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Oklahoma angler takes Bassmaster lead

Edwin Evers had the lead on Saturday after two rounds of the Bassmaster Elite Series Empire Chase on Lake Erie and the Niagara River.

Evers, of Talala, Okla., weighed his five-fish limit at 21 pounds Saturday for a two-day total of 41 pounds, 13 ounces. That gave Evers a 3-ounce lead over Kevin Wirth of Crestwood, Ky.

"This would be a huge blessing if I could hold on," Evers said. "This is a phenomenal fishery. I can't wait to get back next year."

First-round leader Paul Hirosky of Guy Mills, Pa. dropped to third place after pulling in a 19-pound, 14-ounce five-fish bag Saturday, leaving him 1 ounce behind Wirth. John Murray, of Phoenix, Ariz., is in fourth place with a two-day total of 40 pounds, 13 ounces.

"I felt I got lucky to entice quality bites," said Wirth, who has one BASS win on his resume. "But I don't have much else that I can go to and I feel like I could eke out a win with the same strategy."

Hirosky had boat trouble early in the morning and lost a significant portion of his fishing day. But he was able to compensate by making a longer run on Erie and enticing some quality bites later in the day.

"I'm on the fish to win," said Hirosky, who won a Bassmaster Open, a qualifying tour event for the Elite Series, in 2005 on Lake Erie. "If I get the right bites, I have just as good a chance as anybody else."

Fifty anglers were originally scheduled to fish Saturday, but all 108 launched after tournament officials canceled Day Two of the event Friday due to poor weather and boating conditions. The field has now been pared to 12 for today's final round, with the top finisher receiving $100,000 in prize money.

Defending Empire Chase champion Tommy Biffle (Wagoner, Okla.) finished in 80th place with a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 7 ounces.

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