2011 Elite Series - Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash
Lake Murray - Columbia, SC, May 12 - 15, 2011

Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash Live Blog

Day Four - Lake Murray

3:17 p.m.
The boats have checked in and nothing out of the ordinary took place in the last 30 minutes.

Every angler counted down the minutes, made their last casts and unless something went totally undetected their were no last-second heroics.

Casey Ashley's last fish was the last one we recorded at 2:10 p.m. At the moment, every angler has checked in, including Ike, who obviously likes to cut things close.

The rest of the talking will done by the scales. Still too close to call. The weigh-in will certainly be interesting to watch.

-- Steve Bowman

 

3:16 p.m.
Here's the weigh-in. Looks to be extremely close. Live Weigh in.

3:15 p.m.
This tournament may come down to 2 seconds if Ike should go on to win.

He checked in with 2 seconds to spare as Trip Weldon eyed the clock and his fans on the dock groaned at his daring.

It would have been a pound a minute if he had checked in late. Bottom line is he's in and that's all that matters at this point.

-- Rob Russow

 

3:13 p.m.
The thing I can't help thinking about as I watch Hite fishing one last spot before check-in is a run in I had with KVD on Day Three.

It was a fleeting moment when I was standing on the dock near Hite and KVD walked by.

All he did was point at Hite and give a knowing glance as if to say, "Don't you dare count that man out."

Was it fortuitous? All I know is at this point he could very well win. No one has led more than one day of this event, but all rhat matters is who is leading at the end of this weigh-in and it promises to be a good one.

-- Rob Russow

 

3:04 p.m.
Hite is fishing a windblown island on the southern end of the lake with a wakebait. He got a quick limit this morning, which gave him the confidence to spend the rest of the day with a wakebait in his hand going for bigger bites.

Though it has been a little while since that last big one, his followers are still cheering him on.

"There are five or six of my buddies that come out and cheer me on when I am in the area," Hite said. "They came up with a little tradition that when I got my limit, they would drink a beer. I made them start drinking early today, about 7:30. That might be dangerous."

Having family and friends in the area makes him eager to win one on what he considers his home lake. Right now, he's in good position, but thinks he needs one more good cull to do it.

Hite's patience on this little stretch is impressive. He is pretty much crawling the wakebait across the big waves, but worries that he doesn't have enough time. He told me that given two hours, he could do it, but given the final moments only remained, he might come up short. A few casts after saying that, Hite gets a chaser.

"He hit it. Knocked it out of the water and just didn't get it."

-- Rob Russow

 

3:02 p.m.
We've just put up James Overstreet's photos from the water.

2:58 p.m.
We've left Casey Ashley shortly after he boated another solid keeper, which has put him three ounces behind Davy Hite, and one ounce ahead of Mike Iaconelli.

While most nothing about this tournament is for sure, there's one thing that is: there's going to be a shootout at the scales.

--David Hunter Jones

 

2:50 p.m.
Iaconelli has made what should be his last stop today. We've run about halfway back to the check-in, pulling into a small cove just off the main lake.

-- Trey Reid

 

2:45 p.m.
Watch now as Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona break down the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash on Hooked Up!

2:44 p.m.
Hite is fishing a windblown island on the southern end of the lake with a wakebait. He got a quick limit this morning, which gave him the confidence to spend the rest of the day with a wakebait in his hand going for bigger bites.

Though it has been a little while since that last big one, his followers are still cheering him on.

"There are five or six of my buddies that come out and cheer me on when I am in the area," Hite said. "They came up with a little tradition that when I got my limit, they would drink a beer. I made them start drinking early today, about 7:30. That might be dangerous."

Having family and friends in the area makes him eager to win one on what he considers his home lake. Right now, he's in good position, but thinks he needs one more good cull to do it.

Hite's patience on this little stretch is impressive. He is pretty much crawling the wakebait across the big waves, but worries that he doesn't have enough time. He told me that given two hours, he could do it, but given less than an hour remains, he might come up short.

A few casts after saying that, Hite gets a chaser.

"He hit it. Knocked it out of the water and just didn't get it."

-- Rob Russow

 

2:33 p.m.
After fishing a couple of pockets off the main lake and flipping docks, Iaconelli is back to throwing the soft plastic jerkbait on main lake points.

We've been on the move again as I typed this, and now we're watching him skip a jig under boat docks again. He's not staying in any spot for long, and we are on the move again.

-- Trey Reid

 

2:31 p.m.
Here's out last BASSTrakk update. Remember the weights have been estimated.

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Davy Hite 5 18-06 59-09
2 Casey Ashley 5 13-08 59-06
3 Michael Iaconelli 5 16-00 59-05
4 Brian Snowden 5 17-04 58-05
5 Kevin Wirth 5 14-12 56-13
6 Jeff Conella 5 14-00 56-04
7 Edwin Evers 5 15-00 54-12
8 Jami Fralik 3 13-04 54-08
9 Tommy Biffle 5 10-04 52-04
10 Rick Clunn 5 9-08 49-01
11 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-14 48-05
12 Chris Lane 4 8-00 47-00

-- Hank Weldon

2:26 p.m.
Casey Ashley has replaced Snowden with answering Hite's catches. He just boated a 3-pounder, moving his total up enough to jump over Ike.

Hite is still on top with 59-9 Ashley has 59-6 Ike has 59-5 Snowden has 58-5 It's still a 4-horse race that is too close to call.

-- Steve Bowman

 

2:24 p.m.

This one is close, and Iaconelli is still trying to create some distance. He left Macedonia and went another 5 minutes up the river.

He hasn't caught anything since leaving the state park area, but you know how it is with Ike -- never give up.

-- Trey Reid

 

2:20 p.m. Marshal update
Photos from Andy Martin:

 

"Davy has an awesome game plan. Two main lures. We nicknamed them hunter and sniper. One gets them stirred up and the other seals the deal. Simply awesome! This could be the money fish! Davy boats another four pounder!"

 

-- Hank Weldon

 

2:08 p.m.
Holy cow, things just got real interesting.

BASSTrakk shows Casey 15 ounces behind, but he just added a 2 1/2- to 2 3/4-pounder to his well, culling. He's back on Rock Island, still throwing a drop shot into a bush.

Lake activity has picked up, with "pickle fork" boats (Jeff Murray's term for a catamaran), pontoons and ski boats buzzing about. You've got to wonder whether he's still thinking about the 3-pounder that came of a few hours ago.

-- David Hunter Jones

 

2:07 p.m.
We've passed the one-hour threshold and not much has changed that we know of.

Then Hank Weldon walks in about the time I type that sentence and informs me, Hite has just boated another 4-pounder, which should upgrade his weight by a 1 1/2 and give him less than a 1-pound lead over Ike and a full pound over Ashley.

Snowden is still sweating penalties and could use one of those lunkers to get back into the mix, but we expect him to be about 2-pounds back.

The one thing I was getting to blog on was the timing of the catches. Only Hite and Snowden have caught anything in the last hour. And strangely their catches are almost the same during the last few hours.

Easier understood: When one catches a fish, the other quickly follows. Prior to Hite's last fish, each of them boated a fish at exactly 12:59 p.m. EST.

Now it's Snowden's turn.

--Steve Bowman

1:58 p.m.
Snowden is back out on a secondary point in the same creek as Casey Ashley.

He's back throwing the swimbait, a Money Minnow that he belly hooks with a treble.

"This is basically the same as what we were doing back in 2008," Snowden said. "I actually started out with a keel weight and ended up just sticking a treble on it. A lot of times they will come up and just bump or nudge it and with the treble you still have a chance to hook them."

When they get it though, they choke on it which has caused Snowden some problems. He had one fish die on him today, making four all week. That has added up to 2 pounds of penalties, which could be the difference between him and the win.

Snowden moves to a pocket where he has caught his biggest fish all week. All week, but not yet today, which is why he thinks he can still catch a good one here.

"There's 5 or 6 isolated big rocks here and they seem to hold around them," Snowden said.

-- Rob Russow

 

1:49 p.m.
Iaconelli remains on top and he's running. Our man Trey Reid is hot on his tail, though, and reports he's moved out of the state park area and is now in the Macedonia area, about a five-minute run from the check-in dock.

If things happen like they have been for a lot of these guys, making moves pays off with quick flurries. We will see if that happens this time.

Interesting to note that he's headed up the lake, while Hite is near the dam on the opposite end. All the other competitors, except Clunn are sandwiched in between them.

-- Steve Bowman

 

1:42 p.m.

I wonder if Casey Ashley's heart just sunk.

We left his original spot and came around the corner to his best spot of the day and lo and behold, there's five rods and reels working it over.

One of the two boats picked up and left while the other -- a man and his son -- hung around a bit and left when they were within 30 yards of Ashley.

Hopefully none of them touched his money spot, where he's pulled several fish from today.

It seems to be a spot that replenishes at a pretty good clip, so maybe his much-needed kicker is still swimming nearby.

-- David Hunter Jones

 

1:36 p.m.

Remember that blog earlier in the day when Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona caught up with Brian Snowden?

He was headed straight to the dock to load up on ice. His big fish had choked itself on Snowden's swimbait and there was some fear that it would not survive. We are now hearing that the fish may not have made it after all, despite all the best efforts of Snowden and the tournament staff.

If that becomes the case, then Snowden will suffer a penalty and take him a little further down of this four-angler mix. We also remind you that he lost 1-pound yesterday.

Those penalties may eventually give him a lot of "what-if" days. But those things happen, especially this time of year. It's unfortunate and unpredictable. All you can do is make your best effort.

As to the rest of the list, Wirth actually isn't in second which you saw that on the update. Ike, Hite, Ashley and Snowden still remain within 1 pound of each other, assuming the best on Snowden's fish.

There's a little more than an hour left, plenty of time for something to happen.

-- Steve Bowman

 

1:29 p.m.

Brian Snowden knows he needs 18 or 19 pounds to win this thing. With one fish in the box at 2 pounds and change, that's one 4-pound bite.

He had been catching his fish off wInd-blown points on a swimbait, but has changed over to flipping docks with a finesse-type straight-tailed worm.

His buddy, Jami Fralick, caught the Day One biggest stringer flipping docks in the afternoon. With the sun high up and beating down, there might be a good fish in the shade of one of these docks, but Snowden was just observing that with the wind blowing like it is right now, he should probably be trying to take advantage of that.

Until he switched, it had been a while since he had gotten a bite, so he felt he needed to make something happen.

"I have not culled since 11 any day of this tournament," Snowden said. "I know I have to though and I'm going to do everything I possible can to cull."

-- Rob Russow

 

1:27 p.m.

The bridge and the riprap along the road continue to produce for Iaconelli. He just boated another fish but immediately returned it to the water.

Another big bite came next, drawing cheers from the 15 boats watching Ike fish. It turned out to be a catfish, but that didn't keep Iaconelli from putting on a show for the crowd. He just landed another small bass and threw it back.

This is quite a spectacle over here, with all the spectator boats and a parade of honking cars carrying fans to the weigh-in just a few hundred yards away.

-- Trey Reid

 

1:25 p.m.

Kevin Wirth's BASSTrakk duplicated a catch. See current catch information below. It is basically too close to call!

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Michael Iaconelli 5 16-00 59-05
2 Davy Hite 5 17-06 58-09
3 Brian Snowden 5 17-04 58-05
4 Casey Ashley 5 11-08 57-06
5 Kevin Wirth 5 14-12 56-13
6 Edwin Evers 5 15-00 54-12
7 Jami Fralik 3 13-04 54-08
8 Tommy Biffle 5 10-04 52-04
9 Jeff Conella 5 8-00 50-04
10 Rick Clunn 5 9-08 49-01
11 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-14 48-05
12 Chris Lane 4 8-00 47-00

-- Hank Weldon

 

1:17 p.m.
Ashley just whacked two keepers and culled twice. Add another half-pound or so to his total.

He weighed two fish deciding which to keep, so he gained a matter of ounces on that one.

The first fish, though, was a unquestionably a keeper. He's slowed down and is using his drop shot more and more, probing an area of the lake known as the graveyard. This spot used to be a grave site before the lake was made atop Murraytown, S.C.

If this flurrry continues, Ashley's going to be in this to the end. We've just moved back to the spot where Ashley started the day. It's also where he said he's been getting his quality bites, one of which would be welcomed at this point. With just two hous before check-in, Ashley has time to make his milk run possibly two more times.

-- David Hunter Jones

 

1:11 p.m.

Iaconelli has moved back into the bay near the state park, and he's slowing down.

He's throwing a jighead worm on some of the same points from his last trip around this bay. We saw him throw a jig around some docks more than two hours ago, but for the most part he has been chunking and winding all day. Iaconelli is digging deeper in his bag of tricks.

He's fishing bridge pilings under the bridge going into the state park. And the jighead worm just produced. Chalk up a few more oinces on ike's total after another cull. Every little bit helps.

-- Trey Reid

1:02 p.m.

While we've been watching the top four a little move below those guys could eventually have big implications in the AOY race.

Evers has been in 5th place, but Kevin Wirth has finally started catching them and has put together a 15-pound stringer and has moved to 5th, dropping Evers a place.

That's a loss of 4 points in the AOY race for Evers, which could be important in the next two events. Wirth in the meantime is still adding weight.

As I typed above Wirth moved into second with a 16-10 limit that now puts him in second in between Iaconelli and Hite, putting the top five all within 1 pound of each other.

-- Steve Bowman

 

12:59 p.m.

Davy Hite is turning up the heat. He just caught a 4-pounder that puts him in second by 12 ounces behind Iaconelli. He now has more than 17 pounds.

Meanwhile, Casey Ashley is just a three ounces behind Hite. And Brian Snowden is an ounce behind Ashley. Given the guessing nature of the BASSTrakk system we could have a four-way tie or we could have weights that vary by as much as a couple of pounds.

Either way this just gets tighter and hotter. There's not a whole lot of catching going on, but Hite seems to have figured out a way to scratch out those 4-pound plus lunkers later in the day when every one else is struggling.

-- Steve Bowman

 

12:51 p.m.

Ashley just whacked two keepers and culled twice. Add another half-pound or so to his total.

He weighed two fish deciding which to keep, so he gained a matter of ounces on that one. The first fish, though, was a unquestionably a keeper. He's slowed down and is using his drop shot more and more, probing an area of the lake known as the graveyard.

This spot used to be a grave site before the lake was made atop Murraytown, S.C. If this flurrry continues, Ashley's going to be in this to the end.

-- David Hunter Jones

12:41 p.m.

There's another live video update coming up at 1 p.m. ET. This time Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle will be joining Dave Mercer. Be sure to tune in!

12:25 p.m.

Jeff Murray, my boat driver just summed it up: "It's do or die time," he said. Ashley abandoned his search for fresh water and has fallen back to his previous spot, which is the fourth one that he hit today. Snowden just buzzed by us coming from the dam area carrying a nice load of bass. I'd be surprised if he abandoned his plan wholesale and went off the deep end with a new approach at this point.

You've got to give Ashley credit -- he's dancing with the one (or ones) that brought him here: a swimbait, donkey rig and Sammy-style topwater. He's also sticking to the same areas, save his last move to the rocky outcropping.

As I typed this, Ashley just landed a small keeper on the swimbait, which he immediately returned to the lake.

-- David Hunter Jones

12:17 p.m.

Iaconelli has left the bay near the state park and is back on the main lake. But the bite has slowed tremendously.

"This is that time day when the bite just dies," he said a minute ago. "I thought it might last a little longer today with the wind, but it's just tough this time of day."

-- Trey Reid

12:06 p.m.

With the late morning Evers is having, thoughts of those earlier fish might come back to haunt him. He's at 15 pounds right now, with his two smallest at 2.5 pounds. Those two big fish that jumped off his swimbait first thing in the morning are the only thing standing between him and a share of the lead. At this point, he has likely moved on from it, but when the weigh-in is over and the realization sinks in, that's going to be a tough nut to swallow.

With Hite culling up just a hair, he now sits less than 2 pounds off the lead. He's camped out on the point going into Bear Creek and he's been there for awhile. That point is receiving the most wind in the area and, even on a sunny afternoon, should stir up the surface enough to get the bass more fired up than they would usually be at this time.

There should be an Edwin Evers gallery from this morning going up soon. Check it out to see all the action and heartbreak going on in his boat.

-- Rob Russow

12:01 p.m.

Ashley's last two spots have been in new water for the day. We didn't see any other pros in his first four spots as they were fairly small and would be difficult for two boats to fish any one of them simultaneously. He's still using the trio of baits he's been throwing all day: a Sammy-style topwater, a swimbait and a double Fluke rig (Donkey rig, to some of you).

We're now between Shull and Midway islands, and Casey if off of the bank about 80 yards, throwing to it. Murray guesses he's in roughly 6 feet of water, throwing to 3 or 4 feet. He's also been firing back across the point, which Murray says is roughly 6 feet deep. There's a long, rocky point he's targeting. One of his other spots is similar.

An interesting thing to note is that most pros have been keying in on points with clay bottom. The blueback herring spawn on this type of bottom, and bass wait in ambush when they stray too far away from home. We have yet to see Ashley fish this sort of point or bank.

-- David Hunter Jones

11:57 a.m.

Andy Martin: "Fred 'Boom Boom' Roumbanis eating a sandwich on the go."

Fred RoumbanisFred Roumbanis

David Ward: "Evers culling to around 15 pounds."

Edwin EversEdwin Evers

"Davy catches a two and a half pounder, while a school of three pounders bust the surface all around him.  Then he throws out and catches one of the three pounders!"

Davy HiteDavy Hite

"Davy fights a four and a half pounder to the boat."

Davy HiteDavy Hite

Chad Pennell:  "Clunn's second keeper."

Rick ClunnRick Clunn

-- Hank Weldon

11:54 a.m.

This event continues to tighten with Ike culling up ounces, Snowden hunting for a big fish, Hite looking to catch another 4- to 5-pounder and Casey Ashley grinding away. They are all within a couple of pounds from each other, and the difference remains one big fish.

You've heard that enough. But somewhere at some point, it will happen.

And while the tourney continues, so does the AOY race.

Evers is basically the only one in the field that can make a big impact on that title at the moment. He's going to have to really pick up the pace if he wants to win this event, which would put him in second in the AOY standings.

We're guessing that won't happen. But Evers has had another good day. He's currently in fifth place, up from ninth place where he started.

That translates to an extra 16 points at the moment. It would keep him in fourth in the AOY standings, but give him a realistic striking distance with two events left.

Scroggins started 57 points ahead of him. KVD and Alton are 38 points ahead of him. Evers adds 16 to his total and you can quickly deduct the importance of that.

With that extra 16 points, he's  22 points behind KVD and Jones and 41 behind Scroggins, which is basically the difference between the points given to first place in an event and those given to 10th place.

Every chance that Evers gets to climb a spot gets him just a smidgen closer to the promised land.

-- Steve Bowman

11:45 a.m.

There's another live video update coming up at noon ET. This time Elite Series pro and Carolina lake expert Jason Quinn will be joining Dave Mercer. Be sure to tune in!

11:31 a.m.

Iaconelli just bumped up his weight a few more ounces, culling one of his smaller keepers. This fish came off another long underwater point in the bay near our Bassmaster base camp.

Every little bit helps, but Ike didn't go berzerk, so I'm guessing it's not quite the bite he's looking for.

-- Trey Reid

11:27 a.m.

Just nothing for Brian Snowden the past hour. There have been several moves, including one back to the original money spot, and no bites.

He has even backed off a bit deeper and thrown a drop shot at the last three spots. But nothing is creating any bites.

-- Tommy Sanders

11:26 a.m.

Ashley's back in the game. He just culled for the second time and is looking at around a 1-pound deficit, the difference one good keeper can make. Ike and Snowden have mounted admirable charges, but this can still be Ashley's if he can cull once or twice more. Edwin made a heroic comeback from 45th on Day Three to fish today, and it's looking like he's going to do it again. Should be tight, tight, tight.

On a side note, don't ride (or let anyone ride) in the front seat of a bass boat while it's on pad, with no life jacket and beer in hand. We've seen that twice now. It's just bad policy.

-- David Hunter Jones

11:26 a.m.

The interesting thing, watching Hite, is that he really has been fishing that wakebait slowly compared to the rest of the field. Most anglers, like Evers, are burning a swimbait, but Hite is just slowly winding it back to the boat. The other thing is he is really picking apart this one area of the lake. He has fished the same bank for at least 30 minutes. It seems he knows there is a school of fish right here and is waiting for them to come back up.

That slow pace on the wakebait paid off with the big one he caught earlier, but shortly after that he missed one. It wasn't on for long, just short-striking the bait, but didn't get hooked up. Hite knows how precarious each hook-up can be and fought the big fish very carefully before trying to land it.

-- Rob Russow

11:13 a.m.

Iaconelli is still looking to cull again. He spent 30 minutes on a long underwater point just west of the check-in dock. Bass started chasing herring on the windy point, and Iaconelli threw on top of the activity and hooked into a 2-pounder, quickly tossing it back.

For the past hour he's been making a big circle in the bay just west of the dock. He's jumping from point to point, making a few casts and then moving to the next.

My boat driver, Chad Hamm, said that's just what he'd be doing if he was fishing today.

"That's just the deal here," Hamm said.

-- Trey Reid

10:50 a.m.

Ask and thou shall receive: Ashley just culled up nearly a pound, putting him about two back from the lead. He picked up his latest keeper on a drop shot rig, which has caught many fish this week. He's still on the first point he hit this morning at Holland's Creek and is just yards away from his second spot. We expect him to hit it up in just a bit.

Though his last fish was a solid keepr, it's still the second to smallest that he's got. No doubt he'd like to cull it before 3 o'clock.

-- David Hunter Jones

10:50 a.m.

There's another live video update coming up in a few minutes. This time Dave Mercer interviews Elite Series rookie Brandon Palaniuk. Be sure to tune in!

10:42 a.m.

We're back to square one, the mouth of Holland's Creek. Ashley's tossing the same baits hoping that the fish are active this time around. He's got four areas he's spending all of his time in and making most all of them work for him. The goal now is to upgrade. The wind has slowed only slightly but is still noticeable.

BASSTrakk has Ashley at 3 pounds off of the lead pace, which he can make up if he culls the two small fish he's got.

-- David Hunter Jones

10:34 a.m.

Something big just happened in the Davy Hite camp. After a long lull that saw Hite work his way down a windblown bank, he hooked up with a good fish on a wakebait. The fish put up quite a fight, with Hite having to go to the front of the boat and then back to the driver's seat. After another run close to the boat, Hite finally pinned it against the hull.

The 4-pound-class fish culled out one around 2 and puts him over 16 pounds.

"There were four or five more swimming with her," Hite said.

There is still a good-sized crowd following Hite despite his drop in the standings, and they let out a big cheer when he put it in the boat.

It was the biggest fish I've seen caught in the afternoon and gives Hite a real shot at winning this thing if he can cull another 2 pounds.

-- Rob Russow

10:24 a.m.

Check out the latest standings from BASSTrakk, which, unofficially, have Iaconelli leading:

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Michael Iaconelli 5 16-00 59-05
2 Brian Snowden 5 17-04 58-05
3 Casey Ashley 5 10-08 56-06
4 Davy Hite 5 14-04 55-07
5 Edwin Evers 5 13-00 52-12
6 Tommy Biffle 5 10-04 52-04
7 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-14 48-05
8 Jami Fralik 3 9-04 48-05
9 Chris Lane 4 8-00 47-00
10 Jeff Conella 1 2-00 44-04
11 Rick Clunn 2 3-13 43-06
12 Kevin Wirth 0 0-00 42-01

10:20 a.m.

Casey Ashley is starting to move more frequently. Maybe he's feeling a sense of urgency with the day wearing on. He's back to the riprap bank where he got pounded by a 2-pounder staight away. He was just hooked up and missed another. Hopefully he won't have to think about what they could have been at the end of the day.

He's still throwing a Sammy-style topwater and a Fluke, opting for the Sammy when he sees a school rise up and feed.

-- David Hunter Jones

10:19 a.m.

Check out the latest BASSTrakk map:

BASSTrakkBASSTrakk

10:16 a.m.

Brian knows it may be over if he gets a 4-pounder plus.

-- Mark Zona

10:16 a.m.

Another bass for Snowden after five more casts. It's under 3 pounds but just barely will cull a fish.

Zona says the swimbait is getting plenty of follows here, too. Snowden grew up in California and no doubt knows the ways of the swimbait.

He has told me tales of catching 11-pounders on topwaters at Castaic. I bet he's getting a similar rush being in this situation.

-- Tommy Sanders

10:12 a.m.

Iaconelli spent 15 minutes on the point that yielded his last fish, by far the longest he's stayed on one spot since we've been following him. But he just picked up and moved again, this time to a long underwater point with the wind blowing into it. We can see the weigh-in stage and vendor tents from here.

-- Trey Reid

10:07 a.m.

We have left Evers to follow Davy Hite. With 14 pounds in the livewell and his smallest a 2-pounder, Hite needs a bigger fish to cull.

Like Evers, Hite has been throwing a swimbait a lot -- along with a Fluke, which seems to be this year's Magic Swimmer. It's amazing how fast these guys get dialed into the best bait for the scenario they are facing. In 2008 when they were here on Murray, the Magic Swimmer played a key roll for almost all of the top 12 finalists.

This year, Steve Kennedy reported that he could not buy a bite with that bait. Instead the Fluke has been in the hands of almost every competitor for it's classic ability to mimic the fleeting action of baitfish. In some cases, the double Fluke rig has been used and a few guys reported getting doubles.

We have seen Hite catch one fish, a small one, but otherwise we are in the doldrums. The afternoon bite should be better today if only because we finally have some wind. It's blowing as hard as it has all week.

-- Rob Russow

9:59 a.m.

Mike Iaconelli just caught a 3.5- to 4-pounder and, in typical Iaconelli fashion, he went nuts. Ike was fist-pumping and screaming to the crowd of a dozen spectator boats.

He culled a 2-pounder, so that should bump up his weight at least a pound and a half, maybe more. (Iaconelli called it a 4-pounder, but he's known to overestimate fish weights.)

He's locking down on this point that produced that fish, throwing a Fluke-type bait. The wind is blowing onto this point and has stirred up the baitfish.

-- Trey Reid

9:57 a.m.

Snowden makes a quick move, maybe 500 yards, and catches two fish on two casts. Both are in the 2-pound range and won't help. But we may be here a few minutes.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:57 a.m.

Ashley is back to his third spot of the day, where he lost a 2-plus. Previously he was working a Sammy-style topwater across a wind-blown point. Right now the whole lake is blown, with steady 10-mile-per-hour winds. He's now back to the Fluke, lobbing it to Rock Island.

He's still got five, but he has two that he needs to cull if he wants a shot at this thing. If he can cull one of his other three fish, he'll be doing something special. The bites he's getting -- while few and far between -- are the right ones.

-- David Hunter Jones

9:56 a.m.

With Iaconelli and Snowden rocking them this morning and Hite starting to build a bigger bag, while Casey Ashley struggles a bit, we all of the sudden have a big battle on our hands, which is apt for an event titled Carolina Clash.

Snowden showed us early just what one of those really big bites can do for someone in this event. One of those guys, or even more compelling, one of the guys below, captures that big fish and the Clash will start getting louder.

Snowden seems to have something working with his prop wash, which is an age-old tactic, especially in the Ozarks around standing timber and bait pods. But it doesn't always work. With a better-than-decent stringer, Snowden can gamble with that.

Meanwhile, you have to believe that Hite and Ashley, the two locals, will be able to peel out some additions to their weight and Iaconelli will have covered enough water to last a lifetime that he could trip across bigger fish. It's shaping up for a fun afternoon.

One thing to note about the prop wash thing. The unofficial version of how that started stems from wildlife officers checking fishermen on the water. They would boat up to an angler to see if they were following the laws of the land and invariably as they got there, the angler would catch one.

When a couple of wildlife officers went out on the water for their own enjoyment, that stuck in their head and utilized their prop wash to get bait moving and the keepers moving after them.

-- Steve Bowman

9:55 a.m.

There's another live video update coming up in a few minutes. This time it's Dave Mercer with current AOY race leader Terry Scroggins. Be sure to tune in!

9:47 a.m.

Snowden's money spot is the cut between two islands. He is fishing the bank of the north island.

Zona says he is keying on a small stretch of rocks 3 feet deep and fish are following his swimbait. Now he cranks up the motor and does the prop wash and stir.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:34 a.m.

We ran across Iaconelli (and a wad of spectator boats) as we came out of the cut from the takeoff to the main lake. We were headed to Hite in Bear Creek, but BASSTrakk has Ike in the lead so we stopped here. But not for long.

Iaconelli is on the move. We've stopped on four spots in 20 minutes. He's hopping around to various points, making a dozen casts and then moving on to another point.

-- Trey Reid

9:33 a.m.

Snowden is headed back to the money spot where he banged them this morning. We're hot on his tail.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:26 a.m.

Ashley just got a limit. But his fifth fish was a small one. Several casts prior to that, he lost a 2-pounder. Ouch (again). But, he's around fish, grinding it out at each spot he hits (this is his third move and fourth spot). It's still early, the wind is going good and hopefully he can put some of it into his sails. We're moving again.

OK, the move was 75 yards to another point. This has been Ashley's pace today: working a spot over with several baits until he's sure there aren't any more acive bass. Jeff Murray says that sometimes it's a matter of timing. The herring may swim across a point in front of a wad of bass, and if Ashley's Fluke (or two) is there, he hooks up.

-- David Hunter Jones

9:26 a.m.

Snowden goes from the inside to the outside of a cove, hooks up with a (purported) giant that wraps around a stick and comes off the hook. He then fires up the engine and does the quick bait stir that Trey Reid reported on earlier on in the blog.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:19 a.m.

Edwin Evers pulls up to his next spot and, within a few casts, fish start schooling right by his boat. Unfortunately, he had just made a long cast and, by the time he reels in, the fish are gone.

He makes a cast parallel to the bank, toward a dock and has a fish short-strike his swimbait. On the next cast, he hooks up with another good fish. Again, he plays the fish around the front of his boat, giving photographer Seigo Saito plenty of opportunities for a good shot. When he grabs this one it looks to be about 3.5 pounds, putting him right at 12 so far today.

The sun is up high and the wind isn't quite as blustery as it was this morning.

-- Rob Russow

9:11 a.m.

Zona must have been a bad influence on Ike, if anyone can really imagine that. He sped off to catch up with Snowden's great day, and, as soon as he does, Ike upgrades to around 16 pounds. That puts him back in the lead.

Zona is our official "cooler" at the moment. Trey Reid is catching up to Ike to see what the difference was that allowed him to start showing out.

But you still have to watch Snowden. If he captures a giant, and he has six hours to hunt for it, then he will be tough at the weigh-in. And there are still a lot of things that could happen with Ashley, Hite and the rest of this field.

Yet again, the final day of an Elite Series doesn't fail to deliver an exciting finish.

-- Steve Bowman

9:07 a.m.

Zona is in the boat with Snowden: "He's just hunting big ones now."

That makes sense; he likely has nothing smaller than 3 pounds in the boat right now.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:05 a.m.

We have bailed on Ike and are now on Brian Snowden. As soon as we got to him he heads in for three bags of ice. One of the bigger fish in his 17-plus-pound limit got a bit too much swimbait and needs some care.

Snowden lost a pound to fish-care penalties yesterday and needs none of that today.

-- Tommy Sanders

9:03 a.m.

Ashley's entourage just watched something heartbreaking: He lost a 2 1/2-pounder near the boat. Ashley swung hard, nailed the fish and did his best to keep it down, but on its first jump, the bass came undone. Ashley appeared unaffected, but knowing that he just lost his limit fish has to weigh on him. Especially since his bite has been slow over all four days.

He's still casting to a wind-blown riprap bank with a double-Fluke rig, single Fluke and what appears to be a swimbait.

-- David Hunter Jones

9:03 a.m.

The wind is really churning out here on the main lake. Evers moved out to a wind-blown point and hooked up with a good fish. He battles it carefully around the trolling motor and gets down in the passenger seat to land it. The bass weighs close to 2.5 pounds and gives him between
9 and 9.5 pounds on the day.

The key to his catches is the cadence that he fishes the Yum Money Minnow swimbait. He's making long casts and burning the bait back to the boat. Evers uses braid with a leader to help with setting the hook on a long cast or when the wind puts a bow in the line.

He's using a stinger treble in addition to his main hook, but that system is obviously not infallible as evidenced by those lost fish earlier. But it is obvious that Evers is trying to do everything he can to hook a short-striker.

With the sun getting higher in the sky, the bite has shut off for Evers, and he is moving at a much faster pace.

-- Rob Russow

9:00 a.m.

We have a new leader, Mike Iaconelli, with five fish that will weigh an estimated 16 pounds.

Check out the latest from BASSTrakk:

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Michael Iaconelli 5 16-00 59-05
2 Brian Snowden 5 17-04 58-05
3 Casey Ashley 4 9-08 55-06
4 Davy Hite 5 13-08 54-11
5 Tommy Biffle 5 10-04 52-04
6 Edwin Evers 5 11-00 50-12
7 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-13 48-04
8 Jami Fralik 2 6-08 47-12
9 Chris Lane 3 7-00 46-00
10 Jeff Conella 0 0-00 42-04
11 Kevin Wirth 0 0-00 42-01
12 Rick Clunn 2 2-06 41-15

-- Hank Weldon

8:59 a.m.

Brian Snowden has caught three fish since we've been watching him, including two since I've been in his boat. The last two didn't improve his weight, but it shows that he's onto something here at this point across from the takeoff.

Snowden said he found this spot during a tournament here in 2008, when the water was much lower. In 2008 a pile of rocks was exposed on this point. Now they're submerged. Snowden is throwing his swimbait to a dying willow tree and quickly and steadily retrieving it over the rock pile. Another key to this point is that it's being steadily buffeted by the wind. Also, there's a small island about 75 yards across from the point, and the windblown water between the point and the island acts like current.

It's tempting to compare Lake Murray to Snowden's home waters in the Missouri Ozarks, but he says there's really no comparison other than his home lakes and Murray both feature clear water.

"It's really totally different because of the blueback herring," Snowden said. "Here, it's all run-and-gun fishing. You fish one point, move on to the next, then move again until you find the herring active. At home, you can find a spot and rely on it time after time, but here you never know when a spot is going to be good. The herring may be on this point one day and then you won't catch them here again for weeks. You just never know."

We know this. Snowden's point across from the takeoff is red hot today. He left it a few minutes ago to try another spot across the lake, but he assured us he'll be back here later.

We're tagging out. Zona and Overstreet are following Snowden now, and we're on the way to find Davy Hite.

-- Steve Bowman

8:51 a.m.

Be sure to check out Dave Mercer's live video updates today. They'll be streamed live at the top of every hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Coming up in a few minutes, Mercer starts things off with his morning recap. Tune in!

8:43 a.m.

Davy Hite has decided he's not going to go down without a fight. He mentioned yesterday that he was due to catch a big bag on this lake. He's been more or less consistent every day and even fell off the pace a bit yesterday.

It looked for a while like Hite might be on pace for another sub-par day. But the last half-hour all that changed.

He's boated a limit that weighs more than yesterday's total and he's on his way. He now has 13-8 and sits in third place.

-- Steve Bowman

8:33 a.m.

As soon as I filed my last entry, Ashley picked up the trolling motor and moved a half-mile around a point to a riprap bank, and I'm sure he's glad he did. On his first cast, he hammered a 2 1/2-pounder, moving back toward the top. It's a long shot to say that this event is his to lose since he came into the day with a 2 1/2-pound lead, but I'm sure he feels the pressure from all over the lake. The last hour or so he went woithout a bite had to wear on him. However, it seems like he's found his mojo.

-- David Hunter Jones

8:33 a.m.

Davy Hite has made a big move into third place.
 
Check out the latest standings from BASSTrakk:

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Brian Snowden 5 17-04 58-05
2 Michael Iaconelli 5 12-00 55-05
3 Davy Hite 5 13-08 54-11
4 Casey Ashley 3 6-08 52-06
5 Tommy Biffle 5 10-04 52-04
6 Edwin Evers 5 10-00 49-12
7 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-13 48-04
8 Chris Lane 3 7-00 46-00
9 Jami Fralik 1 1-08 42-12
10 Jeff Conella 0 0-00 42-04
11 Kevin Wirth 0 0-00 42-01
12 Rick Clunn 1 0-08 39-09

-- Hank Weldon

8:27 a.m.

Check out the Day Four launch photo gallery from this morning.

Fred RoumbanisFred Roumbanis

8:23 a.m.

Ashley is still working the same two areas he has been all morning. He's got three in the boat, and it looks like he's in third place behind Snowden and Iaconelli, who are having banner mornings.

It's been a while since Ashley has set the hook, and if I were an armchair angler, I'd wonder when -- or if -- he's going to move.

-- David Hunter Jones

8:20 a.m.

We left Connella and are now following Brian Snowden. When we pulled up on Snowden at a point just across from the takeoff, he was sitting on the front deck, digging in a tackle box and retying a bait.

I'm in the boat with Snowden now and he said he has about 17 pounds. He just culled to increase his weight a few ounces.

Brian SnowdenBrian Snowden

Snowden is throwing a Money Minnow around the point, and he just fired up his motor to idle in circles in an attempt to stir up the herring. Last time he did it a few minutes ago, he caught a 5-pounder.

An even bigger fish broke his line earlier this morning, he said.

If his pace continues, Snowden could make things interesting.

-- Trey Reid

8:14 a.m.

Ike has kicked Zona out of the boat. He says he's a bad influence. Rather than start an old-school Italian turf war, Zona complies, saying it's "chaos" in the boat.

He has mostly nice things to say about Ike, though, except this: "Somebody needs to tell that dude that break-dancing went out in 1984."

-- Tommy Sanders

8:10 a.m.

Evers kicked me out of the boat to make a long run, but I got some pretty cool pictures of his morning. It would have been better if he could have landed those two big fish he lost on a swimbait.

After the long run, Evers pulls up on a windblown point and immediately finishes out his limit with a 1-pounder and a 1.5-pounder.

That gives him a limit around maybe 7.5 or 8 pounds.

Really, it all goes back to those big bites. Put them in the boat and this is a whole different day. He realistically could have had 15 pounds by now, but at this point, all he can do is put it behind him.

When I asked him why the fish seemed to be more hesitant to bite this year compared to 2008, he pointed to the water clarity. The water is substantially clearer, making the fish even more wary.

-- Rob Russow

8:04 a.m.

Ike has pulled into a pocket and is casting at a boat dock. James Overstreet, who is watching through his lens, sees Ike watching the Fluke as it comes in. A bass is following it and he gets it. No upgrade. He then jumps off a 2 1/2-pounder.

Zona relays that in Ike's words: "You can't do that and win."

-- Tommy Sanders

7:57 a.m.

The latest standings from BASSTrakk:

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Brian Snowden 5 16-12 57-13
2 Michael Iaconelli 5 12-00 55-05
3 Casey Ashley 3 6-08 52-06
4 Tommy Biffle 5 11-00 51-04
5 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-06 47-13
6 Chris Lane 3 7-00 46-00
7 Jami Fralik 1 3-08 45-02
8 Jeff Conella 0 0-00 42-04
9 Kevin Wirth 0 0-00 42-01
10 Edwin Evers 1 1-08 41-04
11 Davy Hite 0 0-00 41-03
12 Rick Clunn 0 0-00 39-09

7:56 a.m.

Everything Ike has fished so far has been on the east side of this lake arm, receiving direct wind, which is brisk. Now he has moved to a more protected bay and is making casts into 15 feet of water. No takers.

-- Tommy Sanders

7:49 a.m.

Ashley is more methodical in his fishing than many other pros are. He's throwing different baits to the same part of two points, which lie roughly 100 yards apart. His biggest fish so far has come from the one he started on, and the two smaller ones came from his other point. Jeff Connella said this morning he'd be all over the place, and from watching Evers yesterday, he'll be doing the same. Ashley is really working these spots over.

It'll be interesting to see how long Ashley will milk these areas. Murray says that the place we are at is at the mouth of Little Hollow Creek.

-- David Hunter Jones

7:48 a.m.

After fishing at this extreme of a pace last week on West Point and this week here on Murray, Evers has to be experiencing a certain amount of mental and physical exhaustion.

"I was hurting the first two days, believe me," Evers said. "I just never got a chance to recuperate."

On the next little point he hits, Evers gets a pack of bass to follow his swimbait in, but none eat it.

"Once you call them up like that, I never get them to come back -- the big ones anyway," Evers said.

He moves to the next small point where he has one swirl and miss. Then after re-rigging, his next cast produced a nice 2.5-pounder that he was able to boat. On a roll, Evers slammed another one that was just a keeper that annihilated his swimbait.

Right now, three fish for 5.5 pounds for Evers.

-- Rob Russow

7:42 a.m.

Ashley just boated a 3-pounder, which up until minutes ago would've put him in the lead, according to BASSTrakk. However, if the big moves that Snowden and Iaconelli have posted are accurate, Ashley's in third thus far. We think he's throwing a drop shot, but we don't want to get too close, as he's working a broad area of a point. The wind is blowing directly into the point, and Ashley is throwing across it.

Casey AshleyCasey Ashley

This day is shaping up to be an interesting one.

-- David Hunter Jones

7:39 a.m.

A lot of attention has been placed on Iaconelli, Evers and Ashley this morning for obvious reasons.

But Brian Snowden is making some noise that he is a force to be reckoned with.

He's, in one description, "smoking them." He has 14 pounds and change with a 5-pounder in the mix, putting him in a neck-and-neck race with Ike.

-- Steve Bowman

7:28 a.m.

David Ward: "Today I am with Edwin Evers. Here is a pic of him working points early."

Edwin EversEdwin Evers

Andy Martin: "Fred Roumbanis is off to a quick start! He has an early limit that will go 10 pounds."

Fred RoumbanisFred Roumbanis

-- Hank Weldon

7:26 a.m.

Jeff Conella told us prior to take off that we'd need plenty of gas today. I see what he meant.

He has hit six spots already.

But Conella has yet to feel the first bite. He's going to need to pick it up to keep pace.

-- Trey Reid

7:25 a.m.

The wind is blowing a steady 10 miles per hour and 15 boats are following Iaconelli.

The sun is shinning bright and the water temperature is 75 degrees. Ike is throwing a Fluke now, rigged with an open hook. His spinnerbait is a 1/2-ounce Molix.

-- Tommy Sanders

7:18 a.m.

The latest from BASSTrakk:

    Fish Day 4 Total
1 Tommy Biffle 3 7-12 49-12
2 Michael Iaconelli 2 4-00 47-05
3 Brian Snowden 3 6-00 47-01
4 Casey Ashley 1 1-00 46-14
5 Fred Roumbanis 4 8-00 46-07
6 Jami Fralik 1 3-08 45-02
7 Chris Lane 2 4-08 43-08
8 Jeff Conella 0 0-00 42-04
9 Kevin Wirth 0 0-00 42-01
10 Edwin Evers 1 1-08 41-04
11 Davy Hite 0 0-00 41-03
12 Rick Clunn 0 0-00 39-09

7:18 a.m.

Ashley just put his second in the boat, another 1 1/2-pound specimen. He's already broken out the spinning rod, which may mean a tough day lies ahead. He's alternating between what appears to be a drop shot on the spinning rod and a swimbait and a topwater.

However, this is just what Edwin Evers was praying for. His bite should be on fire at the moment.

-- David Hunter Jones

7:14 a.m.

Evers called these conditions perfect for fishing with sunny skies and a brisk wind. His frustration is mounting after a few missed fish. The latest came after just arriving at a new spot. On his second or third cast, another big fish jumped all over his swimbait. Halfway back to the boat, it jumped and came off.

Why are these fish coming off?

"If I knew that I'd never lose one."

Even losing the fish, Evers seems really dialed into a pattern and has confidence to finding these new spots.

"Never fished this spot before, just saw it on a map last night," Evers said. "Had one on it too. It was just a very subtle point."

At the next area, a little rise between a small island and the shore, Evers again has a fish swirl on his swimbait and never hooks up. This is part of fishing on clear lakes with blueback herring, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

-- Rob Russow

7:12 a.m.

Ike is throwing a spinnerbait on a windy point not far from take-off. Zona is in the boat with him.

Ike found a boat on his first spot this morning and skipped over to two spots for a quick limit -- 11 pounds.

He is moving fast now and five casts seems to be the max for any one place.

-- Tommy Sanders

7:04 a.m.

We're on Casey Ashley first thing. Being the local favorite has its perks and disadvantages. Positive: he's a got a big fan base. Negative: Most of those fans are following him today. We're amid 20-something boats this morning, most all of which are keeping a respectable distance.

Ashley has yet to swing on a bass, but his bite hasn't been fast and furious like other anglers are experiencing.

One correction from yesterday: I said Jeff Murray (my boat driver, who is very knowledgeable about the lake) is a retired Marine Corps sergeant. The correct terminology is that he's a former Marine. My apologies to all former Marines. A big thanks to all uniformed men and women as well. They're the reason why Ashley is fishing and I'm here reporting. Thank you all. Look for more insight from Murray as the day goes on.

As I finished that last paragraph, Ashley boated a 1 1/2- to 2-pounder. He's off to a good start.

-- David Hunter Jones

7:03 a.m.

We were starting to wonder if there was going to be any early topwater action. Normally in an event like this you start seeing catches coming in almost immediately.

Today it's been almost immediate; some 20 minutes after take off, the catches are starting to filter in.

Iaconelli has two that will weigh around 4 pounds, which puts him in the lead for the moment.

Snowden has a 2 1/2-pounder, Biffle has a 2-pounder and Evers has a 1 1/2-pounder.

The leaderboard hasn't totally shaken up, but the first shots over the bow have been taken.

-- Steve Bowman

7:00 a.m.

With Day Three's biggest bag of over 18 pounds, Edwin Evers not only jumped into the cut from 45th place, but also moved into fourth place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. If he wins today, he would move into second.

Evers has been fishing so fast it defies imagination. When he gets close to a spot he is going to fish, he makes a loop with the boat and then pops up on the front deck before he is even off plane. That's important when these guys are trying to capitalize on every bite early in the morning.

On his first spot, Evers got a bite on his first cast. The fish short struck a swimbait. Then, just as he says, "Let's go, guys," he hooks up with a fish on a fluke. The bass is quickly tossed into the boat and his first keeper weighs close to 1.5 pounds.

On his next spot he gets a fish to hit twice but doesn't hook up. Then, on his third stop of the day, disaster strikes.

"This is where I made some magic happen yesterday," Evers says.

His third cast with a swimbait gets him a vicious strike and a 5-pound bass surfaces with a shake of its head. As it nears the boat, Evers goes to swing it in and it comes off. He collapses to hIs knees after that one, knowing that was the quality fish he needed today.

-- Rob Russow

6:49 a.m.

Some of the best parts of Sunday's coverage come every hour on the hour with Dave Mercer's live video updates.

Mercer is tireless to the point of being pesky about keeping up with every move these guys make, then it boils it all down into a form that is worth tuning into watch.

Those updates start at 9 a.m., with a morning recap of the week's action and what has taken place thus far on the water. It will be the place where you can see great fish catches and interviews.

The schedule for today looks like this:

9 a.m.:  Mercer's morning recap
10 a.m.: Terry Scroggins, current leader in the AOY race
11 a.m.: Brandon Palaniuk, the Federation Nation phenom
Noon: Jason Quinn, a Carolina-lake expert
1 pm.: Gerald Swindle, who is having an incredible year

Don't miss any of them.

-- Steve Bowman

6:48 a.m.

Everyone is on their way and it won't be long before we start seeing some reports from Sanders and Zona, who is in the back pocket of Iaconelli.

David Jones should be on Casey Ashley, Rob Russow with Edwin Evers and Trey Reid with Jeff Connella -- and we have Marshals filling in the blanks.

Today will be one of the more consistent weather days we will see all week. It should be mostly sunny with temperatures in the 80s. Winds will be mostly non-existent until midday when they start blowing out the west/Southwest at about 10 miles per hour.

-- Steve Bowman

6:29 a.m.

Kevin Wirth seems surprised to be fishing today.

"I don't know how I got here," he said. "I haven't really been on anything solid all week, but somehow it all came together."

Wirth told me that, unlike many of the other finalists, he isn't too concerned about capitalizing on the eaely topwater bite.

"To be honest, I haven't caught too many on that herring deal," Wirth said. "I've caught most of my fish in the middle of the day."

The later bite may be important today. There's no wind this morning and the sun isn't up yet, but it looks like we're in store for a bluebird day.

But that doesn't seem to bother Wirth, either.

"I'm just going here and there," he said. "I'm not sure where I'm going or what I'm doing. But that's how it's been all week."

-- Trey Reid

6:27 a.m.

The story lines in place today are numerous. Just a quick look down the standings and you can see several possibilities on how this event can turn out.

Obviously at top is Casey Ashley, a hometown favorite, intimate with the lake and its blueback herring. He's in the driver's seat looking as if all he has to do is coast into the championship. But he has Davy Hite chasing him. Both have the same intimate knowledge, same hometown spin and all the other things that come with fishing familiar water, except Hite may have more experience.

Then there is Michael Iaconelli, who strangely enough has been relatively quiet all week, suddenly emerged as a contender on Day Three. Iaconelli on a full head of steam is hard to stop. That old "never-give-up" thing works well for him.

Following them are the shallow-water experts busting big bags like Jeff Connella and Tommy Biffle. Both are considered dirty-water guys. There's nothing dirty about Murray. As a matter of fact, the prevailing complaint by those Elite guys driving home today has been "it's too clear." But Connella and Biffle seem to have something figured out, well enough to sit here on Day Four and make us wonder if they could do it again.

Edwin Evers is fighting an emotional battle to get back in and stay in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. He jumped from the mid 40s yesterday to get here and, if he stays on path, could throw some major drama into the points race by the end of the day.

There's the excitement of Rick Clunn, who is the sentimental favorite of every angler in the country. The master has things he can still teach us. We've seen him come from behind before. We'd love to see it again.

The wonders continue all the way to the 12th position,  where Fred Roumbanis, who actually led going into Day Three, sits. He won here in 2008  by running way up the river and catching a final-day big sack on a topwater frog. This year he's been around the dam, throwing a drop shot in an extreme opposite approach to 2008.

It worked until yesterday and this morning he told Tommy Sanders that his plans were to head back to those winning waters of 2008, with a frog in hand and see if he can re-create the magic.

The anglers are getting ready to take off, and from an eyes on the water standpoint, we have the usual suspects keeping us posted on what could happen.

It should be an interesting day to say the least.

-- Steve Bowman

Day Three - Lake Murray

2:59 p.m.

Watch Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona break down Day Three of the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash on Hooked Up! at 3 p.m. ET

2:49 p.m.

For those wondering how the fishing was affected by the change in weather, take a look at the BASSTrakk summary of fish caught by hour:

6-7 a.m.: 24 fish

7-8 a.m.: 69 fish

8-9 a.m.: 65 fish

9-10 a.m.: 47 fish

10-11 a.m.: 29 fish

11-12 p.m.: 29 fish

12-1 p.m.: 30 fish

1-2 p.m.: 19 fish

2-3 p.m.: 5 fish

I guess that also answers the question of whether or not the storms helped fishing: only 5 fish were caught since the front was moving through. One of those was a pretty important fish by Edwin Evers that culled him up to 17 pounds, the biggest bag of the day.

Also, it's pretty clear where the bite started tapering off. Once the clouds moved out around 10 a.m., anglers were catching less than half as many fish as during the morning.

That's not just the keeper fish, but any bass put in the boat.

As the weigh-in nears, it will be interesting to see how the final 12 finishes out. One thing is for sure, all eyes will be on the weather tomorrow.

-- Rob Russow

2:47 p.m.

Check in is in 15 minutes, and it doesn't look like the leaderboard has moved much in quite some time.

The passing weather this morning, then showers now seem to have shut the bite down for today.

According to BASSTrakk, about two and a half pounds separate the top six, with Snowden and Ike tied for third. Kevin Wirth and Chris Lane have already checked in, each sitting on their weigh-in bag.

Wirth estimates he's got 15 pounds or so, Chris Lane about the same. Lane had two nice keepers and a pair of peanuts that he no doubt would like to have culled.

Both feel fairly confident they'll be fishing tomorrow. In a few minutes, we'll let the scales do the talking.

--David Hunter Jones

 

2:45 p.m.

Jason Williamson’s sisters sang the national anthem Friday at the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash.

The 21-year-old twins, Kayla and Nicole, often team up to perform, and sang at the 2008 version of the Clash as well as at other Elite tournaments near their Aiken, S.C. home.

They sung at the Clarks Hill event of the Elite Series in May 2010, which Jason Williamson won.

“So it was really special that time,” Nicole said.

“We come to see Jason whenever we can,” Kayla added.

The sisters said they have performed together all their lives. They began to enter gospel competitions when they were 14.

Now they are college students aiming for medical careers. Williamson (the Elite pro) was in 18th place after two days.

-- Deb Johnson

 

2:39 p.m.

Many Elite pros are skipping flukes on Lake Murray this week, trying to key in on the pattern of bass busting spawning blueback herring, the lake’s prolific forage. Marty Robinson, using a double fluke rig, hooked two bass on it Thursday at the same time. He fought them long enough to see both of the fish. “One was bigger than the other, about 4 pounds,” he said. “They pulled against each other, and the heavier fish won.” If neither fish had won the tug-of-war, Robinson would have fared much better on the first day’s leaderboard. Still, he went into Day Three in 11th place. Robinson, local favorite from Lyman, S.C., has fished Lake Murray for years. -- Deb Johnson

2:29 p.m. Marshal update

Randy Scruggs: "Persistence finally pays off for Wellman. Nice three pounder."

Max Doty: "David Walker decided to show up."

Will Leads: "With the cloud cover, Chris Lane is looking for a late bite on top. Distant thunder and a local choir of cicadas make for a potentially productive cove. Come on Chris!"

Michael Parsons: "Edwin is culling." 

-- Hank Weldon

2:19 p.m.

When media outlets around Columbia, S.C., learned how an Elite pro helped rescue a man and a 2-year-old Thursday on Lake Murray, they wanted the story.

Suddenly Elite pro James Niggemeyer and his Day One marshal, Russ Sorrells of Lancaster, S.C., were on TV and being interviewed by various area print media.

Bassmaster.com’s own Don Barone wrote about the incident.

The next day, Niggemeyer did not make the cut to fish Saturday.

“I guess this one’s over for me,” he said. “But it’s not over for that child,” a reported said.

“That is what’s important here, isn’t it?” Niggemeyer replied.

-- Deb Johnson

2:12 p.m.

The rain has started falling on site here at the Dreher Island State Park.

We can hear it tapping on the metal roof of the media trailer as the final hour of the day unfolds. This is the first real rain since the tournament began and we will have to keep a close eye on BASSTrakk to see if it has any impact on the fishing.

-- Rob Russow

1:56 p.m.

Saturday morning on the takeoff dock, a man in a red shirt stood close to the edge, clutching plastic plates in his left hand. He said he was

Garry Frick from Indianapolis, Ind., and that he had been a Marshal on Friday, riding out with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Lee Sisson.

Saturday, Frick turned out to show his support for Sisson, a first-year Elite pro who had made his second top-50 cut of the year. Frick grabbed what was available — throwaway dinnerware — to create simple hand-written messages to hold up so Sisson would see them.

Plate No. 1 read: “Lee, Good Luck!”

“Friday, when I got in the boat and sat down, I could tell there was something weighing on him heavy,” Frick said. “He said, ‘I’m kind of torn about being here or home in Winter Haven, Florida.’

I asked him what he meant, and he began to tell me the story.”

Sisson, as Frick related it, was a new grandfather, the baby his son’s. The child was born weighing 2 1/2 pounds.

“Lee said they had to take the child early because the 36-year-old mother, Jennifer, had been diagnosed with a recurrence of brain cancer,” Frick said.. “Lee said he wanted to go home, but he wanted to try to win $10,000 to give to the new parents.”

Sisson began the day in 40th place, well inside the top-50 “money” cutline that pays $10,000 through 49th place.

Plate No. 2 read: “One fish at a time.”

“He didn’t have a fish in the boat until about 10:30, and he was getting a little bit worried. But then he started figuring it out and got a limit, but you could see he was still worried about what was happening at home,” Frick related.

Frick readily related to medical troubles. He had recovered last year from a broken neck, an accident that happened when he was wade fishing. In January he fell into a diabetic coma in his home during a winter storm. A firefighter neighbor discovered him after four days, near death, said Frick.

“I know what I went through, and I’m OK now, so it’s no comparison to what Lee and his loved ones are going through. I’m the lucky one, and I wanted to show my support for Lee out there fishing today. He told me that if I had one prayer to spare, that I could send it to Jennifer.”

Plate No. 3: “One prayer for Jennifer.”

-- Deb Johnson

1:45 p.m.

With another front moving in, the bass seem to be in a funk. No one's made any substantial move - Evers included - but the pros are undeterred.

It's hard to say this without sounding like a broken record, but Edwin's tearing up Lake Murray in search of another keeper that he can use to cull.

His performance here is reminiscent of following him on the St. John's River, but with fewer fish being caught. He's making fewer and fewer casts at each spot; he might as well leave his Mercury running.

Even if he doesn't catch another fish, Edwin should - according to BASSTrakk - be fishing tomorrow. Quite an accomplishment considering he started the day in the 30s.

-- David Hunter Jones

1:43 p.m.

It's interesting to see the big sacks of the day so far.

They go in this order:

1. Tommy Biffle 16-15 (In 2nd overall)
2. Edwin Evers, 16-8 (10th)
3. Bradley Roy, 15-0 (11th)
4. Matt Reed, 14-12 (13th
4. Russ Lane, 14-12 (16th)
6. Michael Iaconelli, 14-10 (3rd)
7. Kevin Wirth, 14-8 (5th)
8. Casey Ashley, 13-11 (1st)
9. Terry Butcher, 13-10 (19th)
10. Brian Snowden, 13-4 (3rd)

The weather is starting to change on site. A storm seems to be headed this way. The wind has changed direction and picked up.  A couple of storm cells can be seen from across the lake with rain coming.

That could change things considerably real fast.

-- Steve Bowman

1:40 p.m.

We've talked about Davy Hite's baits and pointed out that he's fishing primarily main lake points. But let's go a little deeper and discuss how exactly he's attacking the points. Most feature some brush or trees in the water; others have rocks or seawalls. Hite starts fishing near the shoreline, making toward any visible cover. Then he works away from the bank, running alongside the point and casting across it. Once at the tip of the underwater point, he casts the length of it toward the bank, running the bait parallel to the point or over the entire length of it. The strategy hasn't produced anything in a while. But he's sticking with it. He needs the bite to pick up if he hopes to wow the hometown fans at today's weigh-in. -- Trey Reid

1:38 p.m.

She's coming. That afternoon thunderstorm might be descending on Columbia just in time for the weigh-in. What a charming thought. That could cause a little shake up at the last minute if the wind and rain stirs these fish up one more time. For now, I'm getting off the water. It looks like it's going to be a downpour. -Rob Russow 1:31 p.m.

 

It's the worst part of the day for those of us watching BassTrakk. At some point in this next hour and a half someone will catch an important fish, either to this event or to the AOY race or to the Classic standings.

This is where triumph and heartbreak come together. If these guys could just focus on this event and not worry about anything but today's outcome, my guess is it would be pretty nonchalant out there at the moment.

Trey Reid and David Jones continue to tell us that nothing could be further from the truth. They are jockeying around each other, fighting for spots, praying for a good bite and doing everything possible to inch up by ounces.

Some of them are fighting for an AOY title, others for a Classic berth, some to make the final 12 even if they are certain to not have a shot at winning. We see this activity with the same things at stake every event, but they are not as pronounced as they are on Murray in these tough conditions.

This is when you can see the profound impact of nothing more than a 12-inch keeper. Mark Davis, for instance, is sitting in 31st place with three fish. Two more keepers with a little belly on them and he could slip into the final 12. Little fish like that could make big moves for a lot of guys.

We're keeping our eyes on it to the point of having them go cross-eyed. But we've seen hardly any action at all in some time.

-- Steve Bowman

1:17 p.m.

Biffle seems like he is content to wait it out near the take-off area.


It wouldn't surprise me if he comes in with more than what BASSTrakk
has him at.

Instead, we get on Kevin VamDam, who has a chance to end the day in the top two on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

KVD is moving around fairly rapidly. The action is brutally slow and I would be surprised if the leaderboard changes a whole lot from this
morning. What wouldn't surprise me is if one or two guys get on the afternoon bite they have claimed to be riding all week.

Fred Roumbanis is one to watch this afternoon, but we are going to stick with KVD to see if he throws down one of his VanDam hammers on this points race.

While many anglers have slowed down as the sun got higher, that word is not in the Oxford-VanDam dictionary. He's still covering water fairly quickly, looking for a bite from an active fish. I may have
seen him make a few casts with a shaky head (gasp!) but not much.

Along with the cloud cover disappearing, the wind has also changed directions from the west to the south. Will that help usher in an afternoon thunderstorm? Ask me after the weigh-in.

There was one hookset from KVD, but he hauled water.

-Rob Russow

1:15 p.m.

OK, so we weren't out toward the mouth of that previous creek far enough to see more pros. Before we left, we saw Davy Hite, (who just talked to Clark Reehm), Terry Scroggins and Lee Sisson. All were moving frequently. It's like musical points. Edwin's still on the hunt for a bigger bite. He's averaging 10 casts per spot before he picks up and moves. I imagine he'll be investing in some Icy Hot for his back after this event; repeatedly picking up that trolling motor has to be wearing on him. Not to mention the fact that he's humming that swimbait along. -David Hunter Jones

1:10 p.m.

Check out our first wave of on the water photos from Lake Murray (click the photo):

 

12:45 p.m.BASSTrakk leaderboard:

Place Angler Fish Day 3 Total
1 Casey Ashley 5 13-11 43-12
2 Tommy Biffle 5 16-15 42-08
3 Michael Iaconelli 5 14-10 41-09
3 Brian Snowder 5 13-04 41-09
5 Kevin Wirth 5 14-08 41-06
6 Davy Hite 5 11-12 41-03
7 Jeff Conella 5 11-03 38-12
8 Edwin Evers 5 16-08 37-12
9 Bradley Roy 5 15-00 37-08
10 Clark Rheem 5 13-04 37-03

12:42 p.m.

Evers is moving, moving, moving, lobbing his swimbait across points.
We haven't seen any other competitors yet, which is surprising, since
Jeff Muray says we're in a good creek.

Evers is fishing shallow water, averaging four feet or so, while
others are slightly deeper. He hasn't picked up a spinning rod but
for a few casts, which probably means he's gunning for another big bite
or two.

Before the boat comes off of pad Evers is up and putting the trolling
motor down. Don't try that at home.

--David Hunter Jones

 

12:35 p.m. - Marshal Update

Lee Cannon: "Mark Menendez catches a two and a half pounder guarding fry under a birch limb."
Kevin Edge: "Russ Lane with a Murray pig."

Randy Scruggs: "The sun has come out so Wellman hunting around some docks. Here is a shot of him trying to coax a bass while a couple looks on."


-- Hank Weldon

 

12:35 p.m.

Clark Reehm is fishing near Todd Faircloth and stops to retie so we
troll over. He's had a pretty good day so far that included a few
double hook ups, one of which he put in th boat. His bite shut off as
soon as the sun came up though.

A bigger problem for Reehm is that he has been sharing water all week.
There is a little milk run of places he goes through and it has been
very similar to what Bradley Roy has been running. Had either angler
had the water to themselves, they likely would have made the 12-cut.
As it is, they will both fall just short unless they can find
something in the afternoon.

Now that the sun is up though, it is even harder to coax the fish into biting.

"I think we've educated these fish after so many days of hammering on
them," Reehm said. "I've had a few fish come chase my bait all the way
to the boat."

That is why the wind and clouds were so critical this morning. For
most of the anglers, those 4-pound bites are gone with the sun.

-Rob Russow


 

12:30 p.m.

Hite is still on the move, and his latest change of venue resulted in a testy exchange of words with Clark Reehm. They pulled up on the same point at the same time. There was a brief argument about who got there first, and Hite pulled away and went elsewhere.

Hite has picked up a spinning outfit and appears to be throwing a jighead worm.

My boat driver, Chad Hamm, says this area has a lot of rock on the bottom.

"It's a real good area,' Hamm said. "I'm not sure why he hasn't been in here more."

--Trey Reid
 

12:13 p.m.

We left Roumbanis with a small limit; he needs to pick it up a bit if
he's going to fish tomorrow, much less retain the lead going into the
final day.

We're now on Evers, who has had a whale of a day. From what we've
seen, he's bombing a 5- or 6-inch swimbait, trying to fire up schools
of herring-chasing bass.

"I'm doing OK, I just need to cull out some more," he said in between casts.

He largely keying on the same cover - docks and visible cover - as
Roumbanis, and some of their areas overlap as well.

Evers is fishing as Evers does - lots of moving and fast winding.

--David Hunter Jones

 

12:10 p.m.

The sunny skies have brought pleasure boaters out in mass quantities
and running around Lake Murray is like being in a bathtub. We are
currently in search of Tommy Biffle, who has quietly racked up one of
the bigger bags of the day.

I'm surprised by his performance here. Let's just say I don't think
many people had him on their fantasy team. Maybe we should have.
Biffle has turned into one of the more consistent competitors on the
Elite Series, finishing in the top 10 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster
Angler of the Year standing in four of the past five years. You would
be hard pressed to find anyone else that consistent outside of KVD and
Skeet of course.

The other surprise is that Biffle has done his damage here on th
southern end rather than up the river. You can bet if they were up
there he would be catching them, but really the only guy up that far
is Rick Clunn.

We are still searching for Biffle, but he often proves elusive.

-Rob Russow

 

12:04 p.m.

Just doing the quick math in my head on the AOY race (and it should be noted this is no way official) it appears as if Terry Scroggins should retain the lead in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

He's caught enough to make that happen, at least for the moment, and assuming a lot of folks below him don't wack the snot out of them in the next few hours. But the race is tightening.

Scroggins should wind up on top. KVD, who is 23rd at the moment, could get to second, if he keeps up the pace. Alton Jones should be in third, with Edwin Evers riding his charge into fourth place. They would, or could, be as close as 60 points from each other. The way the points are, that could be the difference in an event between 1st and 20th place.

On Lake Murray that differential has been 5-pounds, which is just one maniac lunker chasing a blueback that gets hooked up and actually gets to the boat.

My math gets fuzzy after those four. But again, it's obvious how key every bite and every fish in this event will be to the eventual winner of the title.

We expect some of those key bites to come during the rest of the day.

-- Steve Bowman


 

11:56 a.m.

Skeet Reese missed another cut? He’s on Hooked Up! at noon to explain the bite on Murray and why he thinks he’s in the midst of the worst season he’s had in years.
 

11:45 a.m.

Hite traded up a few minutes ago, culling for the first time today. I'm not sure how much it helped him, but he probably gained a half pound for his total.

--Trey Reid
 

11:40 a.m.

Rick Clunn mentioned the other day that the first three hours of this event were key. We are well past that and if that continues to hold then it could play right into Casey Ashley's hands.

He's at the top of the leaderboard now with Biffle and Iaconelli breathing down his neck. It will be interesting from this point on how much damage will be done.

Trey Reid tells us Hite is having trouble culling and he will need to if he wants to stay in the top three of this event.

Meanwhile, Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona tell us that Ashley, while confident, hasn't had many bites in the last hour or so. And to make matters worse, the wind, which is the friend of every angler fishing the post-spawn, has virtually died.

Weather forecasts call for afternoon thunder showers, which could help. But the clouds that were thick this morning have given way to a blue-bird day, which is something all the anglers will feel.

-- Steve Bowman


 

11:35 a.m.

Watch all the BASSCam videos from Lake Murray

Mark Zona has been on the water with leader Casey Ashley all day. We also have video of Day Two leader Fred Roumbanis and video on the boat from our Marshals.

 

11:18 a.m.

What began as an overcast, drizzly day has turned beautiful. The sun
is out, but Roumbanis' bite has slowed, opposite of what we were
expecting to happen. We're having to keep the trolling motor on high
to keep pace with Roumbanis; he's covering some serious water.

Roumbanis just passed Kevin Wirth a while ago, only to have Wirth jump
ahead of Fred minutes later. Activity on the lake has picked up as
well, with jet skis, pontoons and striper boats skittering about.

-David Hunter Jones

11:09 a.m.

BASSTrakk Leaderboard

Place Angler Fish Day 3 Total
1 Casey Ashley 5 13-11 43-12
2 Tommy Biffle 5 16-15 42-08
3 Michael Iaconelli 5 14-10 41-09
4 Davy Hite 5 11-08 40-15
5 Brian Snowden 5 11-08 39-13
6 Kevin Wirth 5 11-12 38-10
7 Jeff Conella 5 10-09 38-02
8 Edwin Evers 5 16-08 37-12
9 Clark Rheem 5 13-04 37-03
10 Chris Lane 5 12-04 36-11

 

11:08 a.m.

Davy Hite is still looking to cull. He hasn't caught a fish since completing his limit an hour ago. He has made three moves since we last checked in, stopping on two more points before going back to the place that yielded his best fish today. But the return trip didn't produce this time, and we are on the move again.

Cloud cover through most of the morning has extended the topwater bite, but the sun is shining brightly now, so it's doubtful we'll see much more of the topwater from Hite.

-- Trey Reid
 

11:07 a.m.

As we ran back to the ramp to drop off photos and videos, Ott Defoe
was fishing near the off-limits area. One of the guys running the
Skeeter demo rides was watching Defoe through his binoculars and
reported that he had caught one fish since he was there.

Defoe is having a great first year on the Elite Series, leading the
Rookie of the Year standings and in the top-10 in the Toyota Tundra
Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, an impressive achievement given
both the strength of this year's rookie class and the talented Elite
Series field that Defoe fishes against day in and day out. Yesterday,
he stumbled and only managed a limit of small fish, but the bigger
ones have been biting so far on Day Three and he has put together a
limit over 13 pounds.

He fell to 49th yesterday, just making the cut by 3 ounces and that
might be what gets in the way of his fishing tomorrow, but a good
charge nevertheless.

-Rob Russow
 

10:54 a.m.

Watch the 11 a.m. Toyota Hooked Up! live update with Dave Mercer and guest Jason Quinn.
 

10:28 a.m.

Ashley makes a move to a new spot – about a half mile away. He catches a quick fish for a half pound upgrade. We figure he has near 16 pounds right now.

-- Tommy Sanders
 

10:27 a.m.

A look at where the anglers are on the lake:

10:17 a.m.

The way things stand now, the race for this event continues to tighten up. But on another level, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race is getting even more compelling

Take a look at Edwin Evers on BASSTrakk. He's having one of those Evers' Days like we saw at St. Johns.

He's currently in fourth in the tourney standings, up from 45th yesterday. That's a giant leap.

Likewise in the AOY point standings, if he were to hold that position he would jump from his 9th place position at the start of the day third overall and right back in the middle of the race it looked like he was stubbing his toe on.

Of all the anglers in that race, few have made it abundantly clear like Evers has, that an AOY title is front and center of his cross hairs.

His day continues and he will not only be gunning down all those in front of him at Lake Murray but will score a huge hit in the AOY standings.

-- Steve Bowman
 

10:15 a.m.

Roumbanis has five in the boat now. His Marshal estimates them between
four and five pounds, though this may be slightly less than his actual
total.

He's sticking to his drop shot rig, and covering a lot of water. While
Davy Hite and others are running points, Roumbanis has been on the
trolling motor all morning, covering just as much water.

Time to upgrade.

--David Hunter Jones
 

10:05 a.m.

As we watched Iaconelli, my boat driver Wayne made a comment to me
saying, "Notice Iaconelli hasn't gotten a bite the past few stops
since he came over to this side of the creek."

What was the biggest difference?

Wind.

On the windblown shoreline, it was every stop, at least one or two
fish. Once he made the move across to the other side, Ike wasn't
getting those bites. This side was more protected and while it looked
just like the areas he was getting bites, there was no wind and
nothing was active.

Looking at the daily catches, the fish have turned on and I'd be
willing to bet the wind was a major factor in that.

-- Rob Russow
 

10:03 a.m.

BASSTrakk Leaderboard

Place Angler Fish Day 3 Total
1 Casey Ashley 5 12-06 42-07
2 Michael Iaconelli 5 14-10 41-09
3 Davy Hite 5 11-08 40-15
4 Brian Snowden 5 11-00 39-05
5 Jeff Conella 4 10-09 38-02
6 Edwin Evers 5 16-08 37-12
7 Kevin Wirth 5 10-00 36-14
8 Chris Lane 5 12-04 36-11
9 Morizu Shimizu 4 9-12 35-03
9 Fred Roumbanis 4 4-08 35-01

 

9:57 a.m.

Casey Ashley just pulled up to a spot and said: "I can't believe no else is fishing this place. It's the biggest community hole on the lake."

He is fishing with big-time confidence now, alternating between topwaters and a fluke.

-- Tommy Sanders
 

9:50 a.m.

Casey headed back to the rip-rap bank and missed a good one, then catches a solid 3-pounder. He's in the 15-pound range now

-- Tommy Sanders

 

9:49 a.m.

Davy Hite has a limit, boating his best fish today just a minute ago. We're calling it 3.5 pounds, and he caught it within sight of the takeoff and weigh-in site.

Hite was throwing a topwater bait at surface activity, and he actually hooked two fish on the bait.

"the other one was even bigger," Hite yelled to the gallery of spectator boats.

Hite should have about 13 pounds now, and he seems content to work over this area for a while. And that's fine with me after chasing him all over the lake this morning.

-- Trey Reid
 

9:34 a.m.

Roumbanis just put his fourth in the boat for about 4 1/2 pounds
total. He's sticking to the drop shot rig, which he's lost several
fish on as well as caught all of his fish. We've moved deeper into
another pocket with - you guessed it - more docks.

Jeff Murray says that there's a poker run on Lake Murray today which
begins around 10 o'clock. There should 30-foot-plus cigarette boats
tearing up and down the lake. Several checkpoints on docks, which may
affect Fred's bite one way or another. At this pace, he should have a
limit before then.

--David Hunter Jones
 

9:23 a.m.

Ike is getting bites on every place he stops, they are all just
smaller fish. With a good limit in the well already, he's looking for
a larger fish.

The one's he seems to be catching are hanging in little packs. He
often quickly catches another after putting one in the boat.

This is the longest it has stayed cloudy during the tournament. On Day
One it was overcast for a few hours, but that quickly gave way to
sunny skies, which remained all through yesterday. The hot sunny
conditions didn't help anyone except Roumbanis and many of the anglers
said this morning that clouds and especially wind were going to help.

From being out on the water the last three days, I can say the bite is
definitely better. I saw more fish being caught in 20 minutes on
Scroggins than I did the last two days combined.

Ike has made three moves in the last 15 minutes and has caught one small keeper.

--Rob Russow
 

9:20 a.m

The morning bite on this third day of the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash is living up to its name so far. 

Here are what our marshals are reporting.

 Kevin Edge: "Russ Lane gets on a flurry.  He catches a four pounder and the two at a time!"

 


 

Terry Collins: "Jeff Conella's third bass, a three pounder."

 

Eric Faulk: "Casey Ashely has four in the boat.  Zona is in the boat with him and keeping things interesting."

Michael Parsons: "Edwin Evers nails a five pounder."

 

Will Eads: "Chris Lane just moved to his third spot. I'm not sure he is capable of being negative. He's doing really well this morning.  He just made his second cull witha  three pounder.  It whacked a swimbait!."

 

John Johnston:  "Crews is now culling."

 

Lee Cannon: " Mark Menendez is dragging a rig on a point.  He has three fish that will go seven and a half pounds."

-- Hank Weldon

 

9:07 a.m.

Roumbanis is getting plenty of bites, but getting them to the boat has
been problematic.

"That one over there was a big one," he said after he lost yet another
fish. "This one was a little one."

 If he were fishing perfectly, he'd probably have four fish in the well.

He's still using a drop shot, pitching it alongside docks and to
visible cover. He's reeling it in quickly, stopping briefly to shake
it. He's also firing a walking topwater bait out into deeper water off
of points, but has yet to get a bite doing that.

Clouds are still blanketing Lake Murray, and the winds in Roumbanis'
cove have slicked off. He's back to thespinning reel now, as he
approaches another set of docks.

--David Hunter Jones
 

9:05 a.m.

With another solid cull Scroggins is pushing 10 pounds and that should
pretty much secure the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year
lead for him, barring a monster day from VanDam. He's capable of it as
we all know, but Scroggins may not even give him the chance if he can
get a big fish and sneak into the 12-cut.

After Scroggins makes a run, we move over to watch Mike Iaconelli, who
has snuck into the lead temporarily. After a short move, he pulls up
on a shore with a tree sticking part of the ways into the water. On
his first cast, he hooks up with a small keeper that won't help him
cull up from 14 pounds. He sticks another small one on the next cast
and then has one come off.

"He stole my bait," Iaconelli yells, entertaining the spectators and
his Marshal.

He seems to be fishing loose and joking around, which bodes well for
his day. Like Ike always seems to do, he is bouncing from point to
point and evey place in between. Right now, he needs a big one to make
this race even more interesting.

-- Rob Russow
 

8:57 a.m.

Casey Ashley continues to jump between the same three points all within a quarter of a mile of each other.

Mark Zona points out that it is frustrating to know how many good fish are all all around and yet be so uncatchable.

-- Tommy Sanders
 

8:52 a.m.

Mark down No. 4 for Davy Hite. His latest fish should push his total to near 10 pounds.

Hite continues to hit main lake points, but at the moment he's fishing a more subtle bank contour between two bigger points. There are several flooded trees, and Hite is throwing at them with a topwater and a Fluke.

He has stayed on this spot longer than any of the past several stops.

Just as I typed that, he made a move. But this time he only moved 100 yards to fish an island between that last point and the main lake.

-- Trey Reid


 

8:38 a.m.

Fred Roumbains just put his first fish in the boat, a 1-pounder. The
following cast he set the hook, had a brief battle, but the fish came
unbuttoned. He's batting .250 right now, having set the hook four
times and only boating one bass.

Roumbanis has a spinning rod in hand with a drop shot tied on. Jeff
Murray says that what Fred is doing should be productive, which it
already has been. The sun is trying to peek through the clouds, which
should bunch the bass up, and position them on the posts of the docks.
When he's not near a dock, he pitches the rig to shallow cover.

With the Hite and Ashley a leg up on Roumbanis, Fred's far form out of
it. If I recall correctly, he said his Day Tow bite was a later one.
Things should just be heating up for him now.

--David Hunter Jones
 

8:23 a.m.

Scroggins hasn't been far from the take-off at Dreher Island State
Park and this morning it was a zoo there. Weekend traffic picked up
big time with what looked to be a club tournament in the area. As we
idled around there, every point and bridge corner was covered by local
boats. Maybe they had a rule that they had to remain in sight of the
take-off area, because that was just crazy to have so many boats
there.

Scroggins picks up the pace with a reaction bait and hooks up almost
immediately. The 1.5-pound bass is quickly in the boat and Scroggins
is culling. He must have caught one more when we were coming around
the island because I didn't see him catch his limit fish. That gives
him right around 9 pounds.

Even as I type that Scroggins hooks up again and culls again. He's
catching them fast but they aren't very big. The last cull was just
ounces. He's somewhere in the 10-pound range.

In the background Davy Hite comes running into the area followed by a
dozen spectator boats. As he sets down, Scroggins catches another
keeper, but this one won't help. He's definitely found a sweet spot up
there.

-Rob Russow

 

8:37 a.m.

The morning bite on this third day of the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash is living up to its name so far. 

Here are what our marshals are reporting.

Will Eads: "Chris Lane is very cordial. His first spot had some locals on it.  He asked very nicely if he could fish and they nicely accepted.  Then Bam! He catches his first keeper."

Michael Parsons: "Edwin Evers is on the board quickly."


Randy Scruggs:  "Nate Wellman sets the hook early. It ended up being a stripped bass."


Max Doty: "Super Dave Smith is on the board.  Check out the video on BASSCam."

Reginald Crews: (These were all received from 6:37am ET - 7:03am ET)

"Tommy Biffle just got a nice three pounder.  Biffle just added anouther bass to his catch. He's on a good pattern.  Two fish in less than 20 casts.  Biffle just reeled in a sweet Lake Murray three and a half pounder.  HE'S ON FIRE!"

According to BASSTrakk that has Biffle in the early lead by a little of two pounds.

John Johnston: "Crews is working his fluke magic."


Terry Collins: "Jeff Conella on the board with a two and a half pounder."

-- Hank Weldon

 

8:21 p.m.

A striper guide just trolled within 75 yards of Roumbanis, tossing
dozens of herring out in an attempt to bring stripers to him and his
clients. The water immediately began to boil in a feeding frenzy, and
the clients quickly hooked up.

"The black bass are schooling, too!" the guide hollered. Roumbanis
heard this, turned around and picked up a spook-style bait. He lobbed
in near the feeding frenzy, but didn't hook up. He continued down a
stretch of docks, which terminated into some rip rap, to which he's
now tossing a Fluke-style bait.

We've still got him with two hooksets and zero fish in the well.

--David Hunter Jones

 

8:17 a.m.

Casey moves to a main lake, windier point and immediately boats a 4-pounder about 30 feet from the rip-rap bank.

-- Tommy Sanders
 

8:15 a.m.

Hite just picked up his third keeper, his largest bass this morning. I'm guessing it's about 3 pounds.

The entourage of spectator boats has dwindled to eight, with several breaking off to watch Mike Iaconelli when our parade passed him a few minutes ago.

Now we're off to the races again.

-- Trey Reid
 

8:10 a.m.

At 9 a..m., we will begin our hourly updates with Dave Mercer and carry them out throughout the day.

The following is the schedule of times and anglers who will impart their wisdom on the action taking place on the water.

9 a.m. Randy Howell
10 a.m. Travis Manson
11 a.m. Jason Quinn
12 noon Skeet Reese
1 p.m. Jonathon VanDam
2 p.m. Ask The Experts with Jason Quinn, Gary Klein, Travis Manson, JVD

 

8:08 a.m.

Hite just put his second keeper in the boat, a fish that will weigh about 2-1/2 pounds. He's still hitting main lake points and not staying in any one place for long. And he still has quite a crowd. As much as he's moving around with this flotilla of spectators, the local gas merchants should be smiling.

-- Trey Reid
 

8:07 a.m.

We just picked up Fred Roumbanis, who's getting bites, but not
capitalizing. He set the hook twice since we've been here, but has yet
to get a fish in the boat. He's been throwing a frog (which he won
Murray with two years ago) and a Fluke-style bait. He's fishing docks
in the lower part of the lake near the dam.

Jeff Murray, my boat driver, says that most of the bass around docks
are fry-guarders.

"It's unbeleivable how many fish there are up under those docks," said
Murray, a retired Marine.

-- David Hunter Jones

 

8:06 a.m.

After another handful of casts Scroggins is hooked up again. This fish
is putting up a better fish and Scroggins gets down in the passenger
seat to land it. At the last minute he changes his mind and flings the
fish over his last. That one was a solid 2-pounder and gives him an
easy 7 pounds for the morning.

No big fish bites yet, but Scroggins is being patient. Many other
anglers have been running and gunning points like these, but Scroggins
has camped out on his best few and is grinding it out in true
Scroggins form.

The wind has settled down, but the overcast skies continue. That's
good for Scroggins. Yesterday when the sun was out, he couldn't get a
big fish like he did the first day. Clouds don't make it easy, but at
least he has a chance.

-Rob Russow
 

8:06 a.m.

Casey Ashely says there are a lot of bass in this little spot. The last school that came up had dozens of fish in it.

He now has three fish in the 5-pound range.

-- Mark Zona
 

8:05 a.m.

Currently we have three anglers with limits.

Iaconelli has five that weigh around 11 pounds and it's put him atop the pack. Swindle is next with a 10-pound stringer and KVD has a 9-pound stringer.

That's the top three for the moment. We don't expect to it to stay that way, but those are very important limits that could have far-reaching impacts.

Each of those guys are in a position to win this event. Lake Murray is serving up some toughness this week and no one seems to be immune, yet.

But for those three, limits create points and for every day of remaining in the Elite Series points are critical. It's feasible for KVD to be leading the AOY race at the end of the day if he puts together one of those stringers we're accustomed to seeing from him

While Iaconelli may be out of the running for another AOY title, the points are equally important to him and Swindle. Ike is around 17th place in the AOY, Swindle is 11th after Day Two action.

Swindle is in the Classic and no doubt Ike has his eye on the Red River as well. He's done well there in the past.

But they are also looking at the post-season, where the top 8 in the points will move on to All Star week. With a strong performance here today, Swindle could slip into that elite group. Ike wants to be there as well.

It's just one of the many side stories that these guys have in the back of their minds.

-- Steve Bowman


 

7:50 a.m.

Unlike many of the other competitors, Terry Scroggins has been fishing
slow while everyone else fishes fast. Right now has has two keepers to
show for his morning efforts.

We are checking in on Scroggins because the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster
Angler of the Year race is looking so compelling right now. Alton
Jones stumbled here on Lake Murray, finishing 88th and opening the
door for Scroggins and VanDam, who are both fishing today. If
Scroggins stumbles, Jones could very well retain the lead. If KVD
slams them today, he could jump to the top of the pack.

Like us, all Jones can do is watch.

Even with the cloudy skies the bite has been off for Scroggins. He's
been getting bites, but every time he sets the hook, he comes back
without a worm. Then he misses one when it jumps off.

Patience is one of his many virtues though, and he calmly rerigs a new
bait and puts his Power Poles down to cast repeatedly back to those
areas. Finally, he sets the hook again and this one is stuck. When he
swings it into the boat, it looks to be close to 2 pounds, giving him
just under 5 for his three keepers. A few more keepers and a big bite
and this year-long points race will have a new leader going to Little
Rock.

-Rob Russow

 

7:47 a.m.

Casey Ashley is still stuck on one keeper, about 2-pounds. When the bass do come up and start eating bait, it's right on the bank in this place.
Out further toward the main lake we observed Keith Combs fishing on the point. He leaves and within 3 minutes David Walker pulls up on the same spot, makes 10 casts and moves on. It's like having a dozen mailmen working one little street.
Action is picking up again for Ashley, he just boated another keeper (1 1/2 pounds or less) and has had two others jump off.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

7:16 a.m.

Mark Zona says that dozens of fish were blowing up on this little point yesterday, according to Casey Ashely. But action is more sparse today.

There's a light breeze, thin cloud deck and water temperature is 77.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

7:16 a.m.

Davy Hite just put his first keeper in the boat, about a 2-pounder.
He's got a KVD-like flotilla following him today, making the South
Carolina pro glance over his shoulder now and again. He's on his way
to his fourth stop of the day, another point. None are too far from
the last one he hit.

It seems he's throwing a topwater plug and a fast-moving soft plastic.

My boat driver, Jeff Murray, knows Lake Murray very well and says that
the points Hite has hit thus far are very common, popular places. We'll
see if he doesn't have any out of the way places later on. We
shouldn't have much trouble keeping up with Hite in Murray's Bullet
boat.

--David Hunter Jones

 

7:15 a.m.

Repeated casts to the same area finally paid off for Mike Iaconelli.
He hooked up with a smallish keeper that jumped a few times before Ike
swung it into the boat.

I barely had time to snap a few pictures before it was in the well and
Ike was back casting on the front deck. That fish bit right after he
changed lures and came on a reaction bait fished fast near the top of
the water column.

Mark that one down as close to 2 pounds.

--Rob Russow

 

7:05 a.m.

Ike is fishing fast, from the way he cranks his reel handle to the
quick snaps of his rod. Part of catching these easily-spooked fish is
not giving them long to look at the bait. Trying to imitate the
frenzied action of the blueback herring is not easy.

Still, the area Ike is in seems textbook. He's fishing a point in an
area where the lake necks down and the wind is howling through. These
conditions are more like the best day from practice and the anglers
need to take advantage of it. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone
make a big move into the top-12 cut after busting a big bag.

Nothing from Ike yet, who has been alternating between a few different
lures to no avail.

-Rob Russow

 

7:02 a.m.

Today could be a special day compared to what we've seen all week. Not
only is it overcast, but there is a brisk wind blowing that is the key
to catching these fish.

With the water so clear and the bass in Lake Murray accustomed to
seeing lures, wind stirrin up the top of the water column is a huge
benefit for the fishing. Expect to see much larger bags today,
especially during these early morning hours with low light.

My boat driver Wayne Frierson predicted at least one 20-pound sack.
The closest to that mark has been the 18 pounds Fred Roumbanis brought
in yesterday. Unfortunately for him, those fish came from the sun.

We just got on Mike Iaconelli, who had a big day on Friday.

-Rob Russow

 

7:01 p.m.

It didn't take long for Casey Ashley to get started. He's boated the first keeper of the day, fishing a topwater not far from the take off. That fish gives him the unofficial lead in this event with almost 8 hours to go.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

6:35 a.m.
Waiting for take off: Fred Roumbanis is still charged up from his big day yesterday. He had a big one that wrapped twice around a stump. He wouldn't give up on it and stayed with it for 20 minutes and it actually unwrapped itself.

That was the kind of day he had.

"Yesterday I was just fishing chicken, protecting points. Then I caught a 5-pounder and then I'm not fishing chicken anymore,'' he said.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

 

6:30 A.M.

Casey Ashley said after Friday's weigh-in that clouds and wind today would help prolong the topwater bite based on the fading blue-back herring spawn. So with high clouds floating over Lake Murray this morning, what's he thinking now?

"i said clouds AND wind," Ashley said. "The clouds definitely won't hurt, but we need wind. We need something to break up the water. These fish can see you way before you see them. The clouds may extend the bite, but it won't make it any easier. These fish have been up so long, they're educated. They come up and blow up on the herring, but it only happens once or twice a day, and if you miss it, you miss it."

Once again, capitalizing on early opportunities will go a long way in determining the top 12.

-- Tre Reid

6:29 A.M.

The day is set to begin and the first thing you notice this morning is the cloud cover that is laying over the lake.

We had storms here last night and weatherman promises of scattered storms all day. How that will impact today's event is anyone's guess.

Cloud cover is typically a great thing for post-spawn anglers. But this is a blueback herring lake. They like to get on the bank and spawn when the sun is out, so there are some anglers who really don't want to see that.

Then there are others who are welcoming it. Those are the ones who are taking advantage of shallow fish that are there because of the bluegill spawn. Cloudy weather works well in that scenario.

So already we're seeing the possibility of some changes that could take place today.

Other factors that will come into play are the big numbers of local anglers on the water. There are several tourneys going on around the lake, so a lot of those community holes that pros typically exploit really well will be covered up.

But on this side of things we have four boats on the water with Mark Zona, Tommy Sanders, James Overstreet, Trey Reid. David Jones and Rob Russow, all of whom should be able to give us a good view of what is taking place. Along with that is the BassTrakk, so there will be a lot to watch as this semi-final day starts to take shape.

-- Steve Bowman

advertisement

advertisement