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BASS MASTERS CLASSIC VanDam reels in the top spot; Barry swirls offshore



Published: Sat, August 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Veteran Roland Martin, who had another rough day, was still in 19th place.

By JACK WOLLITZ

SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR.

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Tropical storm Barry pushed breezes and sea water into the Louisiana bayous Friday, confusing some of the 2001 BASS Masters Classic top runners and helping propel Kevin VanDam to the top of the leaderboard after the second round.

VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich., held an 11-ounce lead following round two, with Scott Rook of Arkansas nipping at his heels.

The leader brought in 10 pounds 2 ounces of bass to add to his Thursday catch for a total of 21 pounds 7 ounces.

As Barry swirled 185 miles off the southeast Louisiana coast, a steady 25 mph breeze and rising tides made for tricky boating and fussy fish for most of the 45 anglers competing for the world bass fishing title.

Jump: VanDam jumped from third place Thursday as round one leader David Walker of Kentucky faltered with just three fish Friday.

He blamed the oncoming storm for stirring up his waters more than 100 miles from the tournament launch site.

Other contenders also complained that the fish they had hoped to catch were influenced by the changing weather.

Anglers reported that they were catching their fish on a variety of baits, including spinnerbaits, plastic worms and crankbaits, which they worked in the shallow, weedy canals and bayous criss-crossing the vast Louisiana Delta.

Searching: Veteran pro Roland Martin, a nine-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year who has never won the Classic, gambled and ran Thursday and Friday 220-mile round trips in search of a big sack of fish.

With ESPN television cameras watching every move Thursday, Martin hooked and landed a bass on his first cast of the day, then moments later broke a big one off.

He finished the day with 5 pounds 14 ounces and sat in 19th place, the same spot he held following Friday's action.

Rising water in his fishing area may have affected his bass, he said, adding that in today's final round he would have to seek out a new school of bass.

The tournament concludes this afternoon and ESPN2 will feature same day coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.




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