GREENSBORO, N.C. Sometimes being at the top of the tournament leaderboard comes with no payola at all.
No paycheck, no trophy, nothing. That's the scenario Brian Snowden faced after the second day of the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts. Fishing High Rock Lake, Snowden built a 21-pound, 2-ounce total that gave him a 7-pound lead over his nearest challenger in the quest for the $250,000 top prize.
Under this tournament's format, making the top 12 cut after the second day is what counts the most. It makes no difference if you are first or 12th.
"That's what is great about this format," said Snowden, who eventually finished second to Fred Roumbanis. "You can be in 12th place after the cut and still come in and win it all."
Regardless of where you are in the standings, it's a challenge to tweak or even scrap a potentially tournament winning game plan.
Under the Major format, anglers compete in a two-day qualifying round, with the top 12 in the standings advancing to the championship. That event is played out on a smaller area where the water is divided into "holes" not unlike a golf course. Anglers rotate through the course, spending an allocated amount of time before moving to the next hole.
Depending on the fishery, the preliminary and championship rounds can be held on the same lake. That's good news when you are in the lead.
"You can essentially adapt your strategy to that same scenario, giving you somewhat of an advantage," Snowden observed.
Snowden didn't have that option this week. The championship was held on 1,500-acre Lake Townsend, where an entirely completely set of circumstances awaited the top six anglers.
"We had never been on the lake," he said. "The bite at High Rock was for the most part postspawn, some spawn. At Townsend, it was prespawn and spawn, so you had to completely change your strategy.
"It was frustrating when I'd figured out something unique on High Rock and had the good lead. But in the back of my mind I knew I'd be starting all over."
While Snowden tried to keep an open mind "go with your gut feeling," he said he knew he had the chess match of the second day to consider as well.
"There are two things clicking at once in your mind," he said. "That is, what's happening now, and what could change in the next hole or even the next day. So you can't really spend much time at all planning ahead. It's more short-term and present planning."