CARTERVILLE — Tough fishing conditions ruled the day at the 49th Bill Harkins/Don Sanders Four-Man Tournament at Crab Orchard.
The disparity among the haves and have-nots was clear on the leaderboard where more than 16 pounds separated the first place and 10th place teams. The tournament concludes Sunday with a 3 p.m. weigh-in.
Mike Frisch of Scheller and Dennis Heape of Pinckneyville were two anglers who did catch some fish. The three fish they brought to the scales weighed 16.68 pounds. Their team sits in fifth place with 27.27 pounds.
“We caught our fish early and off of wood,” Frisch said. “We got lucky really. They were in one little area and we left it. Tomorrow is another day. We caught those three in there and left. Everywhere else we went was no good.
We pre-fished a week ago and had a real good day, like 17 keepers. We hit some of those spots we caught them pre-fishing, but the wind was out of a different direction. I think the fish are moving right now, a lot of pressure, high bluebird skies … it’s just a tough bite.”
The quartet of Neil McCord, Brennon McCord, Jerry Wright and Steve Sizemore is leading the event with 34.17 pounds. Dave Thompson, Clayton Campanella, John Lemaster and Donny Carpenter are in second place with 31.66.
Only seven pounds separates the top five teams.
“It was a slow day all told,” said tournament director Mike Tompkins. “The two flights are a half-hour apart and it’s like one continuous weigh-in. It took 15 minutes to weigh the first flight. Overall, it was just a slow day, but there were some nice limits.”
But, with the four-man format, the tournament is still wide open.
"I think it will take the usual 50-60 pounds to win it,” Tompkins said.
There were also several large bags caught.
Steve Powers and Mitch Gosha took big stringer honors Saturday with a five-fish limit of 19.45. Venson Newsome of Marion earned the big bass award with a 6.82 pounder.
The tournament had just 42 entries this year, down slightly from last year’s total of 48. Several years ago the tournament regularly filled the 100-team limit.
“I wish I knew (why numbers are down),” Tompkins said. “There are just so many circuits going on. I think that hurts us.”