There's a wide range between the emotional highs and lows of the pros on the St. Lawrence River this week. On the weigh-in stage in Waddington, they're all talking how hard these big brown bass fight. Off stage and on the water, they're cussing the ones that got away. Kelly Jordon, eliminated after Round 2, bent my ear last night about the Elite Series ban on landing nets. "If you're going to take us to a smallmouth lake, let us use nets!" he implored. I told him the playing field was even for everyone, but he doesn't like a playing field where the advantage goes to the bass. Some of the contenders seem to be losing more big fish than others. Aaron Martens told me he made a costly mistake this week by using some prototype hooks. "I caught a 7-pounder on them in practice, but yesterday three fish bent the hooks and got off," he said before launch today. "I had one fish just coming to the boat; I had him beat -- and the hook just opened up." He switched to tried-and-true hooks for today.
Others are making their own adjustments. Dennis Tietje said he lost plenty of big bass the first day but curbed that problem by upsizing to a slightly larger drop shot hook. The smallmouths' mouths are small, he said, but their lips are big. Other pros are complaining about broken lines and bass jumping and spitting whatever lure they've mistakenly eaten. I witnessed a couple of those miscues in my short time on the river today. So, Kelly, I feel your frustration. At the same time, you'll have to agree that landing big smallmouth the hard way adds a lot more drama to this game -- especially for those of us in the audience.