Leads lost and won

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.

As you know, comebacks in big-time bass tournaments are rare. Unless the event is a slugfest, you can pretty much count on one of the top two ranked anglers after the third round to take home the trophy when it's over. More than 84 percent of all Elite winners were in first or second place after three rounds, and only two (out of 57) ranked worse than fourth.

But now it's time to look at the other side of the coin — the tournaments where the leaders blew big leads. It doesn't happen often; that's why it's interesting.

Here are the 10 biggest leads in Elite history after the first day:

Lead Angler Tournament
6-4 Aaron Martens 2008 Falcon Lake
5-12 Byron Velvick 2010 Clear Lake
4-0 Preston Clark 2006 Santee Cooper
3-9 Terry Butcher 2007 Lake Guntersville
3-1 Denny Brauer 2008 Clarks Hill Reservoir
2-15 Boyd Duckett 2007 Smith Mountain Lake
2-5 Michael Iaconelli 2009 Lake Amistad
2-3 Stephen Browning 2010 California Delta
2-2 Kelly Jordon 2009 Smith Mountain Lake
1-14 Byron Velvick 2008 Kissimmee Chain

 

Take a close look at that list and realize that only two of those "biggest" leads held up over four days. Only Velvick at Clear Lake and Clark at Santee Cooper went on to win (both went wire-to-wire). The other eight lost!

After Day 2, the picture only gets a little better. Here are the biggest leads after Day 2:

Lead Angler Tournament
12-1 Mike McClelland 2006 Grand Lake
10-15 Greg Gutierrez 2007 Clear Lake
8-6 Denny Brauer 2011 Arkansas River
8-3 Shaw Grigsby 2011 Harris Chain
7-13 Kelly Jordon 2008 Kissimmee Chain
7-9 Alton Jones 2011 St. Johns River
7-8 Gary Klein 2009 Lake Amistad
6-10 Tim Horton 2007 Lake Champlain
6-0 Kevin VanDam 2010 Kentucky Lake
5-8 Stephen Browning 2010 California Delta

 

Half of those leads didn't hold up! Gutierrez, Jordon, Jones, Klein and Browning all managed to let them slip through their fingers.

The biggest leads after the third day of competition are much more solid:

Lead Angler Tournament
11-15 Mike McClelland 2006 Grand Lake
11-10 Shaw Grigsby 2011 Harris Chain
10-2 Denny Brauer 2011 Arkansas River
9-14 Brian Snowden 2008 Harris Chain
9-13 Tim Horton 2007 Lake Champlain
7-9 Alton Jones 2011 St. Johns River
9-9 Preston Clark 2006 Santee Cooper
8-12 Bobby Lane 2009 Kentucky Lake
8-9 Skeet Reese 2007 Potomac River
8-9 Skeet Reese 2007 Potomac River
7-7 Aaron Martens 2008 Falcon Lake
6-13 Kevin VanDam 2008 Kentucky Lake

 

All but Snowden and Martens managed to hang on for the win. Snowden zeroed on the final day at the Harris Chain and was passed by Mike McClelland. Martens found himself unexpectedly sharing water on the last day at Falcon while Paul Elias brought in a huge string to set a new B.A.S.S. record for a four-day tournament with 132-8.

What about the leaders who take a tumble after their day in the sun? Some of those falls can be pretty hard.

The ugliest fall by a first round leader belongs to Kevin Langill, who led the first day of the 2007 Elite event on the Potomac River. When the fat lady sang, he was in 50th place. No first round leader has ever fallen completely out of the first cut, but Langill escaped that indignity by only one place.

Rick Morris was the leader in the clubhouse after the second round at Lake Murray in 2008, but when it was over, he was 18th. He's the only Day 2 leader who did not make the cut to the final round of 12.

Third round leaders cannot, by definition, fall out of the final cut to 12, but they can slip in the standings (and money) — just ask Chris Lane. He was the leader going into the final round of the 2006 Elite event on Lake Champlain and slipped to sixth place. Only three other anglers have led going into the final round and finished worse than third.

And if you're looking for Elite frustration, his name is Alton Jones. He's been the first round leader three times, the second round leader three times and the final round leader once, but he's never won an Elite Series tournament.

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