Shot a cool show on Lake Ontario with Brandon Palaniuk the day after his 2nd BASS Elite Series win, and as you can see there was still a bunch of fish left. In case you are wondering why the trophy is in the boat, well it's because I made him bring it..... I figured that may be the only way I will ever get one of those in my boat.
Garrick Dixon sent in these photos of the amazing crowd at the final weigh-in Saturday.
Wow, Waddington! Thanks for a great week!
James Overstreet and I are off the water, after the short boat ride back to Morristown. Driving back to Waddington beats the heck out of boating back today. It's an unpleasant combo of white caps and boat wakes.
Jonathon VanDam caught a fish just before we left that was amazingly like the other 4-pounders already in his livewell. He needs a Hail Mary, provided Palaniuk gets back on time.
I'd heard about our boat driver the last two days, Dean Meckes, long before I met him. Meckes is "the man" around here, according to Mark Zona, Dave Precht and Overstreet. It was an education just hanging out in a boat with Meckes this week. Need to get back here soon, when not in tournament mode.
Meckes, 52, has been guiding and tourament fishing these waters for the past 25 years.
"A good smallmouth bag used to be 13 pounds," he said. "Now you don't feel safe with 23 pounds."
It's rare when an invasive species, like the goby, is a good thing, but they've been like human growth hormone for smallmouth bass in the St. Lawrence River.
"The smallmouth bass population just exploded," Meckes said. "4-pounders became common, then 5s, then 6s."
If you want proof, check out www.deanmeckes.com
Aaron Martens' passion for the highest finish never fades. Under the strong southwest wind, he changed to the jerkbait, and on the first cast, he caught a 4-8. This fish sparked Martens' fuel!
Palaniuk made it back down to the promised land in an hour and 50 minutes this morning. As of 12:20 when Palaniuk started heading back, he had exactly 2 hours and 40 minutes to make it back for check-in. But that doesn't provide the cushion it appears to. This morning saw flat calm conditions, the best all week. On the way back today, Palaniuk has to dip and dart through an endless sea of watercraft manned by half the population of Canada and New York. A normal weekend here sees a lot of boat traffic. Today, there are several annual events taking place that take it to a whole nother level. Add to that increasing winds, the ride back will tell the story today. If he makes it in, he takes the win. Big if.
Cliff Pirch, Kevin Hawk and Ott DeFoe have all had BASSTrakk issues since early this morning. Hopefully their BASSTrakks aren't at the bottom of the lake. We haven't been able to get in touch with their marshals to find out.
Bowman and I just caught up with Gerald Swindle. We could tell it was him from a distance by the bowed legs. He's sporting the lime green socks, those stood out as well.
"This wind is killing me brother," said the G-man, fighting to control his boat. "It's wearing me out."
When asked what his weight was he said, "I don't even know. But I just caught a 4.4-pounder."
Swindle is throwing a jerk bait, reeling it in quickly, and moving often.
JVD had to take some extra time while making his latest cull. He knew this 4-pounder would help him. The problem came when he was trying to discern the smallest fish in his livewell After that cull. Now he's got five cookie-cutter 4-pounders.
"I think I've got over 20 pounds now," VanDam said. "Somewhere around that."
All his fish have have been caught drop shotting a Strike King Dream Shot — green pumpkin with blue flake — in about 25 feet of water.
All his smallmouth bass are displaying a "goby gut." That's what local guide Dean Meckes likes to call the big bellies on the smallmouth bass here, which are feeding like never before since the arrival of the invasive species.
Palaniuk finally catches a better fish on a jerkbait. It leaps high into the air before he gets a handle on it. After boating the fish, he gets out his balance beam and takes several minutes to figure out whether the fish is big enough to cull one in the box.
He tosses one fish back into the water. I can't tell if it is the one he just caught. Palaniuk takes a moment to weigh one of his bass.
Yeager and I ease over to Palaniuk's boat to pick up Seigo.
"I think I have about 22 pounds," Palaniuk says.
He's giving his jerkbait spot another pass. He needs to get leaving his mind.
Down goes the jerkbait rod, up comes the drop shot rod. Palaniuk snaps up the rod and is into a good bass. He lands it. We see a fist pump. It's good bass, but not big enough to pass muster. Back it goes. Palaniuk may have more than 22 pounds.
The rods are being stuffed into the locker for what will be a pounding boat ride back to Waddington. Palaniuk starts his outboard, idles off the flat and punches the throttle. See you in Waddington.
We brought Kennedy's kids out to say they watched their old man fish a Bassmaster derby. He caught a 3-12 in front of them!