Daryk Eckert and Roman Chapman of the Northern Division are up the Petit Jean River, the Arkansas's largest tributary in Pool 9. It's a narrow stream, probably 60 to 70 yards wide, with shallow stump fields extending about 10 to 15 yards from the bank. It also features lots of laydowns. Eckert has three bass that will weigh about 6 pounds but Chapman is still looking for his first fish. This place is a target-rich environment; it looks there could be a fish on every stump or tree in here.
Presidents from across the B.A.S.S. Nation are spending the competition time during the championship in meetings. The presidents use this time to go over ways to increase membership, to better use their resources and to talk about what's new with the Nation.
Here, Anthony Roy, president of the Kentucky B.A.S.S. Nation, addresses the presidents.
Trevor Yates of the Central Division has a limit that weighs an estimated 9 to 10 pounds. It's been a few hours since I checked in with some of the other boats, but he may be in the driver's seat of the 15-18 age group at this point in the day. His fish came on a crankbait and buzzbait on the main river as well as a small backwater midway down the pool. His big fish is a 2.5-pound spotted bass that inhaled the black buzzbait right at the boat. His Central Division partner, Remington Wagner, has two fish. They're in a tucked away backwater area, which are few and far between on this particular pool.
Short note on the weather: Wind was nonexistent this morning but has now increased out of the north with an approaching cold front. After partly cloudy skies throughout the day, it looks like the rest of the day will be mostly cloudy. This could bode well for Trevor Yates and his buzzbait.
While the BNC and JWC anglers are out on the water, state youth directors from all over the country are convening. Hank Weldon, youth director at B.A.S.S., has been leading discussions and taking feedback from state youth directors. The dominant topic has been implementation of the new B.A.S.S. Nation High School program.
Two Bassmaster Elite Series pros showed up at weigh-in yesterday for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Jami Fralick came to Arkansas to support his dad, Monty, who is competing in the Northern Division. If Monty wins his division, he and Jami will be the 10th father-son duo to have competed in the Bassmaster Classic.
Billy McCaghren Jr., who lives nearby in Mayflower, Ark., stopped by as well to support the competitors in the championship.
Well, we left Thompson in search of Jeff Lugar who started the day in second. Haven't found him yet, but two places left to check.
Brian Volkernick and Noah Wilson from the Eastern Division have four fish and three fish, respectively. Volkernick has about 6 or 7 pounds by his boat driver's estimate, while Wilson's three will go about 4 pounds. They're fishing crankbaits parallel to jetties that run parallel to the channel. They've also picked up fish by cranking around sand bar tips near jetties.
Chase Heaton and Ryan Wood have established the closest thing to a pattern that I've seen so far today. They're fishing near the midpoint of Pool 9 where a half-dozen jetties line up through a mile-long stretch. Heaton just put his second fish in the boat with a silver lipless crankbait. As I was writing the last sentence, Wood caught his fourth keeper today. He estimated his weight at about 7 pounds.
Fishing jetty tips is a tried-and-true technique on the Arkansas River, and the Western Division representatives have found a good place to run this pattern. Without wasting a lot of time running, they're jumping from jetty to jetty in this short stretch, and it seems to be paying off.
Chase Heaton and Ryan Wood of the Western Division are cranking a jetty tip on the main river. Wood has three keepers in the livewell, while Heaton has one. Heaton just bowed up on a fish, but it was a just a big drum. He lost a bass about five casts later. There are obviously some fish on this jetty near the midway point of this pool.
Another small keeper for Thompson. This one a 14-inch largemouth. Thompson caught six fish in the last eight casts with a shaky head. All but one were nonkeepers. But at least things are looking up on the activity front.