A strong Day 2 gave the defending champion a 4-pound, 12-ounce lead.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Following a wild Day 1 that started hot thanks to an early-morning shad bite, all 54 anglers of the Academy Sports + Outoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk were chomping at the bit at first light this morning.
However, after thunderstorms called for a delay of more than two hours, Day 1 leaders--namely Steve Kennedy and Patrick Walters--stumbled in the standings on Day 2.
Defending champion Hank Cherry, though, was able to capitalize on the late start, landing 17 pounds, 10 ounces, and moved from third place into a 4-pound, 12-ounce lead with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 14 ounces.
With an opportunity to become the fourth angler in 51 years to claim back-to-back titles, Cherry is well aware of the magnitude of his position heading into Championship Sunday.
"There was definitely more pressure to win the first one last year," he said. "Winning is one thing, but to win it twice, it's got to all go right.
"What's eerie about this is that it's the same feeling as last year. I'm out there on the dam today and people are stopped all the way down the dam getting out watching me fish--it just feels the same."
Perhaps just as impressive as Cherry's hot start--catching two bass around 4 pounds by flipping a jig into a wooden structure--was Justin Kerr's jump from 22nd place to second with four bass totaling at 19 pounds, 4 ounces.
By primarily flipping a chatterbait into submerged bushes, Kerr was able to land one bass that weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and another that weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces.
"I have this one area that has a bunch of big ones in it, and I got two bites there yesterday and lost one of them," he said. "Today, with the half day that we had, I was hoping for two bites that would put me int he 11-pound range, but they just happened to be 7-pounders."
Despite a much slower day, Kennedy's four bass for a total of 9 pounds, 11 ounces, was enough to keep him in third place. But, Walters was only able to land one bass weighing 2 pounds, 6 ounces, which dropped him to 13th place in the standings.
Chad Pipkens landed the biggest bass of the day at 8 pounds, 1 ounce, only two ounces shy of the Frank Talley's 8-pound, 3-ounce bass from Day 1.
The Top 25 anglers will launch at 6:15 a.m. tomorrow morning for a chance to claim the Bassmaster Classic title, as well as a first-place price of $300,000.