After landing in second the first day with 19-1, Rasmussen anchored his Day 2 bag with the Big Bass of the Tournament thus far, a 7-9 largemouth he caught on his second cast of the morning. Texas angler Shaine Campbell is second with 35-14 and Jess Beihoffer is third with 33-6.
Rasmussen won the St. Croix Bassmaster Open on Wheeler Lake last May, and with time to kill between the Lake Okeechobee and Lake Ouachita Opens, he decided to sign up and search for redemption on a lake responsible for one of his worst finishes of 2023.
“I wanted some redemption on the lake so I spent a day and a half of practice driving around and graphing,” he said. “I found a few schools of fish and didn’t know any of it was going to go down like it did.”
During his day and a half of practice, Rasmussen committed to scanning offshore structure for schools of bass and discovered a broad area that has produced most of his weight so far this week. A jig paired with a Rapala CrushCity Craw has been his best bait along with a Rapala Mavrik jerkbait.
Rasmussen believes the majority of the bass he is catching are still in a winter pattern, but he has caught bass from 5 to 25 feet of water. Humminbird MEGA 360 has played a key role in making pinpoint casts.
“I’ve been trying to find areas with a hard bottom. That has been the biggest key,” he said. “It seems like you really have to slow down to get bit. When you catch them, they are as white as they can be.”
Rasmussen opened Day 2 by catching the 7-9, a caliber of bass he didn’t think would be caught this week on a stingy Lake Eufaula. His next bass was a 3 1/2-pounder, which he felt locked him into a Nation Championship berth.
From there, Rasmussen filled his limit around mid-morning and began looking for new areas late in the day.
“By 10 o’clock, I had 21 pounds and I left that area and went looking for more stuff for tomorrow,” Rasmussen said. “At the end of the day today, I went and checked on a school of fish I hadn’t fished for yet in the tournament and caught a 5-pounder and went in for the day.”
The schools of bass Rasmussen has located are not very big and have been moving around in wolf packs. With an even warmer afternoon on Day 2, he noticed the bass were moving around a lot more than they did the previous day.
Temperatures are only supposed to dip into the high 40s overnight before rising to 75 degrees on Championship Friday.
“It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow,” Rasmussen said. “I’m going to start where I’ve started the last two days and it could reload overnight. It is hard to say. I would expect some stuff to change tomorrow.”
Daniel Wilson Jr. of Blackshear, Ga., leads the nonboater division with a two-day total of 17-0. Tennessee’s Brian Gibler is second with 15-4 and North Carolina’s Brian Adams is third with 13-5. Kentucky’s Ron Whitaker still has control of the Big Bass of the Tournament with the 6-2 largemouth he caught on Day 1.
The Top 20 boaters and Top 20 nonboaters will launch from Lakepoint State Park at 6:30 a.m. CT Friday and return for weigh-in at 2:30 p.m. All 40 anglers competing have also punched their tickets to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, details of which will be announced at a later date.