I guess it's normal before any of us arrive at a tournament, to think about who's going to be atop the leaderboard. I was doing just that on my ride over here from home in south Louisiana. One name that popped up? Bill Lowen. He's a really solid stick, as you all know, and the river fishery here in Orange seemed to suit the Indiana angler well. Unlike many of his fellow pros who were running many miles to find their bites, Lowen stayed close this week. His instincts paid off -- the deep-seated knowledge only many days on the water can provide. "The biggest thing I see, which set up for me, was that you have to grind it out a bit, looking for five keeper bites." Lowen said he was throwing baits as small as an inch long, just showing the bass "something different."
The stage is set for championship day as the crowd gathers.
Dean Rojas is back at the Sulphur bridge. He confirmed he has one 5-pound fish - that's it. At 2 p.m., he said he's got about 20 minutes of fishing time left before he'll have to head to Orange to make his 3:15 check in time.
Candi Hall and her husband, Sammy, have followed Dean Rojas all up and down Bayou D'Inde today.
There's only about an hour of fishing time left here on Bayou D'inde.
Dean Rojas has only one keeper, a five pounder, in his livewell.
According to BassTrakk he's sitting in second place behind Todd Faircloth by 5 pounds. But if you think this thing is over let me remind you of two things:
One, the bite has been turning on here after 1:00. And two, yesterday at this time Rojas had only three keepers. We thought he was pretty much done for the day and we headed back to the weigh in. But after we left, he quickly caught two nice keepers and jumped into the lead.
Stay tuned to see if the same thing happens today.
It's no secret that Dean Rojas isn't real happy with the fact that he's sharing water with Alton Jones. If you dig deep enough, you'll find that both men have every right to be here.
Jeff Kriet is in Bayou D'Inde too, but he's stayed out of sight all day.
"They're on the best stretch, no doubt," Kriet said Saturday. "I don't want to fish water they've already seined. There's plenty of fish in there."
From the bridge we just observed a classic case of Rojas playing defense. He was headed upstream fishing one bank when Jones approached headed downstream on the other. Rojas then trolled across to the other bank and cutoff Jones.
It appeared the tactic might have backfired when Jones set the hook on a big one. But Jones had hooked a redfish instead of a bass.
Much to the disappointment of the bridge crowd, Jones held the fish up, then released it.
"We already had the charcoal lit," one observer said to Jones, after Jones got right under the bridge.
"It was a good one," Jones said. "It probably weighed 9 or 10 pounds."
The Rojas-Jones drama is over for awhile. They've both sped off in opposite directions and the bridge has emptied of spectators.
Might have a rain shower in our future. The good fellows I'm conferring with today tell me the change in barometric pressure could assist Todd Faircloth real soon. He's maybe 75 yards from the grass where he caught his big bass a few hours ago, that big 5-pounder. Things could get really interesting if the circumstances come together.
B.A.S.S. has allowed the anglers pretty much carte blanche on the boundaries for this tournament, and anglers have taken advantage.
Mike McClelland topped 1,000 miles this week about halfway through his Sunday drive to Friendswood, Texas. He’s about 120 miles by land from the takeoff in Orange, and probably farther by boat. According to BASSTrakk, McClelland is way up Clear Creek, just south of Houston.
To get back to Orange, he first has to run through Clear Lake, lined with condos, homes, resorts and NASA. Then he has to navigate Galveston Bay, home to the Houston Ship Channel where tankers play ‘Texas Chicken.” To stay in the narrow dredged channel the huge ships head directly at one another then veer away in the final seconds before collision, relying on their wakes to keep them from disaster.
McClelland then still has a healthy run through East Bay, then at least an hour in the Intracoastal Waterway, a narrow inland channel, before he gets to Sabine Lake. He then has almost 10 miles up the Sabine along the Texas-Louisiana border to Orange.
At Saturday’s weigh-in, he said he had run 911 miles on tournament days, so he should end up with more than 1,200.
The angler heading to the far east is Dennis Tiejte, who’s been fishing way past Lake Charles, La., near Lake Arthur. Tiejte is about 70 miles as the crow flies from Orange and more than 200 miles away from McClelland.
While those two are far flung, the probable winners are fighting it out somewhere between them.
Really windy out here on Big Hill Bayou right now. The water is kicked up a bit, dirtier than it was when we arrived this morning. We're perched on the north side of this bayou, and Todd Faircloth is working his way back to the east.
Every time I send a blog, Todd yanks another keeper bite. The latest bass looks like it will allow him to cull the shortest fish he has on board. He's about 45 minutes, I understand, from the weigh-in back in Orange. This wind is going to make that run a bit longer, my guess.