We're sticking on Tommy Biffle, for obvious reason. He entered the day second in this event, and boated three keepers before we really got settled. The past hour has been tough on the Oklahoma pro, however. He's set the hook numerous times in the past hour, but hasn't brought a fish into the boat. Biffle remains undeterred, though, and is methodically working a small grass point just off the main river channel near the Goose Point area.
Howell just spoke with the lock master. The lock is open. Howell immediately heads for it.
Aaron Martens cranked up the big motor and made a move about 10 minutes ago. Remember that earlier shout-out to our boat driver Brian Beebe? Uh, not so much now. His outboard wouldn't start when we tried to follow Martens. So Overstreet did what he always does - looks out for No. 1 - and jumped in another boat. He just called me to report that Martens caught three fish pretty quickly in his new spot, but a 2 1/2-pound smallmouth is the biggest and the others were small keepers.
"I missed a big one here yesterday," Howell says, pointing ahead of his boat. He is working a frog over a narrow stretch of grass along a riprap jetty. He swings and misses, reels in quickly and follows up with a Senko. The bass doesn't respond. The same thing happens a little farther down. Howell has dropped his Power-Poles so he can work on the bass. "That was a good blow-up," he says. Power-Poles are up. Howell is moving again.
The pros were in good spirits during launch this morning at La Crosse.
Bobby Lane now has three fish. "Putting on a pitching clinic!" said his Marshal.
I stopped blogging for a moment, stood up and took a look at the water in Stoddard Bay. It is the color of coffee with a double shot of cream, even in the most protected area in the back of the bay. What a mess. The muddy water will definitely be a game changer for some of the Elite finalists.
We're in Stoddard Bay. We can't find Roumbanis, but we did run into Randy Howell. We watch him pluck a keeper from a patch of duck wart with a Senko. He's not happy to be here. Plan A for Howell was to lock down to Pool 9. A barge in the lock has him on hold. "The river is so muddied up from the rain it might make it tough on some of the other guys," Howell said. "If I can get through the lock to my fish, I could make a big move today. The water is a lot cleaner down there."
My boat driver today is Lonnie Mesar from Marshfield, Wis. Also aboard is TJ Maglio of Madison, Wis. He'll be taking photos today. We ran south to Stoddard Bay looking for Fred Roumbanis, who started the day in fifth place. I stopped by his boat yesterday after the weigh-in. He told me he is frogging. There's no doubt about that. Fishing a hollow, weed less frog is one of his strengths. The carpet on the front deck of his bass boat had so much dried algae and duckweed on it that it looked like it had been slimmed.