As the wind picked up and the sun came out, Ralph Steve DeBord adjusted to the changing conditions and extended his lead to over 4 pounds, as he posted 38.56 pounds after Day Two of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship on Lake Guntersville.
"I had to switch it up to get most of my bites," DeBord said. "The boy with me caught a 5-pound smallmouth off the spot we fished in the morning, where I caught them yesterday, but that was it. I didn't catch but one off that spot and had to adjust."
Adjustments were critical for the leaders and weights were down across the board. Bringing in a lighter bag on Thursday was Nick Kincaid of Tulsa, Okla. His 15.12 pushed his two-day total to 34.32 pounds, but still moved him into second place. In third was Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Ga., who added 15.17 pounds for a total of 32.96.
Rounding out the top five boaters was Galen James of Sale Creek, Tenn., in fourth with 32.86 pounds and Louis Aebersold Jr. from Louisville, Ky., in fifth with 32.64 pounds.
Weights were tight from third place down, making DeBord's feat all the more important. He fished shallow with reaction baits on Day One, but knew the changing conditions would force him to adapt and he did so successfully. If he hopes to hold the lead for two more days, DeBord will need to contend with a cold front that will drop temperatures into the 30s and bring blustery wind.
"This is Guntersville -- it doesn't matter," DeBord said. "You have to put the weather completely out of your head. The fish are in here."
Like DeBord, 23-year-old Kinkaid had to adjust to catch his fish, but he couldn't find a bigger bite with the windy conditions.
"I've done two totally different things each day," Kinkaid said. "I had to change up and move around today with the wind out. Tomorrow should be similar to today, so I'm going to start where I caught my fish today and try to catch a quick limit."
With the tournament halfway complete, Kinkaid knows he is getting closer to a Bassmaster Classic berth.
"It feels good right now, but with two more days, anything can happen," Kinkaid said.
A few bites like non-boater Dennis McGouirk had can change things in a hurry. McGouirk totaled a massive three-fish limit of 15.75 pounds, anchored by a 7.19-pound largemouth, to jump into first place with 22.33 pounds.
"I was talking to my boater, who is from Virginia, and I told him that this looked like a great spot to flip," McGouirk said. "I flipped in there and that big one took off. I absolutely feel pretty good right now."
Another non-boater that felt good after Day Two was Ronnie Stiek of Skiatook, Okla., who boated the biggest bass of the day, an 8.05-pound Lake Guntersville giant.
"I caught that fish on a jig in 22 to 24 feet of water," Stiek said. "She hit and I thought it was a big catfish. When she came up, I about come off the floor. I just had to take a moment to thank God after not catching much yesterday."
Rounding out the top three on the non-boater side was Richard Peek of Centre, Ala., with 20.09 pounds and Day One leader Dana Foster in third with 18.43 pounds.
The full field launches again Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Lake Guntersville State Park, with the weigh-in starting at 4 p.m. ET. The field will be cut to the top 25 for Saturday's final round, when the winner will be decided and a Classic berth awarded.
Full results can be found on www.abaproam.com.