SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Arkansas angler Kevin Short — the man in pink — definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer. Just check out those pink-rimmed Costa Del Mar sunglasses if you don't think so.
Fellow Elite Series angler Chris Lane was still shaking his head Friday morning over the newly-pinked "L" in the script lettering on Lane's boat. Short did that while signing autographs during Wednesday night's "Angler's Alley" pre-tournament event.
Short capped a markedly different bass tournament performance Friday by catching a seagull in the Bassmaster Champion's Choice presented by Ramada Worldwide.
"I was throwing a Chatterbait in the milfoil," Short said. "The gull had swooped down a couple of times, going after the bait."
When the Mayflower, Ark., angler made another long cast, the bird made another swoop for the lure and became entangled in his line.
"It got all tangled up," he said. "It was wrapped around a leg and a wing. I had to reel him in."
Short being Short, it wasn't the first bird he'd caught. So he knew what to do, with the help of his co-angler Al Hall.
"You've got to hold the head or they'll peck the hell out of you," Short said. "I held the head while Al got the bird untangled."
But that was only one of the species that Short landed this week on Oneida Lake. The rest were fish species, but they included a yellow perch, a catfish, two different species of drum, a walleye and a pickerel.
This being a bass tournament and all, Short caught a two-day total of 18 pounds, 2 ounces, which left him out of the top 50 cut in 68th place. All the bass Short caught were smallmouths.
Of course, Short was targeting largemouths this week. And that's the only fish species he didn't catch.
"Everything in this lake will hit a Zoom Speed Craw, flipped in the grass," said the seemingly always mischievously smiling Short.
Time to study
Alton Jones Jr., son of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner, turned 16 during the 2008 Elite Series schedule, which made him eligible to fish as a co-angler. He took advantage of that opportunity by participating in all seven tournaments that came after his birthday, including this week's Champion's Choice.
But the elimination of co-anglers from next year's Elite Series events may prove beneficial to the young Texan's academic career.
"I'll have time to get a lot of school work done," he said.
Tournament leader Mike Iaconelli said that years of fishing northeastern waters may not provide a tactical advantage this week. After all, most of the Elite Series anglers have been here before and could find fish even if they hadn't. But Ike believes that his time on Oneida and other similar lakes gives him a mental edge.
"It gives you a little bit more confidence," Iaconelli said. "You understand when to move and change."
Today he demonstrated that he knows what he was talking about. After catching over 20 pounds of largemouths, he inadvertently stumbled onto something else.
"The last hour I was just killing time," Iaconelli explained. "I was just dragging a bait around way out in the middle of nowhere and I caught a four-pound smallmouth."
In a tournament that could be decided by ounces, and could shape numerous anglers' careers, many of his peers would have given their right arm for that "gimme" fish.
Crews ready for a reset
For four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier John Crews, 2009 has been a completely forgettable season.
"I'm ready to hit the reset button," Crews said.
He plans to clear his mind during the offseason by coaching little league football, but admitted that for a pro angler it's hard to ever get too far away from fishing.
"I'd like to say that I'm not going to think about (fishing)," Crews said. "But you can't ever really get away from it."
"It's tough because you finally feel like you can win one and you go from hero to zero." — Britt Myers, who went from third place on Day One with 16-6 to 95th place on Day Two with a zero.
"I didn't do anything different today and I don't see any reason to change tomorrow." — Rick Clunn, who moved from sixth to fifth Friday with a two-day total of 29-13.
"It hasn't been a problem, not at all. Everybody has been really cool, from the people on the docks to the people in the boats going by." — Dave Wolak, on the pressure of being the local favorite.
"That's what wins." — Dean Rojas, who is second, 5 ounces behind Iaconelli, on why he's fishing for largemouths, not smallmouths.