CARTERVILLE — Despite rainy and windy conditions, four teams in the Don Sanders/Bill Harkins Four-Man Tournament brought more than 20 pounds of bass to the scales at Crab Orchard Lake.
Anglers fished through a couple of hours of rain Saturday morning. When the rain cleared somewhere around 9 a.m. the winds picked up, making fishing conditions even more difficult.
The team of Tom Burns Jr., Tom Burns III, Trevor and Mike McKinney hold a slim lead with 23.61 pounds. But, just 1.27 pounds stand between them and the fourth-place team of Don Arvai, Danny Clark, Mark Jelley and Matt Swalls.
The Burns-Burns duo took big bag honors for the day, weighing in a five-fish limit of 18.1 pounds.
“Conditions weren’t bad after it quit raining,” said Tommy Burns III. “Morale went up after it quit raining because you’re not wet. The wind didn’t really didn’t bother us.”
Burns said they caught fish sporadically throughout the day, with most of the fish being taken in shallow water.
“We didn’t do anything differently,” he said. “We got lucky. I think we did what most people were doing today. We just happened to get on them.”
The quartet of Mike Hammers, Shawn Diltz, Troy Dishner and Chad Mardis hold second place at 22.99 pounds and David, Boo, Zack Guill and Dennis Drust are in third with 22.83 pounds. Drust earned Big Bass honors for the day with a 6.94-pound fish.
The Swalls-Jelley duo also brought in one of the biggest bags of the day. Their four fish tipped the scales at more than 16.8 pounds.
“It was just putting the trolling motor down and making it work,” Swalls said. “It was tough all day. You had to make every bite count. We finished with four, one shy of a limit. We broke off on one, lost one, but that’s part of it. It was a tough day.
“We caught some quality fish. Late in the day we caught one almost six, so that helped us out. We had two others that were good keepers. That helped, with not having five, so basically we tried to focus on getting what we caught in the boat.”
The afternoon wind complicated matters for Swalls and Jelley.
“Some of the banks were getting windblown and made it a little bit difficult to fish them correctly,” he said. “So, we had to make some adjustments there, but overall today was alright.”
The tournament concludes today. Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. Weigh-in is at 3 p.m.
Like the leaders, Swalls and Jelley caught most of their fish flipping in shallow areas.
There were just 31 entries this year. The tournament is sponsored by the Southern Illinois Bassbusters and is a fundraising event for the Williamson County Shrine Club.