North Augustans Joey Zielinski and Bill McKie weighed in a five-bass, 18.77-pound catch Friday afternoon to take a tenuous lead in the Angler's Choice Southeastern Regional Team Championship on Strom Thurmond Lake.
They lead Derek Caldwell of Fort Payne, Ala., and Bobby Luttrell of Powder Springs, Ga., by 1.44 pounds. Caldwell and Luttrell's limit catch weighed 17.33 pounds.
Third place in the event being held out of Little River Marina were James Satterwhite and Grady Howard, both of Gray Court, S.C., with 15.73 pounds.
"We got our `big bite' on buzz baits early," said Zielinski, who has been teaming with McKie for the past four years. "Then we started looking for schooling bass."
The field is reversed for today's finale, with the leaders going out in the last flight instead of the first, but neither feels the later start will have a negative effect.
"The first two or three hours are critical for our buzz bait pattern and the bass don't start to school until 10:30 or so," McKie said. Zielinski added that "nobody's fishing our buzz bait hole, which is sort of an off-the-wall place. We pulled off that hole and left some fish there for tomorrow."
Zielinski caught a "kicker fish" of 6.14 pounds, barely missing big bass honors of the day. Barry Bishop of Greensboro, Ga., and Joe Chandler of Social Circle, Ga., weighed in a 6.78-pounder to top that category.
Mark Johnson of Martinez and George Raborn of Aiken are in fourth place with 13.64 pounds, while rounding out the top five are Joe Roberson of Odenville, Ala., and Michael Keith of Remlap, Ala., with 13.50 pounds.
South Carolina Division Anglers of the Year Gene Tant of Evans and Keith Williamson of Augusta are in 10th place.
Forty-two of the 180 teams did not weigh in a bass.
Today's weigh-in begins at 3 p.m.