BASS FISHING CONTEST Jay Yelas builds commanding lead entering final round of world meet
The Texan leads David Walker of Tennessee by more than 9 pounds.
By JACK WOLLITZ
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Following up his best ever CITGO BASS Masters Classic Thursday, Jay Yelas enjoyed another great day on Lay Lake to grab a commanding lead going into the final round of the world championship bass tournament.
Yelas, a Texan, added more than 16 pounds to his first day total of 18 pounds, 9 ounces, and finished Friday's fishing with 35 pounds, 2 ounces. He held a lead of more than 9 pounds over David Walker of Tennessee, who rallied from 13th place Thursday to second with 25 pounds, 14 ounces after the scales dried Friday.
Cleveland's Frank Scalish, well known in northeastern Ohio tournament circles where he has competed since age 17, failed to make the top 25 cut Friday and will not advance to today's competition.
"I tried to make an adjustment today, but figured things out too late," a disappointed Scalish said following his Friday catch of four bass weighing nearly 4 pounds. "The current and sun just weren't right for me this week and I needed them to put the fish on the places I was fishing."
Another big sack
Yelas, meanwhile, finished what he termed his "second best day ever in the Classic" Friday with another big sack of fish, including the lunker for the second consecutive day. Friday's big bass was the 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth Yelas yanked from a shallow shady spot.
"That fish was an act of God," Yelas said at the afternoon news conference. "A pontoon boat had just run over my spot and I couldn't believe it. I told the camera man [from ESPN2] that it would take an act of God to catch a fish there and, bang, on my next cast I got that big one."
Yelas is working all the way up the Coosa River arm of Lay Lake, within site of the Lake Logan Martin dam nearly 30 miles from the launch site.
Shifted up the river
He caught fish early in the day on a firetiger-colored Berkley Frenzy deep-diving crankbait. Later in the day, as Alabama Power began pulling water through the electricity-generating turbines at Logan Martin's dam, Yelas moved farther up the river and started casting a 5/8-ounce black, brown and pumpkin-colored Berkley Power jig tipped with a green pumpkin Power Frog.
Others within striking distance of Yelas and Walker are Aaron Martens of California with 25-3, Ken Christ of Missouri with 22-12 and Gary Yamamoto of Texas with 22-5. They and the other pro anglers competing in the Classic, sanctioned by B.A.S.S./ESPN, are fishing for a top prize of $200,000 and bragging rights to the world championship.
Weigh-ins are held each afternoon at the Birmingham-Jefferson County Civic Center. A crowd of nearly 20,000 fishing fans is expected for today's weigh-in, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2.