RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Gusting winds up to 35 miles per hour and sideways rain created hazardous conditions that caused BASS officials to cancel the third day of the Toyota Tundra Diamond Drive on Lake Dardanelle.
"Right now, the winds are gusting at 28 mph and it is supposed to get worse," tournament director Trip Weldon said. "There is a Lake Wind Advisory in effect until 7:00 p.m. tonight, so for the safety of our anglers we are not sending them out today."
That means that the top 12 anglers from the first two days will be fishing on Sunday, where their three-day combined weight will determine the winner. Mark Menendez, the tournament leader heading into the final day after catching 39 pounds, 4 ounces over two days, was the most relieved of the anglers to find out Day Three was cancelled.
Running a small aluminum boat to a hard-to-reach spot almost an hour up the river, Menendez would have faced a treacherous ride to get to his productive hole.
"I would have tried to get up there today, even if it had taken me three hours," Menendez said. "The winning fish are there, absolutely the winning fish. I knew it was a gamble to use an aluminum boat, but I have 100 percent confidence in my G3 boat and 90-horse Yamaha."
Fortunately for Menendez, he won't have to make that gamble, but he will still have to face drastically different conditions tomorrow as a front is expected to drop the temperatures into the low 30s overnight.
"I'm only fishing in 18 inches of water and the deepest water in the area is 3 feet, so the cold temperatures will affect me," Menendez said. "But obviously, right now it's basically a one-day shootout between Cliff and myself."
Cliff being Cliff Pace, currently in second place, less than a pound behind Menendez. From there, the weights drop off quickly with Kevin VanDam almost six pounds back. With the shortened tournament, that makes the lead Menendez has built all the more important.
One angler disappointed to not be fishing was Alton Jones, who viewed the day as a chance to close that gap between himself and the leaders.
"Big boats have an advantage over little boats on days like this," Jones said. "Little boats can get into those little hidey holes, but they struggle in big water. We could have had a chance to catch up. I don't know if I was on the fish to make a move, but I would have liked a chance to find out."
At least he will be fishing on Sunday, as he currently sits in fifth with 32 pounds, 3 ounces. The heartbreak of the day belongs to James Niggemeyer, who entered Day Three in 13th place with 28 pounds, 7 ounces, only 7 ounces out of the cut. After the cancellation, Niggemeyer was the first angler eliminated when the field was shortened to 12 for the final day.
"The sad thing is I really would have made a push for the top 12," Niggemeyer said. "I feel like I was on the stuff to have another day like yesterday. I made an adjustment yesterday and expanded to another area and I didn't even know what the potential of that area would be. Now I won't get the chance to find out."
With two solid days of boating 14 pounds of bass from the waters of Lake Dardanelle, Niggemeyer was showing the consistency necessary to make a move up the leaderboard. Unfortunately, he won't get the chance to see if his adjustments would pay off for another day.
"You didn't bring any waterproof shoes Chris?" — Fred Roumbanis, to Chris Lane as they waited around the dock in the rain
"It never gets this cold down in Florida, so if their feet get wet they don't mind." — Cliff Pace
"I'm not wearing enough clothes." — Chris Lane, on being underdressed at the Day Three launch
"Even Crazy Charlie doesn't want to go fishing today, and he always wants to go fishing." — Charlie Hartley, on the brutal weather anglers were facing prior to launch
"I'm ready to go to Cracker Barrel." — Terry Scroggins
Hooked Up! Live Video Update schedule changes:
Top Twelve for Final Day:
2009 Diamond Drive 3/26-3/29
Lake Dardanelle, Russellville AR.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings at end of Day 2
Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$
1. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 10 39-04 305
Day 1: 5 17-12 Day 2: 5 21-08
2. Cliff Pace Petal, MS 10 38-07 295
Day 1: 5 16-11 Day 2: 5 21-12
3. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, MI 10 33-12 290
Day 1: 5 15-06 Day 2: 5 18-06
4. Matt Herren Trussville, AL 10 32-08 285
Day 1: 5 17-01 Day 2: 5 15-07
5. Alton Jones Waco, TX 10 32-03 280
Day 1: 5 17-05 Day 2: 5 14-14
6. Fred Roumbanis Bixby, OK 10 32-01 276
Day 1: 5 16-12 Day 2: 5 15-05
7. Denny Brauer Camdenton, MO 10 31-11 272
Day 1: 5 16-06 Day 2: 5 15-05
8. Jim Murray Arabi, GA 10 31-03 268
Day 1: 5 12-00 Day 2: 5 19-03
9. Greg Vinson Wetumpka, AL 9 30-15 264
Day 1: 4 09-01 Day 2: 5 21-14
10. Chris Lane Lakeland, FL 10 30-06 260
Day 1: 5 15-14 Day 2: 5 14-08
11. Skeet Reese Auburn, CA 10 29-06 257
Day 1: 5 15-13 Day 2: 5 13-09
12. Bradley Hallman Norman, OK 9 28-14 254
Day 1: 4 10-10 Day 2: 5 18-04