Bird Takes Slim Lead At Bassmaster Central Open On Neely Henry

Perseverance was the key element of Cody Bird’s day, as the Granbury, Texas, pro moved into the Day 2 lead of the Bassmaster Central Open on Neely Henry Lake with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 10 ounces.

After placing third on Day 1 with a limit of 13-1, Bird added another limit that weighed 11-9 to edge second-place Kenta Kimura by 2 ounces.

“It was a struggle today; I probably ran a total of 200 miles and fished 100,” Bird said. “Some of those were spots I fished (multiple times), but I was just trying to hit high-percentage stuff, unless I got a gut feeling about stopping somewhere.

“I had two good ones, about 3 1/2-pounders, and two rats (small fish). I lost a 5-pounder right at the boat.”

On Thursday, Bird said he caught all of his fish on the same spot — a current-related piece of structure that improved with the afternoon’s increasing current flow.

“Today, I never got a bite there,” he said. “I’m just scrambling around and I’m running out of stuff to fish. I’m fishing about a 15-mile stretch. I’m all over the place — the (B.A.S.S. photographers) couldn’t track me down with GPS.

“I’m completely drained from casting. I made at least 1,000 casts today. I kept grinding and grinding and it paid off.”

Bird said he returned four times to the spot that produced a 4-pound bass for him on Thursday but couldn’t get bit.

He said he looked for similar spots where current washed past hard cover such as docks, laydowns and rocks. His efforts produced eight keeper bites, three of which came off the same spot.

“I caught my fish on several different reaction baits,” Bird said. “I’m just junk fishing based on whatever’s in front of me. Most of my spots have deep water close. That’s the deal, current and deep water.”

Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Kimura is in second with 24-8. After landing in a three-way tie for 33rd place on Day 1 with 9-10, he added 14-14 — the event’s biggest bag. Doing so, Kimura said, was not easy.

“I’m surprised by that; I was just trying to catch them the way I know and it just worked out,” he said. “I had to change up from yesterday. I was fishing too shallow yesterday, so I dropped a little deeper to a range of 8 to 15 feet.”

Filling his bag with all spotted bass, Kimura said he caught his fish with crankbaits and finesse presentations. He didn’t have a fish at 11 a.m., but dialing in the right scenario allowed him to sack up his day’s weight.

“I don’t think it’s bait-related; the more important thing is timing,” Kimura said. “I’m sure the (afternoon) current helped.

“I have a spot that worked really well and I hope I can do it again tomorrow. At least I know how much quality is here.”

Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., is in third place with 22-11. A Day 1 bag of 9-5 put him in a tie for 38th place, but today’s 13-6 limit, anchored by a 5-5, pushed him into striking distance.

“I caught that (big) fish with about 10 minutes to go,” Browning said. “I didn’t have a great numbers day, but it turned out to be the right ones.”

Browning targeted wood, riprap, chunk rock and gravel banks. He caught his bass on a Z-Man JackHammer ChatterBait with a Z-Man Razor ShadZ trailer, a jig and a tube.

Browning is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with a 5-5.

Kayden Tanner of Millsap, Texas, retained his lead in the co-angler division with a two-day total of 13-2. He added a limit of 5-8 to the 7-10 he weighed Thursday.

“Today, we fished a little more grass than wood and I caught two keepers really quick by flipping a (Texas-rigged) Berkley Bunker Hawg,” Tanner said. “I went all day, until about 1 o’clock and I made one flip into a tree with a shaky head and caught a 3-pound spotted bass — that’s what did it today.”

Jason Henson of Rome, Ga., holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4-0.

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leads the Central Opens points race with 550 points, followed by Darold Gleason with 541. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Lee Livesay is in third with 539, followed by Marc Frazier (533) and Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk (531).

Christie leads the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year Standings with 932 points.

The Top 12 remaining anglers will take off from Coosa Landing at 6:45 a.m. CT Saturday. The weigh-in will be held back at the landing at 2:45 p.m.

Fans can follow the final-day drama on by streaming Nationwide Bassmaster Opens LIVE presented by Grizzly as camera boats provide coverage of the leaders. The tournament is being hosted by Greater Gadsden Area Tourism.