EUFAULA, Alabama — New Iberian Caleb Sumrall gave Lake Eufaula his best shot Friday in the semifinals of the Dewalt Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the lake bordering Alabama and Georgia.
“I’m more than happy with these results. I’m ready to take it north,” Sumrall said while on the big stage for the weigh-in Friday afternoon at Lakepoint State Park.
The all-around outdoorsman in his third year as a Bassmaster Elite bass pro weighed in his third straight five-bass limit, one that tipped the electronic scale at 14 pounds, 11 ounces, to give him a three-day total of 50 pounds, 7 ounces. He finished 26th in the 86-angler field that started fishing the border lake on Wednesday.
At the weigh-in, Sumrall told B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer and the crowd, which included Sumrall’s family, that he changed his strategy on the third day and sought out the offshore bite at the numerous brushpiles he graphed in deep water while prefishing Monday and Tuesday. He focused on shallower depths the first two days.
Sumrall had 18 pounds, 13 ounces, on the first day and came back the second day with another limit weighing 16 pounds, 15 ounces, to make the Top 40 cut in 23rd place to fish on Friday. He was the only Louisiana basser among seven from the Sportsman’s Paradise to reach the semifinals on the 85-mile lake.
Derek Hudnall of Baton Rouge finished 45th with 30 pounds, 14 ounces; Quentin Cappo of Prairieville was 54th with 30 pounds, 2 ounces; Tyler Carriere of Youngsville finished 78th with 23 pounds, 3 ounces; Tyler Rivet of Raceland was 79th with 22 pounds, 9 ounces; Robbie Latuso of Gonzales finished 84th with 20 pounds, 14 ounces, and Brett Preuett of Monroe was 85th with 20 pounds, 4 ounces.
The Bassmaster Elite Series’ second regular-season tournament since February resumed with the championship round starting at 5:25 a.m. Saturday and ending at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Sumrall will have a one-month break before returning to action at Cayuga Lake near Union Springs, New York, on July 14-17. It is the first of three tournaments on back-to-back-to-back weeks in New York state with the others scheduled for July 23-26 on the St. Lawrence River near Waddington, then July 30-August 2 at Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh.
He missed this tournament’s Top 10 cut by 6 pounds as the 10th-place Elite bass pro, Buddy Gross of Chicamauga, Georgia, had 56 pounds, 13 ounces, after three days of fishing in the intensifying heat and humidity in the Southeast.
Gross, who went on to win the tournament, and eight other Elites were hopeful of catching and passing third-day leader Scott Canterbury of Odenville, Alabama. Consistency was the key for Canterbury, who had 20-pound plus limits Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Canterbury charged into the championship round with a three-day total of 64 pounds, 6 ounces. Friday’s limit of 22 pounds, 13 ounces, nudged him closer to winning $100,000 and the first blue winner’s trophy on the Elite Series.
“I had almost 23 pounds today and lost a big one … should have had 25 pounds. I lost a giant. I didn’t see it, but I know it was a big one. I’m not going to complain,” Canterbury said after opening up more than a 4-pound lead over the nearest challenger.
The Alabama bass pro extracted some key bass from the shallows Thursday and early Friday. But the fishing has been tough, he said, noting he planned on spending most of his time fishing brushpiles in deep water on Saturday.
“I only caught about eight keepers today. I could go out and not catch but one tomorrow. I’m not catching many, but I’ve managed to catch some of the right ones,” Canterbury said Friday afternoon after the weigh-in.