Day Three: Feast or famine

About the author

Ken Duke

Ken Duke

Ken Duke is the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. Follow him on Twitter @thinkbass.

Last time we took a look at how hard it is to mount a comeback in a Bassmaster Elite Series event. Basically, they're rare, and unless the tournament is a slugfest with lots of bags weighing more than 20 pounds, you can just about forget it.

In this column I want to show you what happens in the final round of an Elite Series event and just how unlikely comebacks really are at the highest level of the sport.

Again, don't buy into the hype. At the end of a tournament it's rarely "anybody's game."

We'll start at the most obvious place. How far back can an angler be in the standings and still have a chance to win?

Well, in 57 Elite events, the farthest back the eventual winner has been going into the final day was sixth place. That's right ... sixth place.

Not very far back, you say? No, it's not, and it gets worse. Only one angler ever came back from sixth. One more came back from fifth. Four won after being in fourth place going into the final round, and three made it from third. That means 84.21 percent of the tournament winners were in first or second place after three rounds, and only two ranked worse than fourth.

Here are the biggest final round comebacks in Elite history:


Place Angler Tournament
6 Kevin Short 2009 Mississippi River
5 Paul Elias 2008 Lake Falcon
4 John Crews  2010 California Delta
- Kelly Jordon 2006 Potomac River
- Steve Kennedy 2011 West Point Lake
- Kevin Short 2010 Pickwick Lake
3 Mike McClelland 2007 Clarks Hill Reservoir
- Morizo Shimizu 2006 Kentucky Lake
- Jason Williamson 2009 Lake Amistad

All the other winners were either leading or in second place going into the final day. In fact, the Day 3 leader goes on to win 63.16 percent of the time.

Here are the biggest comebacks by weight after three days:

Angler Tournament Weight deficit after Day 3
Paul Elias 2008 Falcon Lake 14-11
Mike McClelland 2008 Harris Chain 9-14
Jason Williamson 2009 Lake Amistad 7-1
Mike McClelland 2007 Clarks Hill Res. 6-4
John Crews 2010 California Delta 5-7
Morizo Shimizu 2006 Kentucky Lake 5-2
Skeet Reese 2010 Lake Guntersville 4-15
Kevin Short 2009 Mississippi River 4-15
Edwin Evers 2011 St. Johns River 2-9
David Walker 2011 Wheeler Lake 1-11


Again, if you're way back, you have no chance unless creel weights are in the stratosphere. If it's a tough tournament, there's not going to be any comeback.

The top of that last list is pretty impressive. How do you mount a comeback to win on the final day when you're more than 10 pounds out? All the stars need to align and your karma has to be hitting on all cylinders.

But look at the bottom entries. Those deficits aren't much at all. Kudos to the anglers who got it done, but did you really think the 10th biggest comeback in Elite history would be less than two pounds?

Next time we'll look at the biggest leads ever blown in Elite Series competition.