Day 2 started similar to day 1. Meet the pro, load the gear, launch the boat, take off (on time) and "fly" to the first spot. This is when my expertise as a bass fisherman reared its ugly head. Instead of doing some nice jigging - my pro for this day, Mark Tyler, elected to fish some shallow creek shorelines with lures like spinner baits and jigs with craw trailers and Wacky worms. While Mark threw precise casts to stumps and stick-ups, I spent a fair amount of time untangling professional overruns (otherwise know as backlashes) from my baitcasting reels. Heck we just use baitcasters for dragging bottom bouncers!
To make a long story short, I caught several non-keeps using these "traditional" bass techniques and thankfully got to go drop shotting for the last hour and was able to pick up one 15 - and a barely - inch Spotted Bass. I dropped to 7th - still in contention and still having fun.
After two days, the field is cut to 50 pros and 50 co’s - so being in 7th I made the cut, which was exciting. The third day is the final for the co-anglers. On day 4 only the top 10 pro anglers fish - they fish alone going for the top prize.
My final day pro was Steve Kennedy - he was leading the BASS Rookie of the Year standings so I figured he would be a good draw. As we walked away from the pairings meeting Steve informed me that he had a good day 2. He had a nice limit and had missed several keepers so tomorrow he was confident we would do well. Oh and by the way, we would be fishing….. Horny Toads.
Horny Toads - is that a spinner bait? Is it a crankbait? Is it some kind of "creature" bait? I had no idea - nor did I have any in my Bass Pro goodie bag. Never seen them, never heard of them, had no idea what to even look for! Well thankfully Steve was nice enough to let me use some of his. A Horny Toad is a top water soft plastic lure that is "Texas" rigged with a big hook. It is a frog looking bait where the back two legs are paddle tails. When you crank in a Horny Toad at a pretty good speed, it becomes a top water bait with the two legs splashing and bubbling along as it swims.
Steve’s pattern was to go into coves with submerged timber, put is trolling motor on high, and cover water quickly. What amazed me was how quickly he could work the bait, casting it close to nearly every clump of trees. He was a machine. He got strikes and misses and hooked a few fish (seems Horny Toads are known for the low percentage hooking). I on the other hand was getting skunked.
I determined that Steve was so good, that he was picking off any (and all) active fish before I could get a chance to run a bait by them. The other problem was that we were moving so fast that I couldn’t use other techniques (give me drop shotting or give me death). My only alternative was to pick up my spinning gear and make super long casts to areas that Steve didn’t cover. I did pick a few small fish, had one - blind in one eye - bass swipe at my toad a couple of times in the final seconds