Nate Wellman of Newaygo, Mich., maintained his lead at the final 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open at the Chesapeake Bay. Wellman dug further into his bag of tricks Friday to find some fish in deeper water that he hoped were untouched to this point.
"I decided to try water that was a little bit deeper because everything that was up shallow has been hammered by other anglers. Today was a little more like what I've been expecting," he said of his 11-2 limit. His two-day total was 30-2.
Wellman likes his chances for continuing his lead and ultimately winning his first Bassmaster Open, which could lead to a berth in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic.
"Going to the Classic is something I've dreamed about since I was 8 years old," he said. "That was my goal at the beginning of this Northern series, and I've got one more day of hard fishing ahead of me."
Before he can claim victory, Wellman has to hold off a hard-charging Darin Doll of York, Pa. Doll registered a 13-7 limit today, which catapulted him into second place from 17th. Doll's two-day total is 25-14. Behind Doll in third was Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich., who weighed in 11-7 for a two-day total of 25-5.
In fourth was Chris Price of Church Hill, Md., whose 11-7 bag upgraded his total to 24-7. In fifth place was Joe Hunt of Lincoln University, Pa., whose 8-8 Friday brought him to 23-15.
Pro anglers are vying for a top prize of $27,000 as well as points toward a Bassmaster Classic berth, two of which will be handed out at the conclusion of Saturday's weigh-in.
Ryan Said of Wixom, Mich., came into this third Northern Open with a cushy 73-point lead, but has since fallen from the top with a less-than-stellar performance on Day 1. This leaves the door open for Travis Manson of Green Bay, Wis., who is currently in 14th, and Wellman, who was 10th heading into this event.
While Wellman stayed atop the pro standings, the co-angler division was shaken up as Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md., took the top spot with a 6-9 limit that gave him a total of 13-1 over two days.
Bae is no stranger to co-angler success. He took home a brand new bass rig at last year's Northern Open on Chesapeake Bay. If he wins this year, he'll add a Triton 18XS with a Mercury 150-horsepower motor to his stable of boats.
Behind Bae was Jess Salmon of Milford, N.J., who brought 6-9 to the scales for a two-day total of 12-9. In third was Ed Guidon of Bethlehem, Pa., with a 10-14 total.
The field was cut Friday to the top 30 anglers who will fish Saturday.
The final launch is set for 6:30 a.m. ET at Anchor Boats Marina, 36 Iroquois Drive, North East, MD 21901. The weigh-in will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. All events are free and open to the public.