Amistad puts record in jeopardy

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DEL RIO, Texas — At least one significant record could fall this week if things continue on the pace they've followed in the first two days of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series season-opener on Lake Amistad.

With a two-day catch of 55 pounds, 2 ounces, Edwin Evers of Texas leads the 50-man pro field making the cut to fish Saturday. Just behind him is Greg Hackney of Louisiana with 54-8 and Pete Ponds of Mississippi with 54-5, with Alton Jones of Texas surging into fourth behind a catch of 29-7 to post a two-day catch of 53-7.

If things continue as they have, and it's been almost silly how the big-fish show has progressed, the four-day record of 108-12 held by Dean Rojas of Texas could be eclipsed by the time Sunday's final weigh-in is over.

"This place is just incredible," said Ponds, who smacked 22-14 to hold his position in third place despite a catch of almost 9 pounds less than his Day One total. "In two days, I've caught the biggest bass and the biggest limit in my Bassmaster career.

"The thing about Amistad is we don't have to be concerned about getting a limit," he said. "You usually have to think about whether to get a limit first and then go for big fish, or the other way around. But this week you can just go straight for the big ones. That is such a great feeling and gives you so much confidence."

Evers whacked a limit weighing 29-14 to move into the lead. His biggest fish was a 10-1, which he landed on 14-pound test despite the fish diving into a tree. He moved around to different areas and late in the day located his starting spot for Saturday.

"I hit a few and didn't catch much but in the third area I went to, I caught a 5-pounder on my last cast," he said. "I'll start there Saturday. I had a decent practice and was catching big fish on something different all over the place, but I couldn't catch multiple big fish on one thing. So that was kind of weird. I didn't really know what to start with (Thursday)."

The big-fish parade continued with a slew of 8- and 9-pounders, as well as Gary Klein's 10-5 that captured Purolator Big Bass honors. Jimmy Mize had the biggest limit of the day, at 31-14, due to the calm conditions that allowed him to target bedding fish more effectively.

"The wind laid and I was able to fish the way I wanted to," Mize said. "I was throwing a 5-inch Senko and Gulp! Sinking Minnow on 17-pound Vanish, but I had to add a little weight Thursday. That kept the bait from falling correctly. Without the wind and weight, it would flutter the way it does best and that's how the fish wanted it."

"I really think they'll bite whatever you throw in there," he added. "I threw back several 3 ½- and 4-pounders. When I got my big ones in the boat, my partner said I was awfully calm. I told him I was just trying to cull the 4-pounder."

Moving day, indeed

Several pros made big moves in the standings, positioning themselves to make Sunday's 12-man cut as well as a better payout and more points in the CITGO Angler of the Year standings.

Alton Jones moved 19 positions into fourth place with 53-7 after catching 29-7. That included an 8-15 his son, Alton Jr., spotted in Wednesday's final practice.

"I was watching a 4-pounder and Alton Jr. saw this big dark shape suspending over one of the bushes," Jones said. "When I pitched in there today, I told my partner something good was about to happen. I tightened my line and she thumped it. Fortunately, she swam straight out of there instead of going into the cover."

Twelve anglers in the top 50 caught limits weighing 25 pounds or better. Fred Roumbanis of California moved 15 spots into sixth place with 53-1 after catching 28-13. Hackney moved 14 positions with his catch of 28-15, and Gerald Swindle of Alabama climbed into contention with a jump of 25 positions into 14th with 49-7.

Swindle had one of the more exciting and miserable days as he watched a 4-pounder and two others weighing 9-pounds come unhooked.

"My partner said he saw something but was unsure what it was, so I spun the boat around and said it was Shamu the whale," he said. "She was in about 9-10 feet, so I pitched in there and she hit, then came unhooked.

"Ike's deal in Florida was like a revival meeting compared to some of the bombs I was dropping after that second 9-pounder came off," he said. "I was making up words I've never heard before. But I took the boat to the bank, sat there and retied everything and just cooled down. I knew I had to do that."

Then, Swindle went back and caught it on a ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait. He brought five fish to the scales weighing 29-6, but he's had to alter his mindset a bit this week.

"The thing is, not all of these fish are in the bushes or around trees," he said. "Some of them are out away from the trees. Do you know how hard it is for us not to pitch into a tree or bush? It's tough. Some of them, you have to throw out away from the trees and make the fish come out to it."

Hackney's big move was bolstered in part by his confidence level being so high.

"This is an awesome place," he said. "I don't know where the fish start and where they end. I really think you can put in at the boat ramp and go either way on the river and have the opportunity to catch good fish. It's amazing."