After hours of inactivity, Pace just put two fish in the boat in quick succession. He's crawling a jig through what we assume is some deep brush. The first was about 2 pounds and the second was a little smaller. This is a spot that he came up empty on before, part of his milk run now on round two.
Photographer James Overstreet just said Pace was frustrated early from all the spectator boats, and bam, right in the conversation with our War Room, Pace has a fish on. He boated the 2-plus pounder, put it in the livewell and rushed right back fishing.
His afternoon bite might be on. He’s fishing slowly around a deep cut on a bluff wall and working very slowly.
"Wait," JO says, then his camera is heard clicking. Pace has another. It's smaller at maybe 1 1/2 pounds.
He's got four now to make up his 1-pound deficit on Cherry and Palaniuk is most likely moving back into the lead.
I’m going to take you inside Cliff Pace’s head at the top of every hour from now until it’s time for him to check in. This is just pure guessing/editorializing, in case that isn’t clear, we don’t have the technology to actually get inside his head … yet. At this point, I really thought he’d be celebrating in his head, but this is getting serious.
This is not happening. It doesn’t make any sense. Am I doing something different? Same baits, same areas, no fish?
Stop. There’s plenty of negative to stew on, but what’s positive?
- I’ve have two incredible days on this lake, both of which were fueled by a late charge.
- I have two pretty decent bass in the livewell.
- I have a full hour and a half of fishing on a lake where things tend to happen in flurries.
- I’m a really good angler.
- Lastly, and most importantly, I’m still one good bass – one cast – or three dinks away from being the Bassmaster Classic champion.
Stop worrying about what may or may not happen. You don’t have to win this thing with style, just win it. In a week, nobody’s going to remember the last six hours, they're going to remember this: Cliff Pace, Bassmaster Classic champion.
Palaniuk just caught another one, but it wasn't big enough to bolster his weight for today. But this spot obviously holds fish. We've only been here 15 minutes and he's hooked three.
There's an underwater ditch where the gravel has been dredged. It's not more than 15 yards wide from the bank to an underwater ridge that nearly reaches the surface. I'd say the depth is 5-7 feet in the ditch.
Palaniuk didn't stay long in yesterday's big fish spot. Now he's farther back in Horse Creek, fishing a bank with a little more incline. He wasn't here five minutes before hooking -- and losing -- what would've been his sixth fish today. He grunted in exasperation but quickly composed himself and went back to fishing. He has been cheerful and talkative all day, and that was the first sign of frustration we've seen out of him.
He just landed No. 6 while I was typing this. He's checking it against his smaller fish now ...it's no help.
With the exception of the upper, more riverine section of Grand, we've now seen the enitrety the lake. Ike ran down to the big dam, made a few casts to a large dock with a man chain smoking while his dog sat at his feet, then turned around and ran into the cove just south of what's called Dripping Springs. We're idling Meador's Mercury ProXS and are barely keeping up with Ike as he speed-trolls down tehbank tossing a crankbait as fast as he can. He's definitely in a frantic seach for two kickers to get rid of two rats in his livewell
Hank Cherry has moved to the top of the BASSTrakk standings.
From what we know of Brandon Palaniuk’s catch, we don’t think Cherry is actually in the lead, but I wanted to be the first one to use that headline. Cherry started today almost 12 pounds behind Cliff Pace. Twelve pounds is a decent day’s worth of bass in this tournament.
If Pace can’t find a bite, one angler is going to be shocked at the weigh-in tonight, and a large group of anglers will be kicking themselves over what could have been. A lot of anglers who thought they needed 25 pounds might only end up needing 19.
We’ve come to a point in this tournament that we have been waiting for all week. Speculation and guessing are done. What could be or might be, limit or no limit – no longer important. It’s about putting fish in the boat. It’s no longer about whether Pace will fill his limit. Palaniuk is in the driver’s seat because he has the most weight.
I know that seems like a ridiculous thought because of course that’s always the weight, but if this were Day Two, who would be worried about Pace filling out his limit? There’s no tomorrow in this tournament and that makes a difference. Two and a half hours of fishing left. It’s time to leave no spot un-fished, no stone unturned.
We just followed Pace back across the lake where he pulled in less than a hundred yards behind KVD. That's confidence, although if he doesn't care for spectator boats it's an odd choice because he just doubled his problem.
Brandon Palaniuk has moved to a new spot, the place that gave up his heaviest fish yesterday. It's the gravelly point in Horse Creek. Water temperature is 45.8 degrees. A big difference from yesterday: No wind blowing on the point.