Aaron Martens must be very comfortable. He's sitting in a congested little inlet, with houses on one side, and he appears to be organizing his tackle. We think he's protecting his hot fishing spot, perhaps from other anglers, or from the locals. In some locations, the locals will watch where the pros fish, then come back later in the day and fish the same spot.
I'm sure it sounds like a broken record at this point, but the amount of fishable water in this river is unbelievable. Unlike a lot of rivers where the fish are just grouped up on certain types of cover, in La Crosse, if it's in the water, it probably holds a fish.
While we were making our way out of the endless backwater in the Stoddard area, we ran into Randy Howell. He was working a grassline quickly with a frog and thinks he has about 13 pounds.
I asked him what he thinks he needs to fish tomorrow, and he responded "I'm gonna need 14 I think, so I better get another big bite.
With that, he was back on pad, across the channel and into another backwater near where Todd Faircloth started this morning.
We are now making our way upriver and hopefully we'll run into another angler or two on our way up.
We just rolled up on Cliff Pace, who is fishing in an area five minutes north of the landing, casting into a shallow flat. He's throwing a Carolina rig. Just had a strong bite, but lost it. Cliff tells us he has 13 pounds in the livewell. He happens to be fishing across the river from Aaron Martens, who is surrounded by five spectator boats.
Looks like Kota Kiriyama's prediction was right on. The sun decided to show itself a bit and the fish just turned on.
Big Show has culled at least one and caught three or four that didn't help, but the big move came from Cliff Prince.
In the last 20 minutes, Prince not only finished his limit, but he also culled almost everything in his livewell and figures he's right around 14 pounds now.
I asked him if he thinks the sun had anything to do with it, and his response was, "I don't know, but I'm sure glad they're eating now."
We are too far away to see if Kota the predictor has gotten in on the afternoon flurry, but things are certainly looking up in this backwater.
We found Davy Hite fishing under a railroad trestle. In fact, a train rolled a few feet above his head shortly after we pulled up. Didn't seem to bother Hite a bit. I wonder if the fish hear the train or feel the vibration? Dennis Tietje tells me they are accustomed to it, and that it may even rile the fish up a bit.
Hite says he has about 12 pounds so far.
We caught up with Matt Greenblatt south of the landing. "If it were a pike tournament, I'd be winning," he says. Matt has four fish in the livewell, all smallies, for a little under 10 pounds.
He's using a shallow crankbait and working it along the top of the grass.
Matt says when the sun is out, the bass push close up to the bank and the grass. But with the cloud cover we have now they are more dispersed and harder to find.
We trolled into huge expanse of matted vegetation at the north end of Stoddard and found Cliff Prince, Kotaro Kiriyama and Terry Scroggins each fishing different sections of the mat.
Prince has four, but they are all small and he thinks the two days prior have really taken their toll on the fish population as he really hasn't gotten the bites he got yesterday as he sacked more than 16 pounds.
Kiriyama, who we watched land his third keeper, thinks it is more the overcast conditions than anything else that is hurting the bite.
Scroggins has a limit and has culled a couple times since we have been in here. He's the only one flipping, so maybe he's got something figured out that the others haven't.
It looks like the sun is starting to try and burn through the clouds, so we'll see if Kiriyama's theory holds up.
Chris Lane is a dedicated and patient man. He fished an area near Target Lake from 6:30 this morning until about noon. What did he have to show for it? Two keepers for around 5 pounds. As mentioned earlier, he released at least 3 or 4 fish early this morning. As he left Target Lake a few minutes ago, he said "I wish I'd kept three of those."
He just headed north to Black River. We are going to head that way ourselves. Lane mentioned if he has time later, he may head back to Target.
Aaron Martens continues to catch fish, just nothing that will help him at this point. He landed one that looked close, but putting it on a balance beam proved it wasn't an upgrade.
Photographer James Overstreet and I are leaving the water for the day.
Neither of us will be surprised if Martens doesn't go back to his starting point for the day and add at least another pound or two.
According to his Marshal, Ron Twardowski, Todd Faircloth has culled up to 14 pounds. He is now leading this event on Day 3.