Doug Brownridge followed up his massive 24-pound, 5-ounce bag on Day 1 of the 2014 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional with one that weighed 24-2, extending his lead in the tournament on the St. Lawrence River to nearly 6 pounds.
“I’m still not comfortable yet,” said Brownridge, a member of the Mississauga Bassmasters in the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation. “I’m going to have to fish hard all day tomorrow.”
The Canadian angler shows no signs of slowing down, though. He caught most of his fish in the same place on Day 2 as he did on Day 1, leaving him plenty of areas to pick apart on the final day.
“I dropped a horse today, though,” said Brownridge, referring to a big fish he lost. It’s not the only one, either: He lost a couple on the first day, as well. “That one was a monster. If I had gotten that one, I’d be much better off.”
Still, Brownridge said he figured out something today that he thinks will help him on the final day. And he’ll have to work hard early on Day 3. “My smallmouth bite just shuts down around 10 o’clock,” he said. “I’ve got to really get them in the morning.”
Brownridge has 48 pounds, 7 ounces for two days. His closest competitor is Rob Messenger of New Hampshire with 42-14. Messenger was also the runner-up on Day 1.
Brownridge and Messenger are currently among the team leaders slated to qualify for the 2014 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 6-8, on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La. The top angler on each team advances there, and one competitor from each of the six divisions will earn a coveted berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Other team leaders are Paul Mueller, Connecticut; James Moorey, Massachusetts; Chuck Towns, Maine; Ken Golub, New York; Leo Bevelaqua, Rhode Island; Russell Phillips, Vermont; and Carlos Perez Zamorano, Spain.
Several anglers made big moves on Day 2 thanks to adjustments they made. A few others who had 20-plus-pound bags on the first day came in with scant weights on the second. But almost all of the competitors who are doing well said they expect their fish to hold up on Day 3.
“I have not scratched the surface,” said Golub, who has brought in two 20-plus sacks in a row. “I’ve saved all of them for tomorrow. There are anglers fishing all around me, and I’ve been playing dumb, skipping over those fish. But I’m going to clean out those holes tomorrow.”
The fish don’t seem to be slowing down. The average weight for Day 2 held steady at nearly 3 pounds, just like on Day 1. Most of the field caught limits of five bass, and six 20-plus-pound bags were brought in on Day 2, compared to eight on the first day.
One of those big bags was brought in by high school anglers Cooper Gallant and Danny McGarry of the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation. The young anglers brought in the second-largest bag of the day, 23 pounds, 13 ounces.
“The smallmouth have been hitting a lot of different lures,” Gallant said. “They’re pretty aggressive.”
Gallant and McGarry are part of the B.A.S.S. High School division that competes alongside the adults for the final two days of the tournament. Each B.A.S.S. Nation team sends two high schoolers to the divisional, who go out with an adult team member who serves as their coach.
“We hope we can duplicate that tomorrow,” Gallant said.
In the state team competition, the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation overtook the lead from New York, but it’s too close to call. Connecticut has a cumulative weight of 358 pounds, 8 ounces, and New York has 357 pounds, 14 ounces. Ontario is third with 337-14. The team with the most weight at the end of Day 3 wins a Skeeter/Yamaha boat and motor package worth $40,000.
The leader of the Carhartt Big Bass competition is a tie. James Hanatow of New Hampshire brought in a 6-0 bass on Day 1, and his teammate, Michael McNamara, weighed in one the same size on Day 2. Carhartt awards $500 to the winner, and in the event of a tie, the anglers will split the winnings.
Brownridge wins the Livingston Lures Leader Award for being the leader on the second day. His award is $250. Brownridge also still has the biggest bag of the tournament, his 24-5 from Day 1.
Competition at the Eastern Divisional resumes tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. ET at Whittaker Park in Waddington. Competition concludes Friday, Sept. 26, after the weigh-in, which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET. Keep up with the tournament live at Bassmaster.com.
Image courtesy Tyler Wade/Bassmaster