We have just talked a bit with Jonathon VanDam, and he is surprisingly calm. He is fishing very slowly with a drop shot, and he doesn't seem to be in a hurry. He knows that finding just one school of these giant smallmouth bass can change his day in five casts.
According to BASSTrakk, Aaron Martens has closed the gap on Brandon Palaniuk this morning. After all the back and forth between Martens and Rick Morris concerning fishing spots over the past two days, it's a good bet that "The Natural" is relieved that Morris missed the cut (42nd) and isn't on the water today.
If not for a livewell mishap on Day Two, Tommy Biffle could be at least 3 pounds closer to the lead than the 8 pounds, 11 ounces he trailed by entering Sunday. Biffle has been camped in the Fox River, just below De Pere Dam. He caught 17-1 there Thursday and had 16-10 Saturday.
Jonathon VanDam just hollered, "It's tough out here, dude. I need some wind!" That's exactly what we were thinking. Looks like he may be starting to spin a little. It's 8:45, and he's still without a fish.
Going into the final round, Palaniuk and JVD were practically tied. With just 4 ounces separating the two, it's the closest Day 4 since 2010 on Lake Pickwick. Kevin Short won that event after starting the final day in fourth place, but just 7 ounces off the lead. A little more than 3 pounds separates the Top 3 as fishing began today.
The last time Brandon Palaniuk had the lead going into the final round of an Elite event (at the Arkansas River earlier this year), he had almost a 13-pound margin over second place and ended up winning by almost 12 pounds. Today his lead is a lot tighter — just 4 ounces. The real pressure is on JVD today. His only chance to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic is with a win. Palaniuk's already in by virtue of his win on the Arkansas River.
Jonathon VanDam has made his way to the mouth of Little Sturgeon Bay, better known this week as "Party Point." It's the same place we have watched many anglers battle in the previous three days of this tournament. It's also where Rick Morris spent most of his day Saturday without catching a keeper.
Brandon Palaniuk, of course, leads the Green Bay Challenge going into Sunday. Here are the deficits the other 11 finalists faced at the start of the day: 0 pounds, 4 ounces – Jonathon VanDam 3-2 – Aaron Martens 4-14 – Dean Rojas 8-11 – Tommy Biffle 9-12 – Ott DeFoe 11-1 – Ish Monroe 11-11 – Skeet Reese 12-13 – James Niggemeyer 13-3 – Stephen Browning 13-9 – Russ Lane
Jonathon VanDam has abandoned the spot that has produced 55 pounds, 14 ounces over the last three days. At 8:15 a.m., he has no fish and is headed north.