Again, Robinson took three minutes to make a cast after he landed the last fish. He retied and is now moving toward the schoolers.
Robinson has slid up his structure a hair. Caught a small one that didn't help, casts back out and sets the hook again. This fish is a solid 3 pounds and will help him cull. A school of bass just broke the surface about 70 yards from his boat ... He's in a goooood spot.
Marty Robinson has now made 20 casts without a bite and has broken off once. Back to grinding it ... Wait, I spoke too soon!
He set the hook on another solid bass. Looks to be between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds. He reached in his livewell and returned a smaller fish to the lake. Robinson is likely in the 12-pound range now.
At 8:20 a.m., Brent Chapman put his belly on the boat deck and reached into the water to tie his boat to the top of a tree. Staying in one spot has paid off for him, as he's added two bass in the last 20 minutes — a small spotted bass and a 2 1/2-pound largemouth. That gives him four fish that should weigh around 10 1/2 pounds.
The last one was caught on a jig. But bass have been breaking the surface near him occasionally, and he'll reel in quickly to fire out a topwater lure.
Chapman said 8:30 a.m. was going to be his cutoff time for this spot, if the fish weren't biting. Obviously, he's finding reasons to stay, now that Mark Zona is no longer haunting him.
The fish catching has started to pick up at least for a couple of our anglers.
1. Brent Chapman is still in the lead. He has three fish at the moment, including a 5-pounder that gives him about 10 pounds total or in the neighborhood of 69 to 70 pounds.
2. Marty Robinson is in second with about four fish for 9 pounds, 8 ounces — 68.9 total
3. Cliff Pace still has one for 3 1/2 pounds or 63-6 total
Some catch reports are filtering in, but not at a great clip. But this is how we see the Top 3 for the moment.
Robinson piddles more than any other pro I've watched. After he catches one, he sits, redresses his jig, checks his livewell, whatever. Eventually, he gets back on the front deck for another cast. It was three minutes between when he landed that last fish and his follow-up cast.
We've got a very tight tournament on Toledo Bend going into the final round. Just 5 pounds separates the top seven anglers, so a lot of guys have a fighting chance out there.
Do you know the lowest seeded angler going into Day Four who went on to win an Elite Series tournament? If you do, I'm impressed. If not, I'm here to tell you it was Todd Faircloth on Lake Amistad in 2008 ... but that was a strange situation and doesn't really compare to what we have today on Toledo Bend.
Faircloth was in ninth place after the second round, trailing Jason Williamson by 8-11. Day 3 was canceled due to dangerous weather, and Faircloth hammered 'em in the finals.
The reason that tournament was so different is that it lasted just three days, instead of the usual four, and the fishing was really good — much better than it is at Toledo Bend. Those two things matter because it's 50 percent easier to make a big jump in a three-day tournament than it is in a four-day tournament, and because it's easier to improve dramatically when big catches are a possibility.
If you disregard that comeback from our comparison (and you should), the biggest comeback in Elite Series history came on the Mississippi River in 2009. Kevin Short was in sixth place going into the finals, 4-15 back of Billy McCaghren, when he came on to win.
Robinson is on fire ... He just landed another one! His sixth fish of the day is going to cull the small one he caught this morning. We are guessing his limit will go 11 pounds.
Brandon Palaniuk should still be basking in the glow of his win at Bull Shoals earlier this year. It put him in the Bassmaster Classic and made him $100K richer. Without that one stellar performance, Palaniuk would be having an absolutely miserable year. He's currently 68th in the AOY rankings and his 34th-place finish at Toledo Bend was his second-best of his season.
If Palaniuk doesn't rebound in the final three tournaments, he'll be the lowest ranked Elite Series qualifier ever to go to the Bassmaster Classic. "Win-and-you're-in" is all that's salvaging his season.
Last year, Shaw Grigsby won the season opener on the Harris Chain and punched his Classic ticket before ending the season in 48th place in the AOY standings. All the other tournament winners in 2011 double-qualified by finishing in the Top 28 in the AOY race.
This year, Palaniuk and Ish Monroe (48th in AOY, but the winner on Okeechobee) are singing the praises of win-and-you're-in.
1) Robinson just boated his second keeper of the day. It looked like it might go 2 1/2 pounds.
2) And keeper No. 3 for Marty! He's started a little flurry here. He's casting his jig to the channel break and working it slowly back. This last fish was in the 2-pound range.
3) Marty is rollin'. Keeper number four was just flipped in the boat. It is his biggest of the day, looking to be in the 3 1/2-pound range. He's taking time to retie before casting back to the school.