Day Three p.m. Notes:
At the Day Three launch Steve Kennedy vowed to throw swimbaits all day, rigging up eight rods with the natural-swimming lures. His gamble resulted in a 13 pounds, 11 ounce bag, but he would ultimately come up short, missing the top-12 cut by 8 ounces.
"That was so close," Kennedy said. "I kept throwing the swimbait all day and caught probably 18 keepers today, but the big ones weren't there in the afternoon. My biggest mistake came on Day One."
The mistake Kennedy is referring to was the timing that he hit his two different patterns. Coming out of practice, he had located both sight fish and swimbait fish. He chose to target the swimbait fish first, but struggled because the cold nights had pushed them down.
"In hindsight, I probably could have thrown a shaky head or drop shot and caught them," Kennedy said. "By the time I went back to the bed fish, most of the better ones had been picked off. That became a survival day and I finally finished my limit with 10 minutes left to go."
Kennedy rebounded on the next two days of competition and earned some valuable Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points, but in the end, it wasn't enough to fish on Sunday.
Day Three p.m. Quotes:
"I'm real proud of the three days I've had so far, the adjustments that I've made. I've had to be real sneaky." —Tournament leader Kevin VanDam
"I knew that if I sight fished I could catch 9 to 11 pounds, but I was in 44th place and that wasn't going to help me, so I threw a swimbait a frog and a buzzbait all day. I swung for it and I saw more big fish than I knew were in this lake. I've called them everything under the sun but I just would not sight fish." —Marty Stone
"That one stupid three pounder. If I catch it tomorrow, I'm going to bite its head off. I lost it three times yesterday. I got it to bite in five minutes today but I lost it the same way again." —Aaron Martens, channeling his inner Captain Ahab
"The Motorguide got a workout today. If they made a Tour 400 I'd be all over that." —Skeet Reese
"That's a bad rule. After seeing the boat traffic today, you need to have it strapped around your neck." — Marty Stone, commenting on the Virginia law requiring anglers to have a throw cushion out on the deck at all times.
"You can't blame them. It's just beautiful out here." —Pat Golden, opining on day three's heavy boat traffic.
"I worked a lot of big fish, just the wrong ones." — John Murray
"If they had a trolling motor that would run 20 miles per hour, I be all about that." — Skeet Reese
"With all the boat traffic on this lake, you need a throw cushion around your neck and another around your ankles." — Marty Stone
"My eyes are tired, beat down and my head hurts. I done took about 19 Goodys powders. I'm going home to get a rest." — Gerald Swindle
"I just ended up home-towning myself." — Local favorite John Crews
"I've seen fish spawn more than once, especially smallmouth. Sometimes they'll come up there three or four times." — Kevin VanDam
"I had one come after my frog today that I saw coming for fifteen feet, unfortunately I swung too early on her and missed." — Fred Roumbanis
"I sight fished to day and got to be honest with you, I'm not very good at it." — Mike Iaconelli
"It's probably from cursing all day." — Mike Iaconelli after being asked by emcee Keith Alan why he was hoarse.
Day Three a.m. Notes, Quotes:
MONETA, Va. — With less than 5 pounds separating 12th-place angler Byron Velvick from 50th-place Scott Campbell entering Day Three of the Advance Auto Parts Blue Ridge Brawl, the race to fish on Sunday is tight and every angler still has a chance to make it with a big bag.
"I am the one on the cusp of making the top-12 cut," Velvick said. "I feel really good because I am catching fish early. I figured a little something out and I feel pretty confident. Don't tell anyone, but I might be doing a little sight fishing. I don't want people to find out they are on beds."
Sight fishing is the primary technique being discussed this week, but Velvick also indicated that he had another technique that has been producing some better fish.
"This other little deal I have going should help me out," Velvick said. "The only thing is, I blew a chance at a kicker yesterday when I lost it. That hurts and I don't want that to be the reason that I don't make the cut."
Mark Tyler, in ninth place entering Day Three, is on the edge of making his first final-day appearance of the 2009 Elite Series campaign. After two straight tournaments just outside of the top-50, he will be fishing his first Saturday of the year with a chance at Sunday, but unlike Velvick, he is less confident about his chances.
"I have a high level of uncertainty going into today," Tyler said. "Each day takes on a whole unique personality and with so many guys running the same pattern it will be interesting. To get in the top 12, things have to go your way. I was 13th here in 2007, just missing the cut by one ounce, so there is a little bit of redemption going on here."
Tyler hails from Scottsdale, Ariz., and Smith Mountain Lake seems to fit his strengths. Indeed a glance at the top of the tournament leaderboard shows five of the top 12 anglers are or were originally from the West Coast.
"I feel real comfortable on clear water coming from the West Coast and places like Lake Mead," Tyler said. "Not letting the clear water get to my head, using light line, those are things that you pick up from the West and you see a lot of these guys on top."
From the opposite coast as Tyler, Mike Iaconelli is currently on the outside of the cut looking in. Sitting in 17th place after Day Two, Ike is 12 ounces away from fishing on Sunday but before launch thought he might have burned through most of his fish.
"I have been exclusively bed fishing and I've run out of fish," Iaconelli said. "I went to everything I had over the past two days. Today I plan to fish all new water and hope to stumble on five pounds. Sometimes it is good to just put the trolling motor on high and forget about all those waypoints."
Even though he is "just going fishing," Ike still plans to focus on sight-fishing, looking to new waters to find untouched beds. Many have been predicting that more fish will move up today, but Ike isn't counting on that to happen.
"I don't think today is going to be a whole lot different than the past two days," Iaconelli said. "Most of the fish I've caught have been in obvious spawning places, so now I'm going to look for less obvious beds in areas like secondary points and smaller coves around the lake. I'll also try to get on a shad spawn for the first hour since the light is low and I can't really sight fish anyway."
For 38 Elite anglers, the tournament will end Saturday with only the top 12 fishing on Sunday's final day. The weigh-in starts at 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN360 with all tournament coverage on Bassmaster.com.