As soon as a southeast breeze started rippling the water, Cliff Prince set the hook on his third keeper of the day. It came after a long lull, in which there wasn't a breeze stirring.
After measuring that smallmouth to make sure it was 15 inches long, Prince made a cast and hooked another smallmouth. This one was a 2-pounder.
A third cast and a third fish, but this one was short.
He's got four keepers now that weigh about 8 pounds. But the breeze seems to have created more opportunities for those numbers to change quickly.
Scroggins just made his biggest move of the morning. Up to now, we've been hop, skip and jumping from point to point.
This time we ran about 10 miles up the Theodosia arm. He's on the deck casting his Shaky Head. The water temperature up here is 58 degrees.
It's starting to warm up above the water as well.
Terry Scroggins with a small upgrade 2 1/4 spot. Pic by Bassmaster Marshal Tim Dail.
Greg Vinson’s fall from first place after Day 2 to 23rd after Day 3 was the biggest fall by a Day 2 leader in Elite history. The previous record was held by Rick Morris, who led after Day 2 on Lake Murray in 2008, but fell to 18th on Day 3. Vinson and Morris are the only Day 2 leaders in Elite history to fall completely outside the cut to the top 12 anglers.
I was rooting for Vinson and really thought he was going to close this one out. He’s eager to get back to the Bassmaster Classic, where he was the runner-up in 2012 to Chris Lane. Vinson’s a great talent and should have several more chances this year. At the very least, his strong finish here at Bull Shoals may represent the turning point in his season. He was 76th at the Sabine River and 91st at Falcon.
Cliff Prince has made a short move, closer to the mouth of Yocum Cove, where James Overstreet and I saw him catch several fish yesterday. Cliff Pace is still in sight, but no longer just a cast away.
Pace caught a short fish 15 minutes ago, but the totals remain the same: Pace 3, Prince 2, nothing big.
The sun is starting to warm this area, where there's barely a ripple on the water. Water surface temperature is 52.2 degrees. We'll keep an eye on that.
Going into yesterday, there were only two Elite anglers who had brought a limit to the scales each day they were on the water. Now there’s just one.
Usually, at this stage of the season, there are a few dozen anglers who have limited every day. That’s because the early season usually offers the best fishing. Bass are typically shallow, getting ready to spawn and feeding heavily. But the season opened on the Sabine River, which can hardly be described as a great bass fishery, and only two anglers escaped with a limit for each day they competed — Bill Lowen and Ish Monroe. Even tournament winner Todd Faircloth couldn’t catch a limit all four days on the brutal Sabine.
Lowen and Monroe both got through Falcon with limits each day they fished. Lowen missed the first cut, but had five on each of the first two days. Monroe limited on the first three days before missing the final cut.
Then Lowen and Monroe limited on the first two days at Bull Shoals. Lowen missed the cut to the top 50 in 66th place, but Monroe (having the best season of his career) made it, and fished on Day 3. That’s when his streak ended. He came to the scales with just three keepers and finished 41st.
So Bill Lowen is the only remaining angler who has a chance to limit on every day he competes in 2013. Last year four anglers did it.
Photo: Cliff Prince (left), Cliff Pace (right)
It seems like there's always some added drama on the Elite Series (e.g. Alton Jones and Dean Rojas on the Sabine River), and it appears today will be no different.
Steve Kennedy and Cliff Prince have shared this cove near the Theodosia arm of Bull Shoals Lake since the last hour of Day One. Kennedy just missed the Top 12 cut yesterday, finishing 14th.
But Prince is not alone here today. Cliff Pace has replaced Kennedy. It's third place vs. fourth place, and they're fishing a long cast apart right now.
This is going to interesting. Prince has two in the boat so far; Pace just caught his third.
There's barely a breeze blowing, so we can hear every word they're saying. It's friendly so far.
Jason Christie just culled for the fourth time with a whopping 5-pound largemouth. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Mikel Wyatt
Terry Scroggins is fishing a Shaky Head in about 12 to 16 feet of water. He feels like he's catching a little of both spawners and prespawners.
He's on a bank now that he said he went down on Day One for14 pounds.
"I've not caught one here since," he said. "It's weird."
No sooner than he said that, he set the hook. It turned out to be a short smallmouth.