Brent Chapman is fishing a rock outcropping within sight of the launch. A couple of grabs on his crankbait but none hooked yet. Zona is in the boat with him and I'll have some details shortly.
The Trokar Quest, with Brandon Palaniuk, leading from the get-go has been one of those things that helps define Bassmaster so well.
Palaniuk, a Federation Nation Angler, who clawed his way into the Elites through the bass fishing clubs and has stayed there by exemplifying the highest tenants of professionalism the last two seasons will likely win this event.
If he doesn't it will be at the hands of much greater forces than just those of fish and man. Now we have an angler, like Bryan Kerchal who has defined the climb from the bottom to the top. We have an angler like Michael Iaconelli and Davy Hite, two other Fed Anglers, who seems to have staying power.
Palaniuk actually may have this event won without even going fishing today. But you couldn't tell him that. Even after he catches somewhere between 6- and 9-pounds, he should have it sewed up for the staunchest of last-minute charges, but he won't hear anything of it.
"I'm keeping the pedal to the metal until I catch 20-pounds,'' Palaniuk said this morning. "And when I catch 20, I'm heading for 25. I'm not letting up an ounce."
Interesting mind set for an angler on the verge of winning his first event. One that every angler not in the Elite Series but wishing they had that chance would certainly adopt.
It's also an attitude that make this day even more interesting to watch.
The flippin' technique was born on the California Delta but was introduced to the rest of the world when its inventor, Dee Thomas, won the 1975 Arkansas Invitational on Bull Shoals Reservoir. It was the first B.A.S.S. event ever held on Bull Shoals.
Brandon Palaniuk might not have caught 24 pounds of bass on Day Three of the TroKar Quest, but he didn't hook himself either.
While those are not connected, Palaniuk said he would gladly take another finger piercing if it meant he'd be assured of catching another huge stringer.
With 17 pounds today, Palaniuk has around 63 pounds and holds almost a 10-pound lead over Britt Myers. These results are unofficial, but Palaniuk appears to be putting the hammer down.
If he can keep it up, he's in line for both the Luck "E" Strike Comeback and Heavyweight awards, given to the angler with the largest bag and the one with the biggest points move in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
Russ Lane found the money bite, but it still might not be enough to make the Top 12 cut.
Marshal Tom Marler sent us this picture of Lane with an estimated 5-6 pounder. The fish gives Lane about 15 pounds, and while he did move up from his 42nd starting position, it might not be enough. On the unofficial BASSTrakk, Lane has passed a number of anglers to jump up to 18th.
The Prattville, Ala., pro who has one B.A.S.S. victory will have to find this one's sibling, or maybe two like it, to make his 11th top 10 cut.
James Overstreet and I have left Bull Shoals Lake, but not without nabbing another tidbit of news as we loaded the boat in Lead Hill Park. A local tournament was winding up as we left and we overheard a few anglers comparing notes. For them, bass fishing was tough on Bull Shoals Saturday morning. Four teams reported not having a fish.
That didn't seem to be a problem for most of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros we saw today, however we did see Matt Herren and Zell Rowland struggling early. The cold front that moved through last night and left 38-degree temperatures this morning and clear skies today definitely had a negative effect, more for some than others. We'll see just how much it affected everyone when the weigh-in begins at 3:15 p.m.
Mark Mendendez continues to cull, and with quality fish.
His Marshal, Clint Long, has estimated that he has 19 pounds, 8 ounces in the livewell. While this is still unofficial, Menendez could be looking at the best bag of the day.
With a three-day limit of more than 50 pounds, Menendez has climbed from 19th to possibly as high as third. BASSTrakk has him behind Brandon Palaniuk and Britt Myers with one more day to fish.
Edwin Evers and Brandon Palaniuk started here within shouting distance of each other toward the back of Sugarloaf Creek. Evers is on the bank, while Palaniuk is in the middle. Evers just landed a short fish.
Palaniuk just landed a fish that apparently is allowing him to cull up a bit, but we are closer to Evers, so we didn't see the catch.
"I've got one decent one, about four pounds, the rest are all about two-and-a-half," Evers said. "I'm having a hard time landing them today."
That should add up to about 14 pounds.
We're easing over to Palaniuk. The wind is starting to pick up on what has been a fairly calm day. Most of these anglers are praying for wind.
"I've got about 17 pounds," Palaniuk said. "I'd like to have about three more pounds. But that can happen here pretty quick.
"I've probably caught 15 or 20 today. The bite has changed every day. Today has been hit and miss. It's definitely not like yesterday. It's more like the first day. I'll get three or four bites, then there's a lull, then I'll get three or four more."
Palaniuk confirmed that he was able to cull up maybe a half-pound a few minutes ago with a three-pounder.
Rick Clunn just buzzed in and out of this area.
Palaniuk said the finger he hooked yesterday isn't bothering him.
"We're a greedy bunch," Britt Myers said. "In the morning, we're like just give me 14 (pounds). Then we get that and we want 15."
Myers is searching through a bunch of keeper-size bass, looking for that elusive five-pounder that makes the difference between an average day and a good day on Bull Shoals. He's still got about 17 pounds, maybe 18.
"I think throwing at rocks is the key here," said Myers sarcastically.
There's nothing but rocks along the banks of Bull Shoals Lake, which has a 40-foot flood pool that was filled past the brim at this time last year.
Myers is making move. Both Brandon Palaniuk and Edwin Evers have blown past us just now, so we're moving to them.
Britt Myers has the bass almost as fired up as he is. Myers was reeling in a fish, then his line went slack.
"He got off," Myers said. "Oh, another one got it."
And Myers then reeled in a short fish. One cast later, he caught another keeper, but not one that would help him.
"When they hit it so hard your hand flies off the reel, that's what you like," Myers said, although he hasn't had one of those since we've been following him.
Myers just caught another one that didn't help him.
"I want to come back here in about two years," he said. "This place is going to be like (Lake) Guntersville."