Despite added fishing pressure on his main area, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson connected with 17 pounds, 3 ounces on Day 2. This extended his Bassmaster Classic lead to a whopping 5 pounds, 12 ounces going into Championship Sunday. While the majority of the field is targeting largemouth bass, Gussy is staying with his Lake Tellico river channel looking for suspended bass.
Gustafson continues to rely on his Humminbird APEX fish finder to locate and catch these monster fish (a piece of gear that we obviously have no choice but to get into testing this year). His 2-day total weight rocks the scales at 35 pounds, 11 ounces.
He began the 2023 Bassmaster Classic as a favorite, came out strong on Day 1, and delivered through 2 days of competition.
Canada Came to Play at the 2023 Bassmaster Classic
Our neighbors to the north mean serious business.
Representing Ontario, Jeff has led 6 straight days on the Tennessee River in Knoxville dating back to his 2021 victory. His offshore smallmouth pattern continues to produce as he targets fish below his boat with MEGA Live Imaging sonar. Essentially employing ice fishing tactics to catch pressured smallmouth, his better-than-average-sized bass has him five fish away from his first Bassmaster Classic victory.
While fishing in moving currents and increased winds on Day 2, he relied on his X2 Battery lithiums to keep his trolling motor locked on, allowing him to target individual fish. Fans this week can follow along on Bassmaster live coverage with real-time footage linked to Gustafson’s Humminbird APEX unit, showing the capabilities of his forward-facing sonar.
If you’re a gear junkie like we are, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Cox Crushes, Moves Into Second
John Cox has had his ups and down on the Tennessee River, but is locked into a sweet spot this week where warming waters have largemouth bass moving into him every day of the event. He began with 14 pounds, 4 ounces on Day 1. Day 2 found him adding another 15 pounds, 11 ounces. He’s got a slim second-place seat headed into Day 3.
Cox is targeting bass moving into shallow spawning areas around a creek channel. As fish move through his area, he’s targeting rocks around bridge pilings with Berkley Frittside Crankbait. His method seems to be deflecting his bait to cause reaction bites. Keeping his tackle in contact with rocks causes an erratic action that the bigger female largemouth cannot resist.
Cox is over 5 pounds behind Gustafson going into the final day of Sunday, and just 2 ounces ahead of Maryland angler Bryan Schmitt who sits in third.
2023 Bassmaster Classic: Day 2 Wrapup
On the final day of Sunday, the 55-angler field is cut to 25, with one day of fishing remaining to determine the 2023 Classic Champion. Gustafson looks to become the first Canadian angler to hoist the famed Bassmaster Classic trophy while John Cox looks to add to his decorated career.
Will Gustafson’s smallmouth spots hold up one more day, or will a largemouth angler make a comeback to take the title?
Check out the full leaderboard, here.