When I look at the top of the leaderboard, the most exciting part of today's action is that a bunch of Classic would-be first-time winners pack the Super 6. For any of these guys, winning the Classic would be the realization of a life-long dream. Chris Lane and Greg Vinson head the list, two likable young anglers that have the best shot at taking home their first title. Bobby Lane, Edwin Evers and Dustin Wilks have been around the game just as long if not longer and are still searching for their first triumph on the Classic stage.
The lone wolf in that pack is Alton Jones. He won the Classic on Hartwell in 2008 and had a good finish the next year here on the Red River. He's fishing the same spot and it produced a big comeback bag for him on the final day in 2009. Similar magic will be needed to erase a nearly 4-pound deficit to Lane.
We have a great coverage team on the water and should have all these guys on our radars at some point. Eric and I will be on Edwin Evers down in Pool 4. While we don't know exactly where he is starting, we know he has been down in Sullivan's and the New Jungle mostly.
This morning dawned very similar to yesterday with chilly temperatures and no wind. As the day wore on yesterday, the winds picked up a little, but not much. Today might get a little more brisk late, but should start off ideal for sight fishing.
We are on our way to Coushatta, where we will then give chase to the anglers as they come through. Throw some questions at me and I'll try to answer them all throughout the day. I don't like to give away much about exact locations and baits as the tournament goes on, but on the final day, all will be revealed.
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.
After catching less than 10 pounds on Day One, Todd Faircloth made a big move on the strength of an 18-12 limit yesterday.
He attributed his improved fortunes to "being able to slow down and fish real methodically."
He speculated that the first day he picked off the more aggressive males with moving baits. Yesterday his key tool was a Yamamoto Flappin' Hawg in watermelon/red.
Walker has relied on three baits this week: a chatterbait, a black and blue jig and a Live Target bluegill squarebill crankbait.
David Walker's plan to jump up from 6 pounds off the lead is to "work harder than everybody else."
Other anglers may claim to be able to do that, "but saying it and doing it are two different things," he said. "There are a few guys who will get crushed under the pressure of the last day of the Bassmaster Classic."
Matt Reed strapped 11 rods to the deck of his boat this morning. He's fished the first two days in the same pond with Bill Lowen. Chris Lane joined them yesterday and caught a big bag there.
So far the three anglers have gotten along well.
"Nobody has screamed at anybody yet," Reed said with a smile. He admitted to being a little bit frustrated by his own inability to catch a big bag yesterday, but admitted that he lost a 6-pound class fish that would have put him in much better position to win.
Today he may lock up early. He has a spot in Pool 5 where he caught three fish in the last 30 minutes yesterday.
So far this week Brent Chapman has caught his fish on a beaver-style plastic and a 1/2 ounce War Eagle spinnerbait. He'll have those out today again, but he also plans to work a buzzbait into the mix.
He'll need a big bag to vault up from 14th place and while he wouldn't guarantee anything, he said that a 30 lb. limit is not out of the question.
"They catch 10 pounders here and no one has weighed one in yet this week."
Unless a series of unlikely events occurs today, Kevin VanDam (10-09 off the lead) will not "threepeat" as Classic champ.
If the winner should be a first-timer like Chris Lane or Greg Vinson, it will likely remind KVD of his own first Classic win in 2001.
"It's a life-changing moment for sure," he said. "I'm a fan of the sport and I'll be the first to get to see their reaction because I get to hand them the trophy."
Pilot Paul Barth is calling to inform the folks who monitor the airspace at Barksdale Air Force of his plans to fly over the Red River.
We are heading up in the helicopter again to get footage for tv and images for the Internet. Stay tuned day Three of the Classic about to take off.
Edwin Evers, 5 pounds off the lead is going to gamble on a new area today. Notably, it's a place where he didn't have a bite in practice. That's the kind of risk Chris Lane took yesterday and the type of choice that can be hero-or-zero. Evers has hedged his bets, however -- his primary area, where he caught yesterday's big bass, is nearby in case he needs to punt.