Fishing & Boating News
Marsh and Layton caught 21-3 during Thursday’s opening round — and they have been the only team to top the 20-pound mark on both days of competition. Their Friday catch included four largemouth and one smallmouth.
The current flow on the Tennessee River has been sporadic during the past week — and as a result, the duo from Michigan found less water in their shallow areas Friday. But that didn’t hurt their bite.
“The water was at least lower by a foot or so today,” Marsh said. “When practice started we couldn’t see flowers on the bushes and now they are completely out of the water.”
Although the cold morning and lowering water seemed to work against their game plan, they will take a 3-ounce lead going into Saturday’s final round. Marsh and Layton said they have a backup plan if their main strategy from the first two days falls to pieces.
Whether it’s been late in the day or early in the morning, one of their key fish each day has come from the crowded area below Wilson Dam.
Bethel University’s John Garrett and Brian Pahl, who led after Day 1, dropped to second after landing 18-4 on Friday. The lower weight didn’t shake their confidence, though, because they knew 18 pounds on Day 2 would keep them around that 20-pound daily average they believed they would need to win.
“We had our limit at 1:15 this afternoon,” Pahl said. “It was very slow for us, but we upgraded twice later in the day and it bumped us up big time.
“The current flow changed this afternoon and they began closing off some of the gates at Wilson Dam,” Garrett said. “With less water flowing down the fishing normally gets better, so we are excited for Saturday. But you never know with fishing.”
West Virginia’s Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier moved up from 22nd place to third after catching 21-2 — the field’s biggest catch during Friday’s round. They, too, had a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth that contributed to their 38-12 total. But they could be impacted by the falling water in their shallow areas.
Matthew Cross and Mekiah Jack of Middle Tennessee State University are in fourth with 36-6, and Tyler Craig and Spencer Lambert of the University of Louisiana at Monroe are fifth with 35-15.
Only the Top 32 teams will fish on Championship Saturday. But with six teams double-qualifying for the National Championship in the Top 32, the qualification cut was bumped to 38th place. That gives Chris Walter and Jacob Gress of Indiana University the final qualifying spot with 26-7.
Saturday’s takeoff begins at 7 a.m. CT at McFarland Park in Florence, and the weigh-in will take place on the University of North Alabama’s campus at 3:30 p.m.
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