Stephen Browning would like to have his Day Three back. After leading the first two days, Browning only brought in one fish and fell out of contention for his first Elite Series victory.
The problem is, if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have changed a thing.
"I went where I thought I could catch 20 pounds again and it just didn't happen," Browning said. "I had a very narrow window where the bite was decent and when I didn't get bit, I knew I was in trouble. I feel like a lot of these guys on tour would have made the same decision."
It was an impossible situation for Browning and although he had a gut feeling to bail on the area, he couldn't leave knowing the best bite was in the afternoon.
On Day Four, Browning went to his back-up spot from the get-go and sacked up 16 pounds, 14 ounces, including the day's biggest bass, a 7-pound, 2-ounce Delta beauty.
"I used the same bait, same technique and was fortunate enough to get one big bite — those big fish really make the difference."
Klein lives and dies by the finesse worm
On the morning of Day Three, Delta veteran Gary Klein pulled a bag out of his coat pocket and surreptitiously showed a Bassmaster reporter his bait: a 4-inch purple finesse worm.
While the rest of the field was flipping dark creature baits, Klein had stacked up just over 21 pounds the day before shaking the tiny bait on light line.
He went with it again on the final day. The result: one fish.
"I died by it," Klein said. "I did a few other things, too, but that was my bait most of the week. I just couldn't get those fish to bite on the low tide. I got to my spot today and had two hours of an outgoing tide and a dead tide where it was 2 feet. They like it when it's 5 feet."
A monster bite
On Day Four of the TroKar Duel in the Delta, Shaw Grigsby landed four big bass that weighed 17 pounds, 15 ounces, but it was the fish he didn't catch that was most memorable.
"It was an awesome bite, one of those bites you dream about," Grigsby said. "It moved so much water, I knew when it bit that I might not be able to get a hook in it."
Grigsby spent the whole tournament flipping a jig and while he never got many bites, they were almost always big fish. He only caught seven keepers over the final two days of competition, but they averaged over 4 pounds apiece.
The fish in question his Grigsby's jig so hard, he felt sure it was over 6 pounds and could have been one of the double-digit lunkers that proved to be elusive this week.
"Most of my fish were big — that's what you get when you fish a jig."
Niggemeyer's weeklong recovery
A first-day bag of under 3 pounds on the California Delta is a tournament death sentence.
Or is it?
James Niggemeyer finished in seventh place with 58-13, which some would deem almost miraculous after the Texas pro stumbled out of the gate with one fish and 2 pounds, 8 ounces on Day One. Niggemeyer followed up with 18-9 and 21-6, and finished the final day with 16-6.
"There was no pressure for me, which makes it kind of nice," Niggemeyer said as he waited to be driven to the weigh-in. "The way things started, I'm pretty happy right now."
"There was plenty to watch, just no plenty to watch when I was swinging."
— Zell Rowland, on not catching a keeper on Day Four.
"You don't know how hard it is not getting a bite and not wanting to light a cigarette. My phone rang three times today and it was probably Kevin Wirth watching me on the internet going, 'He ain't caught one yet, he probably wants a cigarette.'"
— Rowland, on quitting smoking with Wirth last year and having a rough day on the water.
"You can't come out and fish three days and let everyone else fish four."
— Stephen Browning, on his one-fish catch Day Three that ruined his chances to win the tournament.
"I did not see that one coming."
— Second-place finisher Skeet Reese after losing to John Crews by 1 ounce.
"I left two fish out there today and that's my fault."
— Greg Hackney, after only bringing in four fish and finishing 2 pounds back.
"I knew on Day One that I was on the fish to win this tournament."
— Duel winner John Crews on his primary spot.