the bummer of fishing of fishing from the back of the boat.
"About 10 o' clock, he did not have a fish and he announced what the co-angler always dreads," Stephens said. "He was going bed fishing. So that's what we did for the next three hours and obviously, that was tough on me. He did catch three small ones bed fishing. We went back to the original plan the last hour or so and I was able to pick up a fish late to come up with the two that I did weigh in."
Stephens finished sixth overall with a two-day total of 27-12.
Until Saturday, Skeet Reese had strung together an incredible beginning to the 2007 Elite Series, not missing a top 12 cut. But Lake Guntersville is an old nemesis for the California pro. Reese missed his first Sunday cut this year at the Southern Challenge.
"I've never understood this lake," he said. "It should be an easy lake to fish, but for some reason I just don't understand it. I went looking for new water and new areas this week. It worked yesterday but today, I don't know. If I knew what went wrong, I wouldn't have been doing it."
"Never give up"
That has long been the rallying cry of Michael Iaconelli, the defending BASS Angler of the Year and last year's champion on the Elite Series stop on Lake Guntersville. Ike uttered those words again Saturday after his two-day total of 25-12 put him in a tie for 64th place.
"It's been one of those years for me where things don't materialize on the water," Iaconelli told the crowd at Guntersville High School, site of the weigh-in. "But you can't give up. It's a long season. Don't count me out yet."
Editor's Note: Sunday, April 29, ESPNOutdoors.com will be having LIVE Video coverage of the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator throughout the entire day. Check in at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. ET for Live video updates from the event with Bassmaster TV hosts Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. Elite Series: Hooked Up, the Bassmaster Elite Series Final Day pregame show, begins at 3 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the Final Day Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in where you can see who wins the $100,000 prize!