Dean Rojas just caught his sixth fish of the day. It allowed him to cull up by ounces. In this tournament, where lunkers have been game-changers, that could be a game-changer for Rojas, if the standings are as tight as they appear to be.
Flip. Flip. Flip. That's what Tharp is going to live or die by. He's boated a few small fish, one of which we thought was going to cull for him, but he tossed it without hesitation. "Maybe the ones in my live well are bigger than I thought," he said. Even so, he's still after that big, big bite to make himself feel better about his chances.
The late baseball announcer Harry Caray was best known for his "Holy Cow!" phrase that signaled a home run by the home team. But my favorite was: "Big possums walk late." Dean Rojas and Chad Morgenthaler appear to be the big possums today. They'd sunk to the bottom of the Top 12 standings just a couple of hours into the morning and stayed there for a long time.
At the end of Day 3, the updated Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings shows three rookies in the top eight! Well, two rookies and Chad Morgenthaler — who is certainly no rookie and should not be classified as one. (He's competed at the top level of B.A.S.S. competition before and even qualified for a few Classics doing it. Ditto for Brett Hite.) Jacob Powroznik (fourth) and Randall Tharp (eighth) have both been very successful with FLW, but are new to the highest level of B.A.S.S. and are already proving themselves.
Dean Rojas has caught some fish on a frog this week, just not the Spro frog most recognize him for. It's a soft plastic Big Bite Baits Fightin' Frog that has produced some key bites for him. It's actually a crawfish imitation. He's been casting and pitching it on 20-pound Sunline Sniper with a quarter-ounce weight paired with a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook.
With the recent movers and shakers, the leader board is now cluttered at the top. With Tharp having a pretty good lead, he was safe as Rojas and Powroznik were struggling. Since then, Tharp's bite has faded and Powroznik has boated a 7- to 8-pounder for his fifth fish. Meanwhile, Rojas has been moving around and now has five fish in the boat for 9 to 10 pounds. The UNOFFICIAL weights for the top 5 are as follows:
James Overstreet and I are finally back on Dean Rojas. It took a while, but we decided to stick with him because he has the best chance of still winning this tournament without catching a big one. He just caught his fifth keeper, which he estimated gives him 10 pounds. He's near the mouth of Housen Creek, close where we turned around and went back to the dam to trailer the boat. I'll provide more details soon.
This broken reel handle just cost Cliff Crochet a 3-pounder.
Tharp is now entering his second hour without landing a keeper, maybe longer. He's not giving up on this pocket, as he's now idling across it casually munching on a sandwich. Now it's back to the same ol', same ol': pitching a Texas-rigged Trigger X soft plastic with a punch skirt to holes and points in the grass.