We followed Alton Jones to another spot not far from the ramp. it's hard to tell if he's actively searching out a bonus kicker fish or just biding his time, hoping to avoid a disaster (like being stranding in his lightly-fueled boat).
Now that we've risked being stranded several times ourselves, Overstreet and I are going to take no more risks. The clear skies have clouded up and we are headed to the arena.
It looks like this tournament will go down to the wire tomorrow. We'll see how close they are at the weigh-in.
Signing off for today.
One thing we haven't talked about too much is the value of practice time. Spending hours learning the best ways to get in and out of places can save valuable time in the tournament.
Poche and Hite both scooted out of this backwater pond relatively quickly. Our boat, on the other hand, bumped and ground over stumps and sand bars and finally emerged after a 20-minute idle.
All the anglers are long gone, likely already in the lock. We are starting our run back up to Coushatta. I'll have my thoughts on what turned out to be an eye-opening day in a bit.
Ott DeFoe has returned to McDade from his secret honey hole, but it didn't yield too much for him, maybe a 4-ounce upgrade. He's going down the same bank he has been previously, and is throwing a soft swimbait.
Aaron Martens let out a groan as he just missed a fish.
"That one would've helped," he lamented.
McDade is showing plenty of wear, evidenced by fewer and fewer catches. Kennedy and Wilks are beating around at the dam in the back, while it seems that John Diaco is looking at a fish on a bed. He hasn't moved in a while and is staring intently into the water.
All fan activities at the Classic are free. They include:
Jones said his heart was pounding as he tried to get out. He believes that the water has dropped 6 inches since Wednesday. He's running light on fuel and credited Diet Dr Pepper with lightening his load enough to traverse the mud flat.
In fact, he may siphon some more gas out tonight. Tomorrow he said he'll try to run in on the big motor and hope he doesn't "intersect a big stump."
We'll follow him out to the channel. He seems to have a handle on the process.
John Crews is still in there.
Waders, push poles and emergency flares may add weight to the boat, but they're essential for anyone who fishes the Red.
The Little Jungle contingent is headed back toward the ramp. Todd Faircloth, Keith Combs and Greg Vinson just idled through the stump field to the narrow channel that leads back to the river proper. Bobby Lane is close behind them. Evers just came through on pad before running up to the stump field. The race is on to Lock 5. The lock closes at 2:10 p.m.
We managed to get unstuck just in time to see how Alton Jones gets in and out of the cut. First he used his big motor to jump a big log. Then he went back to the trolling motor and meandered to and fro across the same inches-deep shallow mud that had impeded our forward progress. He made it look easy.
This isn't just a fishing derby -- it's a test of who can maximize their navigational efficiency. Even if you catch the biggest cumulative weight, it doesn't count if you don't make it back to weigh-in.
It's 1:20 p.m. and Davey Hite just started to head to the exit of the backwater he is sharing with Keith Poche. Poche will likely be coming out soon as well.
As Hite trolled by, Rob had a chance to ask him how the day was going. Hite responded, "It wouldn't be any fun if I didn't wait until the last day to catch a 7-pounder."
We assume he is referring to the bed fish that he's visited several times during the three hours we've been observing him. Both Hite and Poche seem to be finding nice-sized fish that are locked onto beds, but it's getting those fish into the boat that seems to be the problem.
At least for the final day, both guys will know exactly where they will be starting. We'll see if either angler can coax these big mamas into their livewells and further their dream of winning the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
Back with Todd Faircloth now -- he just boated a 3-pounder, and it might be better. He estimated his total weight at about 16 or 17 pounds. He's working back and forth over a 100-yard stretch of water.
Keith Combs is on the same stretch, and they both just pulled up their trolling motors to idle out of this pocket toward the river channel.
Apparently, Overstreet misses the Duck Trek. We're big-time mud bogging. He's using this big Mercury for a Red River structure relocation project.