I'm with Overstreet, Jerry Cunningham and Pete Robbins, driving on the Will Rogers Turnpike (well, Pete's driving; the rest of us are writing and editing photos in the truck) on the way to the weigh-in. Like everyone else, we're trying to figure out who's going to walk away with this thing.
We are back at the ramp and readying for the ride to Tulsa, anxious to see if we rode the winning horse today. Signing off, Pete and JO.
There's definite suspense in the air and there will be drama.
The Classic moves down to Tulsa and the BOK Center for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic weigh-in. According to our stat-keeping on the water, there are three anglers with a shot to become champion:
- Cliff Pace, the veteran who's come oh-so close before.
- Brandon Palaniuk, the up-and-comer who's already had a great Classic showing.
- Hank Cherry, an Opens winner living the dream.
We're shutting down shop and following the caravan.
See you at the weigh-in.
Oh, here's a photo from James Overstreet of Pace hauling in a fish.
Well, Palaniuk just took off for the ramp, and we also saw Cliff Pace and several others speeding that way.
Hank Cherry is done fishing. He waved to his crowd then picked up his trolling motor and headed in. I can't help but want him to win. I met his family last night and spent some time on the boat with him yesterday and he's a very likeable, genuine guy. But I can't help but think I just saw him lose $500,000. No doubt he wonders the same.
The fishing portion of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic is about over. The anglers have less than 15 minutes left to get back for check-in or be penalized.
Cliff Pace has not caught a limit and it seems to be a three-horse between him, Brandon Palaniuk and Hank Cherry.
After returning to Wolf Creek Park, the anglers will face a nerve-wracking 1 1/2-hour drive to Tulsa's BOK Center, which is hosting the weigh-in portion of this event.
It's certain they'll get reports on what's happened as they drive.
Blogger Trey Reid just called in to say Palaniuk doesn't seem to know he is in the hunt to win this thing. Blogger David Hunter Jones just reported Cherry is done and on the way back.
This will be one of the more nail-biting weigh-ins in memory, especially for these three, and even more so when they hear what each other has done today.
Cherry is back at the start of his milk run of several bluff walls and ends. He's lobbing a Lucky Craft Staycee 90 and a Megabsss Vision 110 with a blue back and clear/chartreuse sides. There's intensity with everything he does; he knows a half-million dollars is on the line and that he needs one more kicker to feel better about his chances. The 1 1/2-hour ride back to Tulsa will be agonizing.
What we just witnessed was even more painful.
His rod jumped, bowed, then Cherry sunk to his knees, and the fight was on. The fish led Cherry around his trolling motor, back to the outboard, then to the middle of the boat where he began to reach for it. The fish made another surge for the front of the boat, and Cherry jumped up, then flopped on the deck and reached for the fish.
His line went limp.
"Aaaaaahhhhhh!" He screamed as he hit the deck face-down. He laid there on the deck of his Skeeter for 30 seconds or so motionless. I've never seen such emotion in a tournament. It was dramatic, as well as heartbreaking. That could've been a $500,000 fish.