After hooking up with a giant smallmouth bass and fighting it for a long time, JVD ended up with a kick in the gut.
The fish broke his line just as he reached to land it. VanDam estimated the bass weighed 6 pounds.
The long morning without a bite was sapping the confidence of Jonathon VanDam. But his first smallmouth of the day, which he thinks might weigh 3 3/4 pounds, has restored it.
With as many fish as are around him, this game could change in a hurry.
By the way, that "wrong species" JVD caught before his first smallmouth was a drum.
Jonathan VanDam has continued to see a wad of big fish. He made the comment that he doesn't even know what to throw at them anymore.
Shortly after, he hooked up with a big one, but it was the wrong species.
Then he scored his first bass of the day, a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth, to put him back in the game. He said there were several bigger smallmouth with it.
We've received a few on-the-water updates concerning three of today's finalists:
Jonathon VanDam just said he has seen a dozen 4- and 5-pound fish swim by his boat.
But it's too calm. The fish are very spooky. At least he knows that he is around big ones.
While we were videoing Jonathon VanDam, the phone rang. It was Kevin VanDam asking if JVD had gone to fish in the harbor where the water was clearer.
It needs to be emphasized that Kevin is working with us in the War Room today, and cannot offer any advice to his nephew, or anyone else in the field for that matter. Kevin simply wanted to know where Jonathan had been fishing Sunday morning. No competitor can talk to anyone while on the water except B.A.S.S. officials.
Not long after, JVD cranks up and runs 5 miles south, then spins the boat around and heads north to the harbor.
Wow! Great minds think alike.
We'll see how it works out. He still doesn't have a fish in the boat.
Skeet Reese got an unexpected birthday present yesterday, when he turned 43 years old. The former Bassmaster Classic champion and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year was in 24th place after two days of competition. Then he caught 16-1 on Day Three and moved into eighth place.
"Happy birthday to me," Reese said.
He also noted that because he would be fishing today, Saturday night's celebration would have to be toned down a bit, something he hadn't expected.
But he still celebrated.
"A bunch of us went to a sushi place," Reese said. "It got pretty loud."
With one Elite Series event left, lots of the pros are keeping an eye on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings to see if they can win AOY, or even if they're going to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
The AOY race looks like a shootout between Brent Chapman, Ott DeFoe and Todd Faircloth. Only DeFoe is fishing today, so he's the only one who can improve (or hurt) his numbers. DeFoe came into the final round in sixth place, well behind the leaders, but in a pretty tight mix between fifth and 12th place. If BASSTrakk is accurate, he's moved up a couple of places into fourth. But with JVD not yet on the board and Dean Rojas having a slow morning, DeFoe could easily slip back a couple of spots if they catch a few bass. Still, DeFoe's putting some heat on Chapman for AOY, and it should be interesting at the season finale on Oneida.
Chapman will go into the last tournament with about a 14-point lead. That's not much, but he'll control his own destiny. If he can make the finals at Oneida (and he's been in the finals or close to them at almost every event this year), no one can catch him.
And if Ott DeFoe can hang on to a Top 3 finish in AOY this year, he'll become the first Bassmaster Rookie of the Year to improve upon his rookie season and avoid the sophomore jinx.
James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, is a good example of the day-to-day volatility in the standings at the Green Bay Challenge.
Some precipitous drops have been noted, like Todd Faircloth's fall from third to 36th on Day Two, and Yusuke Miyasaki's plunge from ninth to 40th on Day Three.
But for every fall there must be a rise in this zero-sum game.
Niggemeyer jumped from 19th into ninth place Saturday. And Niggemeyer's rise may not be over. BASSTrakk currently shows him with a 15-pound limit that has him in third place today.
A finish in the Top 6 would be his best on the Elite Series, where he's made Sunday's Top 12 five times previously and finished as high as seventh twice.