Scott Rook just caught his sixth keeper and culled up a half pound. We're estimating that gives him 11 pounds.
Rook's boat got turned so that Steve Bowman wasn't able to get a photo of the catch, but Wes Miller was able to get it on his side of the boat with the slow mo camera.
Miller hollered at us and said the fish naturally come to him. "They know who has the talent!" he said.
Headed back to the ramp, we noticed a large concentration of anglers within a relatively small area. With this wind blowing like it is, it seems to be stacking up anglers as well. If the afternoon bite does pick up it could get crazy quick.
Tommy Biffle made a bone jarring run across the lake to a main point off an island. Still throwing a swim jig he finally picks up a good smallmouth for his first keeper of the day. The wind is still howling.
To see the selection of lures Chris Lane had tied on this morning as he readied for the start of Day 3, you'd have thought he was back home on Lake Guntersville, Ala. Lane, the reigning Bassmaster Classic Champion, had two punch baits tied to flipping sticks and two floating Snag Proof frogs on his other rods. He whispered to me after the weigh-in yesterday that bass were starting to blow up through thick grass mats here on Oneida in the afternoon. He was thrilled. He credits the frog fish he caught yesterday to enabling him to fish another round on Oneida.
He's in 39th place with 25-14. Lane is already "triple qualified" for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. He's earned berths as defending champion, as winner of a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open and for ranking high on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year list. But knowing him, I think he's excited about fishing today just to have a chance to catch bass on frogs.
Matt Reed has joined Boyd Duckett, Kelly Jordon and Jeremy Starks on a weed flat. They are spreading out a little more as the wind picks up. The birds are starting to dive on bait and group up a bit more as Duckett just boated a nice smallmouth.
Scott Rook being followed closely by a Bassmaster camera boat. Wes Miller is holding our slow motion camera. Watch The Bassmasters on ESPN2 next week to see his work.
We just watched Rook lose a big fish. That makes two in the last 30 minutes. The first was at least 3 pounds. The second looked bigger than that. Judging by the reaction it was bigger. The wind is still blowing at a regular 10-plus and the waved are crashing, so having a conversation is tough.
Earlier we misheard what Rook told us. We thought he had about 13 pounds. But we got close enough just now to hear he has 10-8, which would explain Rook's unhappiness on the two big ones he lost. But it's still early for him.
Rook and I were team partners for several years and I've never fished with anyone better with a slow-moving, bottom bumping bait. He has a spinning rig in hand and is slowly working it just like he's good at doing.
I'm sure his fish catching is not over. But he can't afford to lose anymore of those 3-plus bites.
Almost two hours into his eight-hour fishing day, Randy Howell has yet to boat a keeper bass. He has moved from the launch area to the western shore of Oneida Lake, where he's flinging a spinnerbait as he bides his time. The witching hour is about 45 minutes away, but I'm sure he's antsy to get back to where big smallmouth have been schooling the past couple of days. All of us are expecting the wind to lay. One of my weather apps predicted 4 mph winds for this morning. The forecast was a digit off.
Howell just fired up his big engine to move south a few hundred yards. "There's birds down there," he yelled. We never saw any, and a couple of minutes after arriving, Howell pulled up his trolling motor to race to another place he saw birds milling and diving. I assumed in an earlier blog that gulls were the telltale indicators of schooling activity. James Overstreet tells me the pros, including Howell and Brent Chapman, are watching out for terns diving toward the water.
On other lakes where birds indicate bass schooling, my fishing buddies called terns "liar birds" because you can't count on bass being beneath where they were diving. So far this morning, they haven't been telling Howell the truth.
The area where Boyd Duckett, Kelly Jordon and Jeremy Starks are playing bumper boats is operating under an agreement among the three: There are no rules.
"We're all going to fish on top of each other," Duckett explained Friday. "If they come up schooling, we're all going to throw at them, over the top of each other if we have to."
With 17-11 Friday, anchored by a 5-1 Carhartt Big Bass of the day, Duckett moved into second place. Starks is 21st and Jordon 25th.
"I'm fishing for largemouth a little more than they are," said Duckett, who didn't care to explain further at that point.
It will be interesting to hear the details of how you target largemouth in that three-man mass of casts.
Biffle keeps making short runs in and around his primary starting spot but still nothing to show for it.