Here are some interesting stats if Rick Clunn wins this tournament:
1. He'll earn $100K, which is almost as much as he won in all four of his Bassmaster Classic victories — if you add them all up, he got $140K.
2. He'll claim his 15th career B.A.S.S. victory (fourth best all-time behind Kevin VanDam, Roland Martin and Denny Brauer) and first since 2002 on Sam Rayburn.
3. He'll be the oldest angler ever to win a B.A.S.S. event at 66 years, 8 months and 1 day.
4. He'll be the oldest angler ever to qualify for and fish the Bassmaster Classic. When the championship rolls around next February, he'll be more than 67 years old.
5. He'll fish the 2014 Classic on the same water where he won his first championship in 1976, Lake Guntersville.
6. He'll be fishing his 33rd Classic — another record.
We are in the Salato River cove now with Gary Klein. This is the area where the record size bass was caught January 7, 2011. It was 15 pounds 6.3 ounces. The angler that caught that fish is actually sitting close by now watching Klein fish.
As we idled toward Falcon Dam, we found Keith Combs in the heat of battle. He was hunched over his gunnel trying to keep a 7-pounder from jumping. She went airborne a few times, but after several dramatic minutes he boated the bass, which gives him a total of 19 pounds for three fish.
As I was talking to colleagues last night, the consensus was that Combs might have a better shot at a win that Clunn with the postponement. Of course he’s leading at the moment, but there was speculation that if the anglers did fish yesterday, Clunn would be the only one who could fish his best areas. Combs and Evers would likely get into trouble if they tried to run the gantlet of huge waves from the 40-mph gusts, while Clunn would be left to crush the fish that put him in contention.
As it turns out, yesterday was postponed which gave Combs’ and Evers’ fish a rest (fishing by the dam is impossible in high winds) while Clunn’s fish were hammered by locals. The young Texas pro is off to a good start. He’s feeling good and confident.
Cliff Crochet, a.k.a. The Cajun Baby, is on the board.
All 12 finalists have at least a puncher's chance of winning this tournament. Josh Bertrand, in 12th going into today, is a little more than 11 pounds off the lead. That's about the weight of a Falcon Lake daily lunker and, correspondingly, about the weight an angler can make up in a day's fishing with a five-bass limit. The bottom four anglers on the water today are separated by just six ounces. Combs and Clunn at the top are separated by only a pound. At Falcon, that's nothing, and if Combs can't reverse his downward trend in bass size, he's going to be caught by more than one of his challengers. On the first day, Combs' bass averaged 6-15; on Day 2 they were 5-10; and on Day 3 they were 4-1. If that keeps up, he won't crack 100 pound for the tournament despite being less than 17 pounds away as he launches in the final round.
Locals are telling us the cold front really turns off the morning bite, until around noon. This is the chilliest morning we've had, it's around 45 degrees.
At 8:50 a.m. Rick Clunn hooks up and boats his first fish on a Squarebill crankbait. It looks to be about 4 1/2 pounds.
John Crews is on his way. He just hooked up with a 6-pounder that produced a monumental battle. It got him hung up for second in one of the cedars, then came up and after taking Crews on a circle around his boat, he was able to get his hands on it.
Four more like that, and he's jumping up the standings. Right now he has two for close to 10 pounds total.
The Texas sun is slowly starting to warm up this area but it is still much, much colder that is has been this whole tournament. Today high is only supposed to be somewhere in the low to mid 70s.
Clunn has moved off the point and has started fishing with a deep diving crankbait that he helped designed, the Luck "E" Strike Freak. This is the bait he said that he used to catch all of his Day Two fish. Just as I was about to hit send on this blog entry, Clunn heads back into the wood and switches up to a Squarebill, the bait he used to catch his giant bag on Day Three.
Keith Combs best career finish in an Elite event was third place at the season opener on the St. Johns River in 2012. As a rookie in 2011, he finished second (behind Ott DeFoe) in the Rookie of the Year race and was 15th in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. He qualified for the Classic in 2011 and 2012, but missed this year's championship when he hit a rough spot in last season's Elite Series. He missed the cut to 50 in three straight tournaments (including four of the last five) and fell just short of qualifying. For his Elite career, he makes the first cut almost 65 percent of the time. This is only the third time he's qualified for the finals and the first time he's done it anywhere other than the St. Johns River. In addition to his third place finish on the St. Johns in 2012, he was ninth there in 2011.