Horton In Control After Two Days At Bassmaster Elite On Lake Okeechobee

After weighing the second limit of the tournament that crested 30 pounds, Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., took control on Day 2 of the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee. Today’s 30-pound, 4-ounce limit pushed his two-day total to an impressive 56 pounds, 3 ounces.

Horton’s performance vaulted the four-time Bassmaster champion ahead of Thursday's leader Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., by almost 8 pounds.

Horton has a history of winning by a substantial margin: Three of his four victories carried a minimum of a 13-pound difference between first and second place.

But knowing how fickle Lake Okeechobee bass can be, he’s not comfortable just yet.

“This lake can turn on you in the blink of an eye,” said the 2000 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “You can go from having nothing to a 25-pound limit in a matter of minutes, or go from 25 pounds to 10 pounds the next day. I could get to my location tomorrow and find that all the fish have moved off.”

With two days left, Horton knows he has a long way to go, but the forecasted weather conditions are stable and play to his game plan.

“I really think that if the weather plays out as forecasted, we could see the fishing actually get better over the next two days,” he said. “Florida-strain bass love the sun, and Saturday and Sunday look warm and sunny. Am I confident? For sure, but I know a lot can happen in two days, especially after the past two days.”

Horton doesn’t plan to change much for Saturday’s semi-final round.

DeFoe slipped a little today weighing only 17-3 after a staggering 31-3 limit of largemouth bass on Thursday. He’ll be starting Saturday in second place behind Horton, but he’s still confident the right fish are in the area he is fishing.

“There was certainly an increase in activity where I started today,” he said. “I caught a small limit by 9 a.m., but decided to make a 30-mile run to more productive waters in the early afternoon.”

The decision proved to be the right one as he culled up to the kind of five-bass limit that would keep him in the hunt.

“I might start in the same place that I did this morning, but if I don’t catch a big fish after an hour or so, I’ll probably make the run across the lake,” he said. “This is the kind of lake where any cast could produce a giant, so it’s worth thoroughly fishing a good spot.”

Speaking of good spots, Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., found one on Day 2 and caught 25-4 to push his two-day total to 43-1, which has him going into Saturday in third place.

“I had a pretty good first day with 17-13, which had me in 21st place, but I was able to capitalize on several big fish today,” said the four-time Bassmaster champion. “Today was a lot of fun, but the 9-pounder I weighed helped out tremendously. A fish like that just changes everything”

Rojas’ big bass was key in moving him up the leaderboard, but interestingly, it wasn’t the biggest bass of the day.

Micah Frazier caught a bass that weighed 9-3, which is just 2 ounces shy of the current Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament caught by rookie Tyler Carriere of Youngsville, La., during Thursday’s opening day of competition.

“It was the largest bass I’ve ever caught in a tournament, and it was a true blessing,” said Frazier, a 28-year-old pro from Newnan, Ga.

The rest of the Top 10 include: Cliff Prince (43-1), Stephen Browning (42-9), Greg Hackney (39-11), Jesse Tacoronte (39-0), Randall Tharp (38-8), Fletcher Shryock (37-4) and Jason Williamson (36-14).

The Top 51 anglers will advance to the semi-final round on Saturday, and the field will be cut to the Top 12 for Championship Sunday to compete for the $100,000 first place prize.

Competition will resume Saturday with takeoff at 6:45 a.m. ET at C. Scott Driver Park, and weigh-in will begin at 3:15 p.m. in the same location.

The event is hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism.