Mark Zona has left Brent Chapman's boat, replaced by Chapman's marshal. Chapman just asked us if we would do something to turn on these bass. He was joking, of course, but almost every successful angler over the last two days has mentioned how sporadic the bite has been this week at Toledo Bend.
With the help of good electronics, you don't have to wonder if the fish have moved. You can see these big schools lighting up your sonar screen. That gives you the confidence to stay in one place.
Greg Hackney, who enters the day in 10th place with 34-10, talked yesterday about the long lulls in between flurries he described as both "wild" and "crazy."
When one bass decides to bite, the whole school gets fired up. When that happens, you're going to catch fish. Even when one comes off the hook, another one will immediately grab the bait.
"It's like they're trying to take the bait out of the other fish's mouth," Hackney said.
No one seems to have a handle on how to initiate that frenzy. You just have to stay on top of them and wait. Chapman has thrown a few different lures today. He's got a five-bass limit that weighs about 15 pounds. So he's in perfect position to upgrade to another 20-pound day when the bass decide to cooperate.
Ashley said his limit will go 12 pounds. Then he retied, stowed his trolling motor and headed north.
Well, we didn't need to ask Casey about how many fish he's caught thus far. As we were approaching his boat, he set the hook, fought a fish to the boat and flipped it in. It was a solid 2 1/2- to 3-pound fish.
He tossed it in the livewell then chucked a smaller fish back into The Bend. So, Ashley will spend the rest of the day upgrading.
We found Casey Ashley at the mouth of a main-lake creek. As he mentioned yesterday, he has the area all to himself. I can't tell what he's throwing, but he seems to be crawling it along the edge of the creek channel. We will try to move close enough to ask him if there are any bass aboard.
We are back down toward San Miguel, but on the Texas side, and ran into Alton Jones. He caught what appeared to be a small keeper and put it in the livewell. Still no sign of Herren.
Kevin VanDam quietly set another Elite Series record yesterday. He made the cut to the Top 50 for the 17th consecutive time. The record he broke was his own. KVD went 16 straight between 2008 and 2010 before having a couple of finishes in the 50s at Clear Lake and Pickwick. After that, he started the streak that's still alive.
So how often does KVD make that first cut that guarantees a payday? How about 93.44 percent of the time! In the 60 Elite Series events he's fished, he's only missed the first cut four times. Many — maybe even most — of the Elite anglers have suffered through a stretch when they were out of the money four straight times, but VanDam has missed four cuts in his entire Elite Series career.
That's a stat that shows how good this guy really is. Tournament after tournament, he makes cuts, earns prize money and puts pressure on his fellow competitors to keep up. He may not be a factor in this Toledo Bend event, but it's a lesson in consistency that even when he's not on top of his game, he never lets the lows get too low. And what's his worst finish ever in an Elite Series tournament? He was 59th at Clear Lake in 2010.
The only other angler who can compare with that is Ott DeFoe, who has only missed one first cut in his Elite career, finishing 58th on the Arkansas River last year. But DeFoe is fishing just his 13th Elite event, compared to KVD's 61 Elite Series tournaments. We'll have to see where he is in about five more years.
Dennis Tietje said he thinks Brent Chapman may well be on the winning spot. Near the mouth of a creek on the Louisiana side, he is situated on one of the most pronounced ridge extensions before the drop to the main river channel.
No grass nearby to stop the bass as they move out here to set up and chase bait.
Zona says that Brent feels great about this place as well, but it's definitely going a little slower than yesterday, when he had most of his 25 pounds.
Matt "needle" Herren is fishing somewhere on Toledo "haystack" Bend. He's not in San Miguel. Yusuke Miyazaki is fishing here, though. He has one in the livewell and says the striper bite is great!
We heard that Herren might have gone farther north, so we are heading that way.
We've left Ott and moved to Brent Chapman just as he is boating his fifth keeper fish for 14-15 total. He's throwing a jig in about 30 feet of depth.
He's understandably upbeat about his whole situation, beginning with his Open win to start the season - qualifying for the Classic and freeing him up to be as aggressive as he wants.
I mentioned earlier how important timing will be in this event. On a lake where summertime patterns play a part, that is always a consideration.
From anecdotal evidence from our anglers, it seems the bite picks up later in the day, so being at the right spot at the right time is something they are all fighting to do.
Matt Herren is living off the right timing at this point. A day before the tournament even started, he made the statement, "Just give me 51st place and I won't even fish." That was how much confidence he had in what he had found to that point.
Then in the waning hours of his practice, a big school of fish came up schooling in the area he was in. He was able to pinpoint where they came from and each day has caught as many as 100 bass to build a second-place standing after the second day.