Shaye Baker Leads B.A.S.S. Classic Wildcard

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B.A.S.S. Classic Wildcard Day One Leader Shaye Baker - photo courtesy B.A.S.S. - James Overstreet

B.A.S.S. Classic Wildcard Day One Leader Shaye Baker – photo courtesy B.A.S.S. – James Overstreet

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Alabama’s Shaye Baker picked a good day to catch the biggest bass and biggest five-bass limit of his life. The young pro’s catch totaled 29 pounds, 8 ounces, and his best largemouth weighed 9-1 to give him a 4 1/2-pound lead over fellow Alabaman and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Russ Lane at the Bassmaster Classic Wild Card presented by Star Tron.

The winner of the event will earn a trophy, cash and — most importantly — the 56th and final berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville, Ala., Feb. 21-23.

In an informal poll of competitors at tournament registration on Wednesday, Baker guessed that the eventual winner would weigh in more than 72 pounds of bass over three days. It was one of the heaviest predictions, and today it became obvious why he was so optimistic.

“I knew I was around some good fish,” Baker said, “and I tried hard not to catch them during practice.” His 9-1 lunker stands as the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament so far.

Baker was predictably closemouthed about his methods and location today, but he did acknowledge that his catch came from pitching and flipping to aquatic vegetation in less than 5 feet of water. Though he wasn’t sight fishing, he couldn’t be sure that some of his fish weren’t in the spawning process.

As for location, Baker said that he was “in or around the Monkey Box,” a legendary fishing area on the west side of giant Lake Okeechobee.

While Baker wasn’t so bold as to say that he would repeat his big catch tomorrow, he did say that he felt he could get enough bites to do well. “I could have 30 pounds, or I could have zero,” he noted.

Just one good bass back is Elite pro Lane of Alabama with 25-0. He was more forthcoming about his methods, saying he was “pitching and punching a Big Bite Baits Real Deal Craw” a soft plastic lure in the “hematoma” color. Lane targeted heavy, matted vegetation for his limit, which included a lunker that weighed 8-6.

“I used a 2- or 2 1/2-ounce sinker to penetrate the heavy weeds,” he said. “I had action all day long and caught about 40 keepers.”

Chad Morgenthaler of Illinois ranks third with 24-4. Greg Hackney of Louisiana is fourth with 21-15. And Ohio’s Fletcher Shryock rounds out the Top 5 with 20-13.

Four of the Top 5 and nine of the Top 13 spots are held by anglers from the Bassmaster Elite Series. Despite the fact that there are 13 Floridians in the field, none are in the Top 5, and only three are in the Top 10. Jesse Tacoronte of Orlando leads the pack in sixth. Half a dozen anglers topped 20 pounds on Day 1, and six are within 10 pounds of the leader.

The full complement of 49 anglers will compete again on Friday, after which the field will be cut to the 12 with the heaviest two-day catches for the final round on Saturday. Cash prizes will be awarded to the Top 30 anglers, but only the winner will earn a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster Wild Card, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

2013 Bassmaster Classic Wild Card 12/5-12/7
Lake Okeechobee, Okeechobee, Fla.
Standings Day 1

   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts

1.  Shaye Baker            Tallassee, AL            5  29-08    0
Day 1: 5   29-08
2.  Russ Lane              Prattville, AL           5  25-00    0
Day 1: 5   25-00
3.  Chad Morgenthaler      Coulterville, IL         5  24-04    0
Day 1: 5   24-04
4.  Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  21-15    0
Day 1: 5   21-15
5.  Fletcher Shryock       New Philadelphia, OH     5  20-13    0
Day 1: 5   20-13
6.  Jesse Tacoronte        Orlando, FL              5  20-06    0
Day 1: 5   20-06
7.  Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  19-11    0
Day 1: 5   19-11
8.  Jeff Kriet             Ardmore, OK              5  18-10    0
Day 1: 5   18-10
9.  Gary Clouse            La Vergne, TN            5  17-15    0
Day 1: 5   17-15
10. Patrick Pierce         Jacksonville, FL         5  17-07    0
Day 1: 5   17-07
11. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              5  17-00    0
Day 1: 5   17-00
12. Keith Poche            Pike Road, AL            5  16-15    0
Day 1: 5   16-15
13. J Todd Tucker          Moultrie, GA             5  16-05    0
Day 1: 5   16-05
14. Jason Lieblong         Conway, AR               5  15-08    0
Day 1: 5   15-08
15. Arnie Lane             Lakeland, FL             5  14-11    0
Day 1: 5   14-11
16. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL          5  14-05    0
Day 1: 5   14-05
17. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            5  14-03    0
Day 1: 5   14-03
18. James Bader            Fruitland Park, FL       5  14-01    0
Day 1: 5   14-01
19. Keith Surber           Longview, TX             5  13-05    0
Day 1: 5   13-05
20. Terry Segraves         Kissimmee, FL            5  13-04    0
Day 1: 5   13-04
21. George Crain           Cropwell, AL             5  12-07    0
Day 1: 5   12-07
22. Joshua Cook            Clarksville, TN          5  12-02    0
Day 1: 5   12-02
23. Derek Remitz           Grant, AL                5  12-01    0
Day 1: 5   12-01
23. Bruce Whitmire         Channelview, TX          5  12-01    0
Day 1: 5   12-01
25. Jamie Horton           Centerville, AL          5  12-00    0
Day 1: 5   12-00
26. Britt Myers            Lake Wylie, SC           5  11-15    0
Day 1: 5   11-15
27. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  11-14    0
Day 1: 5   11-14
28. Jeff Holland           Winter Springs, FL       5  11-13    0
Day 1: 5   11-13
29. Hunter Shryock         Newcomerstown, OH        5  10-07    0
Day 1: 5   10-07
30. Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL            5  10-04    0
Day 1: 5   10-04
31. David Smith            Del City, OK             5  10-01    0
Day 1: 5   10-01
32. Sandy Melvin           Boca Grande, FL          5  09-14    0
Day 1: 5   09-14
33. Jonathan Carter        South Portland, ME       5  09-12    0
Day 1: 5   09-12
34. Kelly Jordon           Palestine, TX            5  09-07    0
Day 1: 5   09-07
35. Alvin Shaw             Roaring Gap, NC          5  09-05    0
Day 1: 5   09-05
36. Gene Eisenmann         Frisco, TX               5  09-04    0
Day 1: 5   09-04
37. Action Jackson Jackson San Mateo, FL            5  08-13    0
Day 1: 5   08-13
37. James Mcmullen         Quakertown, PA           5  08-13    0
Day 1: 5   08-13
37. Marty Robinson         Lyman, SC                5  08-13    0
Day 1: 5   08-13
40. Roland Martin          Naples, FL               5  08-08    0
Day 1: 5   08-08
41. Chris Gerrein          Villa Hills, KY          5  08-05    0
Day 1: 5   08-05
42. Shaw E Grigsby Jr.     Gainesville, FL          5  07-15    0
Day 1: 5   07-15
43. Blaine Bucy            Weirton, WV              5  07-12    0
Day 1: 5   07-12
43. Jamey Caldwell         Carthage, NC             5  07-12    0
Day 1: 5   07-12
45. Boyd Duckett           Guntersville, AL         4  06-08    0
Day 1: 4   06-08
46. Paul Pagnato           Reston, VA               3  05-10    0
Day 1: 3   05-10
47. Todd Sterner           Mechanicsburg, PA        4  05-06    0
Day 1: 4   05-06
48. Wil Hardy II           Harlem, GA               4  05-00    0
Day 1: 4   05-00
49. Charlie Hartley        Grove City, OH           3  03-15    0
Day 1: 3   03-15
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Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        44       238       632-15
———————————-
44       238       632-15