2:58 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
The moves just keep coming in BASSTrakk.
We wondered earlier in the day what was going on with Shaw Grigsby. He's always strong in Florida.
He may be putting on a clinic at the moment. According to BASSTrakk, Grigsby has about 28 pounds, which moves him way up the standings.
He started the day in 41st place, just 12 ounces into the cut. He boated a 7 pound class fish today and now has the big sack and is sitting in 5th place.
Meanwhile, Brent Chapman has another cull. This one on the back of a 6-pound catch. He now has about 24 pounds and has moved to 6th place.
Chris Lane is keeping a stranglehold on second place. He also caught a 6-pounder and now is in the 29-pound range, which puts him 4-pounds away from Ish Monroe's lead.
Lot of things happening. Even though all this fish is officially unofficial, it appears as if the bite is on late in the day.
2:48 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
James Overstreet is off the water and he's got some awesome photos of the action on the water.
His gallery along Seigo Saito's will be up on the site soon. Be sure and check them out.
The photo that comes with this is just a sample. But it's of one of Lane's best fish.
I can feel his heart coming out of his throat in a photo like that. And there's more of those shots coming.
2:43 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
The action hasn't slowed much for some of these guys.
Brent Chapman just caught a 4-pound class fish, dumping one of his sinks. He now has about 21 pounds and has moved into 9th place.
Randy Howell, who started the day on fire catching three keepers in one cast, just caught a 5-pounder that gives him about 20 pounds and slides him into fifth place at the moment.
Okeechobee doesn't seem to have much of a slow period.
2:26 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
Our eyes are off the anglers we've been following all day. Steve Wright and James Overstreet are back in the War Room getting their photo galleries ready for the evening.
Mark Zona abandoned Jeff Kriet a few hours ago and Dave Mercer did the same with Skeet Reese.
All we have for information is the BASSTrakk and the Marshals in the boat who are keeping us updated every once in a while. That means slim pickings this last hour or so of the day for information. But we are used to that.
We feel like Chris Lane has cut into Ish Monroe's lead of 13 pounds. By how much remains to be seen. We do feel, though, Monroe's lead will shrink.
We also feel like Lane still has a small fish in his live well, so a decent thumper and he adds to his weight. We also know Monroe has a lot of room to move. He has a couple of 2-pound class fish and one or more big bites in the last hour and he could really start to close the door on everyone.
Monroe knows that. He knows he will likely lead no matter what, but the more cushion he creates the easier his day goes.
We will keep an eye on BASSTrakk and keep listening for any change. But unless we've missed it, today's story is the battle of Lane and Monroe.
1:51 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
We just got a ping on BASSTrakk that Ish Monroe has caught a 5-pounder. That brings his weight up to around 16 or 17 pounds.
For a brief moment, Chris Lane had the lead. Now Monroe is taking it back.
There's an interesting thing about that catch. From the outside looking in, it appears as if Monroe has had a slower day than expected. But now he's caught a 5-pounder and at almost the same exact time as Mike McClelland, who is fishing close to Monroe, caught a similar size fish.
Both anglers are in the southeast end of Okeechobee. Those fish in that corner might be firing.
Meanwhile Tommy Biffle, who is fishing the Observation Shoal area, has jumped to fourth place with an estimated stringer of 25 pounds, 11 ounces.
That's the first time we've mentioned Biffle's name all day. He's quietly got that weight built and looks like he could be a factor before the day is over.
It's also apparent that the fish are biting.
1:22 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
Pundits around here, at least after yesterday's weigh in, have all been saying how much weight Chris Lane needed to cut into Ish Monroe's lead on Day Three, today.
Their thought was that if you cut that lead to 5 or 7 pounds, then it gets really interesting for Sunday.
Obviously, we don't know what's in store for the rest of the day, but if the numbers on BASSTrakk holds then Sunday will be really worth watching.
We have Monroe just 7 pounds ahead of Lane, virtually half the lead he started with at the take off.
Those guys standing around wanting nothing more than a really good race may have their wish.
12:55 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
Chris Lane said yesterday that he wasn't going to let it get in his head, the fact that he's been losing two or three big bass a day in the thick vegetation he's fishing. Well, he just had his first frustrating moment of this day. He set the hook on a big one, which quickly wound his line around some reeds. After the fish was off, Lane broke his line trying to retrieve his lure, then banged his rod on the side of the boat.
How big was the fish? Lane looked over at James Overstreet and me, then held his hands about 2 feet apart. It was a big one.
12:50 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
One of those "friggin' giants" finally showed up for Jeff Kriet. This photo by Mark Zona shows what could be as heavy as a 7-pounder.
Kriet lost two fish that were in that same range. If he could have boated those, he would be in the 21-pound or better range with just three fish.
Zona said that Kriet made a bait switch, and immediately "bam" the fish bit.
That's very interesting considering he's lost two fish that size. A bait switch can mean a lot of things: More bites or just better hook ups. Either way, Kriet made the adjustment which is what you have to do when the tough bites start hitting you.
As it is. He's got that giant and four peckerheads. But that one fish jumped him from 5 pounds to about 11 or 12. We'll see how it comes across from the Marshal.
Good to see Kriet starting to right the ship. But it hurts to even think about those two that got away.
12:30 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2012
Chris Lane has made a series of short runs but hasn't had another bite since that 4-pounder. He made an interesting observation at yesterday's weigh-in. Lane is concentrating on reed "heads" where there is a hard bottom in Lake Okeechobee. He thinks these provide ambush points for bass that are keying on shellcrackers (redear bream) as they are moving into spawning areas.
"The (bass) aren't in the Kissimmee grass yet, but it won't be long," Lane said.
In addition to its largemouth bass fishing, Lake Okeechobee is known for having a huge population of bigger than usual shellcrackers. I visited with a local bass fisherman in a bait shop earlier this week who told me that he quits bass fishing during the first shellcracker spawn of the year and fills his freezer with bream that weigh up to 2 1/2 pounds.
The shellcracker slugfest is probably a week or so away.
The wind has picked up. We're seeing a few whitecaps on this part of the lake, enough that you need to rest your carbonated beverages a bit after making a run with the big motor.
11:58 am EDT, Mar 24, 2012
Some big fish are starting to show up.
David Walker just caught a 6-pounder and he's jumped into fourth place. Walker's total is about 16 pounds and change.
Bradley Roy has caught a 6-pounder and he's jumped into 11th place.
Chris Lane caught that 4-pounder, which put him at 19 pounds and second place.
And we are hearing a couple more reports of other fish we are waiting to verify.
Remember the last post? The one where Zona was telling us about Kriet's "giants" and then all of the small ones.
In a situation like that you have to boat the giants when they bite.
As soon as we sent that last blog, Zona texted us with this message:
"Not good. He just lost an 8-pounder. The wheels came off. We will not be able to use that video.
"He's lost two fish that would have weighed 15 pounds."