Mother Nature came calling on Barnett Reservoir Friday during the second round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.

She was vicious.

After a calm launch and take off, the 109 bass fishermen had only a short window of opportunity to catch fish in reasonable conditions. By 9 a.m., winds were blowing a steady 15 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts upwards of 30, and turned The Rez into a tempest with huge white-capped waves.

“It was rough, at least the ride was,” said Brock Mosley, the only Mississippian who made the cut to the top 51 for the final two rounds. He started the day 20th and ended it 21st after posting 12 pounds, 3 ounces for a two-day total of 26-13.

Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., took the lead on the second day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Barnett Reservoir with two-day total weight of 36 pounds, 7 ounces. Credit: Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

That’s nearly 10 pounds behind Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., who moved from sixth place to the lead with 36-7. Connell backed up a 19-12 on Thursday with a 16-11 on Friday and is confident going into Saturday’s third round. The forecast is for even windier conditions Saturday (25-30 steady, gusts upwards of 40).

“The wind won’t affect my fishing spots, but it will affect my travel time to and from where I’ll be spending my day,” Connell said. “What’s concerning me is that the water level is rising and getting muddier.”

Mosley, who will pocket a minimum of $10,000 for finishing in the top 50, said the wind wouldn’t affect his fishing, either, and is looking to fish his way into the top 12 who will advance to Sunday’s final round.

“How and where I’m fishing, the wind doesn’t really impact me that much,” Mosley said. “I’m power fishing with frogs, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits — you know, the typical Barnett Reservoir stuff. There’s no finesse to it and that’s a good thing because finesse is impossible in these conditions.”

After four fishermen posted catches over 20 pounds on Thursday, weights fell in the blustery conditions. No angler topped 20 pounds and only two anglers caught over 18 pounds with the largest David Walker’s 18-5.

Twenty-year veteran Mark Menendez of Kentucky is in second with 34-11, being consistent with daily catches of 17-0 and 17-11, with his largest catch on Friday.

Rounding out the top five were first-day leader Brandon Card and Dave Lefebre tied for third at 33-14, and Bobby Lane Jr. fifth with 32-8.

Mississippi’s other two entries missed the cut. Cliff Pace of Petal caught 17 pounds Friday but finished 75th with just 18-13. Laurel’s Paul Elias added just 5-14 on Friday and finished 97th with a total of 14-7.


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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 12 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.