Scott Rook just lost a fish and threw his rod down. We're not sure if the fish came unbuttoned or if his line got cut like it did two times yesterday about this time.
Rook told me last night that he's pulling his fish over a rockpile. He believes zebra mussels are cutting his line (the sharp edges of the shell). He was still frustrated about losing the fish yesterday. In a tournament as tight as this one, those fish may have put him in the lead.
Randy Howell has hit his stride this morning. After Boyd Duckett led all morning on BASSTrakk, Howell took over the top spot around 10 a.m. ET today.
Howell is reporting four fish at 10 pounds, 15 ounces, and Duckett has a limit that's going about 12-15. Angler of the Year Brent Chapman has four fish for 10-12, followed by Jason Quinn at 8-12.
Are your favorite anglers qualified to fish in next month's Toyota Trucks All-Star Week? If not, you should vote them in!
All-Star Week takes the Top 8 pros in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, which includes Brent Chapman, Ott DeFoe, Terry Scroggins, Todd Faircloth, Randy Howell, Matt Herren, Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers. But it's missing some other big names, notably Chris Lane, Skeet Reese, Mike Iaconelli and Ish Monroe, among others. Voters get to elect four anglers to compete in All-Star.
Voting opens Tuesday, Aug. 28, and the pros will be asking for your vote that day during a live Twitter chat, from 1 to 1:30 p.m. ET. It's a great opportunity to talk with the pros in real time (and probably slip in a fishing question or two!) and find out who really wants to compete at the Decatur, Ill., tourney.
Don't forget: By voting, you could be eligible to win a boat!
Howell gave me a little more insight into that 4-pounder he caught a few minutes ago. As mentioned, he was about to change locations, and he was in the midst of stowing his trolling motor. He had about 10 feet of line out when he stopped cranking. As the lure -- a Strike King Series 5 -- hovered in the water, that big fish decided to eat. The old stop-and-go pattern.
Just now, Howell has had two jarring strikes, and he missed both of them. We've moved near a channel market in view of the beach at Oneida Shores State Park, where daily launches have taken place and the first two weigh-ins were held. Yesterday's weigh-in at the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse was a good one. I'm told it is the fourth largest state fair in the country. If that's true, I can't imagine what the bigger ones are like.
Howell should be in the midst of the magic hour of fishing. On the first two days, he and a couple of other pros had most of their action between 9 and 10:30 a.m. That wasn't the case yesterday. In fact, Howell only had one bass by about 11 a.m., when he decided to make a long run toward the east end of Oneida and visit some other spots he had pinpointed. The move paid off with four nice bass, enough for a 2-pound, 6-ounce lead over Duckett and the rest of the field. He might well make that run a little later today, if things don't start happening faster here. Overstreet and I are hoping the wind will lay before that happens. We bailed on him yesterday and missed most of the action, but we probably won't have that option today.
For those of you who don't live up north, Tim Hortons is a Canadian based restaurant chain that also has locations in some northern states. Not to be confused with Elite Series angler Tim Horton, who is from Alabama.
I wrote earlier about how my Tim Hortons coffee cup flew out of the cup holder, rolled around the boat deck, and didn't spill. Here's what the cup looks like below. Happily the coffee is now in my belly. Unfortunately it will need to exit my body soon and that little activity will take some skill in these rolling waves.
Want to participate in the easiest contest ever? Hop on Twitter and tweet with hashtag #bassmaster anytime before 2 p.m. ET today. You can tweet it as many times as you like.
A random Twitterer will be chosen at 2 to win a Bassmaster prize pack, and the winner's name will be announced on stage by Dave Mercer right before the weigh-in.
Be sure to follow @BASS_Nation on Twitter for updates about tournaments, bass fishing news and tips from pros.
If Boyd Duckett wins the Ramada Championship today, it will be due to his efficiency in solving the smallmouth vs. largemouth quandary every angler faces at Oneida Lake.
"Smallmouth are your lock," Duckett said. "I'm in second place [Saturday] because of the smallmouth. If I win, it will be because of the largemouth. I got two [largemouth] bites Friday and zero [Saturday]. But that one [largemouth] bite [Sunday] will win it for me."
That's why Duckett has to be ecstatic about the "bonus" 4 1/2-poun largemouth he caught first thing this morning on a swimbait. A 4-inch Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait paired with a 1/16th-ounce Buckeye J-Will jighead had been Duckett's go-to bait for smallmouth all week.
In order to find a kicker largemouth, Duckett has needed to move about 75 yards inshore and flip the grass with a 3-inch Berkley Chigger Craw, until today's big-time bonus largemouth bass on the swimbait.
Scott Rook just pulled in his fourth keeper. We're a respectful distance away, but we're estimating 9 pounds total.
I'm impressed that he can keep his balance on the heaving boat deck. He's running the trolling motor, casting and reeling adroitly, all while riding up and down like a rodeo cowboy.
Me, on the other hand, I've gotten good at picking up my feet when a wave comes overboard. The feet are still dry. Still have a little coffee in the cup. Will pause to consume.
That's Scott Rook in the distance.
Do you have any questions for the Elite Series anglers? Post them in the comments section below or on the War Room wall, or on our Facebook page or by tagging @BASS_Nation on Twitter. We will have them answered during the War Room updates throughout the day. Updates are on the hour beginning at 9 a.m. ET.
Guests will include Aaron Martens, Chris Zaldain and newly minted Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Brandon Card.
Randy Howell is still twitching, jerking and popping away, but the fish aren't interested in whatever he's showing them. He makes frequent visits to his rod locker, stowing one stick and pulling out another. He still has only that one good bass in his livewell, but every time he passes us, he is smiling.
Correction--just this second, as Howell grabbed the pull rope on his trolling motor in preparation for yet another move, a big smallmouth inhaled his bait. He flipped it into the boat and now he's smiling for real. That fish will go over 4, giving him 7 pounds for the morning, by our estimates. We might stay put a while.