2011 Elite Series - Diamond Drive Arkansas River - Little Rock, AR, Jun 9 - 12, 2011

Diamond Drive Day Two Blog

Day Two - Arkansas River

3:09 p.m.

The boats are off and if they are in the second flight they are haulin to get there and could make it.

James Hall said there are about 11 boats really getting it. The rest don't seem too concerned.

The first flight though are officially late. They get a 1-pound penalty for each minute they are late up to 15 minutes and then it's DQ.

It's a good bet none of them have more than 14 pounds, so it's official, any first flight guys will have a lot "what ifs" for the rest of the night.

Meanwhile, the lockmaster is working diligently on getting the boats mentioned earlier through the lock as fast as possible. Time for us to get to the weigh in and see who made it and who didn't, who benefitted from it and who didn't and what impact it might have had on the AOY race and this event.

Come back tomrrow and join us for all types of fun.

--Steve Bowman

 

3:04 p.m.

This is what it looks like at the moment in the lock.

3:00 p.m.

The gates have yet to open so that means any of those guys in the first flight will be late.

On the upstream side:

Kevin Short, Skeet Reese, Brian Snowden, Bradley Hallam and Boyd Duckett just showed up to the upstream side and are officially locked out.

That doesn't mean they won't get through if they are in the late flights. But they are hurting for sure. Unlike those watching this blog, they had no idea that this barge and drama were playing out.

--Steve Bowman

 

2:54 p.m.

The boats are moving into the lock. There are close to two dozen boats jockeying to get in at this moment. The lockmaster is on the edge gettng the guys to hurry up, so he can shut the gate and get them through.

 

As I type this the gates are being shut. James Hall can't see any one rushing to get to the lock, so everyone should make it in the lock.

 

Now all that remains is to see how quick they can dump the lock and get them on their way. The first flight is probably late. Second will be close.

--Steve Bowman

 

2:51 p.m.

While we are waiting for the barge to clear check out James Overstreet's on-the-water gallery.

 

2:47 p.m.

The barge is moving, at a snail's pace. As soon as it clears they will be able to load.

Stay tuned.

 

2:44 p.m.

Still waiting to hear from James Hall when the barge moves. It hasn't yet. Once it moves, those guys will be able to laod into the dock. It will take about 15 minutes to empty and then get the gates open.

Then there is about a 7-minute run to the check-in. That means any first flight boats (3 p.m. check in) will be late. The 2nd flight (3:15) will be cutting it close and the later flights after that could be in good shape, if the barge will leave the lock real soon.

--Steve Bowman

 

2:40 p.m.

David Jones and James Hall just sent a piece of video of the barge in the lock. Check it out here

 

2:35 p.m.

The lockmaster just announced to the anglers below the dam that he will let them get through as soon as possible. James Hall said there are about 12 boats within his eyesight waiting.

The buzzer just went off to send the barge out of the lock. Stay tuned.

--Steve Bowman

 

2:33 p.m.

I just spoke with James Hall who is at the Murray Lock. He said the barge is still in the lck and they expect the doors to open any second. A group of Elite anglers are sitting there waiting for the first chance to get in.

As soon as that happens, we'll give you and update.

 

2:17 p.m.

Brutal day. Dave Wolak stuck in the mud after boating a 2.5lb largemouth. Notice the small generator on the back deck. Some anglers use these to keep batteries fresh when running livewells on non-stop during the relentless heat

--Eric Pinter

 

2:09 p.m.

 

Sure, there’s one more tournament after this one, but the Diamond Drive will prove critical for those seeking Classic berths.

The top 28 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings after next week’s Dixie Duel receive bids to the 2012 Classic, as do winners of each Elite and Open tournament, and KVD as reigning champ.

There are eight bids already taken, meaning the Classic cut will now take up to 36th place in the season-long points race. Jason Williamson occupies that final spot, and he helped himself with a 10th-place start on Day One.

Just outside the bubble right now is Mark Davis, Greg Hackney, Kelly Jordon, Brian Snowden and Denny Brauer, who’s now in line to jump into the cut. Of course, if he finishes this off, he’s in the Classic anyway.

Ish Monroe (50th AOY) and Billy McCaghren (53rd) stood second and fourth, respectively, after one day and moves like that could help them climb up and punch their tickets.

On the opposite end, several within the cut now are hurting for certain. Pat Golden, who has fallen steadily since being among the top 8 early this season, sits 91st here and needs to make some magic happen if he doesn’t want to fall out from the 21st AOY slot. Same goes for David Walker, 26th in AOY, 93rd in the Diamond Drive.

How it shakes out in the end is anyone’s guess, but there’s sure to be some exposed nerves at today’s weigh-in.

-Mike Suchan

 

1:58 p.m.

I've been wracking my brains trying to remember another time in a big Bassmaster event when locks played a role in the outcome.

The only one that comes to mind is the 1987 Bassmaster Classic that George Cochran won. Ironically, Cochran cut his fishing teeth right here in the Littel Rock Pool. He stayed close to win that event, while Gary Klein got locked out with a stringer that would have won the event for him.

I try to stay optimistic, so it's my guess that these guys will get back. But it will create some tense moments for the lot of them.

By the end of the day, the whole field, even those who went south to Pine Bluff, may feel a lttle more vulnerable when they leave in the morning.

On this end, I'm surprised this is the first barge that has upset the flow of things. When the Great Flood of 2011 rolled down the Mississippi River, it suspended a lot of barge traffic and barge captains have been working overtime to get everything rolling again.

--Steve Bowman

 

1:46 p.m.

Just talked to the lockmaster at the Murray Lock, which separates Pools 6 and 7. They are in the middle of getting the second set of a double barge into the lock.

He expects once that is done and the barge and tug is upstream that he will get the boats into the lock as soon as possible and then out as soon as possible.

His hopes are to have them out by 3 p.m., but as he says "I can't promise."

We expect nothing less. Everyone in the event knew commercial traffic took precedence when they entered the lock this morning. This is just one of those things you deal with on the river.

Currently, it looks like it's a 50/50 shot that they will get back in time.

--Steve Bowman

1:28 p.m.

That is a potential bombshell that James Hall served up from Scott Rook. There could be as many as three dozen anglers above the lock who may not make it to the weigh-in on time.

Below you will see the photo of that pool and the anglers we are tracking that are in that pool. They include these names:

Mark Davis
Ott Defoe
Ish Monroe
Michael Iaconelli
Edwin Evers
Jami Fralick
Andy Montgomery
Nate Wellman
Greg Hackney
John Crews
Jared Lintner
Brian Snowden
Kelly Jordan
Bobby Lane
David Walker
Alton Jones

Those are just the guys we are tracking.

If the barge that is there actually does keep some of those guys from getting through there will be tons of heart breaks. Skeet was building a big bag. Ish Monroe is one of our leaders, John Crews is having a good tournament, Edwin Evers needs every ounce he can get. Sme guys need what they have to make the Classic.

The story lines are numerous. Cross your fingers.

--Steve Bowman

 

1:21 p.m.

Martens left 'em biting to go find a kicker fish, so we scooted down the river to find another angler. We ran across Scott Rook who was stowing his trolling motor. He has four fish. But most importantly, Rook said that a barge is in the lock between Pools 6 and 7, which is bad news for Elite anglers in Pool 7.

"It will be a minimum 2 hour wait from right now before they get that barge out of there. Those guys in Pools 7 and 8 are in real trouble. They will be late to weigh-in," Rook said.

We are heading back to the ramp to prepare for weigh-in. I hope Rook is wrong ... because 1/3 of the field is on the wrong side of that barge.

--James Hall

 

1:15 p.m.

 

Place Angler Fish Day Two Total
1 Denny Brauer 5 12-01 26-11
2 Kevin VanDam 5 9-08 22-04
3 Takahiro Omori 4 11-00 21-05
4 Aaron Martens 5 10-04 20-12
5 Gerald Swindle 5 12-00 20-04
6 Randy Howell 5 9-06 18-12
7 Brent Chapman 4 8-12 18-05
8 Todd Faircloth 4 11-00 18-00
9 Greg Vinson 3 7-00 17-06
10 Ish Monroe 2 2-12 17-04
11 Mark Davis 3 8-08 17-02
12 Jason Williamson 2 6-00 17-00

 

1:12 p.m.

Not a lot of action on the water. Martens went through that flurry and it's my guess that outer pool anglers are headed back. Not having eyes on every one makes it difficult to even guess how this will end up as far as the tournament goes.

But when it coems to the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, VanDam looks like he's going to scare it to death for another day. Anything can still happen tomorrow, and there are no guarantees that he will get back today. But if all holds, KVD will keep his AOY lead.

The guys who can challenge _ Alton, Scroggins, Evers, Kennedy _ aren't putting together the kind of push they need. Evers has been off the grid and Kennedy has been catching them, but they all need VanDam to stumble and roll around on the ground for a bit for them to catch him.

There is still a lot of time and one more tournament left. But KVD could be breaking out the icing if someone doesn't do something quick.

--Steve Bowman

 

 

12:53 p.m.

Culling time for Martens. Keeper No. 6, a 2 1/2-pound largemouth, ate his drop shot and culled a small spotted bass. He estimates that he has 11 pounds now.


"When it jumped I just saw air around where it was hooked! That made me nervous," Martens exclaimed. He also had to navigate around rebarb jutting out around the rocks he's fishing.

--James Hall

 

12:42 p.m.

The anglers in Pine Bluff are heading back to the lock so we are heading in too. It will be interesting to see who is back tomorrow, not only in the top 50, but making the run again too. Some might decide it just won't be worth it. For most, it will be.

The angler to watch at today's weigh-in will be a VanDam, but not the one you are expecting. Jonathan VanDam crushed them today (he blanked yesterday) and he was close enough to Denny Brauer to carry on a conversation. That little ledge they are fishing is churning out quality fish left and right.

The cut was 6.5 pounds yesterday. VanDam has over 10 and if one spectator can be believed, it might be closer to 15 pounds. I'm going to say 12 to 13 to be safe, which would put him right on the bubble.
The point is, Brauer might not have the spot all to himself. He'll have the one brushpile he's been fishing, but he won't be able to move around much. Fortunately, he has one or two other little spots that can produce a fish or two.

If VanDam should make the cut, it will be the first time I remember an angler making the 50-cut after posting a zero on Day One. An impressive comeback regardless of the outcome.
-Rob Russow

 

12:33 p.m.

A limit for Martens! His fifth fish was a 2 1/2-pound largemouth. It fell for the drop shot.

"These fish are eating in 3 to 5 feet of water. They like the big rocks, it seems," he said.

He is putting on quite a show with his diminutive finesse rig. It will be hard to put it down for a frog, like he said he was going to do, if he continues catching solid fish.

-- James Hall

That puts him in fourth place in the BASSTrakk standings, a couple pounds behind Swindle.

--Steve Bowman

 

12:28 p.m.

I keep looking at these standings and wondering what is missing. Rob's blog on Billy McCaghren reminded me. Not only is he missing, but so is Rook, Short, Browning and Hackney and a possible sleeper James Stricklin.

Browning and Hackney have trackers on them but neither have worked since they locked through early this morning. Both ar eexperts on this river, or as close to that as you can get. Rook and Short were in the 6-pound range going in to today. Both have won big here in the past. One or both will likely catch them today. james Stricklin lived here for years and fished river tournaments and knows what to do.

All the later ones sucked it up yesterday. Some of those guys will surely get on track today.

--Steve Bowman

 

12:25 p.m.

McCaghren has detailed notes on all the offshore spots he has been rotating around on. Unlike yesterday when we saw a lot of fish caught in the afternoon, today has been slow and hot. The wind from this morning has died off and so has the bite.

McCaghren has four keepers and he is struggling to back up his successful Day One effort. He makes another move now, trying to come across an active bass or two. There haven't been many of those around lately.

Anglers have less than 20 minutes left before locking, but things are far from over. Yesterday we left Steve Kennedy with three keepers just before heading in. He weighed in over 10 pounds. That could happen to one of these guys short of a limit now and could change the complexion of this top-50 cut.

-Rob Russow

 

12:24 p.m.

Keeper No. 4 for Martens! This looks to be a 2-pound largemouth. He's figured something out with his drop shot. He's throwing his rig upcurrent along rock-laden banks and letting it drift naturally back.

"The current is nothing in here compared to yesterday. And the water's falling. So, I figured I needed to finesse 'em," he explained.

--James Hall

 

12:21 p.m.

Gerald Swindle just jumped into our top 12. He's caught a 12-pound limit and sits in third among those anglers we are following. Another angler with a better sack than he had the day before.

--Steve Bowman

 

12:18 p.m.

Martens just caught a small keeper (spotted bass) on his drop shot rig. He's using a dark brow/green Roboworm on the business end, dipping it in JJ's Magic attractant. His drop-shot weight is only 1/16-ounce "To reduce snagging." All three of his keepers have come in the past 35 minutes. He feels like he might be able to get his limit here.

--James Hall

 

12:17 p.m.

Just down from Hite is Aaron Martens. The California pro is known for his unorthodox approach to catching bass, and his tctics on the Arkansas River illustrate this fact perfectly. Unlike everyone else, Martens is drop shotting a small worm. he's missed quite a few bites, he said. His goal is to get another two keepers in the boat and then head south where he'll target grass patches with a frog in an attempt to catch a kicker.

--James Hall

 

12:10 p.m.

Here are some stats that we were able to pull from BASSTrakk based on the anglers who have units in their boats and who are also inside the top 12.

Pool Four:

Six of the Top Twelve are fishing in Pool Four. More specifically Pine Bluff Harbor. Brauer VanDam and Paulinik all have limits in their boats. Vinson and Kennedy have three fish. Keith Poche has one.
Total weight for this pool is: 45-12
Average fish being caught in Pool Four is 2.07 pounds

Pool Five:

Two of the Top Twelve are in Pool Five right now.
Total weight for this pool is 7-04
Average fish size is 2.41 pounds

Pool Six:

Two of the Top Twelve in this pool. Combs is recording a limit out of this pool.
Total weigh from this pool is 14-09
Average fish is 1.6 pounds

Pool Seven:

Two of the Top Twelve are in this pool right now.
Total weight: 8-00
Average fish size: 2.67 pounds

-- Hank Weldon

Here is a look at the leader board:

Place Angler Fish Day Two Total Pool
1 Denny Brauer 5 12-01 26-11 4
2 Kevin VanDam 5 9-08 22-04 4
3 Greg Vinson 3 7-00 17-06 4
4 Ish Monroe 2 2-12 17-04 7
5 Randy Howell 4 7-12 17-02 6
6 Keith Combs 5 6-13 16-01 6
7 Brandon Palaniuk 5 12-00 15-10 4
8 John Crews 4 5-04 15-05 7
9 Steve Kennedy 3 4-07 11-13 4
10 Keith Poche 1 0-12 14-04 4
11 Jason Williamson 1 3-00 12-11 5
12 Brent Chapman 2 4-04 13-13 5

 

12:05 p.m.

A few minutes ago we had a computer glitch and this blog went down for about 10 minutes.

That was my fault. I am not an electronic genius, obviously. My generation the closest things to electroincs we had in the house was the rabbit ears on top of the TV. And on the water, it was a sculling paddle.

Hopefully, I won't push the wrong button again.

--Steve Bowman

 

12 noon

Hite, like basically everyone else in the field, is switching between flipping a soft plastic bait and cranking. I have noticed that all the guys are casting with their left hands. This way, they never have to swap hands to cast and likely get hundreds more casts in a days fishing than they would otherwise. Hite has chosen a firetiger crank, another favorite choice among the Elite anglers this week.

--James Hall

 

11:56 p.m.

Desperately seeking an angler with a limit, we've run across Davey Hite, fishing the main river near the launch ramp on Pool 6. Although he doesn't have five, he does have more keepers than any other angler we've talked to.-- he has two 2 1/2-pound largemouth and one small spotted bass.

"I lost a solid 3 1/2 pounder a couple of minutes ago that just broke my heart!" he admitted. After having boat issues yesterday, Hite's rig is running flawlessly today.

--James Hall

 

11:36 a.m.

We just pulled up on Jeff Kriet. He's having a tough day. He has one small keeper in the livewell and just missed a really nice one. "I pulled my bait over a stem and I a 3 1/2 pounder rolled on it. I jerked and missed. Bad deal!" the Oklahoma pro exclaimed. He is flipping main river grass with a tube.

"I hate throwing a tube! I lose everything on a tube. It's the only thing I can get bit on, though," he said.

Kreit fished Pool 5 yesterday and they dropped the bottom out of it. He stayed in Pool 6 today, hoping the water wouldn't fluctuate, However, it's dropping now.

-- James Hall

 

11:36 a.m.

Kevin VanDam talks about the Arkansas River and his gameplan for Two of the Diamond Drive in his latest blog -- Fishin' on Instincts.

 

11:35 a.m.

Kevin VanDam was working towards the same area we saw him catch the big one. It is a little rise just off the shore and one thing we noticed is that there were shad flickering on the surface.

On his first cast he hooks and loses a small bass and then for two more casts catches short fish. That's it for activity though, he caught the ones that were up feeding and then nothing.

An observer told us he had just culled before we pulled up. Although he hasn't gotten the big bite like he did yesterday, he'll still be right up there with another consistent bag. On this river, consistency will rule. Avoid that bad day and you will be in contention to walk away with the top prize.

Time to find local favorite Billy McCaghren, who had over 13 pounds yesterday and is fishing nearby.

-Rob Russow

 

11:17 a.m.

We finally made it back to Pool 6. We used BASSTrakk to locate Shaw Grigsby and as we pulled up on him, he stowed his trolling motor and started idling to the back of an extremely shallow cove.

My boat driver can't get back there. Grigsby barely got back there, as his engine was kicking up mud the entire trip, even with the motor trimmed as high as it could go and still keep the prop in the water.

didn't get a chance to ask if he had any luck thus far. There's no elling how long he'll spend back there, so we are going to go looking for other anglers.

-James Hall

 

11:10 a.m.

Technology being as reliable as it is, the live blog has experienced some technical difficulties. We lost some data but are working to continue our broadcast.

11:04 a.m.

Brauer decided to make a move so we took the time to catch up with one of the spectators who has been following Brauer all day.

He confirmed my suspicions that Brauer has around 12.5 pounds right now. The spectator also gave us JVD's story.

JVD weighed a goose egg yesterday, but before leaving the Harbor for the day, pulled up on the ledge we see him on and broke off a good fish. He returned first thing this morning and caught four fish and then the big one we just saw.

He could be looking at one of the biggest bags of the tournament so far. We are now hunting for KVD, to see if he can keep AOY pressure on the rest of the contenders.

-Rob Russow

 

10:49 a.m.

 

 

 

 

  Angler Fish Day Two Total
  Denny Brauer 5 12-01 26-11
  Kevin VanDam 5 9-08 22-04
  Greg Vinson 3 7-00 17-06
  Randy Howell 3 6-00 15-06
  Brandon Palaniuk 5 11-12 15-06
  John Crews 4 5-04 15-05
  Keith Combs 4 5-12 14-6
  Steve Kennedy 3 4-07 11-13
  Ish Monroe 0 0-00 14-08
  Keith Poche 1 0-12 14-04
  Jason Williamson 1 3-00 12-11
 

 

10:31 a.m.

After breaking off that last fish, the bite seemed to die off on Brauer's ledge. He changed up baits and then had to sit and watch as JVD hooked up with a good bass. JVD played the bass around the side of his boat and the reached down, but the fish was still too far away to land. In a style that would have made Byron Velvick proud, JVD hand lined the big fish the rest of the way and got his hand around what looked to be a 4-pounder.

Just a few seconds later, Brauer responded with a fish of his own. Stepping nimbly like a ballerina, Brauer danced to the back and grabbed the 3-pounder. That filled out his limit and put him into a commanding lead. Whatever brush is on that ledge Brauer is fishing must have some magic because it is just kicking out fish and Brauer is dialed in beautifully.

-Rob Russow

10:22 a.m.

John Crews is shallow cranking down a wall with boat docks and water willow. He has four small keepers --- in other words, almost a fine limit for these conditions and looking really good for this early in the day.

--Tommy Sanders

Crews is sitting in 5th overall in our standings.

--Steve Bowman

10:21 a.m.

Brandon Palaniuk has scored the first limit of the day. he has five for 11 pounds and change. That puts him in fourth overall for the guys we are tracking. And it's a definite improvement over his 4-pound weight yesterday. Not to mention another example of how these stringers are likely going to be up and down for sevral of these guys after today.

--Steve Bowman

10:12 a.m.

Paul Chapman wants some Denny Brauer coverage and he's come to the right place. Brauer is back in the Pine Bluff Harbor and you might be surprised to know he's fishing off the bank.
In fact, he just threw out a marker buoy after going on a tear. He set the hook three casts in a row. The first two resulted in two 3-pound caliber bass, while the last one he missed.
Poor Jonathan VanDam is just down the ledge and hasn't gotten a bite. It must be hard to watch the tournament leader hammering on the fish just 20 yards from where you sit hauling water.
Part of it may be the methodical nature with which Brauer is seining this ledge.
-Rob Russow

10:11 a.m.

All year long several pros have talked about how important it is to just go fishing. Well today it seems that is what Skeet Reese is doing. He is laughing, joking and smiling his way to a big rally. After a tough year maybe it's this tough tournament on the Arkansas River that will wake up the beast of the last few years. Even with 2 pounds yesterday Skeet Reese is not out of this. If he can get a couple more good bites today this could get very interesting.

--Dave Mercer

10:10 a.m.

 

 

 

Place

Angler

Fish

Day Two

Total

1

Kevin VanDam

4

7-00

19-12

2

Randy Howell

3

6-00

15-06

2

Greg Vinson

2

5-00

15-06

4

John Crews

4

5-04

15-05

5

Denny Brauer

0

0-00

14-10

6

Steve Kennedy

3

4-07

14-09

6

Ish Monroe

0

0-00

14-08

8

Jason Williamson

1

3-00

14-00

9

Brent Chapman

2

4-04

13-13

10

Greg Hackney

3

5-04

13-10

11

Keith Poche

0

0-00

13-08

12

Billy McCaghren

0

0-00

13-03

-- Hank Weldon

10:02 a.m.

There’s a chink in KVD’s armor.

“Hell yes, he snores,” Scott Rook reported.

KVD is staying at Rook’s house in suburban Little Rock this week, but even before VanDam took the AOY lead, he was resting peacefully.

“As soon as his head hits the pillow, he’s snoring,” said Rook, also his roommate on the road.

Even though he’s in his own bed, Rook might not have slept as well. He reported losing two four-pounders on Day One that he said would have given him around 14 pounds, right there with the leaders.

“I had one and really stuck it, and it got under the boat and the bait just came out of his mouth,” he said.

He hooked seven keepers on the day but only reeled in three, putting him right at the 50 cut with 6-7, disappointing since he’s on his home water.

The moving water is throwing the curveball; he said it’s up and down, up and down. “Pool 7 came up three feet.”

--Mike Suchan

10:01 a.m.

A quick look at Iaconelli, who is furiously fishing a spinnerbait through a laydown tree. Everything about him -- speech, attitude, body language and speed of fishing says he's really tired of this "few and far between fish" deal.

--Tommy Sanders

10:00 a.m.

A fifth fish eluded Edwin Evers on Thursday, and that tore him up some, but he’s not about to give up on his AOY hopes.

“It was rough out there, but I’m not out of it,” he said. “It can definitely be lost, but it can’t be won.”

As KVD jumped into the AOY lead, Evers followed by climbing to second as Scroggins and Jones faltered. He realizes it’s only one day though, and the points will jumble around some more.

Evers stands in 30th with 8-7, and a limit might have gotten him into the teens.

“I’ve just got to get some good bites,” he said. “I need about 10-12 pounds to be in good shape.”

Making the top 50 is in his sights now, then he hopes to pull off a repeat of the St. Johns River, where he moved up each day then finished with a victory.

Catching fish on the Arkansas River isn’t the issue, he said, it’s finding the right ones, like the lunker the propelled him in the Power-Pole Citrus Slam.

“Yeah, that’s the trick here, finding them,” he said.

--Mike Suchan

9:58 a.m.

As Omori trolled up to a wooden seawall, he picked up his flipping rod and pitched a creature bait to the face. He immediately got a bite, slammed back is rod and missed. Seemingly unaffected, he attached a new bait, flipped back in and couldn't get another bite. Each miss has to really weigh on these guys seeing how low the weights were yesterday. Omori is making short casts to the bank, twitching the bait once, then reeling in for his next cast.

--James Hall

9:56 a.m.

Takahiro is casting a Bagley crank, eerily similar in color (chartreuse, black back) that he used to win the Bassmaster Classic. He is having a tough day so far, catching a couple of short bass and one small keeper. He is casting his shallow diver across the faces of the floating boat docks,cranking the bait down and then under the cover trying to intersect fish hiding well beneath the edges.

--James Hall

9:53 a.m.

After that initial flurry, Poche couldn't buy another bite. He made a few passes on his hot stretch of riprap before pulling the trolling motor up and moving down the river, away from the Harbor.

Back farther in we found Kevin VanDam working a ledge out in the middle of the Harbor. According to spectators, VanDam had already put another bass in the boat, one he played for a considerable amount of time. He does have a cameraman in the boat with him, so maybe he was playing to the camera, but it's doubtful. VanDam is all business and he's well on his way to duplicating yesterday's success.
-Rob Russow

9:46 a.m.

This a quick look at where all the guys we are tracking are today:

This is the Pine Bluff Harbor in Pool 4, where a big portion of the field is competing.

This is Pool 6, or the Little Rock Pool where the take-off and weigh-ins are being held.

 

This Pool 7, the pool above the Little Rock Pool

 

 

This is Pool 8, or the Toad Suck Pool, where Mark Davis seems lonely. But there were other anglers outside the top 50 with him yesterday.

 

 

And this is a wide view of the river of (left to right) Pools 7, 6, 5 and 4.

 

 

 

9:42 a.m.

Just down from Niggemeyer is Jason Williamson and Takahiro Omori. The two are also fishing docks. Williamson is alternating between a crank and flipping a soft plastic to the pilings. He has only one keeper in the boat so far. Unlike the main river, this giant backwater area of Pool 5 is riddled with docks. Most of them are floating. Current and water flow have very little to do with how these guys are hoping to catch bass, which could play into their favor if the fish here decide to eat.

--James Hall

 

9:29 a.m.

Steve Kennedy knows the volatility of the Arkansas River on the AOY race. His 18th on Day One allowed him to climb two spots to third in the AOY, leapfrogging Terry Scroggins and Alton Jones.

He knows there will be more repositioning after today.

“It has the potential to knock some guys out,” he said. “You can catch a lot of fish, but it’s catching the keepers.”

Kennedy said he had only six keeper bites on Day One, and only one big bite.

“If you mess one or two up, you don’t have a lot of opportunities,” he said, pointing to Matt Reed’s day as an example of what can happen.

“He had three keepers going through the lock, and when we came back, he still had only three keepers.”

--Mike Suchan

 

9:25 a.m.

We left Chapman to see who else decided to fish Pool 5 and ran into James Niggemeyer. The Texas pro struggled yesterday, only bringing 5-5 to the scales. His luck hasn't been much better today as he has yet to land a keeper.

He has caught a handful of dinks. Niggemeyer is the first pro I've covered not cranking rock exclusively. He is in a backwater area targeting docks and shoreline structure with a Strike King KVD 1.5. He is opting for a white crank.

--James Hall

 

9:12 a.m.

Skeet Reese's great start on Day Two is a prime example of how the Arkansas River acts for the locals around here. Most places you can go and get on something and it will at least last for two days.

The Arkansas River, though, changes all the time, hourly to hourly, literally.

In talking with Reese before the event, he felt good about an area upriver, but it obviously didn't pan out on Day One. Looks like it's a better day today. He catches a limit and he will make the 50-cut.

He needs that type day to salvage a poor year after a season ago when he was "lights out" at every event. Go Skeet. Nice to have you back.

--Steve Bowman

 

9:09a.m.

There are 28 boats are back in the Pine Bluff Harbor today, not including Keith Poche, who was is third place yesterday and is cranking the riprap at the mouth. Before all of the boats had passed him, he had hooked up with his first fish of the day. As he went to swing the bass into the boat, it shook its head and came off.

Poche was clearly disappointed, since yesterday all his fish came before 10 and then he backed off. A few casts later, he boater another fish, this one short of the 15-inch minimum. Then another short fish a few casts later.
Just like yesterday, the anglers have to wade through a bunch of short fish to get to the keepers.
-Rob Russow

 

9:07 a.m.

Skeet Reese is working the bank deliberately, flipping and cranking -- he caught one fish before locking and now has two more - -a three and a five pounder -- so after a dismal Day One he is definitely back in the cut picture.

--Tommy Sanders

 

9:06 a.m.

Chapman is altrernating between two cranks (one craw colored, one chartreuse) and a dark worm that he is flipping to the sporadic clumps of grass. He says there is no rhyme or reason to the location of the fish he's catching. His game plan is to cover as much water as possible to increase his odds of finding a keeper. He believes the flow in this section is a little stronger than yesterday, which may help his bite.

--James Hall

 

8:57 p.m.

 

 

 

Place

Angler

Fish

Day Two

Total

1

Kevin Vandam

2

3-00

15-12

2

John Crews

4

5-04

15-05

3

Denny Brauer

0

0-00

14-10

4

Ish Monroe

0

0-00

14-08

5

Brent Chapman

3

4-04

13-13

6

Keith Poche

0

0-00

13-08

6

Billy McCaghren

0

0-00

13-03

8

Shaw Grisby

0

0-00

13-00

9

Andy Montgomery

1

2-00

12-13

10

Steve Kennedy

1

2-08

12-10

11

Clark Rheem

0

0-00

12-06

12

Greg Hackney

2

3-12

12-02

-- Hank Weldon

 

8:54 p.m.

We finally located an angler. Brent Chapman, who currently sits in 22nd place after a 9-9 showing yesterday. He is fishing the lower portion of Pool 5. He says he's landed two keeper largmeouth so far that will go around 4 pounds. He's beneath some high-voltage power lines that are crackling above his head. He is focusing on rock with a craw colored crankbait.

--James Hall

 

8:52 p.m.

Despite his boat issues on Day One, Alton Jones still has hopes for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. There was plenty of movement Thursday, but today’s weigh-in will add significant clarity to the AOY race.
“If none of the other contenders make the top 50, and Kevin (VanDam) is in the top 12, it’s going to be pretty hard to catch him,” said Alton Jones, who entered this tournament tied with VanDam, 19 points behind AOY leader Terry Scroggins. “But I’m not ready to make that determination yet. All I’ve got to do is go out and have a good day fishing.”
See Steve Wright’s report:

 

8:46 p.m.

Rob Russow, who is sitting in Pine Bluff anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Elite flotilla, reminds me that the anglers have yet to arrive. KVD's two fish were actually caught above the lock. I guess I'm ready for them to get there as well so we can start to see some movement on the leaderboard.

Right now we see a couple of one fish and two fish catches, with John Crews' four being the closest to a limit.

With the water dropping in Pine Bluff, then the drops there will get better or should get better. So maybe the action will start to pick up when they get there.

--Steve Bowman

 

8:45 a.m.

After running half of Pool 5, we have only seen two other anglers beyond Wolak (Dustin Wilkes and Craig Schuff). It seems the vast majority of the 46 anglers we counted in the lock this morning also locked through to Pool 4. Gus Fisher, my boat driver, says there is one big backwater area before we reach the next lock and that some anglers may be fishing there. Otherwise, we will be forced to lock into the next Pool as well.

--James Hall

 

8:29 a.m.

Kevin VanDam is like a rabid dog. he smells blood and always steps it up a notch. He has two in the boat after his long run to Pine Bluff. They weigh around 3 pounds total and he's now in the lead with 15-12 for two days.

-- Steve Bowman

 

8:24 a.m.

John Crews has taken the unofficial lead in this event, at least for the moment, and according to our tracking units that are only on 50 boats.

He has four fish that weigh around 5 pounds. That's not going to set the world on fire. But with the 10 pounds he had yesterday, he's assured of fishing tomorrow. He's catching them in the Pool 7, within sight of a half dozen other anglers.

--Steve Bowman

 

8:21 a.m.

In my mind, today might be the most important to the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. If Kevin VanDam can put together another dominant day on the Arkansas River, he won't be denied at Wheeler. If he has just an average day, that will open the door for the guys who did poorly yesterday. But if he leaves Little Rock with a big enough lead, and today will be a big factor in that, he will be hard to stop.
I'm ready for these anglers to be here now, to see what changes they will need to make. Likely, they will be coming through the lock around 8:40, if it is anything like yesterday.
The wind has really picked up and is a real saving grace for these anglers. Imagine if they had to fish under slick calm conditions. The wind breaks up the surface of the water and really helps the crankbait bite a lot of these guys are counting on.
-Rob Russow

 

8:18 a.m.

We are finally on the water after watching 46 competitors lock through from Pool 6 to Pool 5. Several will continue through the next lock down to Pine Bluff. The first angler we've come across is Dave Wolak who only had 3-2 yesterday. This morning, he's already boated 20 pounds ... of drum. We've watched him wade through a bunch of small bass and he says he has a 14-inch spotted bass in his livewell.

--James Hall

 

8:06 a.m.

More dock talk:

Chris Lane had fire in his eyes this morning at launch. He has a lot of ground to make up after his one fish put him 89th in the Diamond Drive.

He came into the event standing 10th in the AOY standings and aimed to make a run at AOY. He’s already matched his 1-15 from Thursday, probably because of his feisty approach.

“I’m going to whoop somebody’s ass today – big bass or little bass,” he said.

-- Mike Suchan

 

8:05 a.m.

From the take-off dock this morning:

Catching fish put a smile on Ish Monroe’s face, but he said this morning he had to have the smile back first.

Ish began Day Two in second place, two ounces behind Denny Brauer, and flashed an infectious grin as he bounced around the launch docks.

“I look at it this way,” he said of his resurgence of late, “I go in with no practice, no pressure, and what I did do differently is, I had fun.”

With 14-8, which he thinks already has him in the top 50 cut and a $10,000 check, it’s easy to smile.

“This is not a place where there’s a gangload of fish, so I can just go out today and have fun.”

--Mike Suchan

 

8:00 a.m.

Cliff Crochet has found some pads in Little Maumelle, which is one of the tributaries in Pool 7, and is working them over. Also in sight: Skeet Reese and Scott Ashmore.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

7:55 a.m.

Elite angler Dave Wolak gives his best Axl Rose impression "Do you know where you are? You're in the drum zone, baby."

A few minutes later he boats a nice 5-pound drum, followed closely by a 2-pounder, then a 4-pounder. This all happens in under two minutes. Meanwhile I'm still bobbing my head and searching for Guns N Roses on my ipod.

--Eric Pinter

 

7:43 a.m.

We've arrived and launched at Pine Bluff Harbor and the first thing I noticed is that the water has dropped a good 4 to 6 inches overnight. Obviously, yesterday guys in other pools were dealing with worse, but Pine Bluff stayed pretty consistent.
If the falling water forces these guys to adjust, the won't have long to do it. Fortunately, the fish should still be biting on these ledges and sandbars. They might reposition or bite differently, but falling water should do nothing but pull more fish offshore.
Many of the top contenders are making the long run. We will look at the new Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year leader, Kevin VanDam as well as tournament leader Denny Brauer and a host of other top finishers. If there is anything you want to know about what's happening here in Pine Bluff, post a comment below and I will try to answer it.
-Rob Russow

 

7:41 a.m.

And it begins again. More than 40 anglers are just inside the lock from Pool 6 to Pool 5. Some anglers relax and use the few minutes of down time to grab a snack. Some boaters make last minute adjustments to their gear. A few of the more colorful anglers take the opportunity to make up all kinds of stories about all the giants they claim to have caught in the Little Rock pool while waiting to enter the lock.

It's a chance to see who is chipper in the morning and who could still use another cup of coffee (or a 5 pounder). It is also a chance to see which guys tell the best stories and which ones actually believe them. All of the pros do have one thought in common though: don't do anything stupid to make the lockmaster mad. Doing so could jeopardize the entire groups' chances of making it back through the lock this afternoon.

--Eric Pinter

 

7:40 a.m.

The locking is done. This bunch will, for the most part be trusting Pool 7 to be a player again today. A few caught fish on the way to the lock---most didn't . Less breeze than yesterday--water temps 82.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

7:39 a.m.

James Hall is giving us a complete view of the locking process, He says there were 46 boats headed downriver from Little Rock this morning. That's almost half the field piling into two of the five pools they can fish. below is a photo of them leaving the lock.

 

7:29 a.m.

Most of the anglers are in the lock right now waiting to go upriver or down. Below are a couple of photos from James Hall, who is waiting on the guys heading downriver. The top one is entering the lock and the bottom is all the anglers tied and waiting for the lock to lower the level.

7:18 a.m.

Quick updates from the water:

Tommy Sanders and Overstreet are in the lock watching Pete Ponds crank a rock jetty nearby. Ponds caught them there yesterday, but no luck yet.

Steve Kennedy is off to a fast start. He has a keeper, as des John Crews, Brent Chapman, Jami Fralick, Chris Lane, David Walker and Pat Golden.

Lane's keeper, a 2-pounder, and Walker's keeper more than doubles their Day One weight. That only gives them a total 3-5 and 2-14, respectively. But already they have to be feeling better about their day.

Once again, we are tracking the top 50 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

While our Basstrakk has all the updated weights from yesterday, those outside that top 50 won't update today. But with the added in, it will give us a better idea of how the AOY standings are shaping up.

Lane for instance was in the top 10 going in and fell out of conetntion for the AOY title and All-Star Week yesterday. He has a lot of ground to make up.

--Steve Bowman

 

7:09 a.m.

Day Two is under way and although the take-off looked a lot like yesterday, there was a whole new mindset going into this morning. A big part of the field is struggling, it doesn’t matter where they are in the standings, they are struggling.

Those struggles revolve around the up-and-down nature of the Arkansas River. Wondering if they can catch them again if they were one of the fortunate ones on Day One. Hoping they can figure out something on Day Two if they were not.

It’s scramble mode for a lot of them. And a lot of interesting things happen on the Elite Series when folks start to scrambling.

We just ordinarily don’t see as many have to scramble as we do today. There are guys who are seeing their Classic hopes fade, others seeing their Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year hopes fade and still others wondering about the Toyota All-Star Week.

A few smell blood in the water. In a typical Bassmaster, there are 60 to 70 percent of the field who smell blood on Day Two, with 30 who start scrambling. You can swap those ratios for this event. Either way, Day Two is under way.

From our standpoint, we have Rob Russow waiting on these guys in the Pine Bluff Pool. James Hall and David Jones in Pool 5 in between Little Rock and Pine Bluff, and James Overstreet, Tommy Sanders and Dave Mercer in the pool above Little Rock.

In the next little bit we will start to get a glimpse of the action through BASSTrakk, BassCam and the blogs from those guys. Stick with us.

We can’t promise you will see anything historical today, but we can promise some monumental scrambling.

-- Steve Bowman

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