2012 Elite Series Ramada Championship Oneida Lake - Syracuse, NY, Aug 23 - 26, 2012

2012 Ramada Championship Live Blog

Ott going shallow, we're going back to the War Room.

12:31 pm EDT, Aug 23, 2012

DeFoe has decided to leave this bank and is headed back to some of the extremely shallow water where he caught his first three keepers.

The area is sensitive enough that we are going to let him have it. Instead we are headed in to get a gallery up before the weigh in. DeFoe still has some work to do, but he's simply shown no signs of panicking. We expect him to finish his limit.

One 4 pounder or two 3 pounders and he's right in the mix again.
His first fish where he's headed was a 3-pounder this morning, so those kind of keepers live there.

The problem with smallmouth

12:20 pm EDT, Aug 23, 2012

The problem with smallmouth is that they can be so aggressive they are often hard to put in the boat. Todd Faircloth has had a couple fish follow his bait to the boat and had a strike that he missed. His fourth keeper followed soon after that, and Faircloth spent plenty of time playing out the aggressive smallmouth before the 2-pounder hit the well. It's obvious that putting those first four fish in the boat so early in the day is what's keeping him cool.


Normally, Faircloth is as calm an angler as you will find. He admitted to me as I sat in his boat that he has a hard time sleeping the night before Day One, especially Day One of a season finale like this one.


"Tonight, though, I will sleep like a baby," he said.

DeFoe returns to sweet spot

12:15 pm EDT, Aug 23, 2012

Ott DeFoe has been fishing banks on the north side of Oneida for about 90 minutes. He's very carefully and slowly picking apart a section that's about 100 yards long, dipping in and out of little coves with lots of downed trees. He's now back to fishing the spot where he caught a 2-pound largemouth about 45 minutes ago. We think that's enough time for another fish to move into the same spot. There's no wind, the air temp is 78 degrees and water is 76 degrees. 

There are 47 other anglers out there

12:02 pm EDT, Aug 23, 2012

It's important to remember that in this 97-man field, there are 47 Elite Series pros on Oneida Lake without BASSTrakk. We can make accurate judgements on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, since we're tracking the top 50. But the leaderboard will shake up considerably at today's weigh-in.


There are, however, some other general conclusions we can draw from that leaderboard, outside the AOY race. One is that J Todd Tucker and Randy Howell are responding to the pressure they're under.


Tucker has the most. He is 41st in AOY points and is trying to secure a Bassmaster Classic berth, which is assured the top 28 in AOY points for the season, but currently extends to the top 35 when double-qualifers are considered. Tucker needs a big finish, and it appears he's headed that way.


Howell entered Oneida in eighth place in AOY points, assured of a Classic berth. But he's the bubble boy for automatic qualification in the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week. A solid tournament would assure Howell a spot at Illinois' Lake Shelbyville on Sept. 20-23. The other four anglers in the 12-man All-Star field will be selected by fan votes.


Mike McClelland and Terry Butcher also appear to be responding to pressure. McClelland is 35th in AOY points; Butcher is 40th. Both are extremely familiar with the 2013 Bassmaster Classic site – Oklahoma's Grand Lake – and would be deeply disappointed to miss the cut.


But, again, another 47 guys are out there, several of whom are certain to figure in the top of the final leaderboard this afternoon.

Here comes the lull

11:17 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012

That slow down in the bite we were anticipating has officially kicked in. BASSTrakk totals from 10 a.m. through 11 a.m. show a significant drop. Check out the hour-by-hour totals below:



No. of bass


7 a.m - 8 a.m



8 a.m - 9 a.m



9 a.m - 10 a.m



10 a.m. - 11 a.m.



Totals 141 318-09


Brent Chapman, of course, has no way of knowing this, but his early 13-pound limit is becoming more meaningful by the hour.

DeFoe picks up another

11:10 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012

DeFoe's move paid off with his fourth keeper. Appears to be another 2-pounder. He still has some work to do.
He's snugged up shallow and currently is about 150 yards from Morizo Shimizu.

They are on a collision course. We don't know what Shimizu has, but the two are apparently doing the same thing.

Shimizu just gave us a sign that he has two in the boat.
DeFoe is sticking to his spot. Could get interesting.

Faircloth: Something to prove

11:10 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012

Todd Faircloth entered this final tournament on Oneida Lake with something to prove. By any standards, he's had a great season, securing a berth in the 2013 Classic with a victory on the Mississippi River and contending for Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler in the Year (he entered 3rd in the points). Yet Oneida has become a little bit of a thorn in his side ever since 2008, when he finished 93rd here and lost the Angler of the Year to Kevin VanDam. He's trying to change that this week.


Almost immediately upon arriving at his first spot this morning, Faircloth put three keepers in the boat. The bass were all cookie-cutters, 2-pound smallmouth. Without giving too much about his specific pattern away, he was fishing an isolated area without much other pressure. When we were heading out to find Faircloth, we saw a lot of anglers stacked up on the same good offshore smallmouth areas.


At least Faircloth has this spot all to himself. For now.

DeFoe on the move

10:56 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012

It's fitting that as soon as I write that last blog that DeFoe would pick up his trolling motor and take off.

We headed up to the lake, again heading extremely shallow and fishing where we've seen few boats travel.

More on DeFoe and Chapman

10:46 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012

It's interesting that DeFoe and Chapman are fishing so close together. Or more correctly found the same fish.

While Chapman has the lead at the moment, this is obviously a place where DeFoe could make up some ground.

It appears as if both are fishing grass in between chasing breaking fish.
That's kind of a common pattern that we've seen. Jeremy Starks had an early limit chasing breakers and I understand Chapman has caught a few or most of his weight.
All that said, even though DeFoe is behind he's in area that could pay off.

A look at the early bite

10:40 am EDT, Aug 23, 2012


With the third hour of Day One now on the record, we've got a glimpse of the early morning bite at Oneida Lake. It seems to be holding steady. The 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. totals are the best, but the differences in the hour-by-hour totals aren't statistically significant. In other words, as usual, these guys seem to be steadily figuring it out.



No. of bass


7 a.m -8 a.m



8 a.m -9 a.m



9 a.m -10 a.m







A note about BASSTrakk: The 50 phones are in the boats of the Top 50 anglers in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points entering this tournament. When new point totals come out after today's 4 p.m. weigh-in, the new Top 50 in AOY points will get BASSTrakk on Friday. Obviously, we'll have the full field covered when it’s cut to 50 on Saturday.


And, just to be clear, the AOY race could continue through Sunday, if Brent Chapman hasn't clinched it on Saturday by making the Top 12 cut. He entered this event with 566 total points – 13 more than second-place Ott DeFoe and 20 more than third-place Todd Faircloth. Terry Scroggins (-39 points), Bill Lowen (-48), Matt Herren (-50) and Kevin VanDam (-51) round out the top seven.


It's only Chapman that controls his own destiny; everybody else requires some slips by everyone above him to make a run for the AOY title.