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The Target Remains The Same

DECATUR, Ala. — Even though two anglers caught
20-pound-plus bags and 19 pros had more than 15 pounds on Day One, that original
15-pounds-per-day prediction holds going into the second day of the Bassmaster
Elite Series Southern Challenge presented by Advance Auto Parts.

Wheeler Lake did produce better than expected Thursday, as
Terry Scroggins headlined it with a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 3
ounces. But no one at the top of the leaderboard is confident in his ability to
approach the 20-pound mark two days in a row.

"The difference yesterday was that I got some quality
bites," said Todd Faircloth, who is second to Scroggins with 20-9. "Without
that, I'm sitting at 10 or 12 pounds like a lot of other guys."

In this case, the definition of "a lot of other guys" would
be 30. That's how many pros are bunched in that 10- to 12-pound range - between
37th place (Boyd Duckett and Derek Remitz, 12-12) and 65th
place (Kurt Dove and Chris Lane, 10-1).

The launch conditions and forecast Friday were exactly the
same as Thursday: 72 degrees at 6 a.m., no clouds, a southerly breeze of 5 to
10 miles per hour, with a high temperature in the lower 90s predicted.

"I still say if a person can average 15 pounds a day over
the course of three days, you'll have a shot at winning this tournament,"
Faircloth said.

Timmy Horton, the pre-tournament favorite in this event
because of his local knowledge and past success on Wheeler Lake, agrees, for
the most part.

"It may have raised a little bit," said Horton, who is
eighth with 17-6. "But I said 15 to 16 a day at the beginning, and I'm sticking
with that."

Only one of the 107 Elite Series pros failed to catch a
limit Thursday. Several anglers mentioned having 100-fish days. But you've got
to go through a lot of little bass to find a lunker or two. That brings into
play a stronger-than-usual luck factor.

"It's kind of strange," Faircloth said. "I'm catching a lot of
fish. I might have to catch 12 or 15 fish before I catch a good one.

"My best day of practice was probably 10 or 15 pounds. I
could go out there today and catch 10 or 15 pounds, or I could catch less than
that. It's very possible."

The other unpredictable factor in this event is the
concentration of anglers in the Decatur Flats area, located just outside the
Ingalls Harbor launch and weigh-in site. It's a relatively big spot: Ken Cook
estimated it at 10 miles long and two miles wide. But when you consider that
Wheeler holds 68,000 surface acres of water and as much as half the field
(maybe more) is bunched in this one area, fishing pressure is bound to take its
toll sooner or later.

As Matt Reed (11th, 16-12) stated it Thursday:
"The crowd is an issue. We're going to run out of fish. I just don't know
when."

It might be today; it might not. That will become apparent
at Friday's 3 p.m. weigh-in, after which the field will be cut to the top 50
for Saturday's semifinal round. Going into the day, Ken Cook sat on the cut
mark in the 50th spot with 11-13.

"I thought going in if I could catch 12 pounds, I'd be in
pretty good shape," Cook said. "But I'm sitting on the bubble."

Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Southern Challenge, June 5–8, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 4:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 3:00 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" on at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 4:15 p.m. ET.