Kriet captures Classic lead

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- There's a buzz in Beeswax.

Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., leads the Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake with a two-day limit of 32 pounds, 1 ounce. Fishing lipless crankbaits in Beeswax Creek with two others close behind, Kriet said he's out to obtain a breakthrough win.

Coming into the event trailing Day 1 leader Kevin VanDam by 3 pounds, 1 ounce, Kriet surged ahead with the day's heaviest limit -- a 15-10 sack of largemouth. Kriet focused most of his effort on a 200-yard stretch of the creek in about 5½ feet of water. He said the sweet spots had a grassy bottom and stumps near a slight roll-off.

"I caught 11 keepers, but it's slow," Kriet said. "It's cold and there's a lot of pressure. I watched [Todd] Faircloth catch a couple and I watched VanDam catch a couple of his. I know that if any one of us had it to ourselves, it would be a blowout.

"Tomorrow, I'll just grind it out until I can't grind anymore. I know a lot of other guys would like to be where I'm sitting and I appreciate those guys -- and they know who they are -- who stayed off of me."

Kriet acknowledged a tight race, but said he has confidence in what Sunday holds for him.

"I think I have a chance," he said. "It's about time I won one of these."

In second place, VanDam trails Kriet by 2 ounces with 31-15. VanDam began his day power fishing the sunny cove off Beeswax Creek where he did his Day 1 damage. He tried other spots, but finished his day back in Beeswax. VanDam's limit weighed 12-7.

"The lake changed a lot," VanDam said, noting a depth drop of about a foot. "It got tougher today with those high, bright skies.

"I'm not going to die in one place tomorrow. I have other places to look at."

Sitting just an ounce behind KVD, Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, dropped a notch to third place with a 13-12 limit that gave him a 31-14 total. Also working in Beeswax, Faircloth caught most of his fish on a Sebile Flats Shad in hollow green color.

"It's a grind out there -- we're all fishing the same area," Faircloth said. "I feel like if you could let something rest for 30 minutes to an hour and come back to it, you could catch one or two. But it's just not getting much of a rest."

Improving from seventh place, Michael Iaconelli is in fourth with 26-12. Ike caught two largemouths on a vibrating Lazer Lure in spicy shad and a pair of spots on Berkley Shaky Worm rigged on a 3/16-ounce Tru-Tungsten Iky Head.

Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., gained four spots to place fifth with 25-11. Lane caught his fish on an Excalibur XR50 rattlebait in Foxy Shad, a Strike King Red Eye Shad in Sexy Shad and a ¾-ounce flipping jig with a Biobait YoMama trailer.

Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., placed sixth with 24-9, Takahiro Omori was seventh with 24-5, Matt Herren took eighth with 23-6, Brent Chapman finished ninth at 21-2 and James Niggemeyer rounded out the top 10 with 20-7.

Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, S.C., secured the final top-25 spot with 15-9. After placing 35th on Day 1 with two fish weighing 5-12, Quinn moved up 10 notches on Day 2 with a four-fish bag weighing 9-13.

Despite pleasant conditions of light breezes and rapidly warming temperatures, Day 2 saw a sharp decline in productivity. Total fish caught dropped from 189 on Day 1 to 153, with limits slipping from 30 to 19. Greg Hackney, who blanked Saturday, theorized that he saw too much of a good thing too soon.

"I think the fish were so cold for a week and today they were lying out there getting a sun tan," Hackney said.

Omori, who missed his limit by one fish and dropped two spots, lamented a lackadaisical bite.

"It was a lot different today," Omori said. "The fish were missing the bait today. They just weren't taking it."

Sunday's forecast for continued sunshine should bring more stability as the fish start to adjust. If the water level remains consistent, those with stout rods and heavy baits may find the home run they need.

"Every minute this sun stays warm, we get close to the big females moving up," said Herren, who improved 10 places from 18th on Day 1. "The flipping bite should get good."

Dean Rojas, who made the cut at 23rd place, found some warm water and enjoyed some topwater action with his signature series Spro Frog.

"I have a little pocket with 58-degree water and I had two fish come up and eat the frog," Rojas said. "It's supposed to get warmer tomorrow, so [the frog] will probably get some more action."