CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (FLWOutdoors.com) – He exceeded his target weight, found a new spot that'll play for the final round and held onto his lead. So, despite an overall tougher bite, things worked out okay for Indiana boater Chris Wilkinson in the Wal-Mart BFL All-American on Nickajack Lake.
Yesterday, Wilkinson took the top spot with a 20-pound, 10-ounce limit – the only bag to break 20 and thus far, the tournament's heaviest catch. Wilkinson carried a 1-pound, 14-ounce lead into day two and expanded that margin to 2-5 by catching 18-15 and tallying a two-day total of 39-9.
In second place, Kerry Milner, of Bono, Ark., gained four spots on day two by catching the day's heaviest sack – 19-4. Paired with his day-one effort of 18-0, Milner's second-day sack yielded a total weight of 37-4.
Essential to his success, Milner said, was a total commitment to the right spot. In doing so, he corrected a day-one mistake and the results were undeniable.
"I stayed at the spot I should have stayed at yesterday all day today," he said. "Yesterday, I got (nervous) and ran around the lake some. Today, I ran to one spot and never started my motor until it was time to come in. I got fortunate today and caught a limit the first hour."
Milner ran upriver and fished a 100-yard stretch in the Chickamauga dam tailrace. Milner was one of only a few boats that headed upriver at the morning takeoff, but this was a well-planned strategy.
"In practice, I found some schools of fish downriver, but that's where everybody was fishing," he said. "All the good spots were getting hit by too many people. I have a good current seam I'm fishing below the dam and I'm confident it will keep loading with fish.
"The fish that live there are strong, healthy fish. They're thick from the tail up. They're fighting that current all the time, so they (grow heavy)."
Milner caught his bass in 13-15 feet in areas with scattered rock. He fished a homemade football head with a Zoom Fat Albert Twin Tail and a Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog.