Alton Jones just got a shot of confidence. His first fish of a the day - a 2.5-pounder - which came on a six-inch Yum Dinger at 8:30.
Here's how slowly Alton Jones is working his way through this shallow spawning flat. It just took him a minute and 20 seconds between casts, and he's not making long casts. He had a Senko, a tube and a frog tied on this morning. I can't tell exactly what he's throwing right now, other than it's obviously not a frog.
The emphasis is on stealth. Jones has a cameraman in his boat, but his marshal is observing in the flatbottom with us. And we're whispering, as if someone is about to attempt a putt on the 18th green on Sunday at The Masters.
Here at the ramp in Coushatta, the service crews wait in case disaster strikes.
B.A.S.S. photographer Jerry Cunningham and B.A.S.S. writer Trey Reid arrive at Lake Coushatta on the morning of the final day of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
Alton Jones isn't going to be burning any gas today. He's in a narrow cut across from the Red River South Marina - a shallow, narrow cut.
Here's just how shallow it is. Shane Williams, who brought photographer Doug Cox and I to a flatbottom boat to observe Jones, had to strip down and push his fiberglass bass boat out of here.
Jones is in his big boat, but he came in here on plane. This is a spawning spot that opens into a T-shape once you get through the cut.
Jones plans to work back and forth across the T all day long. And as the day warms, he should have fish coming to him. He had one strike about 7:40, but it's early, and he will have more fishing time than anyone else in today's final.
I'm headed to Coushatta to cover the action in the Little Jungle, a backwater near the lower end of Pool 4. Photographer Jerry Cunningham and I will be covering 2nd-place angler Greg Vinson and we'll also try to provide updates on Bobby Lane (4th place), who's fishing about 200 yards from Vinson.
Vinson told me this morning at the takeoff that he hopes to start in an area that's just east of his main spot, an area where a couple of local anglers had set up shop Saturday morning. There's some matted grass that in that spot that yielded a good fish to Vinson on Friday. Then he'll start working his main spot near an island in the very back of his pocket in the Little Jungle. The area has a few pockets of deeper water, probably about 4 feet, and a shallower flat with a ditch running through it. To me, that sounds like a textbook set-up for Intercepting spawners.
With cooler overnight temperatures, Vinson doesn't expect the bite to turn on until a little later in the day, so all of the Greg Vinson fans keeping up here, don't worry if we don't report any big catches for a while today.
Overstreet declared himself "geeked up" for Day Three. We're driving south with the stereo cranked up -- you haven't lived until you've heard him channel Gladys Knight -- and speculating about possible story lines for this afternoon.
"How cool would it be if Bobby Lane is on the hot seat when Chris weighs in?" he asked.
KVD may be in 18th place, but he's still a fan favorite. This morning a fan asked him to sign his forehead with a sharpie.
Overstreet has taken hundreds of thousands of pictures of these guys over the years so he's rarely shocked by anything that happens but he declared the shot of Kevin signing the man's head one of his all-time favorites.
Mike Reeves, my man on the launch ramp, reported in on the action near take-off. By his count, over 100 spectators are currently watching Kevin Wirth and Stephen Browning fishing the mouth of a small backwater near the take-off. Davy Hite and Kevin VanDam went back into the cut already. As everyone watches, Wirth catches a 3-pounder.
"Instant replay from yesterday," Reeves said.
He also reported KVD with two small keepers in the well. Sounds like the best seats in the house might be back at the boat ramp. That's a lot of star power right there.
Now we're wondering if anyone from Florida has ever won the Classic -- Ken Duke, help us please. It's an important place in the history of the sport and it has produced dozens of talented pros, is it possible that it's never produced a world champion?
The stereotype is that Florida only produces shallow water grass fisherman. A cursory glance at Chris Lane's resume might support that notion -- all three of his Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open wins have come in the Sunshine State -- but brother Bobby won the 2009 Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake with a swimbait on deep structure. You don't get this far without being versatile.
Overstreet and I are in the truck headed down to a boat ramp in Pool 4, where there's a boat waiting for us. That's the advantage of being media -- we don't have to make the bat-out-of-hell run through the cold.
The downside? We may be making the drive for nothing. Chris Lane, our intended target, is going to make a stop on the way to the lock. If he catches a few he may not lock through.
Yesterday he made a great decision to abandon an area that had produced well on Friday. To borrow a phrase, "fishing the moment" is the sign of a great angler.