According to Howell, that's when things really start to heat up on this part of the lake. He didn't have a bite before that, but it was like someone flipped a switch. The birds started working and the fish started biting.
Today has been much the same. Howell even said he hasn't seen anyone else catching any. There are at least another dozen anglers within sight of us.
Another issue is floating grass. There is a bunch of it on the surface making working topwater or any baits difficult.
Brandon Palaniuk is fishing under no pressure at Oneida Lake, and he's having a good time doing it. Palaniuk clinched a Bassmaster Classic berth in April with his victory at Bull Shoals Lake. He's 19th after Day One of the Ramada Championship, and trying to move up. He already has two bass in the boat this morning.
Photo by Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal Chad Valentine:
We're keeping a respectful distance away from Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points leader Brent Chapman this morning so as not to disturb his fishing. He has a Bassmaster cameraman in the boat with him right now.
We're following Brent Chapman this morning. He's sitting in number two behind Mike Iaconelli. It's 7:30 a.m. ET and Brent just caught his first fish — 2-pounder.
He's fishing in the main channel on the west side of Oneida. No more than five minutes from launch. He's in about 12 feet of water, right on top of a big grassbed.
As the last few boats leave the docks on Oneida Lake, I'm getting ready to search for Randy Howell. We are going to be shooting some pictures, blogging and getting a few videos to use over the weekend in the War Room presented by Triton.
Howell is in an interesting position right now. He's excelling in both this tournament and the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Unfortunately for him, the leaders in both have huge leads. On top of that, he's good friends with Brent Chapman and he should be able to offer lots of insight on the TTBAOY race among other things.
We are taking off now. I'll have more soon.
Brent Chapman has moved back into the lead with a total of 16-12, according to the latest BASSTrakk figures. While that weight is completely unofficial, there's some confidence in the number here, based on Chapman's consistency all season long in estimating his weights for his Marshal to input.
If it holds up, Chapman will be the man of the hour at this afternoon's Oneida Shores Park weigh-in, which begins at 4 p.m. ET.
As Ott DeFoe said yesterday, in summing up the AOY race, "We've all got pressure on us, but (Chapman) definitely has got the most. It's his to lose."
It appears the 40-year-old Chapman is taking a giant step toward capping the best season of his professional bass fishing career.
Ounces, not pounds, can mean everything at Oneida Lake. The last two Elite Series events here provide some perspective on expectations for the next four days, where a five-bass limit of 18 pounds is a game-changer and an average of 15 pounds a day will put you in the hunt for a title.
When Chad Griffin won at Oneida in 2009 with a four-day total of 65-10, his Day Two bag of 18-8 — tops in the tournament — was the key to victory. The top 50, two-day cut weight was 25-9. Only 5 pounds, 2 ounces separated the Top 20 and only 3 pounds, 1 ounce separated 20th through 50th place.
Dean Rojas won in 2008 with 65-2, keyed by his 18-3 five-bass limit on Day Three. Mike Iaconelli vaulted from 40th place on Day One to first place on Day Two with 20-1, the biggest bag at Oneida in the last two events.
After the Top 50 cut, 5 pounds separated first from 15th and only 3 pounds, 4 ounces separated 20th through 50th.
In other words, it's extremely difficult to make up ground after one bad day at Oneida. But if you're searching for every AOY point possible, like so many here this week, every ounce counts.
In 2008, Bernie Schultz and Dave Wolak qualified for the last two spots in the Top 12 cut with the exact same three-day total — 41-6. Chris Lane missed it by 3 ounces. In other words, an extra ounce a day made all the difference for Schultz and Wolak.
You can bet every Elite Series angler is very carefully culling fish today.
I was really impressed with Faircloth in the hour or so that I spent with him this morning. When he first began getting a lot of attention back in 2008, during that Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, he was fresh to the media attention being poured on. As a relative quiet Texan, that must not have been easy. However, it's evident the experience has been good for him.
I shot a few segments for the War Room this weekend and Faircloth was open and talkative about his history on Oneida, his year in 2012 and anything else I asked him. He joked with me a bit and was really calm on the water. It's always hard as an angler to balance being open and friendly with the media and fishing hard "in the zone" all day on the water. A few anglers do it really well and Faircloth is slowly becoming one of them.
As for his Day One, Faircloth already sits with an average limit over 11 pounds. Now, he told me, his plan is to go after a few bigger bites that can move him up the leaderboard. In practice, the shallow bite was sporadic, so it's hard to justify spending all day doing it. But with 11 pounds in the boat, a 4-pound kicker from the shallows makes a huge difference.
We'll see how that plays out for him in the second half of the day.