ZAPATA, TEXAS -- It's a standard question to ask on the Friday of every B.A.S.S Elite Series event -- "So (insert angler's name here,) what's it going to take to make the cut to 50?"
Of course, that refers to the Friday cut, when half of the field of pros will head home, while the other half live to fish another day. The answer is usually double the weight of the guy in 50th place on Thursday and maybe add a pound or two. More often than not, the simple formula works.
But in a place like Zapata, on water like Falcon Lake, it's almost a moot point. Why? Because when you compete on a fishery where 25-pound bags are commonplace, you can catch-up in a hurry. And if you're one of the lucky guys who can bag 30, even 40 pounds (which is by no means out of the question here,) well, you can climb up the leaderboard faster than a bass boat zips across the water.
No one knows that as well as Paul Elias, who won the only other Elite Series event here five years ago. His record-breaking bag is still the stuff of legend in bass circles -- 130-plus pounds of fish in a four-day event will do that. He's not sure if it will happen again in the 2013 Elite Series Rigid Industries Falcon Slam, but someone may come close.
"I think today, (to make the cut,) it will probably be 41 (pounds,) he said.
That's comforting news as Elias sits in 48th place with 19 pounds, 2 ounces -- AND he only caught four bass on Thursday.
It's a figure, that 41-pound marker, that a guy like Ott DeFoe likes as well. DeFoe is in 49th place, only five ounces behind Elias.
"I feel if I can catch 20 pounds, I'll be safe," DeFoe said.
And fishing on Falcon, he said that's a very strong possibility.
"If you go out and catch 20 you can stay in it," he said. "For the guys that are a bit behind, they can go out and catch 30 and be right back in it. That's the beauty of Falcon. You can catch a little bit and be right there (if you had a strong Day 1.)"
Knowing that the guys farther down the board can boat a sack like that, the guys who are higher up the standings can't rest on their Thursday laurels. Steve Kennedy is in 27th place with 22-9, and knows he'll have to keep fishing strongly to stay inside the cut.
"If may be double what the 50th place was yesterday, but it could be plus one (pound,) plus two pounds, plus three pounds," he said. "The last time (we fished here,) I ONLY had 49 pounds for two days and did not get a check. I came in with 30 pounds one day and didn't get a check. That hurt my feelings," he said, half jokingly.
So how does he stay "in the money," so to speak?
"I just have to go fishing," Kennedy said. "Basically I just half to figure out what they're doing, what's going on, and then work off of that. You can't get too hung up on what you did in practice."
Michael Iaconelli sits in 89th place with 8-11, and remarkably, that came off a five-fish limit. Obviously, he's looking for another limit, but finding more weight with it, too.
"This is one of those rare places you can go and do something special (like landing a 30- or even 40-pound bag,)" he said. "There's only a few places in the world you can do that, where you can catch a 10-pounder and then do it again on your next fish. That's very rare....That's an interesting thing about this sport. You can make a giant comeback like that."
Even for Michael Simonton, who was one of two anglers to not catch a keeper on Thursday. He knows the chances of him making the cut are improbable, but not impossible.
Not on Falcon.
"Forty (pounds) could definitely do it for you, to make the cut," he said. "But I didn't do very well in practice or yesterday. I'm not sure I know where to go and catch 40 pounds, but I'm going to go try to do it and have fun."