Jordon Leads Elite Series Bass Fishing Tournament on Kissimmee Chain
LAKE WALES, Fla. - Seeking redemption on Florida fisheries, Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, vaulted into the lead at the Citrus Slam bass fishing tournament on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes with a two-day total of 44 pounds, 3 ounces, distancing himself from his nearest competitor, Byron Velvick of Del Rio, Texas, by nearly 8 pounds.
While other anglers in the top positions struggled, Jordon was able to ride a hot sight-fishing bite to take a sizable margin. Last week, the 37-year-old pro struggled to a 108th-place finish at the Elite Series season opener on Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes but was on his way Friday to exact some revenge in the Sunshine State.
"I didn't expect to catch this much today," said Jordon, who brought in a 21-5 bag. "I'm just tickled to death. It's awesome and I feel good about fishing in Florida again."
Jordon, who has four BASS victories, flipped a variety of baits to visible bass on beds, catching a hefty limit within the first two hours of competition. He said he feels sight-fishing will not continue to be viable through the final two days of competition, but has patterns that could keep him on top.
Still, he will start Saturday's competition trying to entice a 10-pounder on a bed.
"Whoever wins this is going to have to be versatile," said Jordon, who has amassed more than $1 million in BASS career earnings. "I have some very strong deals I can go to when the sight-fishing bite goes dry. I know where they are; I just have to go get them now."
Slipping to second was Velvick, who was able to scratch out a limit that weighed 11 pounds, 6 ounces. His two-day total of 36 pounds, 6 ounces has mostly been caught sight-fishing. Velvick said he can turn to a drop-shot pattern to go along with the sight bite.
"It was a tough, long day," said Velvick, who scored a victory on Florida's Lake Okeechobee last November at the Bassmaster Elite Series WildCard Event. "I just couldn't get the heavy ones in the boat but I'm ready to get back out there. I still have a shot at this."
Right behind Velvick is three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam with 35 pounds, 11 ounces. VanDam's Friday catch of 17-11 was buttressed by a bass of more than 8 pounds - big, but not enough for Purolator Big Bass honors; Oklahoma's Kenyon Hill took the $1,000 bonus with a 10-pound, 3-ounce lunker.
In fourth was Florida stalwart Terry Scroggins of Palatka with 34 pounds, 13 ounces. Maintaining in fifth place was Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., with 33 pounds, 10 ounces.
The field was cut to the top 50 for Saturday's competition. Above the cut line was three-time Angler of the Year Mark Davis, who tied for ninth, thanks to a second-day catch of 20-3. Reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones tied for 16th. Elite rookie Jay Fuller of Oklahoma shot from 75th place into 13th with a 22-8 bag, which earned him the $1,000 Berkley Heavyweight award of the day.
The competition continues through Sunday, when the top 12 anglers will compete for the $100,000 top prize.
In addition to the tournament, Elite pros are building points in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. The winner of the season-long points competition will earn $250,000 and the standings will determine 36 qualifiers for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
In the co-angler division, Butch Tucker of Georgia took control with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Trailing Tucker were Kentucky's Bill Williams (22-4) and Florida's Tom Mahoney (19-11). Co-anglers are vying for a top prize of $25,000 in the competition that ends Saturday.