Alton Jones has gone into full stealth mode; his tournament jersey came off at 10:05, in favor of a natural green T-shirt. Jones just used his push-pole for the first time we've seen in two days.
In the same place where Jones caught and released a foul-hooked 2-pounder, he stayed set up with his Power-Poles down for another 20 minutes and missed two strikes.
It may be an omen and it may not, but James Overstreet and I have noticed a lot more life in the water here this morning than we did yesterday. There's considerable surface activity. Not in the form of big bass blowing up, but visible wakes from predators of some kind chasing bait.
And the sky is alive as well. An osprey just flew over us carrying a good-size shad in its talons.
There's more of a breeze than yesterday, but it's just that -- a breeze, not anything that should hinder sight fishing.
Alton Jones had been set up on a spawning bed for several minutes before setting the hook on what appeared to be a 2 1/2-pounder. But a close examination of the bass revealed it had been hooked on the outside of the jaw, and therefore, according to the rules, had to be released.
Keith Poche had the same thing happen to him on Day 2 and it cost him. Poche landed a 2-pounder right before check-in time Friday that would have filled his five-bass limit, if it hadn't been foul-hooked. Poche came to the scales with only four fish and missed the 50 cut by one ounce.
And we have our first limit of the day. Skeet Reese's BASSTrakk is showing five fish that will weigh 10-10. Now he can go and search for those 'big mamas' that could boost his bag to that 20 plus pound mark. This has put Skeet unofficially in third place 5-05 behind our leader, Alton Jones.
Nine of the twelve anglers have recorded fish catches. Alton Jones, Keith Combs, David Walker, and J. Todd Tucker, are still registering 0-00 on their BASSTrakk.
James Overstreet and I just pulled up to Alton Jones, who is fishing the same eel grass-covered spawning flat in the south end of Lake George where he was yesterday. Jones hasn't caught a fish yet, according to other observers here, but that's not unusual. Most of his weight has come when the sun is higher in the sky.
Jones hasn't gone into full stealth mode yet; he's still wearing his tournament jersey.
Even though he has a nine-pound lead over Todd Faircloth, Jones said this morning at takeoff that he's going to fish as if he were trailing by a pound. Everyone knows the St. Johns River can produce a 30-pound bag. The last thing Jones wants is a repeat of last year, when he went into the final day with the lead - though only 2 1/2 pounds - before getting topped by Edwin Evers.
Here's a photo from the launch today, from our emcee, Dave Mercer. It is a calm cool 60 degrees. The weather forecast for today is a high of 84 degrees with winds from the east at 5 to 10 mph. That is pretty much excatly the same conditions as yesterday. To me, that means the fishing in Lake George will get going in about an hour and a half.
You always wonder what is going through these angler's heads right now. They know the fishing is going to get better as the sun gets up higher in the sky. I'm betting these guys are having to tell themselves to stay calm, don't worry, the fishing is going to get better later in the day. That is one of the things that makes these anglers Elite. Not only being able to catch fish, but also being able to control their nerves and thoughts, so that it doesnt affect their fishing.
Some morning action is starting to happen. Skeet Reese has jumped up into third with a four pounder. That gives him a total of 55-01, seven pounds behind our leader, Alton Jones. One thing I will point out again, Skeet was the only angler who went North. If the fishing gets hot up there, he will have it to himself.
At takeoff this morning Skeet teased the crowd with about his "Secret Berkley Havoc bait" that he will reveal on stage. Be sure to tune in to our live weigh-in @ 4:00 p.m. ET to find out his secret lure. He also talked about fishing for points today to position himself for the the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
People talked about how Skeet had a bad season in 2011. That is true, but he did have a 13th place finish at last year's finale on Wheeler. Keeping with that "momentum", he is starting his 2012 campaign out on the right track.
Ten of the top twelve are now arriving in Lake George to start their day. Terry Scroggins is the only one who went to Crescent Lake. He is the first one on the board with a pound and a half fish.
Skeet Reese was the only one who turned left from the takeoff and wend North. He just popped a two pounder.
That has pushed Skeet up into fourth and Terry up into fifth.
If today stays with the same theme, Lake George's fishing will heat up as the day does.
So here we go. Day Four of the St. Johns River Showdown. The twelve-man field just left the dock and are on their way to their first fishing spots. Steve Bowman is up in the chopper as I am typing, shooting photos and BASSCams.
On the slate for today will be the War Room, BASSTrakk, Live Blog, and BASSCams.
Alton Jones is sitting with little over a nine pound lead going into today. In fishing competition leads, that is a big one. But, as we usually say in the Blog, these are the best anglers in the world and, we are in Florida. That deficit by the field can be deminished in one bite. And believe me, there are some big fish still to be had out there. I saw them personnally myself while I was on the water blogging yesterday.
Stay tuned. We will be sending you information as it is passed to us from our team out on the water.