GREENVILLE, S.C. — The final day of the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on Lake Hartwell is shaping up to be a free-for-all with a handful of former Classic champions sitting atop the standings with the coveted trophy and $300,000 first-place prize well within their grasp.
Takahiro Omori, an Elite Series pro from Japan who now makes his home in Emory, Texas, caught five fish that weighed 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday and claimed the lead going into Sunday’s final round with a two-day total of 31-11.
The 2004 Classic winner holds a razor-thin lead over Elite Series pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (31-9); 2003 Classic winner Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. (31-0); 2014 Classic winner Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. (30-11); and Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. (29-14).
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Doesn’t it just figure that after the coldest day in the history of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, four anglers from warm, sunny climates are sitting atop the standings?
Elite Series pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., wowed the crowd at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., with five Lake Hartwell bass that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces despite frigid temperatures that were in the neighborhood of 10 degrees just before takeoff at Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C.
Rojas also overcame a 28-minute penalty as punishment for being late for check-in to Wednesday’s practice period.
He leads Bassmaster Elite Series pros Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., (20-2); Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, (18-8); and Brett Hite of Phoenix, Ariz., (15-7).
“This is our biggest stage that we perform on, and to be able to catch a big bag like that on the first day is amazing,” Rojas said. “How could you script it any better than that? Obviously, I’d rather finish it that way. But hey, I’ll take it.”
The guy who got the least amount of fishing time on an already-shortened day 1 of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic returned to the launch with the heaviest bag.
Dean Rojas, the veteran from Arizona who's fished himself out of contention on opening day more than once in recent Classics, grabbed the early lead with a 21-02 stringer from South Carolina's Lake Hartwell on the coldest day in the event's history. He compiled that impressive bag despite having to remain at the dock for 28 minutes after the rest of the field had departed – a penalty for being 28 minutes late to check-in for Wednesday's final practice session.
"It's the best day I've ever had in the Classic, by far," he said. "It was absolutely a surprise – I didn't think I was on that kind of quality. I thought most of my fish were in the 3- to 3 1/2-pound range, not 4 to 5 pounds." Read more
Recently, B.A.S.S. held the drawing for boat numbers for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic at B.A.S.S. headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. The numbers were randomly drawn by B.A.S.S. staffers and will determine the order in which boats leave the dock on days 1 and 2 of the event.The top two positions were automatically given to reigning Angler of the Year Greg Hackney, who will be boat number 1, and Randy Howell, the 2014 Classic winner, who will be boat number 2. During the Classic, the full field of participants will be split into two flights, boats 1-28 and 29-56. On Day 1, the boats will head out on Lake Hartwell in numerical order. On Day 2, the order will be reversed with 56-29 followed by 28-1. On Day 3, after the field is cut to the Top 25, takeoff order will be decided by angler rank in the tournament.