Yusuke Miyazaki's lands No. 2 on Day Two. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Howard Avery.
Casey Ashley with 2 fish in the livewell.
Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Chad Patterson.
Yusuke Miyazaki's first keeper of Day Two. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Howard Avery.
Only three previous times in Elite history has the average bass weighed less than two pounds. Most recently, it happened in 2011 on the Arkansas River when the average fish tipped the scales at just 1.97 pounds. The year before that, Clarks Hill Reservoir yielded an average bass weighing 1.92. And the current record for smallest bass dates back to 2007 when the Kissimmee Chain's average keeper weighed only 1.78 pounds.
West Point can beat that ... unfortunately.
Further evidence of this epidemic of small bass comes in the form of Tommy Biffle's daily best bass from the first round. It weighed 6-10 — not bad, of course, but historically small for B.A.S.S. tournaments on West Point. If Biffle's catch holds up as the best for the whole tournament (and Day 1 lunkers do hold on nearly 40 percent of the time), it'll be the smallest tournament lunker from West Point ever. The current smallest was Gerald Beck's 7-7 at the 2005 Southern Open. That fish also came on the first day.
If you watched the weigh-in yesterday, or even if you just glanced at the standings, you probably noticed that the fishing was a little slow. One hundred anglers weighed in 441 bass. The average in an Elite tournament would be around 460, so the fishing was a little tougher than usual.
The number that should have shocked you, though, was the total weight of those 441 bass — 729 pounds, 11 ounces. It means the average bass coming out of West Point Lake yesterday weighed just 1.65 pounds (about 1 pound, 10 ounces). That's really, really small.
In a sport where size matters, that number is the smallest in Bassmaster Elite Series history. If the pace continues (and average bass weights will likely go up on Days 3 and 4), West Point is going to set a record that no lake wants on its résumé. It's going to produce the smallest average bass in Elite history.
The vast contrast in the Elite Series anglers always amazes me. Yesterday morning I was running all over the place chasing Steve Kennedy out of the gate. Today I followed Cliff Crochet out of the ramp on a half mile run at about half throttle. As Cliff made his first cast I saw Kennedy blow by in route to his 5th or 6th stop no doubt.
I'm not taking sides or saying one speed is any better than the other. Or that one angler works harder than the other. Just a mere observation of the contrast in mindsets that a lot of anglers on the Elite Series have.
The bottom line, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Obviously Kennedy's approach worked on West Point before to the tune of 100 grand. But Cajun Baby is doing just fine with his laid back approach sitting in 10th after day one.
Inevitably it's going to come down to one or two big fish here this week to set anglers apart. And big is 3-to-4-pounds.
Who's going to get those couple of bites. Will it be the guy who makes the most casts or the one who makes or the one who makes the most of his areas. Tortoise and the hare. Only time will tell.
It's Terry Scroggins' first stop of the morning. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Highlander.
Combs moves to the riprap at the other end of the bridge. He has already attracted three boats full of fans. He leaves 10 minutes later with an empty livewell. He caught all his bass late yesterday. I'm sure he was hoping for a fast start this morning.
We found a place to park near the bridge. Dawn is breaking and commuter traffic is ripping past us as we stand on the bridge waiting for blast-off.
We still have overcast conditions and likely rain in the forecast.
Some of the pros yesterday said they fared much better with bigger bass during practice when the sun was out.
They are hoping for sun today. That's not gonna happen today and probably not tomorrow or the day after. Or even the day after that.
Here come the pros. Keith Combs, yesterday's leader, stops at the bridge to fish the riprap.
I look up from my smart phone. Where's Jacobson? Did he fall in? Now I see him, far down the bridge, snapping away.
It's early on Day Two, and Kevin Short already has two in the boat. Half of the field hasn't even blasted off yet. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Charles Prestridge.