Photo courtesy of Clark Tingleaf
In order to go from a first-place tie to a dominating lead in 24 hours, Cliff Pace hit the equivalent of two grand slam home runs Saturday.
As Grand Lake's 30-year fisheries biologist Gene Gilliland said pre-Classic, "There are not many 7s, 8s and 9s in the lake, but 4s and 5s are relatively common. If somebody gets a big lead, it's going to be hard to catch up."
Pace essentially landed two of those rare 7-pounders Saturday: a 7-2 and a 6-13.
"I didn't get many bites," Pace said. "I just got two big ones to bite."
Two grand slams.
But Pace hasn't won this Classic yet.
As Gilliland noted, Grand Lake is capable of producing a one-day, five-bass limit of 30 pounds. He has witnessed it. As long as it's not Pace doing that today, the other contenders have a slugger's chance.
Pace is fishing exceptionally slowly, milking every cast for all it's worth, a distinct contrast to all of the jerking we saw the first two days. He just asked a camera crew that got a little too close for comfort to back off.
B.A.S.S. photographer James Overstreet received a lucky cookie from KVD this morning. Currently it is sitting on the boat deck and I'm hungry.
We followed Mike Iaconelli down Grand lake to the mouth of Horse Creek, where he ran into what is possibly the best fan sign ever; a 4-foot tall, 25-foot wide banner hanging from a balcony that read "CATCH BASS HERE" with an arrow pointing toward the water. On a boathouse adjacent to that sign was another banner that read "We like Ike". As far as fan interaction and local involement, this is one of the best Bassmaster Classics I've had the pleasure of covering. Iaconelli has yet to register a bite.
We've found Cliff Pace, identifiable by the hovering helicopter and an entourage of 50 or so tightly packed spectator boats. Cliff is known for being somewhat media-shy. The big question in my mind is how he'll handle the scrutiny -- both today and tomorrow (should he win).
Palaniuk's first spot is less than a 10-minute run from the boat ramp. We didn't even have time to get cold.
As we pulled up on him, Palaniuk was landing his first bass, a nice 2- to 2 1/4-pounder that he caught with a plastic bait on a spinning rod.
It’s going to be incredibly important for Cliff Pace to put a couple bass in the livewell early today. As he mentioned yesterday, he’s running a patience pattern, getting only 7 bites a day.
That’s all well and good when expectations are low, but if things are going slowly again today, he’ll be fighting the “I’m letting the Classic slip away” feeling all day.
Pace didn’t fill out his limit until the afternoon yesterday, but Terry Butcher (on the War Room) kept saying he wasn’t worried about Pace. He said nobody fishes calmer than Pace and that he’d eventually get the bites. That’s exactly what happened.
But Pace will be dealing with a lot more non-fishing factors today: boat traffic, helicopters, pressure, etc. His boat was about 5 feet from the stage where angler after angler came up and were asked about Pace’s “nearly insurmountable” lead. That’s hard to ignore.
He already asked Mike Suchan, who is going up in the helicopter for another aerial gallery, to keep the helicopter high because he doesn’t want to mess up the bite at the mouth of Horace Creek where he is starting.