In order to go from a first-place tie to a dominating lead in 24 hours, Cliff Pace hit the equivalent of two grand slam home runs Saturday. As Grand Lake's 30-year fisheries biologist Gene Gilliland said pre-Classic, "There are not many 7s, 8s and 9s in the lake, but 4s and 5s are relatively common. If somebody gets a big lead, it's going to be hard to catch up." Pace essentially landed two of those rare 7-pounders Saturday: a 7-2 and a 6-13.
Pace is fishing exceptionally slowly, milking every cast for all it's worth, a distinct contrast to all of the jerking we saw the first two days. He just asked a camera crew that got a little too close for comfort to back off.
B.A.S.S. photographer James Overstreet received a lucky cookie from KVD this morning. Currently it is sitting on the boat deck and I'm hungry.
We followed Mike Iaconelli down Grand lake to the mouth of Horse Creek, where he ran into what is possibly the best fan sign ever; a 4-foot tall, 25-foot wide banner hanging from a balcony that read "CATCH BASS HERE" with an arrow pointing toward the water. On a boathouse adjacent to that sign was another banner that read "We like Ike". As far as fan interaction and local involement, this is one of the best Bassmaster Classics I've had the pleasure of covering. Iaconelli has yet to register a bite.
We've found Cliff Pace, identifiable by the hovering helicopter and an entourage of 50 or so tightly packed spectator boats. Cliff is known for being somewhat media-shy. The big question in my mind is how he'll handle the scrutiny -- both today and tomorrow (should he win).
Has Cliff Pace collected his trophy yet? If not, it may be just a formality.
Palaniuk's first spot is less than a 10-minute run from the boat ramp. We didn't even have time to get cold. As we pulled up on him, Palaniuk was landing his first bass, a nice 2- to 2 1/4-pounder that he caught with a plastic bait on a spinning rod.
It’s going to be incredibly important for Cliff Pace to put a couple bass in the livewell early today. As he mentioned yesterday, he’s running a patience pattern, getting only 7 bites a day. That’s all well and good when expectations are low, but if things are going slowly again today, he’ll be fighting the “I’m letting the Classic slip away” feeling all day.