The energy was high as the pros settled in for the next-to-last day of 2012 Elite Series competition.
Rook's big fish woe's continue. He just hooked up and lost a 3 1/2-pounder. That's his third of the morning. You can hear him over the waves and wind and he's not happy at the moment. These fish are simply coming unbuttoned. And he's having a time trying to understand why. From this angle the hook set looks great. But with the boat bobbing up and down, he may be lacking the oomph needed. Who knows?
Although Brent Chapman is taking a lot of the drama out of the AOY race this week by doing so well in the tournament, this has still been a very close battle. You'd have to go back to at least 2009 to find one that was this close.
Aaron Martens is fishing about 40 yards away from Scott Rook. He's been very patiently fishing the same spot all morning. Driver Brian Eisch says he's fishing on top of a ridge line. We've seen him catch two. One for sure is in the livewell; we're not sure about the other one. We ran into Martens in the gas station this morning. He asked with a weak smile why we had to make the launch so early.
After a slow start at Oneida, Ott DeFoe is suddenly making a run at the AOY title, like many thought he would. BASSTrakk numbers in the last hour showed DeFoe in fifth place, two spots above Chapman. Chapman has since moved back ahead. But it's important to note that it marked the first time any of Chapman's closest rivals had made-up any ground on him. And it's just one more sign of the daily shake-ups possible at Oneida this week.
After dominating the Rookie of the Year for most of the season, Brandon Card may have left the door open for Cliff Prince. Card was stellar for the first five tournaments but has missed the cut in each of the last three. He's currently 14 points ahead of Prince as he sits on the sidelines and waits to see what happens.
I could hear the sigh of relief all the way over here, 40 yards from Randy Howell. The second-round leader just boated his first keeper, and it is a good one. He said it weighs 3 pounds, 12 ounces. The three-hour drought has ended. Howell has moved to an area near two islands and in sight of the launch site at Oneida Shores Park. To get here, he had to circle a posse of Elite Series anglers, including Kevin VanDam and Nate Wellman, who are working schools of bass pinpointed by swirling birds.
Scott Rook is fishing the edge of a shoal where the water goes from about 12 feet to 7 feet. He's dragging a drop shot along the bottom, right where the fish are feeding on the edge of the shoal. It's working out well for him. He's already caught six keepers.
Todd Faircloth explained his predicament Friday in the quest to catch Brent Chapman in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Faircloth has posted almost identical days: 14-5, then 14-9. He's in 13th place. "If I maximize my area, I can catch 15 pounds," he said. "I can't do much better than that, from what I've seen."
Scott Rook just caught his sixth keeper and culled up a half pound. We're estimating that gives him 11 pounds. Rook's boat got turned so that Steve Bowman wasn't able to get a photo of the catch, but Wes Miller was able to get it on his side of the boat with the slow mo camera. Miller hollered at us and said the fish naturally come to him. "They know who has the talent!" he said.