Rook has lost three nice fish this morning. And he's had some pleasure boaters get a little too close to his spot. He's showing some frustration. But if he can fight through those demons, he's certainly in a good spot for catching more fish.
Rook's big fish woe's continue. He just hooked up and lost a 3 1/2-pounder. That's his third of the morning.
You can hear him over the waves and wind and he's not happy at the moment. These fish are simply coming unbuttoned. And he's having a time trying to understand why.
From this angle the hook set looks great. But with the boat bobbing up and down, he may be lacking the oomph needed. Who knows?
Regardless, Rook seems to be on the right type of fish to make a move. But those three fish will likely haunt him for at least the rest of the day.
Although Brent Chapman is taking a lot of the drama out of the AOY race this week by doing so well in the tournament, this has still been a very close battle. You'd have to go back to at least 2009 to find one that was this close.
This year, just 2.30 percent separated the top two anglers (Chapman and DeFoe) coming into the finale. In 2009, the gap was less than 1 percent, but the eventual AOY would be decided in a postseason format that we no longer have. That means you've got to go back to 2008 to find an AOY race this hotly contested. That year, Todd Faircloth led Kevin VanDam by less than 1 percent in points. The finale that year was also on Oneida, and Faircloth had a chance to close things out, but he struggled and finished a very disappointing 93rd while KVD was 38th. It was the first of VanDam's record four-in-a-row AOY titles.
Aaron Martens is fishing about 40 yards away from Scott Rook. He's been very patiently fishing the same spot all morning. Driver Brian Eisch says he's fishing on top of a ridge line. We've seen him catch two. One for sure is in the livewell; we're not sure about the other one.
We ran into Martens in the gas station this morning. He asked with a weak smile why we had to make the launch so early.
After a slow start at Oneida, Ott DeFoe is suddenly making a run at the AOY title, like many thought he would. BASSTrakk numbers in the last hour showed DeFoe in fifth place, two spots above Chapman. Chapman has since moved back ahead.
But it's important to note that it marked the first time any of Chapman's closest rivals had made-up any ground on him. And it's just one more sign of the daily shake-ups possible at Oneida this week.
DeFoe appeared almost out of the picture when he posted 12-5 Thursday, which left him in 59th place. But it doesn't take much to make a big jump here. On Friday, DeFoe weighed 15-5 and moved up 36 places to finish 23rd.
DeFoe came into this event second in the AOY race, only 13 points behind Chapman. With each place in the standings worth one AOY point, if Chapman makes the Sunday cut to 12, he's won the title. But there's a lot of fishing to do between now and then.
DeFoe and Todd Faircloth, who was third coming in (20 points back), are still very much in this thing.
After dominating the Rookie of the Year for most of the season, Brandon Card may have left the door open for Cliff Prince. Card was stellar for the first five tournaments but has missed the cut in each of the last three. He's currently 14 points ahead of Prince as he sits on the sidelines and waits to see what happens.
Prince is fishing — sitting in 43rd place going into Saturday. While 43rd might not seem that good, it's actually terrific for Prince if his goal is ROY because it gives him plenty of room to move up after Card has been eliminated. Prince needs to move up 14 places to catch Card — 15 to pass him and claim ROY without a tiebreaker. Can he do it? It'll be tough. He'll probably need somewhere around 15-8 today to make that kind of jump. His best day so far was 13-4.
Both Card and Prince are rock solid to qualify for the 2013 Classic.
I could hear the sigh of relief all the way over here, 40 yards from Randy Howell. The second-round leader just boated his first keeper, and it is a good one. He said it weighs 3 pounds, 12 ounces. The three-hour drought has ended. Howell has moved to an area near two islands and in sight of the launch site at Oneida Shores Park. To get here, he had to circle a posse of Elite Series anglers, including Kevin VanDam and Nate Wellman, who are working schools of bass pinpointed by swirling birds.
Almost immediately, Howell motored a half mile to the east, slowed down and scanned the bottom with his depthfinder. He's obviously looking for structure over which bass are schooling. Just as quickly, he raced another few hundred yards to chase a school of bass that erupted downwind.
Scott Rook is fishing the edge of a shoal where the water goes from about 12 feet to 7 feet. He's dragging a drop shot along the bottom, right where the fish are feeding on the edge of the shoal. It's working out well for him. He's already caught six keepers.
Todd Faircloth explained his predicament Friday in the quest to catch Brent Chapman in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Faircloth has posted almost identical days: 14-5, then 14-9. He's in 13th place.
"If I maximize my area, I can catch 15 pounds," he said. "I can't do much better than that, from what I've seen."
Faircloth, like many others, is seeing a ton of smallmouth bass in the 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound range. You can see evidence of Faircloth's observation throughout the Day Two leaderboard's Top 10: Almost everyone has 30 pounds, from first-place Randy Howell's 32-2 to ninth-place Matt Herren's 30-0. Jason Quinn is just 2 ounces shy of the 30-pound mark in 10th place. In other words, 10 bass averaging 3 pounds apiece has been the standard of excellence after two days.
The game-changer at Oneida Lake is a 5-pound largemouth.
"A 5-pounder is a giant here," Faircloth said. "If you've got a 2 1/2-pounder in the box, and you replace it with a 5-pounder, those 2 1/2 pounds can make a big difference in this tournament."
Mike Iaconelli had the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament so far — a 5-5 — in his 20-3 total Thursday. Boyd Duckett's 17-11 Friday was the day's big bag and included the big bass of the day — a 5-1.
But the largemouth have been difficult to find this week. Tommy Biffle, who won here in 2006 targeting strictly largemouth, didn't even look for them this time. He said that almost every place he caught a largemouth in '06 is dry ground now.
Iaconelli almost ruined his tournament by targeting largemouth yesterday. Without a bass in the boat at 12:30 p.m., he changed tactics to catch five "small smallmouth," then went back to largemouth fishing and didn't get another bite the rest of the day.
The largemouth bass in Oneida are high-risk, high-reward, obviously.
But for those who need to move significantly up the standings today, it's a risk they'll have to take at some point.