Only three of the 12 finalists have never won a B.A.S.S. event — Jacob Powroznik, Chris Zaldain and Cliff Crochet. Everyone else has at least one win, and Skeet Reese leads the way with seven B.A.S.S. titles. Mark Davis and Jared Lintner have endured the longest droughts; they haven't won since 2005.
Dean Rojas is taking no chances with check-in time. At 2:30 he gave us the done sign, cranked up the motor and headed in. He doesn't have a 3-pounder in the boat, but he's got a limit.
Dean Rojas just made two short moves north from the mouth of Housen Creek. I'm talking real short. He hit one spot for a few pitches, then idled over to another. James Overstreet and I are going to stick with him until check-in time. Rojas just dropped his Power Poles, signaling a bed fish. He just swung and missed. Stay tuned.
This is the first Elite Top 12 ever for Jacob Powroznik, Randall Tharp and Chad Morgenthaler. Among the rest of the finalists, Casey Ashley and Chris Zaldain have had the longest droughts. Neither has made the final round since the Alabama River tournament almost exactly a year ago.
Dean Rojas just had what has been a flurry for him today -- a brief hookup and then catching one that didn't help him. Rojas is only about 10 minutes from the check-in site -- maybe less than that the way his Skeeter/Yamaha combo ran away from us earlier today. So you know he's going to fish this to the last possible minute of making that 3 p.m. check-in.
Photographer James Overstreet and I were having a shorebird discussion, since several species have been "fishing" near Dean Rojas. Neither one of us knew conclusively the species of our discussion. Overstreet conceded, saying, "I don't really know, man. I ain't no orthodontist."
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Tharp just boated another fish, which did cull for him. Again, he said "these fish might be heavier than I thought. That looks like about a three pounder that I threw back." If that's the case, he might be pushing 18 or 19 pounds.
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.