Now that we're almost three-quarters of the way through the 2012 Elite Series season, it's interesting to note that only three anglers (Ott DeFoe, Bill Lowen and Kevin VanDam) have made the first cut in every event.
KVD has now made 18 cuts in a row (a record). DeFoe has only missed one cut in his two-year Elite career. Lowen is fishing his first Top 12 of the season today. He's making lots of cuts, but before this tournament his best finish of the season was 25th. He's been consistent, but not spectacular.
Then there are the three anglers who have missed every cut this season — Chad Griffin (his best finish was 71st), Dave Smith (best was 52nd) and Byron Velvick (best was 56th). It makes for a very long season when you don't make a check and never fish on the weekend.
Hopefully these guys can finish the year on a higher note at lakes Michigan and Oneida.
Aaron Martens has caught only one bass in the last 30 or 45 minutes, and that one went right back in the river. He had a lull like this yesterday, which is probably reassuring to him right now. Martens left this area of Black River around 11 a.m., caught a couple of other fish, then came back late in the day. That's when he really started catching them again, and when he lost a 4-pounder at the boat.
So Martens now has the confidence to wait-out the bass bite here. The last thing you want on Day Four is to have to go searching for new fish.
Photographer James Overstreet and I have been visiting with the owner of a house and boat dock near where Martens is fishing. He's been having fun observing Martens this week.
And he had an interesting story about the humongous mayfly hatch occurring today. It seems that when one of the local bridges had a solid concrete surface, occasionally snowplows were used to clear the thick layer of squished bugs off the bridge.
I wonder if my rental car insurance covers an accident caused by mayflies?
If you don't believe all the commentary about the mayflies — and if you don't live in a mayfly-ridden area, you might just think the anglers are exaggerating — check out these photos. T.J. DeVoe of www.bassfirst.com shared these photos on Twitter.
The first photo was taken last night at a gas station as the mayflies were practically raining down. The second photo was the aftermath at the same gas station this morning.
After leaving Randy Howell to go find Bill Lowen, we spotted Cliff Pace only about a half mile up, fishing the same hard bank.
He's throwing a little crankbait to the rocks, and he hooked up with a little smallmouth as soon as we sat down.
He says he's struggling, with only two little keepers in the boat.
He thinks the water color has gotten worse, and all the floating debris has made it harder to fish.
As he's lamenting the day though, he sets the hook on a nice 2- or 3-pound smallmouth that falls off the hook as soon as he flips it into the boat.
So Pace now has three for about 7 pounds.
We'll find Clunn or Lowen one of these days.
We found Randy Howell fishing a hard bank on the Minnesota side, working a frog with short twitches around laydowns and overhanging grass.
He hadn't had a fish until he pulled up on this bank but has caught five since he's been here. He kept one 3 pound plus and a couple others that were 2 1/2 pounds.
The other two were around 2 pounds, and he threw them back. About throwing keepers back, Howell says, "It made me real nervous the first few days, but today 2-pounders aren't gonna help me anyways, so I'm not too worried about it."
He also thinks the water coming up on the rocks is going to help his bite as it should open up more flooded cover.
We're gonna go try and chase down Rick Clunn and Bill Lowen.
We worked back to where Cliff Prince is, about 200 yards from Scoggins. He only has two little keepers and says he thinks it's been kind of slow.
Meanwhile, Big Show is culling and has about 10 or 11 pounds.
Although both are throwing frogs, they are working them very differently. Scroggins is methodically twitching his and giving it frequent pauses while Prince is almost burning it back to the boat.
I know Prince didn't catch them yesterday until the sun peeked out, so maybe in cloudy conditions the fish want a slower retrieve.
On that note, we're moving up river to go try and find Rick Clunn, Randy Howell or Bill Lowen.
Though he's won a couple of Elite events, Todd Faircloth has only been the leader going into the final round once before — 2006 on Table Rock, where he finished it out with the win. Faircloth is a strong closer; he's not going to lose this tournament. If someone else is going to win, they're going to have to beat him. It won't be a case of Faircloth letting it slip away.
Aaron Martens has also won two Elite events (California Delta in 2007 and Guntersville in 2009). Each time he had the lead going into the final round. Only once has he lost a final round lead — 2008 at Falcon Lake, where the catches were the biggest in history.
Faircloth and Martens are two of the five best anglers in Bassmaster Elite Series history. Today should be a great showdown.
Ben Potaracke is the camera boat operator following Terry Butcher today. He sent in this report:
"Terry Butcher is fishing slop and mats with a frog and has a limit for about 11 pounds. He just moved over to the other side of the slough and is fishing open water with a spinnerbait. He has caught four more with the spinnerbait but none of them helped his bag."
He followed that with:
"Butcher just caught a 2 1/2 on the spinnerbait and is starting to cull. Power-Poles down in a little pocket with standing grass. He's catching a fish every four or five casts but tossing them back like candy at a parade."
Faircloth caught his limit today throwing a white frog. A few minutes ago he switched to a swim jig and started moving down the shore of the island. He's moving now, across the channel to an area called The Box.
While all of us are focused on the waters of the Mississippi River, watching to see who will put together the perfect plan to win this Elite event, it's appropriate that we take a moment and mourn the loss of one of bass fishing greatest advocates, Homer Circle.
A lot of folks know him as Uncle Homer. His credentials are too numerous to mention. But you have to know that a lot of the coverage you see today, whether in a magazine or on the internet, is a direct result of the impact Homer Circle had on some many outdoor writers and communicators in his 97 years of living.
As an outdoor writer for almost three decades, I certainly wasn't immune to that. We all loved Uncle Homer.
One of the things I remember most is at the early Classics, he would offer this prayer before the start of each event. It will stand the test of time and certainly applies today.
The Fisherman’s Prayer
By Homer Circle
God grant that I may fish
until my dying day;
And when at last I come to rest,
I’ll then most humbly pray;
When in His landing net
I lie in final sleep;
That in His mercy I’ll be judged
as good enough to keep!
Thank you Homer Circle for everything.