It seems like the bite has been a little slow for some. As we made our way back downriver, we ran into several anglers who either haven't filled their limits yet or they are fishing the Minnesota side and waiting for the right bites. Here's what they had to say:
Matt Greenblatt has just one keeper. He said he thinks that "something's changed," and he couldn't get any where he's been catching them in the morning.
Rick Morris has had a day that he describes as " not too bad and not too good," but he was lodged on a sandbar when we caught up to him.
Takahiro Omori has four, but they're "all just little guys" and he's still looking for a bigger bite.
Rick Clunn, in fifth place going into today, has four right now and is flipping riprap and laydowns on the Minnesota side.
Gary Klein is faring the best of the anglers we've recently run into. He has a limit for a little more than 10 pounds, but he said he is not too concerned because he thinks the fishing is "about the same" as the first two days.
As we were sitting on Klein, we watched him catch a couple of smallmouth that wouldn't help and another that culled a couple ounces. He's cranking a hardbank in heavy current.
Mike Iaconelli has moved around quite a bit this morning. Right now he's testing the backwaters near Crater Island.
We're seeing clouds of mayflies circling above the tall grasses.
Ike tried about 10 casts and then blasted out of here.
Did you know that the eventual winner of six out of the last seven Elite tournaments had the lead after Day Two? That's right, and it probably makes Todd Faircloth fans feel pretty good. The only winner who didn't have the lead after Day Two was Jeremy Starks, who was third at this stage of the Douglas Lake tournament.
And just because weights are pretty tight this week doesn't make it easy for someone to make a big move in the standings and dramatically grab the lead. It actually makes it tougher. The fishing's easy (lots of limits) and the bass are relatively small (only two over five pounds), and that's a recipe for few big jumps. Almost 94 percent of eventual winners are in the Top 10 after two days, and 63 percent of them are in the Top 2!
If you want to see big comebacks on the leaderboard, you need tough fishing or big catches. We don't have either of those this week.
The AOY race is becoming better defined as we head into the stretch run of the 2012 season, and it looks like a five-angler race with Brent Chapman leading the way. If history can tell us anything about the battle, it's that the field is very small with just two tournaments left to go. Only twice in Elite Series history has the eventual AOY been any farther back than second place at this stage.
One unusual thing about this year's AOY race is the lack of previous winners in the hunt. The highest ranked former AOY is Kevin VanDam at 10th. The next highest is Skeet Reese at 20th. It's a safe bet that the 2012 AOY will be someone who's never held the trophy before.
The fishing has been so good at the Elite tournaments this year that 29 anglers have caught a five bass limit every day they've competed. And with Lake Michigan and Oneida left on the schedule, it looks like most of them will continue that streak.
It's pretty rare for even one angler to limit every day for an entire season. Only six have done it before — Jeff Kriet (2007), Todd Faircloth (2008), Tim Horton (2008), Bobby Lane (2008), Michael Iaconelli (2010) and Peter Thliveros (2010).
One counterpoint of this year's "easier" fishing is that the bass have been smaller than in any previous Elite season.
We're now watching Rick Clunn. He's fishing up against the bank on the main channel, just north of Stoddard, methodically moving down the bank. Two trains have gone by no more than 20 feet from him.
The water is rising, and we have cloud cover, coming off a high-pressure situation. Dennis Tietje says this may play into the hands of the guys who are flipping.
The change in locations paid off pretty quickly for Aaron Martens. He just landed a 2 3/4-pounder that allowed him to cull one that was just under 2 pounds. He thinks he's got 14 pounds now, so we had his weight underestimated earlier.
Martens has one that's close to 5 pounds in the livewell, and his smallest one now is 2 1/4 pounds. He's feeling pretty good all of a sudden.
And he will undoubtedly go back to his main spot again today after resting it for awhile.
Martens thinks 15 pounds a day this weekend will have him right where he wants to be.
After finishing this tournament in 92nd place, I think we can unofficially declare David Walker's Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year hopes dead for 2012. He'll leave the river about 14th in the AOY standings with two tournaments left to go, and that's just too far back to make a run at it.
Kevin VanDam's chances for a five-peat as AOY are on life support unless he can work a miracle today and jump into the Top 12. He's 26th going into today's round, so it's going to be very tough. When the fishing's good (lots of limits) and the bass are small (as they are on the Mississippi River), moving up in the standings can be very, very difficult.
The two big bass caught yesterday (tied at 5 pounds, 3 ounces) by Terry Butcher and Todd Faircloth were the largest ever weighed in at a B.A.S.S. event on this stretch of the Mississippi River. Lunkers are not part of the mix here, and that makes it tough to make a big jump up in the standings.
Matt Herren just caught his fourth keeper. He's got three smallies and one largemouth (which is about 4 pounds). Fish have to be 14 inches or more to keep here. That makes about 11 pounds in the livewell for him.
"I know where the fish are," Herren said. "Terry Butcher is on them. I'm trying to stay away and respect his space."