Ott’s misfortune continues. As he was flipping a creature bait down the bank, he got hung up, freed it, then on the ensuing cast laid into a nice keeper, but his line broke. Visibly shaken and dejected, DeFoe retied and kept fishing. This is hard to watch because if he’d fished flawlessly, he could be looking at 9 pounds or so, given the five he lost this morning and the keeper that just got away. However, seeing that there are fish in the 5-pound class, this matchup between DeFoe and Martens may be a one bite away.
At 2:45 p.m., Gerald Swindle was back where he started fishing at 8:10 a.m., the Reas Bridge at the north end of Basin No. 5. Unfortunately for Swindle, the results were the same -- zero.
So he's started moving south again, working some boat docks in Basin No. 4, getting closer to the check-in site with the clock ticking down.
Unlike in other tournaments, Swindle is allowed to check his iPhone and see what he needs to beat his No. 1-seeded opponent today, Edwin Evers. But he has chosen not to do so. He's just going to keep on fishing. He's still got that single 1 1/2-pounder that came about 11 a.m.
Evers made it out but not without displacing a lot mud. Look for those images in the photo galleries later today.
I've never seen anything like that, at least not on purpose.
When you look at those, realize that an 18-foot flatbottom got stuck there trying to get out.
Evers is hitting some rocky banks and docks before making the long idle out the back of this thing. But he at least knows he should make it to weigh in.
Aaron Martens just landed his fifth fish -- a chunky 14-incher. He's got a limit now!
Ott DeFoe experimented with running up the lake — way up the lake. The run took roughly 20 minutes, then there’s a giant basin that’s idle-only. That took another 15 minutes. So after 35 or so minutes of no-wake zones and pain-in-the-rear idling, Ott nears the Promised Land, a spot close to where Edwin Evers is currently fishing. We knew DeFoe was in trouble when the shower of water his Mercury was kicking up went from white spray to a deep brown. Ott’s Nitro will float in some skinny water, but it won’t float on land, and that’s where he found himself.
After removing his bibs, coat and shoes, Ott hopped in while Wes Miller, his cameraman captured all the action. DeFoe struggled as he worked the boat back and forth, battling the soft mud that made getting a good footing difficult. After 5 minutes of that, he fired the big motor up again to see if he was free, but it was still slinging earth 40 feet into the air. However, there was enough water that he was able finagle his way off of the bar. Since that didn’t pan out, we’re headed back down the lake.
As Gerald Swindle has moved north on Lake Decatur, the white caps have vanished. We're in Basin No. 5, which is narrow and more protected from the northwest wind, especially on the west bank that Swindle is fishing. The relative calm offered the opportunity to have a brief conversation with Swindle, without the roaring wind drowning him out. As usual, he had a humorous take on a so-far miserable day.
"Illinois has got some of the best deer hunting in the world, but not bass fishing," he said. "Fat women don't high jump, they eat cupcakes. There's just some things you don't mix up."
Swindle said his trolling motor is going straight to the trash barrel after this week, not from any flaws in manufacturing, but from the constant abuse the shaft is taking in this shallow lake with no visibility. You can't dodge rocks you can't see. After breaking off another crankbait, Swindle could only shrug his shoulders and say, "Fourteen-hundred dollars worth of crankbaits later..."
Yep, he's pretty miserable right now, but not any more so than he was when he was fish-less on Lake Shelbyville yesterday morning. He managed to pull himself out of that tailspin, and he's still got time to do it today. But the clock keeps ticking down.
Martens cast a line out toward the shore.
Evers is on his way out. I don't know how long it will take, but there's sure to be a ton of mud sprayed, followed by about 30 minutes of idling.
We assume he will hit a few places once he's out. Or he's just allowing for enough time.
Either way, we are looking forward to the mud slinging that's getting ready to start.
Evers remains stuck on three. He has caught a short fish or two since our dry spell, but he's obviously wanting to finish out his limit.
He knows Swindle has only one. But he also knows Swindle can sack them pretty quick.
He's fishing his way out of the river, stopping on those places he lost good fish on this morning. But the bite seems to have completely evaporated.
Judging by the time it took us to get up here, it won't be long until he needs to head in.
Gerald Swindle is hopscotching north now, moving back to the area around the arched railroad bridge that separates Basin No. 4 and No. 5 on Lake Decatur, not far from where he started today.
As you can see by the water around Swindle's boat and his prop wash, water clarity is practically non-existent in this lake after yesterday's thunderstorms.
Just for kicks, I borrowed a jig from our boat driver and lowered it into the water to see how quickly it disappeared from sight, like a homemade Secchi disk. Since American men traditionally over-estimate distances, especially inches, I used a fish measuring board to quantify the distance where the jig vanished from sight: 3.5 inches. That's Mississippi River muddy.