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Spotted Bass Breaking Hearts At The Alabama River

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Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., takes the lead on Day 1 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #2 presented by Allstate held on the Alabama River out of Prattville, Ala. Connell brought 22 pounds, 3 ounces to the scales at Thursday’s weigh-in.

Photo by James Overstreet/Bassmaster

April 16, 2015

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Spotted Bass Breaking Hearts At The Alabama River
Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., takes the lead on Day 1 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #2 presented by Allstate held on the Alabama River out of Prattville, Ala. Connell brought 22 pounds, 3 ounces to the scales at Thursday’s weigh-in.

Photo by James Overstreet/Bassmaster

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — Tearful stories about big fish being lost are common at any bass tournament. But woeful tales were legion on Thursday at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #2 presented by Allstate on the Alabama River.

Even anglers that caught heavy limits lamented that they lost big bass that would have allowed them to cull up in weight. This is due mainly to the notoriously hard fighting Coosa River spotted bass that teem in the Alabama River where the second of three 2015 Southern Opens is taking place this week.

Tournament leader Dustin Connell, a local Alabama angler, avoided the lost bass jinx. His 22 pounds, 3 ounces of spotted bass was the only limit to top 20 pounds.

Connell is a hot stick that regularly fattens his bank account by fishing tournaments in this area of Alabama. He culled through 10 bass today to catch his impressive limit.

“I did about what I expected to do today,” Connell said. “I feel good about tomorrow.”

If Connell follows up with more limits that exceed 20 pounds, he is likely to run away with this one. However, he said that there are other competitors fishing his water. Also, that the water “dirtied up more today, and the bite might change tomorrow.”

The other anglers fishing on the pro side of this event are hoping that happens.

Alabama’s Jamie Horton had a tough practice, catching limits in the 11- to 12-pound class. That might get a small check here, but it won’t get a sniff at the Top 12 cut to fish Saturday.

Today Horton lugged a bulging sack to the scales. It held five fat spotted bass that totaled 19 pounds, 5 ounces. The largest of these weighed 4 pounds, 15 ounces. That is a seriously big spotted bass.

Horton’s outboard never had a chance to cool down today. He said he fished 60 different places to land the seven bass that he boated. Why did Horton catch bigger spotted bass today than in practice?

“I stayed away from my better stuff in practice,” he said.

Although Horton is looking forward to fishing tomorrow, he said that the water had “muddied up a lot today.” He’s not sure if that will negatively impact his fishing.

Drew Benton, a Florida angler, chose to concentrate on largemouth bass. His day got off to a bad start when his rear running light was accidentally knocked off by another competitor’s boat prior to takeoff. B.A.S.S. rules state that both running lights must be on before any boat is allowed to take off in the morning.

Benton believes the glitch may have cost him a few good bass because he is on a morning bite. Despite the late start, Benton boated an 18-pound, 5-ounce limit by 9:30 a.m. Then he left his fish and looked for productive water elsewhere.

North Carolina’s Taylor Schneider leads the co-angler side of the tournament with a three-bass limit that weighed 9 pounds, 15 ounces. All of his bass were largemouth. The heaviest, 6 pounds, 5 ounces, was the big bass of the day for the co-anglers.

“I caught the big one in the first 15 minutes,” Schneider said. “I was about to jump out of the boat when that bass jumped.”

Take off for Day 2 Friday will be at 6 a.m. CT at Cooters Pond. The weigh-in Friday will take place at the same location at 2 p.m. CT.

The final weigh-in Saturday will take place at Bass Pro Shops in Prattville, Ala., at 3 p.m. CT.

The local host for this event is the City of Prattville.

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