Aaron Martens and John Murray have been hiding in plain sight, usually on the wrong side of islands we've been driving by. We found Murray fishing grassbeds and rocks along a rock wall near Ogdensburg just now and watched him long enough to see him lose a 4-plus-pound smallmouth. He had the fish hooked up solidly. Even three acrobatic jumps couldn't throw the hook. But as he got it near the boat, the fish apparently bored into grass or wrapped around zebra mussel encrusted rocks and broke his line.
Palaniuk steps back to the consol and adjusts the mini Go Pro camera mounted there. He and his cameraman have been having a few camera issues this morning. Palaniuk moves back to the trolling motor and immediately sets the hook. He battles the fish to the boat as his cameraman scrambles to capture the action. This is bass number four and it will go four pounds. Minutes later Palaniuk lands another bass that weighs 4 pounds or more. "There's a whole school of them down there that big," Palaniuk yells.
He has two fish. First fish was 2 pounds. The second fish was a five-pounder. As I write this, he caught third fish close to 3 pounds. Now he has three fish.
Jonathon VanDam just caught a 3-pounder for his third keeper, which should give him about 8 pounds for the day. The wind is supposed to blow from the west southwest at 10 to 15 mph today. It's a little bouncy out here now.
On the last day of the Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown at St. Lawrence River, the Top 12 anglers make a run for the trophy.
Palaniuk is making short pitches with a small drop shot bait. He gives the rod a very subtle shaking action when the weight is on bottom. I thought I noticed him doing that yesterday. It was hard to tell for sure in the wind and waves. Within minutes Palaniuk hooks a bass and soon boats a 2-pounder. He calmly puts it in the live-well. Moments after that he hooks a big bass. He takes his time playing the fish and eventually hails aboard a beautiful 5-pound smallmouth bass. This fish is greeted with screams and fist pumps.
James Overstreet, Dean Meckes and I just pulled up near Jonathon VanDam, just past the Brockville Narrows, about 35 or 40 river miles west of the launch site. We saw him boat what we think was his second keeper of the day, and it was just that, a keeper, 2 pounds maybe. We're told he caught a 3-pounder earlier. JVD got his line stretched a few minutes ago by a drum that weighed at least 12 pounds.
We've launched at Henderson Bay just in time to see Brandon Palaniuk, the tournament leader, pounding across waves on Lake Ontario into the bay. It's still bumpy here, but it's a cakewalk compared to yesterday. I suspect that Palaniuk will have a deep bow in his rod in short order.
Just as we were starting to leave Chad Pipkins he hauled in a nice 4 and a quarter pound smallmouth. That's a good start to the day for Chad. "Could you start to leave me again?" Pipkins said with a laugh. He, like most anglers is always looking for a behavior to repeat that may help them catch another fish.