Reinkemeyer Takes Lead At Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off On Lake Hartwell

Brock Reinkemeyer fished through cold and dreary conditions Friday on Lake Hartwell to take the Day 1 lead in the Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off.

Reinkemeyer weighed five bass that totaled 13 pounds, 7 ounces, which gave him more than a 3-pound lead over the closest of the five other anglers competing in the two-day event.

It was a continuation of good fortune for the 27-year-old carpenter from Lone Jack, Mo., who paired with Brad Jelinek on Thursday to win the team title and advance to this portion of the tournament.

The winner of the Fish-Off will clinch the 53rd and final berth in the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which is scheduled for March 6-8 on Lake Guntersville with weigh-ins in Birmingham, Ala.

Reinkemeyer, who fishes on the Joe Bass Team Trail, made a move to be that angler with his 13-7 limit on Friday. He returned to what he and Jelinek called a “magic spot” they fished in their run to the team title, but Friday’s nasty weather put a hex on his area of choice, and Reinkemeyer was forced to scramble.

Reinkemeyer started fishing docks and found one that produced two largemouth bites early Friday, one in the 4-pound range and another about 3 pounds. When that action slowed, he ditched the dock for a while, though he returned later that morning for his third largemouth keeper bite.

With only 9 pounds in his livewell late Friday, Reinkemeyer decided to fish for spotted bass in hopes of filling his limit. He did just that after glancing at his Humminbird electronics and seeing fish. He quickly dropped a line and caught his fourth and fifth bass in quick succession, but he said it wasn’t an easy task.

“I got those largemouth off that magic dock early, but then I struggled the rest of the day,” he said. “I ran all over and didn’t get anything until I picked off those couple of spotted bass.”

Reinkemeyer said finding shad was the key to successful bites on Wednesday and Thursday, but baitfish were nowhere to be found Friday. He said he’ll have to adjust Saturday in the final day of the Fish-Off if he’s going to lock up a spot in the Classic.

“I’m going to start out largemouth fishing, but I’m not going to stay as long,” he said. “Then I’m going to go get a limit of spots. Hopefully that brings it home.”

Josh Busby, a 36-year-old food scientist from Rogersville, Mo., is in second place with five bass weighing 10-5. Timothy Taylor, his teammate on the Ozark Mountain Team Trail, is in third with a limit of 10-1. Taylor, 48, of Nixa, Mo., works as safety inspector at a Missouri hospital.

Jelinek, a 25-year-old fishing guide from Warsaw, Mo., is fourth with four bass weighing 5-7. Timothy Penhlollow, a 52-year-old sales manager from Mebane, N.C., is in fifth with three fish for 4-8. KC Choosakul, a 50-year-old mechanic and boating center owner from Sanford, N.C., is just behind his Carolina Bass Challenge teammate with three bass weighing 4-6.

In all, 165 teams from 30 states and two foreign countries competed in the team portion of this tournament Wednesday and Thursday on Lake Hartwell. The field was whittled from 329 anglers to the six men who composed the top three tandems in the team portion of the event. The Top 33 teams in the original field split a cash purse that totaled $87,000, including the $20,000 Nitro/Mercury cash prize split by Reinkemeyer and Jelinek.

The angler with the heaviest two-day total weight in the fish-off will grab a spot in the 50th edition of the Bassmaster Classic and fish against the world’s best anglers in the sport’s biggest showcase.

Takeoff for the final day of the Classic Fish-Off begins Saturday at 7:15 a.m. ET from Green Pond Landing. The final weigh-in will begin at 3:15 p.m. at the same location.

Visit Anderson is hosting.