Birds are working consistently in the area around Frenchman Island, where Randy Howell caught his first keeper of the day, but I think Howell is growing tired of chasing the phantom schools of smallmouth the birds are supposedly pinpointing. He's settled into motoring upwind and drifting over the same grassbeds -- adopting a tactic for coastal saltwater fishing.
These smallmouth schools are fickle and frustrating. Kelly Jordon told me at yesterday's weigh-in that he and Boyd Duckett, who were sharing a small area loaded with bass, that big smallmouth were in a feeding frenzy for a time that afternoon and neither angler could get a bite. "We threw everything we had at them," he said. Imagine being in contention for $100,000, you're surrounded by money fish, and you can't get them to bite.
By the way, Brent Chapman has moved into the area Howell was fishing, and Howell has motored a couple hundred yards to the west. My boatmate and War Room analyst, photographer James Overstreet, suggested, "There's not a doubt in my mind that Chapman gave this spot to him. He hasn't fished this far down in two days."
As mentioned earlier, Chapman and Howell had a brief pow wow, and it's easy to guess the two shared information valuable to one or both of them. That's amazing, since Chapman has moved into second behind Duckett after catching two bass this morning worth almost 6 pounds. Any help he gives Howell could cost him money. Who says this is a cut-throat sport?