Farther up the creek we find Skeet Reese fishing where we saw him working on a bedding bass yesterday. He's retrieving a popper over the spot repeatedly with hard, splashy twitches. After a few dozen casts, he moves down the bank still fishing the popper. Then he drops Power Poles on another bed and works it over with several different baits. He pulls up his Power Poles.
"I give up," he says, refering to the bedding bass. He shouts to Kurt Dove who is fishing the other side of the narrow creek.
"Kurt, do you mind if I fish that dock?" He points to a dock 50 yards up the bank in front of Dove. Dove might not be keen on the proposition but he gives Reese the go ahead. Amazing what showing a little respect will do for you.
Just as Reese is about to cast to the dock, Dove says, "I didn't mean you could fish that dock."
He's kidding. Both anglers laugh.
Casey Ashley has been starting on one spot and catching a quick limit of spotted bass before spending the rest of the day hunting bigger largemouths. His plan worked perfectly yesterday, when he found a 6-6 kicker, the big bass of the day.
Ashley has already caught six or seven spotted bass this morning, but he just put his first 12-incher in the livewell.
Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Ryan Norton
Kevin Short drew the short straw today and got me as his Marshal. That's me in the foreground and him in the background. At the last minute Jon Stewart asked me to fill in for a missing Marshal. I'm thrilled to do it. It gives me an opportunity to watch a great angler up close. And I'll be sending in BASSTrakk data on Kevin and sending in Marshal photos as well. These are both tools I helped set up. So it's exciting to use them first hand.
We've launched in a creek where we saw several of the pros fishing yesterday. I said I was going to give up the goods today, but I'm not going to mention this creek until tomorrow. It's a small enough that a flotilla of spectator boats could shut down the bass.
Chris Zaldain is fishing direectly across the creek from the ramp where we launched. He's off to a fast start with a 2 1/2-pounder in the box. He started the day in the 11th place.
Zaldain is fishing painfully slow with spinning tackle. He's working the bait on the bottom with gentle hops. I suspect that his bait is a shaky head worm. He's a casting to a bank with plenty of wood cover and overhanging limbs.
Snyder tells me the bass usually are not where Zaldain is fishing at this time time of year. The late spring has had a big impact on the bass.
Jacobson and I are following John Snyder, our boat driver, to a ramp that's closer to where many of the leaders are fishing. I'm good with that. It's in the mid 50s, it's raining and the rain is likely to stay with us all day. The forecast calls for a 70% chance of rain this morning which will increase to 100% just in time for the weigh-in.
The rain will make sight fishing much more challenging. There are some bedding bass being caught, including some of the kicker bass. However, there aren't enough of them around for anyone to sack a limit of the big mammas.
The basic pattern here has been to throw everthing at the bass, including the kitchen sink.
Photographer Daren Jacobson and I are back at the bridge near the official launching site for the West Point Elite Series event. He wants to take more overhead photos of the pros passing under us as they head out for the third day of competition.
The top 12 for tomorrow, the final day, is far from being decided. The weights are light and tight and one good kicker bass in a limit could vault an angler several places higher in the standings.
I get to provide more details today. On the first two days of an Elite Series tourney I have to be vague. By blogging too much information then, I might tip off pros who are struggling to where the leaders are fishing and how they are catching them. Today, however, I can give up the goods. The pros can't access my blog until they come off the water.
For those who don't make the final cut, the information is of no use to them because they'll be hitting the road. Those who do make the cut are not likely to change what they're doing. That's want got them there and they'll be content to dance with the girl they brung to the dance.
Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Ken "Chief" Harper.