NEW ORLEANS — Three men entered, two faltered and one caught the heaviest bag thus far in the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. There were actually more than a dozen anglers in the area, but when the top three anglers in the Classic are fishing within a cast of each other, it can feel like only three.
Day One leader Aaron Martens, second place Scott Rook and third place Kevin VanDam all called Lake Cataouatche home Friday and went back to try and duplicate their day on Saturday.
Rook had a fast start but only finished with 12 pounds, 5 ounces, which was more than 7 pounds off Friday's haul. "I got in there and got the bites, but they were all 2-pounders," Rook said. "I don't think I caught a single 2-pounder on Friday."
Aaron Martens had an even worse day, catching only 12-11 and falling more than 8 pounds out of the lead. "I was just missing fish," Martens said. "I made a switch late and caught a couple fish, but I should have made the switch earlier. I kept telling myself to do it; then I'd get hit hard by something. It was tough."
To make matters worse for Rook and Martens, they had to watch VanDam catch a bucket of 4-pound fish from a few yards away. "We talked midway through the morning about how they were just slapping at the bait," Rook said. "He hadn't caught anything on a spinnerbait in two hours, so he ties on something else and, boom, 5-pounder. I say, 'Was that five?' and he says, 'No I think it was a little better.'
"Over the next hour, he proceeded to catch nine 4-pounders right in front of me." Martens said watching VanDam haul in his 22-8 limit didn't affect him too much. He was more upset with himself for missing fish and not making the appropriate adjustments. "I only get mad on the water when someone tries to push me off a spot," Martens said. "It's easy fishing with Kevin and Scott. I was mad at myself today."
Rook had a little more trouble getting past VanDam's success. "I'm standing beside him, throwing the exact same bait, retrieving it the same way; he's pulling in 4-pounders and I'm pulling in 2-pounders," Rook said. "It's frustrating. You know you have to beat the best in the world, and there he is catching them."