DEL RIO, Texas — Kevin Short literally went from hero to zero at Lake Amistad last March. When he went from third place with 33 pounds, 6 ounces on Day One to 59th place with zero fish on Day Two, it marked the most frustrating day in the 46-year-old Mayflower, Ark., native's professional bass fishing career.
"Without a doubt," Short acknowledged.
Saturday, Short buried the ghost haunting him for over a year now. Sunday, he'll try to put a headstone on its grave with a victory in the Bassmaster Elite Series Battle on the Border presented by Mahindra Tractors.
Short moved from 18th place into a tie for third with a five-bass limit weighing 31-6 Saturday. With his two-day total of 53-3, he is only 2-9 behind leader Jason Williamson's 55-12.
When asked if he had as good a shot as anybody at winning today's $100,000 first prize, Short responded, "Hell yeah! What am I, a little over 2 pounds back? I made up 9 pounds yesterday."
Another factor adding to Short's confidence prior to Sunday's 9 a.m. ET take-off was the relatively calm winds that barely put a ripple on Lake Amistad's 67,000 acres.
"It's going to be real interesting," Short said, "because the guys who caught the easy fish the last two days when the wind was blowing, that might not work so well when it dies. I think it's going to be good for what I'm doing."
The wind isn't expected to blow at more than 5 miles per hour today, under cloudless skies.
When Short came to Lake Amistad this year, after his 2007 Battle on the Border meltdown, he decided to learn from his mistake.
"Where I'm fishing, I can see the same pockets where I caught 30 pounds last year," he said. "When I came down here, I said I was going to go back in there and figure out where those fish are.
"They live right there. They don't go anywhere. They move up, spawn and go right back out.
"I really got locked into the way I caught them the first day. The first day was cloudy, windy, and the fish were real active. The second day, there wasn't as much wind and clouds. The fish pulled back out into the first set of trees out from the flat pockets. Guys caught them flipping into the trees that day. I never did it."
Day Two last year never left his mind Saturday, which became Day Two at this tournament when Thursday's competition was canceled due to a forecast of high winds.
"I thought about it all day," Short said. "Yesterday when I got up to about 24 pounds, I thought, 'I'm finally going to get me a check at Amistad.'
This is the third year we've been here. The first year, I missed the (50) cut by about 1 1/2 pounds. Last year, I was about 1 1/2 pounds out. I'm like, 'This (stuff's) over with.'"
Short wasn't predicting a victory Sunday morning. He knows he's got a good shot — but he also knows that with only 11-2 separating first place from 12th place, anybody fishing today has a chance to win.
If not him, Short thinks Mike McClelland, who is tied with him in third place, has the best odds. McClelland and Kevin VanDam are the only anglers who have won three tournaments in the two-plus seasons of the Elite Series tour.
He's done it three times," Short said of McClelland. "He knows how to close one out.
"The only unknown here is — look at (Greg) Hackney. You catch an 11-pounder and — boom. There are a lot of big fish swimming in here."
Hackney moved from 32nd place to seventh Saturday with a 28-13 limit that was anchored by the Purolator Big Bass of the day, which weighed 11-11 and is also the biggest fish of the tournament so far.
Williamson, the 27-year-old, Aiken, S.C., resident, knows his lead isn't safe from anyone down the standings from him, with those big bass swimming in Lake Amistad.
"When you're 10 pounds behind, and you're here on Amistad, it's one swing to get a 10-pounder," Williamson said. "It's got a lot of 10-, 12-pound fish in it."
Today's weigh-in begins at 5:50 p.m. ET at the East Diablo Marina.