Jonathon VanDam just hollered, "It's tough out here, dude. I need some wind!"
That's exactly what we were thinking. Looks like he may be starting to spin a little. It's 8:45, and he's still without a fish.
Going into the final round, Palaniuk and JVD were practically tied. With just 4 ounces separating the two, it's the closest Day 4 since 2010 on Lake Pickwick. Kevin Short won that event after starting the final day in fourth place, but just 7 ounces off the lead. A little more than 3 pounds separates the Top 3 as fishing began today.
The last time Brandon Palaniuk had the lead going into the final round of an Elite event (at the Arkansas River earlier this year), he had almost a 13-pound margin over second place and ended up winning by almost 12 pounds. Today his lead is a lot tighter — just 4 ounces. The real pressure is on JVD today. His only chance to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic is with a win. Palaniuk's already in by virtue of his win on the Arkansas River.
Palaniuk can become the first angler to win multiple Elite events in a single season since Skeet Reese won two in 2010. The only other angler to do it was Kevin VanDam in 2007 and 2008.
Jonathon VanDam has made his way to the mouth of Little Sturgeon Bay, better known this week as "Party Point." It's the same place we have watched many anglers battle in the previous three days of this tournament.
It's also where Rick Morris spent most of his day Saturday without catching a keeper.
Brandon Palaniuk, of course, leads the Green Bay Challenge going into Sunday. Here are the deficits the other 11 finalists faced at the start of the day:
0 pounds, 4 ounces – Jonathon VanDam
3-2 – Aaron Martens
4-14 – Dean Rojas
8-11 – Tommy Biffle
9-12 – Ott DeFoe
11-1 – Ish Monroe
11-11 – Skeet Reese
12-13 – James Niggemeyer
13-3 – Stephen Browning
13-9 – Russ Lane
13-11 – Bernie Schultz
Jonathon VanDam has abandoned the spot that has produced 55 pounds, 14 ounces over the last three days. At 8:15 a.m., he has no fish and is headed north.
The fish catching seems really slow today, but that impression may be coming from the fact there are only 12 and we're used to having more on the water. I'm trying to recall if this feeling is the same way every Sunday.
Either way, a few catches are trickling in. Besides those already noted, Tommy Biffle, who is up the Fox River, has added a couple of keepers. Both are small and add up to about 4 pounds.
James Niggemeyer has a couple for 5 1/2 pounds, and Russ Lane has one for 3 1/2 pounds.
Palaniuk gives the biggest credit for finding this place to his Navionics chip. It's nice to know that kids still take their homework seriously these days. Still one fish for 4 pounds at 8 a.m.
Things haven't changed any for Jonathon VanDam. Lake Michigan is very slick and the fish haven't started to bite at all. I'm sure he is wishing the wind would pick up very soon.
However, today's forecast calls for a maximum wind of 5 miles per hour today, not what VanDam, or probably anyone else, wants to hear.