Howell is through the locks and is fishing in Iowa.
Just a hunch, but it seems as if Tommy Biffle is getting a bit antsy.
After boating three solid fish within the first hour of the day, he picked up and moved about a half mile down river. Once there, he caught one fish, but just like the last few he hooked, it was undersized. Back into the dark water of the Mississippi it went.
After working that new area for about 15 minutes, he has returned to pretty much the same spot where he began the day.
There are four spectator boats with us, all waiting for the seasoned tournament pro to start whacking the bass as he did the first three days of the Mississippi River Rumble.
As I type, the short move has paid off for Biffle. He just put his fourth keeper into the live well. Looks as if it's going to go about two pounds. That should have him at slightly more than nine pounds on the day, as far as we can tell from our vantage point a few dozen yards away.
We ran south out of Stoddard Bay, where the water was much clearer and more fishable. We continued to the main river which is muddy.
The Mississippi is wide down here with expansive shallow flats. We're idling across one now to reach Brandon Card. He is still a few hundred yards away, fishing a large grass field.
The closer we get to him the clearer the water gets. That bodes well for Card. The sun is still shining and there is coolness in the air. So far, the weather is very different from what it has been. That could change how the bass are biting.
We see Card catch a small one and toss it back. Lonnie just raised the height of his trolling motor to help it slice through the grass. The motor is bogging down every 20 feet or so. Lonnie has to lift it to clear the prop.
We're close enough to Card to see that he's working a frog for the moment. He suddenly jumps to the driver's seat, dons his life vest and idles past us. His prop is kicking up mud and grass.
The BASSTrakk guy who has been tailing Card tells us that Card has three fish in the box. He estimates that Card's biggest bass will go 3 pounds.
Bobby Lane is taking a time out to re-tie both pitchin rods with fresh hooks.
We're sticking on Tommy Biffle, for obvious reason. He entered the day second in this event, and boated three keepers before we really got settled.
The past hour has been tough on the Oklahoma pro, however. He's set the hook numerous times in the past hour, but hasn't brought a fish into the boat. Biffle remains undeterred, though, and is methodically working a small grass point just off the main river channel near the Goose Point area.
He has to be frustrated, but he's sticking with the game plan that got him to this Bpoint in the Mississippi River Rumble.
Looks like after a series of rod changes, Tommy's going to the lipless crank bait once again..
It's really windy out today. The current keeps pushing us farther into the main channel, so we're having to work the trolling motor frequently to keep close to the point Biffle is working, all the while giving him the space he needs to do his thing.
Howell just spoke with the lock master. The lock is open. Howell immediately heads for it.
Aaron Martens cranked up the big motor and made a move about 10 minutes ago.
Remember that earlier shout-out to our boat driver Brian Beebe? Uh, not so much now. His outboard wouldn't start when we tried to follow Martens.
So Overstreet did what he always does - looks out for No. 1 - and jumped in another boat. He just called me to report that Martens caught three fish pretty quickly in his new spot, but a 2 1/2-pound smallmouth is the biggest and the others were small keepers.
Meanwhile, Beebe and I have secured a boat to tow us and we're easing back down Black River.
And just to be clear here: Beebe is a great guy who has driven our crews two years in a row. No one feels worse about this than he does right now. And we've still got all the PB&J sandwiches, so I'm sure JO will appear soon.
"I missed a big one here yesterday," Howell says, pointing ahead of his boat.
He is working a frog over a narrow stretch of grass along a riprap jetty. He swings and misses, reels in quickly and follows up with a Senko. The bass doesn't respond.
The same thing happens a little farther down. Howell has dropped his Power-Poles so he can work on the bass.
"That was a good blow-up," he says. Power-Poles are up. Howell is moving again.
Bobby Lane now has three fish. "Putting on a pitching clinic!" said his Marshal.