Mike McClelland has worked his way back down the White River arm of the lake to Kimberling City, near where he started this morning. The clock is ticking louder by the second. At 2:34 he said he figures he's got "about 14 minutes" left to fish before he heads back to the check in site at Table Rock State Park.
We'll be running the live stream today, First Look with Davy Hite, at 2:55 central. Davy will be interviewing the top 12 anglers as they come off the water. He'll give us the first look at how their day has unfolded. Check the homepage for the link.
Just got word from VanDam's cameraman that KVD just boated a 4-plus and he now has about 16 pounds or more. Just how much more won't be known until they hit the scales. But if it's close then we have a virtual tie with three anglers. But KVD may have the advantage. It's hard to say at this point but it makes the outcome worth watching: three giants going head to head, ounce for ounce.
We just made what is probably our last move of the day. We are back where we started. Mark Davis mentioned earlier that he had gotten too close to his sweet spot when he made his last big cull. It's my guess this is Davis' last effort at boating the 5-pound-plus fish he needs. When we left Big Creek and hit the White River on our way here, Mike McClelland was on his way down river as well. Pretty cool watching the two leaders converge in the same place.
Brandon Palaniuk culled a 1 1/2-pounder for this 2 1/2-pounder. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Richard Kiblinger.
I've been operating under the assumption that this was a three-horse race. I couldn't be more wrong. After looking at BASSTrakk, it's obvious that a big fish could put any of the top eight into the winner's circle. All of those guys have decent limits, and the weights are close enough that a 6-pounder could change everything for whoever catches it. Looking at the sticks in that group, we are well accustomed to seeing them do it.
Mark Davis is leading the AOY race for the first time since 2008 (also after three events). That year he finished 12th. If he can go on to win, he'll become the oldest AOY in history (50) and just the third angler to win four or more AOY titles. Roland Martin has nine, and Kevin VanDam has seven. Martin is the oldest angler ever to win AOY; he was 45 when he won his last title in 1985.
Steve Isley is my boat driver these last two days. He fishes here and Bull Shoals on a regular basis. After two days, Isley is almost calling the fish catches. We've watched him enough to know when he is getting close to the juice. And Isley knows the lake enough to know what's in front of him. Of course Mark Davis is catching so many it's hard to get anywhere when he's not landing something. We lost count of fish catches a long time ago when we were in the 80-fish range.