BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — With an almost 10-pound lead going into the final day, Brett Hite seems to have a lock on the title at the Dick Cepek Tires Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament presented by Hardee's.
But nothing is certain on a lake as productive as Lake Seminole. Hite could catch another 20-pound bag again Sunday, and it might not be enough.
Bernie Schultz, who is third with 61-10 – 10-1 behind Hite's first place total of 71-11 – has seen what Lake Seminole is capable of producing, and the timing seems right for an explosion Sunday.
"When I was here during pre-practice, it took 38 pounds to win a tournament," Schultz said. "That's five fish. In another tournament, a three-fish limit of 24 pounds won it."
A weather change is on the way, and it could be a good one – clouds and rain later in the day Sunday. A full moon becomes officially 100 percent around 10 a.m. Sunday.
So here are five things to watch on the final day at Lake Seminole:
1. How big a bag can Seminole produce?
"I guarantee you that a 30-plus-pound bag is caught at least five times a year here," Schultz said. "Shaw (Grigsby) did it (Thursday with 30-5). Aaron (Martens) almost did it today."
And a 40-pound bag isn't out of the realm of possibilities. Schultz proved that when he caught the big bass of the tournament so far – a 10-10 on Thursday. But there have been enough fish caught in the 7- to 8-pound range that it's possible someone could get to 40 pounds without a double-digit bass.
"I should have had easily had a 30-, 35-pound sack today," said Byron Velvick, who weighed 24-8 and moved from 21st to 9th place. "It's going crazy out there."
2. Aaron Martens
Martens tied an Elite Series record by making his sixth Top 12 cut in a row, dating back to last season. Skeet Reese previously held that mark to himself. Martens is on a roll – both career-wise, coming off an Angler of the Year title in 2013, and in the this tournament. Saturday he finally figured out the bass on Lake Seminole and responded with a bag weighing 29-11, which vaulted him from 37th place into fifth with 60-0.
"I spent half my practice offshore and half inshore," Martens said. "I thought this was going to be a spawning tournament. Today I went back and found them offshore."
And he sacked 'em. His biggest bass – two of them – weighed 6-5, so the other three were almost that big.
"You couldn't tell them apart," Martens said. "I could catch 35 (pounds Sunday). Definitely 35 is possible this time of year."
3. The weather
Schultz thought the females would move back on spawning beds Saturday, but they didn't in the areas he's fishing. That doesn't mean they won't Sunday.
"What you have to realize is this is the first week of semi-stable weather these fish have had all year," he said.
So this could still turn into a sight-fishing tournament. But with the weather predicted for Sunday – cloudy with a thunderstorm on the way – that doesn't favor sight-fishing, and it does favor all the Top 12 who are "just fishing" – concentrating on fish they can't see because of the dirty water or bass that are in the pre-spawn mode.
"The weather conditions for (Sunday) look really good," Hite said.
"I like what the weather is going to do," said Mark Davis, who is second to Hite with 61-15. "It's going to be a good day to fish. I'll really be surprised if we don't see our biggest bags (Sunday)."
4. Could Brett Hite run out of bass?
At 1 o'clock Saturday, Hite had only three fish in his livewell, which might have totaled six pounds.
"Those were the smallest fish I've caught all week," he said.
He's on a pre-spawn pattern that has consistently produced 20-pound bags, including his biggest yet – 26-5 on Saturday.
Shaw Grigsby didn't think he would run out of fish after catching that 30-pound bag on Day 1. The fog delay Friday convinced him the early-biting fish were still there, even though he didn't catch them that day. Saturday he found out they were mostly gone.
It would be a surprise if this happens to Hite on Sunday. He's found more than one spot holding big pre-spawn fish, as he demonstrated with a late flurry Saturday. But anything is possible.
5. The last two hours
All week anglers have talked about not having a bite until 11 o'clock or noon, then the fish turned on in the afternoon. Hite was another example of that today. But he was hardly the only one.
If you watched BASSTrakk you witness some of the fast-and-furious that took place on Lake Seminole in the final two hours or so. Although the weather prediction could turn it into more of an all-day bite, this is likely to be the classic "it isn't over until it's over" scenario on Sunday.