Hamner Stays Calm And In The lead on Grand Lake

TULSA, Okla. — Since practice began last week, Alabama pro Justin Hamner says he hasn’t been able to duplicate two patterns from one day to the next.


That trend continued Saturday, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting him adversely.


Hamner caught yet another five-bass limit that weighed 20 pounds and increased his two-day total to 42 pounds, 6 ounces, to maintain the lead in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.


Hamner, who has seemed strangely calm all week, said his only plan for Championship Sunday is to “win the Bassmaster Classic.” Beyond that, he isn’t sure what he’ll be doing once the tournament resumes.


“The dream is going pretty good so far, but we’ve still got one more day,” said Hamner, who is fishing only his second career Classic. “I had to do something totally different today than what I did on the first day of the tournament. The area I started in this morning had completely changed, and I left there around 10 or 10:30 (a.m.).


“In my new spot, I immediately caught three big ones and left there.”


Hamner had been hoping that increased winds would improve his bite. But on Saturday, he said it actually hurt him and forced him to change his plans.


“Yesterday, when I caught all of those fish in those creeks, there was zero bait,” he said. “Today, the wind actually blew directly into those creeks and the fish were more active. They were feeding on the bait, but I could not get those fish to bite.


“It was the weirdest thing and I have no explanation for it.”


The forecast for Championship Sunday calls for 20 to 30 mph winds with occasional gusts up to 40 mph. Hamner said he plans to start on the same brushpiles where he caught his best fish Saturday — and if that doesn’t work, he’ll redirect on the fly once again.


“It’s been a weird feeling all week,” he said. “As soon as I get on the water, I’m not feeling any pressure. I’m playing with geese, catching big bass and having fun. I plan to do that tomorrow — and win the Bassmaster Classic.”


Hamner’s closest competitor at the end of Day 2 was Wisconsin pro Adam Rasmussen with 36-15. A famed walleye guide turned bass pro, Rasmussen said the high winds on Sunday could help him simply by making things tough for the rest of the crowd.


“Where I’m from, I certainly know how to hold the boat really well in high winds,” said Rasmussen, who guides mainly on Sturgeon Bay. “I think that could cause some guys to stumble a little bit.”


Rasmussen said he has one point that’s been “really special” all week, and he plans to milk it for all it’s worth Sunday.


“I’ve gone to it four or five times a day, and almost every time I’ve gone back to it, I’ve gotten bit,” he said. “I might roll in there first thing tomorrow morning, and if I get some bites, I might just pole down on it — just sit on it and see what I can do.”


Entering the day with more than a 5-pound deficit, Rasmussen said he plans to “swing for the fences” to try and win the $300,000 first-place prize. He thinks it will take 23 to 24 pounds — and maybe even a little luck in the form of Hamner struggling — but he knows the big weight is out there.


“When I came to pre-practice here, I had a 29-pound day,” he said. “So, I know what lives here. This is Grand Lake; it has giants. I just have to go catch them.”


Missouri pro Cody Huff caught 15-2 Saturday and fell slightly from second place to third with a two-day mark of 36-4. He rests in a logjam of anglers within striking distance, including Brandon Card (34-4), Hank Cherry (33-11), Cooper Gallant (33-3) and Lee Livesay (33-1).


“It was a complete turnaround for me today,” Huff said. “All the areas that had worked really well for me yesterday, the water temperature had dropped like 8 or 9 degrees with that real cold night. The shad weren’t up, the bass weren’t up. It was just a ghost town.”


A third-year Elite who lists Bassmaster legend Rick Clunn as one of his mentors, Huff didn’t have a bass in his livewell at 11 a.m. But he adjusted and kept himself in contention for the Classic trophy.


“I got on another deal and caught what I caught and broke off another good fish,” Huff said. “With my main pattern toasted, I just had to go fishing and figure them out again. That’s this lake. It’s gonna be that way again tomorrow because it’s gonna look like a new lake again.”


Florida angler Aaron Yavorsky, who turned 18 last week and now holds the record as the youngest angler ever to take part in the Classic, had Big Bass of the Day on Saturday with a 6-12 largemouth. He currently holds the lead for Mercury Big Bass of the Tournament. 


The Top 25 remaining anglers will take off at 7:15 a.m. CT Sunday from Wolf Creek Park and Boating Facility, with the final weigh-in scheduled for approximately 5:00 p.m. at the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa. Door will open at 3:15 p.m., with the Strike King Bassmaster College Classic presented by Bass Pro Shops weigh-in to be held at 3:35 p.m. The winning Classic angler will earn $300,000 and the most-coveted trophy in pro fishing, the Ray Scott trophy.


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