LEESBURG, Fla. — The sun was about to slip below the horizon by the time Justin Lucas came to the stage for Friday’s weigh-in of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open No. 1.
At that point, about 360 of the 400 anglers already had weighed their bass in front of a healthy crowd at Venetian Gardens. If you had asked just about any of them, they probably would have said it was practically certain that Thursday’s leader, Marty Robinson, would hold onto the top spot heading into Saturdays’ final day of fishing on the Harris Chain of Lakes.
But Lucas had other plans.
The Guntersville, Ala., resident and California native swooped in at the 11th hour with a five-fish limit that weighed 21 pounds, 14 ounces. That gave Lucas a 43-9 total for two days, and has him more than 2 pounds ahead of Robinson heading into the final round.
Lucas was the only angler of the 200 in the pro division who caught 20-pound bags the first two days of the tournament. He’s never won an Open, and he told the crowd he’s itching to add to his trophy collection.
“I already have two on the mantle from the Elite Series,” Lucas said, referencing his wins on the Potomac River in 2016 and the Sacramento River a year earlier. “But no Open trophies … We want them all.”
Robinson, the Elite Series pro who led after Day 1 with 23-11, was undeterred by losing the lead. He said he’s repeating a familiar saying to himself this week to stay focused.