Jones Top Qualifier on Istokpoga Day Two | Outdoor Channel
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Jones Top Qualifier on Istokpoga Day Two

2013 GEICO Challenge Cup, Lake Istokpoga, Oct. 22 - 27, 2012

By: Dan O'Sullivan

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Day Two of the three elimination rounds of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup greeted the anglers with yet another one of their favorite occurrences, a change in the weather. While Elimination Day One proved to be sunny with strong breezes, Day Two was a bit more difficult.

Not that the anglers on the second day would know what effect the conditions would have on the fish. As it is with all Major League Fishing events, these anglers had no information with which to base anything off of from Day One.

However, while preparing tackle, doing studio work for the Outdoor Channel or sitting in their rooms watching television, there was no doubt that the weather from Day One, to Day Two was going to be polar opposites. With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east coast of Florida, the wind speed was expected to increase, and the periodic heavy showers would start to make landfall.

As mentioned in the Day One wrap-up report, Florida's bass typically do not like the changes that are represented by approaching storms. The result is a bass population that largely resembles a five-year-old pouting in the corner after their mother has said they cannot have a cookie; these fish tend to shut down. The day's results would show an overall decrease in fish catches, despite the caliber of anglers in the field.

Even with the difficult conditions, the fact is that four anglers would be punching their tickets to the next round, and four would be packing up to head home. The only thing that mattered was that a minimum of four anglers caught legal size keeper bass.

If that was a concern, the eight anglers that made up the day's field didn't show it, and by the end of the day, the group would prove just how capable they are in any set of conditions

The Day Two anglers were 2013 Summit Cup Champion Denny Brauer, from Camdenton, Mo.; defending 2012 Challenge Cup Champion, winner of the first ever Major League Fishing event, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif.; Muscle Shoals, Ala., pro Timmy Horton and his fellow Alabaman, event stand-in angler Randy Howell of Springville; New Jersey's Mike Iaconelli; Waco, Texas, pro Alton Jones; Weatherford, Texas, pro Gary Klein; and Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.

This list of bass fishing heavyweights slugged it out to see who would move on to the Sudden Death Rounds and have a chance to etch their name as the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 Geico Challenge Cup Champion.

Period One
While we were expecting a battle of heavyweight bombers, the conditions in the first period prove to be more like an opening round of two boxers throwing jabs at each other. While the anglers themselves were prepared to launch the haymakers, the conditions and the fish forced them to float around looking for any opportunity to stick a jab in there.

The first period could very well go down as the lowest fish count of any round in the to-date history of Major League Fishing. The eight anglers managed to post only 14 bass to the leader board in total, and it took a while for anyone to make a mark. With Major League Fishing officials calling the start at 7:45 a.m. local time, it took more than a half an hour for the first score to be tallied.

That bell was rung at 8:17 when Brauer posted a 1-pound, 3-ounce keeper to the leader board. That fish may have started the rest of the field wondering if Brauer was going to run away from the field as he did in the finals at Chautauqua Lake, but when other anglers began posting catches, it became clear that an early runaway was not likely to happen.

By the end of the period, Klein had four bass weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces, to take the early lead. He was followed by Ehrler, who caught two bass for 5 pounds even. Hot on his trail was Howell, who managed to post three fish for 4 pounds, 1 ounce. Iaconelli stood in fourth place with two bass for 2 pounds, 10 ounces, to hold on to the final qualifying position heading into the second period. Brauer managed to add a second keeper and stood fifth with 2 pounds, 2 ounces, and Jones fell sixth with 2 pounds even. Reese and Horton did not post a keeper in the opening round.

Period Two
The second period would show some improvement in the rate of catches, however, only slightly. While the first period produced 14 bass, the second increased to 15. The good news is that by the end of the round, all eight anglers were on the scoreboard with keepers.

Once again, it took some time, almost 20 minutes, for someone to get on the board, and it was Ehrler who broke through first at 11:02. Anglers proceeded to post catches seemingly every 10 minutes, and by 11:38, when Horton posted his first keeper, everyone had finally registered. One minute later, however, Reese went on a four-fish tear that lasted for a half an hour, and by the time it was over, he had climbed into contention.

Klein posted three solid fish to raise his weight to 14 pounds, which put him in the lead ahead of Ehrler, who also managed to catch quality bass to raise his two-period total to 13 pounds, 14 ounces. Jones made a steady gain to third with 7 pounds, 10 ounces, while Reese's second period charge moved him to fourth with 7 pounds, 8 ounces. Iaconelli landed in fifth with 4 pounds, 4 ounces, followed by Howell at 4 pounds 1 ounce. Horton moved up to seventh with 2 pounds, 14 ounces, while Brauer fell to eighth with the same 2 pounds, 2 ounces, he caught in the first period.

Period Three
The final period would once again show that these anglers can put together pattern quickly, and when the leader board posted its final update, the total of bass caught for the period increased again. The anglers caught a total of 21 bass in the final period, and once again, things would shake up on the leader board.

By the time the round was over, two anglers made strong charges to move into the qualifying positions.

One of those anglers was Jones, who posted more than 15 pounds to claim the win in the qualifying round. Bolstered by a pair of solid kickers, one over three pounds and another over four, Jones finished the day with 22 pounds, 9 ounces. Ehrler produced enough to push his weight to 17 pounds, 7 ounces, to finish second. Klein held on to third place by catching another keeper to push his weight to 15 pounds, 14 ounces. Howell was the second angler to make a charge. His total weight of 14 pounds, 10 ounces, helped him overtake Reese for the final qualifying spot. Reese finished fifth with 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Brauer finished in sixth with 8 pounds, 9 ounces, followed by Horton in seventh with 5 pounds, 7 ounces, and Iaconelli in eighth with 4 pounds, 4 ounces.

With the completion of Elimination Day Two of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup on Florida's Lake Istokpoga, eight anglers have qualified to move on to Sudden Death. Joining them will be four more qualifiers from Elimination Day Three.

Jack Link's Major League Fishing Show Page

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