Earlier today we reported Todd Faircloth had two dead fish. A reminder that anglers are penalized four ounces for each dead fish. We have a correction to make. Faircloth has one dead fish. He was able to revive the other fish.
Tournament officials are saying this race is too close to call. It looks like a tight race between Faircloth and Terry Butcher.
The Top 12 fishing today are mostly the usual suspects. Eight of them have made the finals once or more already this year. For Faircloth, Rojas, Pace, Scroggins and Howell, it's their third time to fish on Sunday in 2012.
Of the finalists, Terry Butcher is quenching the longest drought. He last made the finals of an Elite Series event in 2010 at Kentucky Lake, where he finished third. Clunn, Lowen and Kennedy all made it to the finals at least once in 2011.
We've been sitting on Bill Lowen for a while and he is still catching fish. He just can't seem to get anything better than 2 1/2.
The number of fish caught this week must be astronomical, but I truly believe there are enough fish here that you could have another Elite Series event here for several weeks in a row and they couldn't sore-lip them all.
It's been a pleasure blogging for you guys this weekend. We had a great crew, and the coverage looks awesome!
We're heading in to get prepared for the weigh-in, and I don't remember an event that's been as tight as this one from start to finish.
I can't wait!
Kevin VanDam narrowly missed the finals at the Mississippi River. A tiebreaker put Steve Kennedy into the Top 12 and sent KVD on the road to Green Bay for next week's tournament. Nevertheless, this was the 18th consecutive Elite Series tournament in which VanDam made the cut into the money, and that's very impressive.
In Elite Series history (2006-'12), only three times has an angler made 15 or more straight cuts, and KVD has two of those streaks. Todd Faircloth has the other with 15. KVD's 18 in a row is a record.
VanDam is a good bet to close out the season with two more in-the-money finishes for a couple of reasons: (1) He's very good on the Great Lakes (Michigan) and solid on Oneida and (2) he's not going to give up his AOY run (four in a row and counting) without a fight. In fact, I give him a great chance to win the Lake Michigan tournament next week. It'll take a Top 5 finish there to put any kind of heat on the leaders at all, and KVD knows it. If he can do that, the AOY leaders will be like rookie receivers running patterns across the middle in the NFL. They'll be hearing footsteps.
It took almost all day, but we finally found Bill Lowen fishing a flooded grassline at the bottom of Goose Island.
He says he has between 13 and 14 pounds but that he has been really hampered by the mayfly hatch. "I was watching 3- and 4-pound smallouth come up and suck mayflies off the surface this morning," said Lowen, "I was throwing all kinds of different stuff at them, but they didn't want any of it. I finally had to get out of there to keep my sanity. "
The hatch affected a couple of his key stretches to where he couldn't even get bit and he's had to change things up a bit today.
The spot he's fishing is a bunch of grass clumps flooded in 3 to 4 feet of water, and he's flipping plastics to the clumps.
Steve Kennedy is having a lot of fun. He continues to catch fish after fish out of the backwater lake he is fishing. Unfortunately, though, he still hasn't been able to upgrade.
He's trolling over to an isolated mat in the corner to try and catch one that he caught and culled Thursday. After that, he plans on leaving to go find something new.
We'll leave with him, and then try and find some of the other anglers.
Todd Faircloth has fished three 50-foot circles today. One by the island and two inside The Box. He'll fish one circle, go to the next one, then eventually work his way back to the first one. None too far away from the other. He's been methodical, and at least on the outside, very patient.
In this shallow water, once you fish a spot for a while, the fish disperse. So moving on to another spot, and then coming back later, can be an effective strategy.
Faircloth has not caught a ton of fish today. He's had long stretches with no fish. But he appears he has a few fish that are bigger than the 2.5 average. And that could be the difference in this tournament.
If Todd Faircloth can finish in the Top 3 today, he's 20 points or fewer behind Brent Chapman for the AOY title heading into the final two tournaments. That's well within striking range, but he'll need to avoid the slips that cost him the title in 2008. That year he was leading the race going into the final tournament and needed to finish in the money to lock it up.
Unfortunately for Faircloth, the wheels came off in the finale and he finished a dismal 93rd, opening the door for Kevin VanDam to slip through and claim his fourth AOY.
That season finale where Faircloth finished 93rd was Oneida Lake ... same as this year. And while he probably won't have to worry too much about KVD, Brent Chapman and Randy Howell will be there.
Other than in a few brief lulls, Aaron Martens has continued to catch fish all morning long. Lately he's been able to cull up a few ounces two times. He's probably got 11 pounds now.
But as has been the lament of almost every angler in this tournament, Martens hasn't found a big bite today. He's caught 'em shallow - on a topwater frog - and he's caught 'em deep – on a drop shot and a flutter spoon. But he just hasn't caught 'em big.
Martens has plenty of time remaining to do that. Remember, he missed a 4-pounder at the boat in the final minutes yesterday.
But he's going to have to do it without us hanging around. James Overstreet has photos to process, so we are out of here.
Todd Faircloth blasted out of the area known as The Box and sped across the Mississippi River back to the little marsh area he fished with success this morning.
Dennis Tietje tells me this spot for Faircloth is "The Juice." According to Tietje, "The Juice" is a phrase pro anglers use to describe the perfect spot on top of a good spot. "The Juice" can be the size of a boat or smaller.
Now keep in mind Tietje is a Cajun and when he says "The Juice" it sounds sort of special.
Faircloth is working toward "The Juice," which for him is a clump of grass in a marsh.