Cliff Pace made a move up the leaderboard on day two of the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. After bringing 13-pounds, 3-ounces to the scales — slightly less than his first day total — the Petal, Mississippi angler moved up from 21st to 16th, making the cut to fish on day three of the event, which is being held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell.
With a two-day total weight of 27 pounds, Pace is just over 10 pounds out of the lead. And even though a 10-pound deficit is no small feat to overcome, many of the Classic anglers are looking for someone to have a huge day tomorrow, based on the conditions and the mood of the lake’s bass. Everyone seems to think a really hot bite by big fish is just on the verge of happening. If it does, Pace could make a strong move toward taking his second Bassmaster Classic trophy home.
“It would take a special day for me to move into the lead, but it is good to know I’ll be fishing tomorrow, because you never know. One thing’s for sure — if you don’t fish tomorrow, you can’t win, so I’m thankful for that,” said Pace.
Pace stressed that fishing a Classic is much different than fishing a regular Elite Series tournament, where many anglers fish for points in an effort to make it to this event each year. But at the Classic, where only winning matters, he said it’s all or nothing. And he wishes more anglers, himself included, would just fish that way all the time.
“If we fished all events the way we fish this one, we’d all be a lot better anglers. But we don’t. I’ve been guilty of that too. But this week, I’ve had a couple of big bites fishing really deep. Forty-five to 55 foot deep, fishing little bitty baits and getting a couple of big bites a day. I was fortunate to catch enough again today,” he said.
Tomorrow, the final day of the event, Pace said he’s going to try something different, and may move into shallow water, where many anglers feel the bass are moving for the spawn.
“I can tell my fish are leaving me so tomorrow I’m going to swing for the fences. There’s got to be a bunch of fish going up shallow somewhere on this lake,” he said.
Jason Christie of Park Hill, Oklahoma, who was leading after the first day, maintained that position after day two. He brought 16-6 to the scales today, making his two-day total 37-4. Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma stayed in second place, catching 13 pounds today, pushing his total to 32-9.
Micah Frazier of Newnan, Georgia moved into the third spot with 32-2. He’s followed by James Elam of Tulsa in fourth place, giving the Sooner State three anglers in the top five. Guntersville, Alabama’s Gerald Swindle is in fifth place with 31-4.
One of the biggest surprises on day one was that Skeet Reese of Auburn, California did not bring a single fish to the scales. He rebounded today, hauling five keepers and a big smile to today’s weigh-in. His 11-5 bag didn’t move him out of 52nd place, but he said it did a lot for his pride after day one’s flop.