If Todd Faircloth can finish in the Top 3 today, he's 20 points or fewer behind Brent Chapman for the AOY title heading into the final two tournaments. That's well within striking range, but he'll need to avoid the slips that cost him the title in 2008. That year he was leading the race going into the final tournament and needed to finish in the money to lock it up. Unfortunately for Faircloth, the wheels came off in the finale and he finished a dismal 93rd, opening the door for Kevin VanDam to slip through and claim his fourth AOY.
Other than in a few brief lulls, Aaron Martens has continued to catch fish all morning long. Lately he's been able to cull up a few ounces two times. He's probably got 11 pounds now. But as has been the lament of almost every angler in this tournament, Martens hasn't found a big bite today. He's caught 'em shallow - on a topwater frog - and he's caught 'em deep – on a drop shot and a flutter spoon. But he just hasn't caught 'em big.
Todd Faircloth blasted out of the area known as The Box and sped across the Mississippi River back to the little marsh area he fished with success this morning.
Steve Kennedy has been fishing the same backwater lake all week and he told me this morning, "If it wasn't for lost fish, I'd probably be in the Top 5." Because his lake is so far off the grid, he also hasn't had to deal with much tournament pressure. In fact, it took us more than 30 minutes just to get back to him through a series of cuts and sloughs. When we finally did, he didn't disappoint by setting the hook on a frog fish as soon as we pulled in.
The angler with the most to lose today is Todd Faircloth. He's in the lead after three days, and if he slips in the standings today he'll drop critical AOY points that will cost him in the race ... not to mention $100K for 1st place.
Terry Butcher has put the frog on pause. He made a run to another slough to flip some grass banks and isolated wood, and he is still sitting on about 12 pounds.
Dennis Tietje might have the whitest feet on the tour.
Todd Faircloth is taking good care of his livewell. We just watched him add in ice and Rejuvinade Fish Formula. The ice lowers the water temperature, which naturally heats up during the day. If you can keep the water temperature around the low 70s to mid-60s, you keep the fish feeling better and less stressed. Rejuvinade is a formula that helps remove human bacteria (after you've handled the fish), and it revitalizes and re-energizes bass. This sounds a bit like Gatorade for fish to me.
Aaron Martens broke his streak of small fish catches with a big one, but it was the wrong species.
Headed into the final stretch of the 2012 Elite season, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and the chase for Bassmaster Classic berths are in high gear. Taking a look at what's happened here on the Mississippi River and in the last couple of tournaments, there are some interesting trends.