Boyd Duckett is tops on Oneida with around 12 pounds at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Bowman, did we really have to leave bucolic Maple Bay? There I could drink coffee in between blog posts. There I could bask in the warm sun and enjoy the view. Now we're back in the rodeo. Our ride out to Scott Rook was eventful. Heavy wind from the east has kicked up a big chop on Oneida Lake. Our 15-minute ride out to Rook included a half dozen waves to the face. Here's my photo below, and Steve Bowman below me. I'm the handsome one.
Birds are working consistently in the area around Frenchman Island, where Randy Howell caught his first keeper of the day, but I think Howell is growing tired of chasing the phantom schools of smallmouth the birds are supposedly pinpointing. He's settled into motoring upwind and drifting over the same grassbeds -- adopting a tactic for coastal saltwater fishing.
Boyd Duckett just reeled in his fifth keeper. He estimated it at 2 3/4 pounds. We're thinking that gives him about 12 pounds. The only sure way Duckett will get to the Classic is to win today. Though it's still possible that a strong finish will get him there. We're heading out of calm Maple Bay to check on Scott Rook.
Boyd Duckett just caught keeper No. 4. He said this one is 1 3/4 pounds. Before today, Duckett was sharing this spot with Kelly Jordon and Jeremy Starks. We understand that Jordon and Duckett (not sure about Starks) are staying in a house on Maple Bay. Jordon said they've seen fish schooling here in the evening.
Not only has there been more at stake at Oneida than at other tournament of the Elite season — that's always true at the finale — but this has been the closest tournament of the entire year.
A flock of terns diving on bait attracted Randy Howell's attention, and he raced a few hundred yards to where they were feeding. He's tried several baits but hasn't hooked up.
The main body of Oneida Lake is very choppy again today, but Maple Bay is protected from the wind and is calm. Here's Boyd Duckett and Bassmaster TV camera man Marty Dashiell.
Boyd Duckett has two keepers in the livewell. His second fish is 2 1/2 pounds. OK, an update already. Duckett just reeled in his third keeper. This one is a 2-pounder. BASSTrakk is adding that up to be 8.6 pounds. Not bad for 40 minutes of fishing.