"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.
With Tommy Biffle, as he predicted, off to a hot start, this is shaping up to be a tortoise vs. hare race. Aaron Martens hasn't been catching many fish -- 15 or 20 a day. And it has been a grind for him. One here, one there. I don't imagine Biffle has been often compared to a rabbit, but he's clearly the rabbit today. Martens has been throwing a bit of everything, from a Spook to a drop shot, and still doesn't have a keeper.
Randy Howell is delayed at the lock because it took on a barge. He's got to wait about an hour now. Howell is fishing in Pool 8 until the lock is available. Submitted by Bassmaster Marshal Tom Ebertowskip
Biffle still is catching fish, but the last two he snagged were undersized. He's still at three fish for about 7 or 7 1/2 pounds. There are 10 spectator boats on him now, not including ours. Looks like the Oklahoma pro is going to switch rods. He's digging into his well right now.
Tommy Biffle is throwing a creature-type bait, it appears, and it's paying dividends. Within a span of 90 seconds, he just put two more bass in the live well. They look to weigh about two pounds plus each, so that should give him seven pounds or so with three fish -- and it's not even 7:15 a.m. That's the way you stay in the hunt for this Elite Series tournament title.