Steve Wright reported a little earlier that Shaye Baker is flippin' a black and blue Medlock jig this morning. I wonder if it's the same Medlock Double Guard Jig that Ish Monroe used here in March of 2012 to win the Elite Series tournament. Either way, that bait has produced a lot of fish and a lot of prize money over the past few years.
I can see how the double weedguards protect the hook from hang-ups, but Ish told me that the balance of the jig and the trailer he was using (Da Bomb from Missile Baits) gave it a tantalizing fall that the bass couldn't resist. According to Steve Wright, Baker is fishing a Medlock jig with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer (black and blue to match the jig).
Whatever he's doing, it's worked for two days. Will it hold up?
Photos by Dean Morgan
Photo by Harry Holstein
It's hard to believe that 470,000 surface acres can fish small for a 49-boat tournament, but it happens here at Okeechobee. As you can see from BASSTrakk, most of the competitors are in the same general area, and during the course of the fishing day they'll likely see each other on the water.
Shaye Baker had his key spot mostly to himself on Day 1 -- at least while he was there. Other anglers were there earlier or later on Day 1, but not at the same time Baker was there, which was when the big fish turned on. Yesterday, he had lots of company including 10 boats in the competition and at least three of the top 10 anglers. He spent most of his day trying to protect a relatively small hyacinth mat from intruders armed with flippin' sticks and big punching weights.
Today he was the first boat out, so he should have had no problem getting to his spot first and working the area he thinks will be key to a victory. It's tough to say, though, whether the spot has much left. He pulled four of his five keepers from there on Day 1 and most of his fish from there on Day 2, but his weight dropped from 29-8 to 19-6 -- still a very respectable weight, but he probably can't afford to let that total drop below that today.
Long before I was a tournament manager for B.A.S.S., I was a huge fan and anxiously waited for Sunday evenings and The Bassmasters on TV. Today, technology allows us to bring the fans so much closer with this live blog and, of course, the BASSTrakk phones that instantaneously bring us “unofficial” scoring from the water. My hat's off to all the marshals that help to make that happen throughout the season. And specifically, I want to thank the Florida B.A.S.S. Nation for their efforts this week.
The latest on-the-water scoring shows the Bassmaster Wild Card presented by Star Tron is getting extremely tight. Right now, it is showing three anglers within 1-1/4 pounds of the lead. Of course, Shaye Baker is leaning heavily on that monster Day 1 catch. Hot on his trail are Elite Series veteran Russ Lane and Chad Morgenthaler, who will part of the 2014 Elite Series rookie class. Okeechobee is a world-class fishery and all of these Top 12 anglers know they are just one cast, pitch or flip away from catching the fish of a lifetime and punching their ticket to the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Today’s weigh-in should be fantastic. Not to mention it is 80 degrees and sunny here in Florida. So bass fishing fans in the rest of the county, stay warm, stay indoors and tune into Bassmaster.com at 3 p.m. EST, and see how this all unfolds.
So how much weight does Shaye Baker need to be truly safe today? Well, a 35-pound catch is within the realm of possibility on Okeechobee -- it's happened before -- but realistically 23 or 24 pounds should do it. That would mean that Chad Morgenthaler would need 30 pounds or better to catch him, and there's only been one bag like that this week. Everyone else is at least 9 or 10 pounds back. That's going to take some real heroics -- like at least two bass over 7 pounds and three others weighing 5 or better. It can be done, but it hasn't been done this week.
Meanwhile, every keeper Baker puts in his boat and every time he culls puts more pressure on the rest of the field. They have to be encouraged that his catch on Day 2 was 10 pounds less than on the first day. Unfortunately for the other contenders, no one was really able to make up any ground yesterday. Today's their last chance.