Many anglers struggled to find consistency on Days 1 and 2
Lake Dardanelle has thrown a wrench into many of the Elite Series anglers AOY plans, as well as their consistent patterns they found in practice. Many anglers who enjoyed a solid practice were welcomed with drops in water level and temperature. Not to mention an influx of muddy water.
With the changes to the water came a tale of two days. Many of the top anglers from Day 1 found themselves with less weight and even dropping substantially in the standings. On the other hand, many pros found themselves on the wrong side of the cut line but bounced back and jumped into the Top-50 with a good Day 2.
Zell Rowland made the jump of the day and most likely the event when he skyrocketed from the cellar (87th) to 3rd place and right in the thick of the battle for Day 3. Rowland caught the biggest bag of the event thus far with 25 pounds and 5 ounces.
Following suit with Rowland were anglers Mike Iaconelli, Ott Defoe, Cliff Prince, Cliff Crochet, Davy Hite, Trevor Romans and Aaron Martens.
Mike Iaconelli was one of those anglers with a fantastic Day 2, which vaulted him from an 80th place position to 16th and well inside the Top-50 cut. From a 12-9 bag on the first day to an 18-5 limit on Day 2, Ike showcased one of the better limits of the day.
Ott Defoe sang the same song as he made an identical move from 82nd to 17th with a chance at making the Top-12 if he has a solid Day 3.
Both Cliff’s (Crochet and Prince) had bigger bags and improved to 8th and 15th respectively. Crochet, who jumped 62 positions from Day 1 to 2, is looking for his second consecutive Top-12 finish after a 12th at Toledo Bend.
Prince on the other hand jumped 40 spots and was just barely out of the Top-12, but is certainly in the mix.
Former winner on Lake Dardanelle, Davy Hite, returned to his old form and jumped from 68th to 27th. In many tournaments we see adjustments by the pros and they figure out the fish each day with every changing condition, but this week has been a dramatically different as numerous anglers are making big moves.
Aaron Martens found himself down in the standings, but after a good day yesterday he jumped into 20th place. Unofficially today Martens has put together a quick bag and has even jumped into the top 10 and is certainly in contention for a Top-12 cut.
Now those were the “movers” and these are the “shakers.” Unlucky for them, they didn’t catch them well on Day 2 and fell down the standings as a result.
The biggest fall of the day came from James Niggemeyer who, on Day 1, whacked them. Niggemeyer was sitting pretty with 19 pounds and an 8th place position, but Day 2 brought different conditions and the Texas pro fell to 88th place as he brought one fish to the scales.
Andy Montgomery, like Niggemeyer, sacked them and sat in 7th but the bottom dropped out as well when he fell to 67th.
For the Angler of the Year battle, the plummets may have hurt some of the anglers battling on the border of the Classic borderline.
Grant Goldbeck was fortunate to salvage his day as he brought four fish to the scales, but sitting in 3rd place after Day 1 helped him greatly. Goldbeck is fishing on Day 3 as he launched this morning in 34th place. Another day like his Day 1 and he could be fishing on Sunday. With the changing conditions, that can be very possible but adapting is crucial this weekend.
The wild weekend continues and on Day 3, nine of the 14 Elite Series rookies made the Top-50 cut.
This “rookie” class has been a strong one as two have won events and many have cut a check by making the Top-50 cut. Seven first-year guys made the cut at Seminole, while seven more did at St. Johns. Only three finished in the top-50 on Table Rock. Last event eight rookies made the Top-50 cut, while the three of them took a podium as Jacob Powroznik won, Chad Morgenthaler came in second and Randall Tharp finished in third.
This tournament has been characterized by new guys and changing conditions, but the guys who can stay consistent may just win this event. Greg Hackey had 21-1 and 18-13, John Crews caught 22-9 and 16-12. Many other anglers who are in the top-12 have been consistent as well. Adapting is the name of the game.