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

Diamond Drive Live Blog

Day Four - Arkansas River

3:20 p.m.

And that concludes our blog for this tournament.

Wow.

We were sitting around wondering what to talk about for two hours and then things get crazy. Welcome to the river.

Enjoy the weigh-in.

We’ll see you next week at Murray where we will crown an AOY champion.

-- Bassmaster.com Bloggers

 

3:07 p.m.
They're in. They're late, but they are in. Everyone, including Brauer, made it in at 3:06 except for Matt Reed, JVD and Jason Quinn. They made it in at 3:07 p.m. We don't know if, or with what, Martens might have finished his limit out, so this weigh-in just got really interesting.

-- Kyle Carter

 

3:06 p.m.

I should note a lot of that too depends on my clock against B.A.S.S.’s clock. There is definitely an official clock, but I don’t have it.

I’m looking at three clocks right now. My phone says 3:03, my desk clock says 3:02 and my computer says 3:07.

One thing I do know is those guys are getting everything they can out of their motors right now. This is going to be a crazy next half hour.

Don’t miss Toyota Hooked Up! at 3:15 p.m. (4:15 ET)

-- Kyle Carter

 

2:58 p.m.

The gates just opened to release the anglers into Pool 6 as I write this at 2:58. It takes 12 minutes to get from the lock to check in, which is at 3 p.m.

It’s a pound a minute. At this point, it looks like it will be 10 or so pounds penalties.

-- Kyle Carter 

 

2:41 p.m.

The day is winding down and as I’m adding Gerald Swindle videos to the BASSCam player, I’m reminded of another reason he had such a great day. He went into it believing there was no way he could win, so he just fished loose and had fun. There were spectator boats that were so close that some of them could have stepped into Swindle’s boat. He was loving the attention, talking with people, joking and laughing and having a good time.

That kind of loose mentality helped not only fire him up when he caught that big fish, but also let him relax and make the right adjustment to switch from the crankbait to the shaky head.

Swindle was fishing the same little hard spots as a lot of other guys, but concentrated in between them. KVD was up shallow and a lot of other guys were out deep. Swindle stayed in 10 feet of water, casting to brush and hard points in about 5 or 6 feet. Those fish that pulled out of where VanDam was moved right into Swindle’s wheelhouse and he collected on the final day.

Also, he said a key was dragging, not shaking, which might sound contrary to the nature of a “shaky” head. There is a good video of Swindle describing the area and how he was approaching it on the BASSCam page. Check it out.

-Rob Russow

 

2:39 p.m.

Here's a photo of the anglers waiting outside the lock taken by Marshal Eric Long.

 

2:35 p.m.

I guess with this barge situation, it’s time to do a little math.

Brauer entered the day with 44 pounds, 13 ounces. We have Aaron Martens on BASSTrakk with four fish that go 10-11 for a total of 45-1. So that leaves three scenarios:

1. Brauer and company make it back and everyone weighs their fish to see where they might fall behind Brauer. He celebrates his 17th win overall and first since 2006.

2. Brauer and company get stuck in Pool 5 too long and are late to check in. Meanwhile, Martens doesn’t catch another fish and they weigh Martens’ bass to see if he can catch Denny. That would be a coin flip.

3. Brauer and company don’t make the check-in, Martens fills his limit and wins in the most improbable fashion.

Something else to keep in mind here is that the anglers are penalized 1 pound for every minute they’re late. So Brauer could essentially be 5 minutes late and still win. Maybe 6 minutes. Maybe 7 minutes…

It’s all speculation at this point, though.

We have a Marshal texting us when the boats go in the lock and texting us when they come out. So we’ll know down to the second what we’re looking at as the time approaches.

-- Kyle Carter

 

2:04 p.m.

Overstreet's on the water gallery from today is live. Check it out.

 

2:04 p.m.

The drama just got thick for the Pine Bluff contingent. There is a barge entering the Lock 5. They are all sitting there waiting as the barge enters.

I talked with the lockmaster and he said that he's working diligently to get it through and then get the anglers through as fast as he can.

"I've talked with the tow boat captain twice and asked him to hurry up,'' the lockmaster said.

That's the good news. A lot of these lockmasters fish and understand the importance of this event. The tug captain may be another thing.

Either way, once again the final minutes appear to be a nail biter. Stay tuned.

-- Steve Bowman

 

1:45 p.m.

Our photos from the helicopter this morning are live. Check them out here.

 

1:35 p.m.

The Pine Bluff contingent is through the first lock. Several of them have peeled off and fshing in the Brodie Bend area. Some of them are probably feeling pretty desperate.

I don't know if Kevin VanDam ever gets desperate, but it's my guess that he realy understands how badly he needs another catch right now to keep from losing any more points in the AOY race.

While he's battling. We bet Evers is crossing his fingers that no more keepers come KVD's way.

Either way, one hurdle, in the form of Lock 5, is over. Lock 6 still lays ahead.

--Steve Bowman

 

1:30 p.m.

Keith Combs is making a run at the Rookie of the Year. Taking 18th here while ROY leader Ott DeFoe suffered a 58th. has helped Combs close the gap.

Combs, who began the Diamond Drive 127 points behind DeFoe’s leading 1,535 count, now totals 1,647, only 47 behind Ott’s 1,694. That’s the difference of about 25 places next week on Wheeler.

- Mike Suchan

 

1:21 p.m.

 

BASSTrakk Leaderboard:

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 5 12-11 57-08
2 Gerald Swindle 5 13-08 46-04
3 Aaron Martens 4 10-11 45-01
4 Jonathan VanDam 2 7-03 41-02
5 John Murray 3 6-04 40-15
6 Matt Reed 5 7-08 36-11
7 Timmy Horton 2 4-10 36-08
8 Greg Vinson 3 6-02 36-01
9 Kevin VanDam 2 5-12 36-00
10 Ish Monroe 3 5-13 35-07
11 Billy McCaghren 2 4-08 34-15
12 Jason Quinn 1 1-10 29-12

 

1:15 p.m.

Everyone is headed back in, which is a good time to look at what made Gerald Swindle more successful than everyone else on the final day.

The biggest factor was that he knew when it was time to put up the crankbait and pick up a shaky head. He was more dialed in on that change than anyone else and it paid off today.

Swindle was concentrating on areas that were being hammered by other competitors throughout the week, so while he caught them well on a crankbait yesterday, the pressure shut them down finally and he had to finesse them.

He used what looked like a red bug trick worm and threw it on braided line with a Vicious fluorocarbon leader. The big fish was in so much brush, he credited his line in a big way for helping him land it.

-Rob Russow

 

1:04 p.m.

KVD didn’t really want to get into his nephew’s business, or Denny Brauer’s. He said Jonathon VanDam and Brauer are the parties that need to hash out their spot situation.

Brauer maintains, that an angler with a shot to win should be given a wide berth. No one should infringe on his water.

KVD said the scenario  brought to mind his Classic win on Lay Lake. KVD had fished that pond all day before Takahiro Omori wandered in late in the afternoon, managing only a small limit there. Once he saw KVD’s weight, he came to him after the Day One weigh-in.

“I didn’t know what that area had,” KVD recalled Omori saying. “I won’t be back in there.”

It’s a common occurrence for others to avoid the spot of a guy on the brink of winning.

On the other hand, consider JVD. He said he’s practiced there, missed a couple bigs during his Day One zero but got back into contention there. Does he have a right to fish there today? Does Brauer’s chance to win override that right?

See Steve Wright’s story and tell us your take.

-        Mike Suchan

 

12:45 p.m.

Everyone in the harbor is headed back to lock 5. They should be right on time if they hit it by 1 o'clock. It was definitely a different sort of day being much hotter with fewer bites.
--David Hunter Jones

 

12:43 p.m.

Bruce Blackwell was asking about Gerald Swindle and I just got out of his boat, part of why you haven't heard from me in some time. There was quite a bit of excitement in the Swindle camp as you will see from the videos that will soon be coming in.

Not long after we pulled up on him Swindle set the hook on a big fish in a brushpile and it immediately wrapped him up. He played it loose and then it swam him into another brushpile.

At that point Swindle was freaking out because he knew it was a big fish and he was using light line. The crowd gathered to watch was huddled in close and started cheering him on.

Finally, the largemouth worked free of the brush and came charging to the surface where Swindle grabbed it and hauled it into the boat. At that point Swindle just let loose. The heat and hard work was getting to him, not to mention Swindle is a little crazy to begin with. He started yelling and dancing in front of the camera. I got some good pictures of that.

The fish Swindle called 4 pounds, but it could have been closer to 5 and helped him cull up to the low teens.

-Rob Russow

 

12:40 p.m.

I keep watching the BASSTrakk waiting to see the little icons that represent each angler start  escaping the Harbor. But nothing is moving.

There is plenty of time. And we haven't heard any rumors of barges coming or going

You can bet Denny is ready to get back. But it looks like the rest of the Pine Bluff gang, with the exception of Swindle, has had a much tougher day.

KVD has slipped a couple of places and it could be more than that by the weigh in. If he fails to catch one, Ish Monroe could drop him another place. We've lost contact with Ish since 10:30 a.m., and he's just 1 pound behind VanDam. If he has the same late rally he had yesterday, it will benefit Evers with another four points or so in the AOY list.

--Steve Bowman

 

12:29 p.m.

John Murray's got 3 fish and is looking for more. He's got about 15 minutes left and is throwing a drop shot, which has caught most of his fish. He's also done a bit of cranking. We sat down on Swindle a while back and he was using a spinning rod as well. The tough conditions have brought out the spinning rods. Kevin VanDam is across the way but is without his usual army of observers. he's hitting one or two more spots before heading back to the ramp. More than likely the standings should look a lot like BASSTrakk has them right now come 3 0'clock.
 
--David Hunter Jones

 

12:21 p.m.

Martens just boated another nonkeeper. He doesn't know he's fishing
for second. If he gets a limit, he may well capture the bridesmaid
spot ... A familiar location for the Alabama pro.

--James Hall

 

12:16 p.m.

Like Edwin Evers says, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is not over.

Kevin VanDam went in saying this event would shake things out, and it has, knocking back two of the top contenders all year. But Evers hasn’t given up hope.

“You can lose it here, but you can’t win it,” Evers has said.

Evers still has Wheeler Lake next week in the final Elite event to stop KVD from winning his seventh AOY, fourth in succession, and more important to him, win his first.

With a worst-possible 12th place, KVD would earn 254 points in the AOY standings. That would give him 1,725. He’ll can have anywhere from 3 to 41 more.

Evers began this event fourth in the AOY race, and finishing 18th pushes his point total up to 1,676, so he will stand in second place to KVD going into the final event, at least 49 points behind.

Previous AOY leader Terry Scroggins will settle in with 1,597 after taking 107 points for finishing 84th here. Alton Jones, who was tied with KVD, now has 1,608 points with his 69th and accompanying 137 points.

Stephen Kennedy took 25th here, and moves to 1,617. So when the Dixie Duel begins, it should be:

KVD     1,725 to 1,766

Evers    1,676

Kennedy          1,617

Jones   1,608

Scroggins        1,597

 

-Mike Suchan

 

11:58 a.m.

BASSTrakk Leaderboard:

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 5 12-11 57-08
2 Gerald Swindle 5 13-08 46-04
3 Aaron Martens 3 8-06 42-12
4 John Murray 3 6-04 40-15
5 Matt Reed 5 7-08 36-11
6 Timmy Horton 2 4-10 36-08
7 Greg Vinson 3 6-02 36-01
8 Kevin VanDam 2 5-12 36-00
9 Ish Monroe 3 5-13 35-07
10 Billy McCaghren 2 4-08 34-15
11 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
12 Jason Quinn 1 1-10 29-12

:

 

 

11:52 p.m.

Martens just moved across the river to fish another rocky point.
Several minutes into probing the structure he catches a nonkeeper.
This side of the river has a 2-foot ribbon of shade along the
shoreline created by overhanging trees. All of his casts here land in
the shaded water.

--James Hall

 

11:47 a.m.

Denny just upgraded and now has about 12 pounds. The party is over unless he doesn't get back.

 

For a little more insight on the Denny vs. Jonathon VanDam issue, check out the front page where Steve Wright offers us a glance at some of the "unwritten" things that swirl around bass fishing.

--Steve Bowman

 

11:40 a.m.

"That was going to be my last cast to the point," Aaron just said as
he reties after boating the 4-pounder.
"I knew there were, like, five fish on this point and I couldn't
believe they wouldn't bite."
He has switched to a shakey head, 4-inch worm now.

-- James Hall

 

11:38 a.m.

The Pine Bluff gang has about 30-40 minutes to fish. They'd better pick it up if they want to improve, but no one's going to catch Brauer at this point. Reed just had one on for a second, but it came off. The following cast yielded a short fish. I guess they are home. On the next cast he hooked up with another one, but it got off. Reed's in the midst of a flurry, going on point for the fourth cast in a row. He didn't set the hook, however.
 
--David Hunter Jones

 

11:36 a.m.

We left Kevin VanDam a while back and are following Matt Reed right now, who's got five little fish. Reed just now hooked with a 2 1/2-pounder, culling a 15-ounce fish, a solid 1 1/2-pound cull. He says this is the area where he caught all of his fish yesterday, and the wind has picked up (thank goodness). "I guess they're home here," he says. He's throwing a Chompers stand-up jighead with a Yum Houdini worm on it.
 
--David Hunter Jones

 

11:35 a.m.

Some say patience is a virtue. Aaron Martens calls patience a 4
1/4-pound bass! His third keeper came off a point he cast to 10 times
before getting bit. The big bass jumped 3 times, certainly making him
nervous with 8-pound test. That fish will move him well up the
leaderboard.

--James Hall

 

11:23 a.m.

I just got in from a helicopter ride and I'm trying to catch up. But it looks like I doon't have to catch up very much.

 

For all practical purposes this event apears to be over. Denny has caught them well enough that it would take some major heroics for someone to beat him; or it would take a rogue barge and a missed lock.

 

Both can happen, but the reality is the odds are on Denny's side.

 

But there are other questions that need answering.

 

It's no secret that Brauer is PO'd at Jonathon. My guess he's won't give up the whole area and let the rookie have it. JVD probably can't catch enough to win, but gaining points and pounds would help him in other ways. Brauer's grumpy enough to make sure that doesn't happen.

But he may be thinking of other things as well. By all rights he should leave and hightail it back to Little Rock, order him a pizza on the dock, that  kind of thing.

 

But if he leaves early that could upset the lock schedule and hurt one of the other competitors. Denny may be grumpy but he's not mean by any stretch.

 

The next couple hours will be interesting to say the least.

 

One of the things that we have to watch is how KVD fares. He started the day in 7th and he's not faring well now. he has no shot at winning. But he has a real shot at losing another 20 or so AOY points that will be critical next week. Plus there are some Classic considerations littered around.

There's still a lot of drama to play out.

 

--Steve Bowman

 

11:21 a.m.

Martens is now on the point near the launch ramp where, two days ago,
I sat and watched him boat a 12-pound limit. It was about this same
time of day. Whether it's lack of current or the fact that he has
hammered this spot, the fish are certainly not here like they were.

--James Hall

 

11:05 a.m.

 

BASSTrakk Leaderboard:

 

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 4 7-08 52-05
2 Gerald Swindle 5 10-06 43-02
3 Aaron Martens 2 4-02 38-08
4 John Murray 1 2-12 37-07
5 Matt Reed 5 7-08 36-11
6 Greg Vinson 3 6-02 36-01
7 Kevin VanDam 2 5-12 36-00
8 Ish Monroe 3 5-13 35-07
9 Billy McCaghren 2 4-08 34-15
10 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
11 Timmy Horton 1 4-05 32-03
12 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02

 

11:05 a.m.

There is absolutely no current flowing through pool 6 right now. That has to be part of the reason Martens' fish aren't cooperating. I find myself becoming envious of his Gilligan-like headwear. His floppy rimmed hat provides more protection from the sun than does my ball cap.
-- James Hall

 

10:55 a.m.

Reading this blog I saw Ken Duke's research. He is scary. I have a question for Ken about precedence: Has there ever, in BASS history, been a blogger burst into flames? It is that hot out here. And martens seems to be unaffected by the heat, continually shaking that little worm of his. I tried to put my feet in the water to cool off ... Went from bad to worse.
-- James Hall

 

10:52 a.m.

Be sure to check out Mercer’s update at the top of the next hour (Noon ET). You can watch it here.

 

10:50 a.m.

We've been on VanDam for a while and it's slow. Really slow. There's no wind to speak of, and it's heating up in a hurry. Tim Horton just zipped by, and Greg Vinson's been in the area as well. Despite the slick calm, VanDam's still cranking furiously. If we see any big jumps on the leaderboard, we might move over to them if not just to turn on the A/C for a minute.
 
--David Hunter Jones
 

10:40 a.m.

Murray finally boats a short fish, his first since we have been watching. He's perplexed about that, since he has caught fish consistently all day for the past week. He caught over 20 fish on Day Three, four of them keepers.

 
"It's so hot here, I don't think there is much oxygen moving with the wind not blowing," Murray said. "It has picked back up around 11, so hopefully that will happen again today."
 
After getting another bite in the brush, Murray sets the hook, but gets tangled up on a limb and the fish gets loose.
 
He fishing larger 6-inch straight tail Roboworms in a variety of colors and he sprays them with a scent frequently. His boat is in 12 to 15 feet of water and the brush is slightly shallower, around the poles and off the ends of the docks.
 
-Rob Russow
 

10:35 a.m.

We’ve been wondering if there is any precedent for an angler zeroing on a day and still making the cut in an Elite Series tournament, like Jonathon VanDam has done in this event.

Most of us just kind of shrugged our shoulders, but Ken Duke, like only Duke can do, went to the books and starting crunching numbers.

Here’s what he found:

ZEROED ON FIRST DAY BUT MADE CUT TO 50

Angler                                    Tournament                                          Finished

Dave Wolak                           2006, Table Rock Lake, Mo.               38

Terry Scroggins                    2009, Mississippi River, Ia.                16

Jonathon VanDam                2011, Arkansas River, Ark.                 __

 

ZEROED ON SECOND DAY BUT MADE CUT TO 50

Angler                                    Tournament                                          Finished

Brent Chapman                    2009, Mississippi River, Ia.                42

Pat Golden                            2009, Mississippi River, Ia.                 49

James Niggemeyer               2009, Mississippi River, Ia.              50

Shaw Grigsby                        2011, Arkansas River, Ark.                 45

 

ZEROED EITHER OF FIRST TWO DAYS BUT MADE CUT TO 12

Angler                                    Tournament                                          Finished

Jonathon VanDam                2011, Arkansas River, Ark                __

 

10:32 a.m.

Denny has fished his way back out to the middle and farther towards the back of this harbor than he's been so far.  We see him calmly set the hook on another one and it's a keeper ---2.5lb or just under---then three casts later another that just measures---pound and a half.  Roughly estimating, he's at or over 10 total with his limit.
-- Denny Brauer

 

10:31 a.m.

Aaron has fished all the way back to where he started the morning. His patience is impressive. When asked how long he would stick with the drop shot today, he said "It's probably all I'll use the rest of the day."
 He's had just one bite since boating the drum, and he missed it.
- James Hall
 

 

10:30 a.m.

The photos from this morning's launch are up. Check them out.

 

10:25 a.m.

There were about 22 spectator boats around when Denny and Jonathon started fishing in here a couple of hours ago. Now we're down to four. Admittedly this is not for everyone--it's a slow grind on a hot, humid and mostly airless summer day. Oh wait -- it's not even summer yet. Good news alert: since there's no wind, the buffalo gnats have come to keep us company. Cute little guys. Better news: plenty of coverage today on Bassmaster.com and later on ESPN.
-- Tommy Sanders

 

10:17 a.m.

Murray broke a fish off in a brushpile and sat down to retie. He's using 8 pound line, but has only broken off two fish all week.
 
"You get the wrong angle on one of these brushpiles and you are not going to get them out with anything," Murray said.
 
He broke another drop shot rig off after getting snagged in a thicker brushpile. When he retied, he pointed out that he uses two different styles of weights. Around the docks and scattered wood, he uses a normal tear drop shape, but when he gets around those thick, gnarly piles, he switches to a cylindrical shape.
 
Still only one keeper in the boat for Murray.
 
-Rob Russow
 
10:12 a.m.
Martens just slammed back hard on a fish. His rod doubled over. He ran back and forth from the front of the boat trying to give his light line a fighting chance. Then his happy feet quit dancing: "Freakin'
drum," he said sadly.
-- James Hall

 

10:05 a.m.

Another short bass for Aaron. He tosses it back, threads another finesse worm on his drop shot hook, and casts back out. I bet he's gone through 50 worms this morning, not waiting until he catches a bass to change baits. He dipping the little worm in clear JJs magic attractant.
-- James Hall

 

10:04 a.m.

BASSTrakk Leaderboard:
Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 3 5-12 50-09
2 Gerald Swindle 4 8-10 41-06
3 Aaron Martens 2 4-02 38-08
4 John Murray 1 2-12 37-07
5 Greg Vinson 3 6-02 36-01
6 Kevin VanDam 2 5-12 36-00
7 Ish Monroe 3 5-13 35-07
8 Billy McCaghren 2 4-08 34-15
9 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
10 Matt Reed 3 4-02 33-05
11 Timmy Horton 1 4-05 32-03
12 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02
 
9:59 a.m.
Kevin VanDam just pulled one on us. He was fishing two submerged logs, caught a fish and missed another. Observers were crowding him a bit, so he cranked up, ran 200 yards so that the gang would follow then made a few casts. When the boats got settled in, he pulled his trolling motor and is back fishing the logs. That kind of move is an advanced technique that few anglers know, or will ever need. We've still got him with a pair in the well.
 
--David Hunter Jones

 

 

9:52 a.m.

Be sure to check out Mercer’s update at the top of the next hour (11 a.m. ET). 
 

 

9:44 a.m.

Martens is sitting on his deck retying for about the 20th time this morning. His super light line and these rocks make for bad company.
I'm guessing he will make the fewest casts of all the pros today ...
Maybe as much as 50 percent fewer.
-- James Hall

 

9:38 a.m.

VanDam just boated a keeper that we guess weighs in the 2- to 3-pound range. He's still chucking a crankbait, but not at his usual 100-mile-per hour pace. Heck, we even saw him sit on his butt seat for a minute or two. I don't imagine that thing sees much of Kevin's backside. He just told us that he's got two keepers. He's having trouble negotiating these tops, getting snagged every few casts. But Chip and Jonathan say he's in a prime spot where two logs make a "y" shape.
 
--David Hunter Jones

 

9:35 a.m.

To put things in perspective, these guys were just arriving here at this time yesterday. Anything they have already caught is like a bonus.
 
Murray moved back over to the stretch of docks and he's fishing a drop shot, not a shaky head like I said earlier. Murray has West Coast blood running through his veins and it often shows in his fishing. The drop shot for pressured fish is one of his best techniques, which might explain why he is the only one left fishing them on the final day.
 
-Rob Russow
 

 

9:32 a.m.

Denny has picked up and made a 500 yard move to a spot where a couple of points converge . Had a few bites in here yesterday but so far nothing today.  He's still throwing the crankbait occasionally--didn't do that yesterday but today he has a third more time so maybe he has the luxury of experimenting/prospecting. Now back to the jig and a keeper spotted bass comes in. Brauer now up around 6.5 total.
-- Tommy Sanders

 

9:30 a.m.

Martens just stowed his trolling motor, cranked his Merc and made his biggest move of the morning ... a half-mile jaunt down river. We can still see the launch from where we are sitting. He's currently getting rid of his morning coffee ... 
-- James Hall
 
9:28 a.m.
Updated Leaderboard
Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 2 4-08 49-05
2 Gerald Swindle 4 8-10 41-06
3 Aaron Martens 2 4-02 38-08
4 John Murray 1 2-12 37-07
5 Kevin VanDam 2 5-12 36-00
6 Ish Monroe 3 5-13 35-07
7 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
8 Billy McCaghren 1 2-04 32-11
9 Timmy Horton 1 4-05 32-03
10 Greg Vinson 0 0-00 29-15
11 Matt Reed 0 0-00 29-03
12 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02
Here are some screen grab

 

9:24 a.m.

Here are some screen grabs of where the anglers are fishing.  Scroll down to see a close up of Pine Bluff Harbor.
 
-- Hank Weldon
Pool 4 - 8

Pool 5

Pool 6

Pool 7

 

9:20 a.m.

I'm going to try to get in the boat with John Murray here in a little bit, if I can find a good spot to do so. That's not always easy when they are fishing offshore structure. You don't want to get in there way.
 
I'm going to get some pictures and video from there, so if you have any questions for John, post them in the comments section and I will try to ask him.
 
-Rob Russow
 
 

 

9:17 a.m.

Can't help but wonder about the two anglers with West Coast roots in the top five on this final day .   Lake Mead types prospering on this finicky southern river?  Both Murray and Martens yesterday attributed success here to plenty of experience with tough/slow fisheries and also proficiency with finesse tools like drop shot and shaky head rigs.
-- Tommy Sanders

 

9:13 a.m.

Martens has worked 70 yards into a 20-yard-wide space between anchored boats and barges and the roccky bank of the Arkansas. There's not enough room for two boats in there, so it's pretty tough to see what's happening. He did just boat another small bass ... too short to keep.
-- James Hall

 

9:11 a.m.

John Murray makes a move back further along the row of docks after working down the stretch that produced his first keeper again. A small jon boat is fishing the same docks, but moving quickly compared to Murray's slow meticulous pace.
 
After no bites on this stretch either, Murray picks up the trolling motor and heads out from the back of the harbor.
 
On the way out we pass KVD, who has picked up three spectators. He won't even notice that.
 
-Rob Russow
 

 

9:06 a.m.

BASSCam videos are coming in from Mark Zona on Jonathon VanDam's boat. See for yourself how close Brauer and VanDam and fishing. Check them out here.

 

9:05 a.m.

Slow for 25 minutes so Denny picks up the crankbait again and wings it out a couple of times. Still no takers.
-- Tommy Sanders

 

8:59 a.m.

We've picked up Kevin VanDam, who's not but a quarter mile from JVD and Brauer. He's cranking mostly, until he finds a top then he'll slow down and probe it with a bottom-hugging bait, probably a jig or worm. We haven't seen him boat a fish yet, but my boat drivers Chip Hawkins and Jonathan Evans (locally known as JCE) say that this area is good, real good. It's loaded with tops.
 
--David Hunter Jones
 

8:58 a.m.

Martens just caught keeper No. 2! This largemouth liked to jump ...and will likely go 2 pounds. I suppose if he can keep a pace of one keeper per hour on the drop shot, he shouldn't complain. There were plenty of guys who didn't weigh-in a limit yesterday. 
--James Hall

 

8:58 a.m.

BASSTrakk Standings update:
Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 2 4-08 49-05
2 Gerald Swindle 2 5-00 37-12
3 John Murray 1 2-12 37-07
4 Aaron Martens 1 4-14 36-04
5 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
6 Kevin VanDam 1 2-12 33-00
7 Ish Monroe 2 3-05 32-15
8 Billy McCaghren 1 2-04 32-11
9 Timmy Horton 1 4-05 32-03
10 Greg Vinson 0 0-00 29-15
11 Matt Reed 0 0-00 29-03
12 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02

 

8:55 a.m.

Steve Bowman and a cameraman just flew over in a helicopter. They got a bird's eye view of Martens struggling to get bit. It seems he's gonna live an die by the drop shot this morning. 
-- James Hall

 

8:52 a.m.

Check out the first of many live hourly updates from Dave Mercer, starting in 8 minutes at 10 a.m. ET this morning. There will be a new update at the top of every hour.
 
 
8:41 a.m.
Martens just swung and missed a bite, his drop shot flying over his head to the other side of his boat. Seeing the action is quite slow for him today compared to the past two, good execution is imperative. 
-- James Hall
 
8:40 a.m.
It's been mentioned plenty before but the difference in water clarity in this harbor versus the main river in say pool six is substantial .  Much clearer and a lot of shad.  Water temp is 85.
 
Denny puts down the crankbait, throws the jig out and hooks up again. Solid fish mentioned below by DHJ.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

8:40 a.m.

Brauer just boated another 2 /1-2-pounder, giving him roughly 14 pounds over Jonathon. Brauer made sure to hold his fish up for all -- including VanDam -- to see.
-- David Hunter Jones
 
8:38 a.m.
Here is a snap shot of Pine Bluff Harbor.  Denny and Jonathon VanDam are in the upper left corner.  Matt Reed is also somewhere in the Harbor.  His BASSTrakk isn't cooperating.
-- Hank Weldon
 

8:36 a.m.

Brauer just boated one that may go 2 1/2 or 3 pounds. VanDam swung hard and missed one not too long ago. He just swung hard again, burying his hook into the top he's fishing. Brauer's fish ate a jig, but now he's cranking. The two boats are 25 yards apart, but no words have been traded. Just some looks. Brauer is fishing defensively, constantly turning his boat and pointing his Evinrude at VanDam's Triton, effectively blocking off part of VanDam's spot and shielding his own. We're going to go pick up Kevin VanDam and leave these two. But, we leave them in capable hands: ace photographer James Overstreet  is on the pair, recording the action blow by blow (no pun intended).
 
--David Hunter Jones
 
8:33 a.m.
Murray has been alternating between a  jig and a shaky head. His camera boat driver noted that on his third or fourth cast Murray caught his first keeper, about a 2.5-pounder. That's good news for Murray, who only landed four keepers yesterday.
 
One dock owner brings down coffee and breakfast as they watch Murray fish, but don't offer us any. Another sits in the shade in a rocking chair. Actually, the heat hasn't gotten too bad yet. The storms from last night seemed to have cooled the night off, but it won't be long now before the sun will be blazing bright overhead.
 
There doesn't seem to be as many spectator boats out yet. Maybe they were as surprised as we were that these guys got here so early today. One benefactor of that was KVD. I didn't see a single spectator on him this morning. I can't remember another final day where that was the case.
 
-Rob Russow
 

8:30 a.m.

Denny is throwing a crankbait. First I've seen of that.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

8:26 a.m.

Denny scores first with a 2-pound keeper.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

 

8:26 a.m.

 

Timmy Horton is off to a good start this morning. He has already caught one four pounder.  He caught 14 - 02 yesterday in eight casts.  If he can do that today, he will be in good shape.  Here are some shots his Marshal, Lance Roe took as he put on a clinic yesterday.
 
-- Hank Weldon
8:19 a.m.
Aaron has finally laid down the drop shot rod in exchange for a flippin' stick. He appears to be pitching a small craw, targeting small clumps of grass along the mostly rocky shore.
-- James Hall

 

8:18 a.m.

 

We're set up in Pine Bluff Harbor and here come the boats.  Greg Vinson said that the lockmasters had indicated a straight shot through this morning and it has obviously happened.  These guys will have an hour and a half more fishing time today.  Denny Brauer and Jonny Van Dam set up in the exact same spots as yesterday and cast the jigs out.
 
Van Dam and Brauer continue to cast toward the water that runs from about 7 to 12 feet.  Zona is in the boat with JVD and reports that he's using a hand tied mop style 1/2 oz. jig and keying on brushpiles.

-- Tommy Sanders

 

8:17 a.m.

Martens is on the board! His first keeper of the day ate the little drop shot worm. It will likely go 2 pounds.

-- James Hall

 

8:15 a.m.

Brauer, Jonathon VanDam and John Murray have been fishing for 15 minutes, meaning this bunch made excellent time through the locks. This early start mean that they may have as much as another hour to fish than they did on Day 3. VanDam and Brauer are almost exactly one cast apart, no doubt making for tense fishing. We're in the back of the Harbor area with Murray and Horton bouncing around near the mouth. Every angler in here is hitting "tops" or brushpiles.
Two observers said that they saw John Murray boat a nice fish as they sped by. We haven't seen any action from Brauer or VanDam - yet.
--David Hunter Jones
 

8:12 a.m.

The Pine Bluff party has begun. John Murray and Timmy Horton are on the board. Horton's fish was a four pounder. If he catches a limit of those, then this thing could get real interesting.

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 0 0-00 44-13
2 John Murray 1 2-12 37-07
3 Aaron Martens 0 0-00 34-06
4 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
5 Gerald Swindle 0 0-00 32-12
6 Ish Monroe 1 2-00 32-15
7 Timmy Horton 1 4-05 32-03
8 Billy McCaghren 0 0-00 30-07
9 Kevin VanDam 0 0-00 30-04
10 Greg Vinson 0 0-00 29-15
11 Matt Reed 0 0-00 29-03
12 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02

-- Hank Weldon

 

8:09 a.m.

One of the local observers who watched Martens all day yesterday said  he stayed on the ramp spot until midday before heading upriver a bit to ugrade his catch with frog fish. Evidently, Martens had his limit by 10ish. He's going to have to get to work to duplicate that effort, seeing his livewell is still empty. The local also said it seemd the drop-shot bite improved as the sun got higher. Martens better hope so. 

-- James Hall

 

8:09 a.m.

Sounds like the anglers will be in Pine Bluff earlier today. Normally they don't get to the harbor until 8:50 and today they will get there significantly earlier.

Again, that benefits Brauer because with a big lead, he likely only needs 10 to 12 pounds to lock this thing up. And that would force John Murray to catch 18 to 20 pounds, while he hasn't caught over 11 any of the days. His consistency has been remarkable and if anything happens with Brauer's offshore fish, Murray will get his shot.

We will get more into what he's doing on he water when he starts fishing, but he is very close to Brauer. He's fishing brushpiles too, but they are brushpiles off docks, not out on the ledge Brauer and JVD have been seining. Impressively, Murray was able to catch those big bags while the docks received a tremendous amount of pressure. At least five or six other anglers were moving up and down those docks. That he caught anything at all is a minor miracle.

We'll see what happens today. They should be here soon.

-Rob Russow

 

8:07 a.m.

Martens just landed a short fish on his drop shot. This bass was so tiny it probably still had a little shell on it. He has to be encouraged by the action, though.

-- James Hall

 

8:04 a.m.

About the time I clicked "send" on that last entry, Martens answered my question. He stowed his trolling motor, cranked his big engine and moved ... about 100 yards. Now he's fishing the north side of the launch ramp jetty, sticking with the drop shot.

-- James Hall

 

8:03 a.m.

They are through the lock and into the Pine Bluff harbor already. That’s about an hour faster than the first two days and almost two hours faster than yesterday. They’re almost going to double their fishing time from yesterday, assuming they can avoid trouble on the way home.

It was interesting to watch these guys work together to get through the locks. It looks like everyone agreed to go straight to the lock without stopping. That hasn’t been the case the last few days, but with only a handful of guys left, they were able to work it out amongst themselves.

I can’t wait to start seeing the BASSCam videos come in today. With Zona in JVD’s boat, we’re going to have a front row seat to the Brauer, JVD battle, and this being the final day, we’ll Zona can really break down what is happening out there and how these guys are catching their fish.

Somebody needs to wake up Russow and let him know he’s working a full day today…

-- Kyle Carter

 

7:43 a.m.

Martens is surrounded by people. There are four observers and a dog about 10 feet directly above him (there's a campground along the steep bank he's fishing) and three boats behind him observing his every move. Every now and then he chats with one of the observers on the bank. The dog wants to jump in the boat with him. He hasn't had a bite in 30 minutes. It will be interesting to see how long he stays here.
-- James Hall

 

7:41 a.m.

While I have been talking about all the anglers heading South this morning, I forgot about the one angler heading North, Ish Monroe. The Lock Master for Lock Seven seems to have zipped him up as fast as the other anglers are getting down river. Ish is the first angler on the board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 0 0-00 44-13
2 John Murray 0 0-00 34-11
3 Aaron Martens 0 0-00 34-06
4 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
5 Gerald Swindle 0 0-00 32-12
6 Ish Monroe 1 2-00 31-10
7 Billy McCaghren 0 0-00 30-07
8 Kevin VanDam 0 0-00 30-04
9 Greg Vinsom 0 0-00 29-15
10 Matt Reed 0 0-00 29-03
11 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02
12 Timmy Horton 0 0-00 27-14

-- Hank Weldon

 

7:38 a.m.

All the anglers appear to be sitting in Lock Five.  This time yesterday all the anglers heading south were still stuck in Pool Six (The Little Rock Pool) waiting on a barge to clear the lock. The Lock Masters are smokin' them down to Pool Four this morning. They are going to have a lot longer to fish today.  Well as long as a barge doesn't make them have to come back up early...

-- Hank Weldon

 

7:35 a.m.

Martens is fishing excruciatingly slow! He flips his drop shot to the edge of a rock, slightly shakes it down the steep grade of the bank, reels in, and flips it to the next rock just 6 inches distant. His presentation is the definition of finesse, as he is simply twitching the slack in his line more than trying to impart action on the little 4-inch Roboworm.

-- James Hall

 

7:31 a.m.

If these guys fly through the second lock the way they flew through the first lock, they’re not going to know what to do with themselves in Pine Bluff that early.

Matt Reed said this morning that they were hoping to cut an hour off the trip down. I was a little confused on how they planned to do that, but it’s working. Fewer boats and better timing apparently can make a big difference.

Reed said he only fished two hours yesterday and didn’t get a single bite on his first three stops. The extra time – if they can get it – will certainly take some of the pressure off.

-- Kyle Carter

 

7:20 a.m.

Here is where the anglers stand going into Day Four of the Diamond Drive:

Place Angler Fish Day Four Total
1 Denny Brauer 0 0-00 44-13
2 John Murray 0 0-00 34-11
3 Aaron Martens 0 0-00 34-06
4 Jonathan VanDam 0 0-00 33-15
5 Gerald Swindle 0 0-00 32-12
6 Billy McCaghren 0 0-00 30-07
7 Kevin VanDam 0 0-00 30-04
8 Greg Vinsom 0 0-00 29-15
9 Ish Monroe 0 0-00 29-10
10 Matt Reed 0 0-00 29-03
11 Jason Quinn 0 0-00 28-02
12 Timmy Horton 0 0-00 27-14

-- Hank Weldon

 

7:17 a.m.

Martens just lost his first fish of the week on his drop shot. It was no doubt a keeper, his rod was bent double for about 3 seconds.
"I just didn't get a good hookset on it for some reason," he said, perplexed.

--James Hall

 

7:15 a.m.

I counted eleven anglers out of twelve who turned left (south) at take off this morning. Nine of those anglers should be headed to Pool Four. They are already through the first lock and are now on their way to Lock Five.That is a good 40 minutes ahead of schedule.With fewer boats fishing today, the Lock Master can get those guys down and out a lot faster. If JVD or Denny have 40 more minutes to milk their spot, we might see the biggest bags of the tournament. There aren't any fish catches to report yet.  I will keep you posted as the action unfolds.

-- Hank Weldon

 

7:13 a.m.

Aaron says he's using the exact same set-up as the past two days on his drop shot rig, although he's considering moving down to a 1/32-ounce weight.
"It doesn't look like the current is even half of what it was yesterday," he explained.
He's worried that he might have fished out his spot next to the ramp. And gnats are giving him hell, as he swats madly at them about every 10 seconds.
-- James Hall

 

7:11 a.m.

There is no doubt Aaron Martens boated the first bass of Day Four. Actually, he's boated the first two bass of Day Four, both of them too short to keep. He is the only angler fishing Championship Sunday in Pool 6 where the anglers are launching.
 
Ish Monroe is locking up to Pool 7, and the other 10 pros are heading south, chancing at least one lock, likely two.
 
Martens, however, is a stone's throw from the launch ramp. I seriously doubt he even started his big enging before he made his first cast.
 
He's employing his drop shot again, casting tight to shoreline rock and letting the current drift it along.
 

-- James Hall

 

7:08 a.m.

The final day of the Diamond Drive on the Arkansas River is underway, and I’m not even really sure where to begin when it comes to storylines.

Eleven of the 12 anglers that took off this morning went south. The only one to go north was Ish Monroe, who has been going north all week.

Looks like the only angler to stay in the Little Rock pool where the guys launched is Aaron Martens.

On the surface, it would look like Denny Brauer would have this thing locked up, but as we’ve seen all week, things can change quickly. Add in all the “spot” drama happening in the Pine Bluff pool (we’ll have more on that as the day goes on) and the lock situation and this should be an incredibly interesting day.

We have most of our resources devoted to Pine Bluff. David Hunter Jones and Rob Russow will be rovers down there. James Overstreet and Tommy Sanders will be on Brauer and Jonathon VanDam, and Mark Zona will be in the boat with JVD shooting BASSCam videos. James Hall is our Little Rock and north reporter, so if Ish or Martens starts making a move, we’ll be there too.

Bowman was up in the helicopter so he’ll be coming back with an aerial gallery and will retake command of the blog in the middle of this morning.

It’s not going to be a slug fest, but in terms of sports strategy and some of the unwritten rules of bass fishing, this should be quite the day.

-- Kyle Carter

Live blog archive: Day One -- Day Two -- Day Three

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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