Aaron Martens took another step toward his second victory of the season Friday, weighing in five bass that weighed 15 pounds in the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay.
The weight pushed Martens' two-day total in waters off North East in Cecil County to 32 pounds, 8 ounces and kept him in the lead for a second straight day.
But two young anglers, Michigan's Chad Pipkens (31-13) and Australian Carl Jocumsen (31-12), are less than a pound back, and reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Greg Hackney (30-5) is within striking distance with two days remaining.
Martens, who has performed well in tougher tournaments throughout his career, said he doesn't know how long his pattern will hold up. "There's not a lot of fish where I'm fishing," said Martens, who also increased his lead in the Angler of the Year standings to 65 points over his nearest competition, Justin Lucas. "Carl [Jocumsen] and I are fishing the same area, catching each other's fish. If there were two more boats in there, we would probably be toast."
Boat traffic should be less of a problem today with the field trimmed to the top 50. But a weekend regulation change will further complicate the long run that anglers such as Martens and Jocumsen have been making downriver toward Baltimore each day.
Several large stretches are declared "no-wake" zones on Chesapeake Bay for the weekend, and that will force anglers to slow to idle speed for parts of a boat run that is already taking more than an hour one way.
"It's been nice being able to run around without thinking about no-wake zones," Martens said. "That's really going to hamper how I fish.
"I left some closer areas alone today where I could have gone back and caught more, trying to save them. You've got to save fish in this tournament."
The fishing was tough again for much of the field Friday, with anglers needing just 15-2 to make the top-50 cut. Jacob Powroznik, who was tied for sixth place Thursday with 15-2, zeroed Friday, but still managed to make the cut in 50th place.
One angler who hasn't bemoaned the tough fishing this week as much as others is Pipkens, who caught 14-15 Friday to push his two-day total to 31-13. He's just 11 ounces back of Martens and might be in the lead if he hadn't lost one good fish Friday morning.
"I'm not getting a lot of bites, but a lot of the ones I'm catching are good ones," Pipkens said. "Today, I had three 3-pounders, and I caught a big one — about 4 1/2 pounds — with very little time left to fish.
"But I also weighed in a fish that was about a pound and a half. I feel like the one I broke off was another 3-pounder, and that would have helped me."
Jocumsen brought in the largest catch of the day with 17-5 and jumped to third place with 31-12. He said he's been keying on bluegill to catch most of his fish.
"The fish I'm catching are bluegill eaters," Jocumsen said. "I know they're eating big bluegill, because they coughed them up in my live well yesterday. The only spots I'm catching fish is where I'm seeing bluegill."
Hackney caught 15-15 Friday, pushing his total to 30-5. But he didn't sound nearly as confident about his pattern as Pipkens and Jocumsen.
"It was kind of like yesterday, and yet different," Hackney said, laughing. "Yesterday, the fish were predominantly on wood. Today, it was grass. It's a very challenging place to fish, because you don't know when the next one's coming or where it's coming from."
Hackney said he's been "junk fishing" with 10 to 15 rods on the deck of his boat. He also said the lure that worked best for him Thursday didn't produce at all Friday for the mixture of largemouth and smallmouth he's been targeting.
"The two I picked to win this thing were Michael Iaconelli and Jacob Powroznik, because they probably know the most about this place," Hackney said. "But they've both struggled, and I think that tells you that something is a little off right now."
Also with a shot at winning after two days are Japanese pro Morizo Shimizu (29-2), Indiana angler Bill Lowen (28-3) and California pro Skeet Reese (28-2).
Rojas, who entered the tournament just 11 points behind Martens in the AOY race, missed the cut in 63rd with 12-10. That cleared a path for Lucas, who made the cut in 19th with 22-2, to jump from third to second in the point standings.
Because Martens is in the lead on Day 2, he will earn the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $500.
The tournament will resume today with a 6:15 a.m. takeoff from Anchor Marina and North East Community Park. The weigh-in will be held back at the park at 3 p.m., with only the top 12 anglers advancing to Championship Sunday for a chance at the $100,000 first-place prize.
Parapan Games: Zachary Shattuck of Mount Airy won the bronze medal in the men's 100-meter backstroke S6 in 1 minute, 35.14 seconds in Toronto. He took home a silver medal in the mixed 4x50 freestyle relay earlier in the week. "This isn't my main event," Shattuck said. "Backstroke is something I have been practicing a lot. I'm honored to be out there and see the flag raised in my first international medal. I joined my college swim team this year and they have been incredible. All the people at the USOC and the team have been so amazing and helpful to get me to where I am today; I couldn't be more thankful." Also Friday, Shattuck was part of a fourth-place finish in the men's 4x100 medley relay.
Varsity athletic administration: Former Poly athletic director Tiffany Byrd has been named the coordinator of interscholastic athletics for Baltimore City Public Schools. The position was created to replace former coordinator of athletics Bob Wade and fellow coordinator Jessica Ivey, two of more than 150 employees who were told they would be laid off in May. Wade retired in July after 19 years in the job. Byrd's name was put forth by Baltimore schools CEO Gregory Thornton and the city school board voted Tuesday to approve the recommendation. Byrd began her tenure Wednesday. When reached today, Byrd was in a meeting and did not want to comment on her new position.
Varsity boys lacrosse: Victor Lilly has been promoted to head coach of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion St. Mary's boys lacrosse team, replacing Ben Rubeor, who resigned July 6. Lilly, who graduated from St. Mary's in 1987 and is a member of the St. Mary's Athletic Hall of Fame, has been on the coaching staff for 12 years as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator. He attended Towson State.
—Bob Hough, Baltimore Sun Media Group
Maryland football: The Terps have added former Minnesota quarterback Dexter Foreman to the roster as a graduate transfer, coach Randy Edsall said Friday after practice, the team's first in full pads. In four years with the Golden Gophers, Foreman, who also played wide receiver in Minnesota, didn't appear in a game. He was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals out of Manvel High in Texas. Caleb Rowe, Daxx Garman and Perry Hills split snaps at quarterback as the battle for the starting job continued.
—Daniel Gallen, Baltimore Sun Media Group
More college football: A judge in Rockville says the NCAA can keep 14 internal emails, memos and meeting minutes sealed from public view in a wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the brain-injury death of a Frostburg State player. The player's parents say the documents relate to the NCAA's failure to adopt meaningful rules to protect and educate student-athletes about the danger of repeated head injuries in a short period. Friday's ruling comes nearly four years after the death of 22-year-old Derek Sheely of Germantown. His parents say the NCAA, two coaches, an athletic trainer and helmet-maker Kranos Corp. were negligent in his death. The defendants have denied the allegations. The case is set for a pretrial motions hearing Dec. 7 and for trial in June in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Men's college basketball: Former Oakland Mills point guard Joe Kiely will play his senior season at Stevenson, according to Cecil Kirk Amateur Athletic Union coach Anthony Lewis. Kiely spent the past two seasons at Colorado Mesa, a Division II program. As a junior, he averaged 4.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Women's college lacrosse: St. Mary's named Erin McDonnell (Maryvale Prep) coach. She spent the past four years as an assistant at her alma mater, McDaniel, and teaches in the Carroll County school system.