APPLING, Ga. While a cool blast continues at Clarks Hill Lake, this week's competition heated up a notch Friday as Mike Hicks of Goochland, Va., took over the lead with a three-day total of 30.29 pounds in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship operated by American Bass Anglers as the top 25 anglers made the cut and moved on to fish Saturday.
Hicks, who had a Day Three total of 12.72 pounds, and 24 other anglers who made the cut Friday are trying to make it to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 22-24 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C. The winner of the championship earns that right, along with this weekend's $100,000 top prize.
Hicks previously fished the Bassmasters Top 150 for four or five years, and his father, Thomas Hicks, competed in two Bassmaster Classics.
"I met Ray Scott when I was 10 at the Classic, I sat beside him at a press conference," he said. "My history with BASS in my family goes way back."
The leader's strategy included mostly search baits in shallow water. He said most of the bass he found were chasing bait.
Trailing Hicks by about 1 1/3 pounds is Jason Bordelon of Pineville, La., who moved up to second place Friday after boating a five-fish limit weighing 13.14 for a three-day total of 28.90.
Shonn Blassingame of Sunset, Texas, who had the lead after Day Two, moved to third place after a Day Three total of just 7.34. Blassingame isn't far from catching the top two anglers, however, with an overall weight of 27.75 for the tournament.
"I'm not going to complain, if I can duplicate it tomorrow, I'll probably be there," Bordelon said. "It's just going to be hard to do, the bite is tough. The better fish bit today for some reason."
Both Hicks and Bordelon intend to stick with the same strategy for the final day of competition.
"There's a lot of fish there, I can't catch them all, but I feel like I'm going to catch them tomorrow," said Hicks, 32. "The fish changed a little bit since practice, but they're still in the same area. We didn't have as much wind today, which made it a lot easier to fish some other areas, move a little bit. And I think that's what helped me catch the weight that I caught."
Douglas Young, of Salisbury, N.C., who led after Day One, made the cut in 22nd place with a three-day total of 20.30.
Michael N. Brown of Madison, Ala., leads Pat Burke of Moberly, Mo., in the co-angler division. Brown has a three-day total of 15.19, while Burke has 14.91.
Everyone in the Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship field had to qualify by finishing in the top eight within their respective regional divisions 25 divisions overall. One wild-card qualifier from each division also made the Weekend Series Championship field.
The event continues through Saturday, when only the top 25 anglers will fish. Fans can check for daily updates at www.Bassmaster.com.