Russ Lane prepares to swing his third keeper on board!
Photo by Rick Wilhelm
Cliff Prince is sitting in 12th place as the sun rises on Okeechobee.
Gary Clouse kicks off Day 3 in fifth place.
This mosquito was filled with Steve Wright's blood when it got smashed on a paper towel. Photo: Steve Wright
The final day of the Bassmaster Wild Card presented by Star Tron dawned just like the previous two — clear skies, calm winds and a blood-sucking herd of mosquitoes.
Shaye Baker, who leads this tournament by almost six pounds, said he finally got some sleep last night. There were no mosquitoes in the back of his truck, so he got a solid six hours of shut-eye. He's rested and ready.
"I think 17 pounds will give me a shot to win," Baker said. "Twenty would do it, and 25 would put it away."
The original 49-angler field has been cut to the Top 12, but there are some local tournaments going on today, so the fishing pressure won't slack off.
"I think it will hurt everybody evenly," Baker said, "so I'm not really worried about that."
One recurring lament in the weigh-in line yesterday was that the state is spraying hyacinths and other vegetation on Okeechobee right now. It's a necessary process if certain potentially devastating weeds are going to be kept under control, but if you've found good bass in a spot that suddenly gets sprayed, you'll need to be looking for new water almost immediately. The herbicides are fast-acting and start killing the vegetation right away. In a day (sometimes less), the bass will evacuate those areas and find other vegetation to use as their home. Jeff Holland (competing here this week) wrote a great story on this for Bassmaster.com. I hope you'll check it out.
Just about everyone is flippin', pitching and punching here this week, but most have another technique they're using too, to cover a little water and fish a little faster between their flips, pitches and punches. For some, that technique is buzzing a Zoom Horny Toad or Gambler Cane Toad. For others it's swimming a Zoom Speed Worm or Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper through the sparse grass. Everyone seems to be doing about the same thing … just in slightly different places.