GROVE, Okla. — Scott Rook jumped from 47th place Thursday to eighth place Friday in the Bassmaster Elite Series Sooner Run by catching a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. And his day could have been better.
The Little Rock, Ark., angler caught two fish on one crankbait - a 6-pounder and a 3-plus-pounder. He had them right at the boat, seemingly worn out, when one fish flipped it's head and came unhooked, then the other did the same.
The bigger fish could have given Rook a bag close to 25 pounds. But even knowing those kind of fish are plentiful in Grand Lake, Rook has no illusions about jumping to the top of the leaderboard in the next two days.
"Realistically, I'm fishing for third or fourth place," said Rook, noting that leader Kevin VanDam and runnerup Marty Robinson had both caught 20-pound bags each of the first two days.So is this a two-horse race for the $100,000 first place prize? VanDam has 43-3 to Robinson's 40-5. Edwin Evers is third with 37-13."I think it's a one horse race," said Rook with a smile. "Kevin smells blood in the water. He's really got 'em patterned. He's hard to beat in this situation.
"But you never know. He's human."VanDam?"Well, sometimes he is," Rook said.Rook, VanDam and Davy Hite are regular roommates on the Elite Series tour, so Rook is somewhat biased towards his buddy. But VanDam's reputation as a bass-catching machine extends throughout the fishing world.And none of the contenders could have been encouraged by VanDam's answer when asked how Saturday morning's cloudy, rainy 5:50 a.m. start would affect what he's doing."It should make it better," said VanDam, the three-time BASS Angler of the Year, who has brought 21-11 then 21-8 to the weigh-in stand the last two days.
Bass fishing legend Bob Cobb will be a special guest on ESPNOutdoors.com's exclusive live pre-game show Hooked Up. Cobb will be a part of the 3 p.m. ET live update on Sunday and will sit in with Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona an hour later for the live Hooked Up show at 4 p.m. ET.
Cobb is an icon in the sport and helped start both the Bassmaster Magazine and Bassmaster Television show. He is also an Oklahoma native who is familiar with Grand Lake.
Cobb's debut at 3 p.m. will be during the third live update of the action on the water on Sunday. There will also be live updates at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m ET.So what is VanDam doing? All you need to know is that he boated six rocks Friday.
"It's funny, the rocks are real porous here, where they just hang on," VanDam said. "I've caught some pretty good ones."In banging his crankbaits off and into all those rocks, VanDam is paying special attention to the treble hooks on those lures."I'm constantly checking them," he said. "I probably changed hooks (on a crankbait) 15 or 20 times yesterday, sometimes just one, sometimes both."You don't have to be around bass tournament fishing long to learn that's it's dangerous to make predictions. But the big money is on VanDam, the 39-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., resident, to lead the Sooner Run from start to finish, just like Mike McClelland did in winning this tournament one year ago.
Saturday's weigh-in begins at Grand Lake's North Beach Development at 3 p.m.
Editor's note: ESPNOutdoors.com invited the University of Oklahoma bass fishing team to join coverage of the Sooner Run. The collegiate anglers will post a regular blog and appear on Hooked Up, the live Internet shows that air at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the live weigh-in. Bob Cobb, creator of Bassmaster Magazine and Bassmaster television, will be the special guest on Hooked Up.
Daily live weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard will be at 4 p.m. ET. Please feel free to post comments to this blog via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.