Brook Benton recorded a classic in 1970 called “Rainy Night in Georgia.” Fantastic song that some of you should Google and listen to. Might come in handy for some of you young fellows on your next date.
It’s not lost on me that the song was released long before a big portion of our top 12 were even born. You can take Tommy Biffle and Rick Clunn out of that mix, but it holds true for most.
Generational gap or not, the final 12 will certainly understand anything rainy and Georgia after Saturday’s semi-final round. It started raining right after take-off and never really let up. It’s not often we see that type of rain on the Elite Series. Then again there are a lot of things taking place in this event we don’t see much of on the Elite Series.
The primary example: there are three anglers (count them) that are in the final-day top 12 who did not catch their limit on one or more days of competition. I don’t have time to look back, but it’s my guess there have been virtually none (maybe a couple, on the outside) who have made the final day without catching a limit on the three early days.
Having three anglers in this final do it is mind boggling, which is the exact description so many of the Elite Anglers have used this week when describing the fishing on West Point Lake.
The crazy thing is, one of those anglers, Tommy Biffle, is actually leading the event. How does that happen? Rick Clunn failed to finish his limit, only bringing four to the scales on Saturday (more on that in a moment). Cliff Crochet hasn’t had a limit on any of the days, yet he’s tied with Day One leader Greg Vinson.
These are not the standings we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the Elite Series.
We’ve heard descriptions of “being confused,” “mind boggling” even “mystifying.” In some ways, it actually looks a lot like the tournaments many of us fish all the time. So while most lakes show off the Elites as truly elite anglers, it appears as if West Point is giving the Elites a little dose of, well, whatever it is other lakes give us a lot of times.
The strangeness of this event will go all the way to the final day. Every angler in the field can win, and as Steve Wright so aptly described in “A one-day, big bass shootout,” it appears as if this will go down to the wire.
The interesting thing will be all the “what ifs.” You can’t have a tournament this close without those proverbial words floating around.
I’m saying them about Clunn, because he’s way too philosophical and nice to say them about himself.
An example of the weirdness: Clunn actually had five fish in his livewell during part of Day Three. But one of those fish, as described by Clunn, was “freaky.” What made it freaky was the 12-inch keeper wouldn’t, or couldn’t, close its mouth. In addition, the fish had an extended lower lip “about a quarter-inch or more longer than his upper lip.”
When Clunn laid the fish on the board, it measured. “But the rules say ‘fish are measured with the mouth closed,’” Clunn said.
If he forced the fat-lipped Bubba to shut its mouth, its back would come up and away from the 12-inch mark. What?
“It was deformed,’’ he said. “I’m not sure if its jaw was broken or what. I don’t think it was capable of closing its mouth.”
Clunn didn’t want to take any chances, so he tossed the fish back. Without it he slipped into the final 12, with it he could be much higher or completely out.
Oh, the decisions we have to make in weird tournaments.
The only bright side, literally and figuratively, is we won’t have to be reminded of the final words to Brook Benton’s song, which played so well on Day Three.
They go something like this:
“And you feel that it was rainin' all over this man's world, You're talking 'bout rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin' rainin', rainin', rainin'.”