David Kilgore of Jasper knows that all too well.
After racing to an early lead Thursday in the first day of the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lewis Smith Lake — his home turf — Kilgore followed that up with a five-fish limit on Day 2 Friday to increase his lead over the 157 other pros in the tournament.
Kilgore landed five fish weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces Friday to raise his two-day total to 37 pounds, 14 ounces. He’s a little more than 3 pounds ahead of Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., whose total after Day 2 is 34 pounds, 9 ounces.
Jordan Wiggins of Cullman is third, 8 ounces back of Auten.
By retaining his lead, Kilgore moves into today’s final day of fishing that includes the top 12 pros and top 12 co-anglers.
Today’s final weigh-in will be held beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops just off Interstate 20 in Leeds.
“I’m happy. I had two really big ones but didn’t get them, but I think I can go back and catch at least one of them (Saturday),” Kilgore said following Friday’s weigh-in.
Kilgore said he caught about 30 fish Friday. He had his five-fish limit by 10 a.m. “I caught a bunch of fish today,” he said. “I should have caught a bunch (Thursday), but the clouds had them all scattered. Today, they bunched up like they were supposed to with the sun out, and I think we’re supposed to have a carbon copy day Saturday.”
If Kilgore can hold off the rest of the top 12 on today's final day of the tournament, he will walk away with $6,741, a Nitro Z9 powered by a Mercury 225 Pro XS and a spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic if he fishes all three tournaments in the Southern Open series.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “I should be able to run through a lot of the two- to three-pounders Saturday, and if I can get to that 15-pound range, it’s going to be hard for somebody to beat me.”
Being on his home lake has been beneficial, he said.
“That helped me a lot today,” he said. “Once I got to catching them pretty good, I knew where I needed to be, so I just ran new stuff and just went fishing. And I caught them everywhere I went.”
Joining Kilgore, Auten and Wiggins in today’s final round (and their two-day totals) is Michael Murphy of Columbia, S.C. (33-12), Jesse Wiggins of Cullman (32-10); Justin Lucas of Guntersville (31-6); Jon Englund of Farwell, Minn. (29-10); Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn. (29-6); Kyle Fox of Lakeland, Fla. (26-8); Woo Daves of Spring Grove, Va. (25-14); Carl Jocumsen of Queensland, Australia (25-13); and Derek Cummings of Clayton, N.C. (25-4).
In the co-angler division, Stephen Longobardi of Northford, Co., held on to the lead he grabbed after Day 1 of the tournament. Longobardi caught the three-fish limit Friday to sit at 17 pounds, 4 ounces, a little less than two pounds ahead of Dustin Seaborn of Guin.