Shane LeHew caught the biggest bag of the first three days of the DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula. The problem was his 25-pound, 1-ounce five-bass limit was reduced by two pounds due to a penalty. During a flurry of catches the 31-year-old Catawba, N.C. pro lost count of the fish in his livewells. When he realized he had six, he called tournament director Trip Weldon to report the mistake, thus the two-pound penalty.
As he told his roommate and fishing partner Brandon Cobb, "This was the worst best day I've ever had, if that makes any sense."
It cost LeHew a spot in Saturday's Top 10 final. LeHew's three-day total of 56-9, after the penalty, was only four ounces behind Buddy Gross's 10th place total. LeHew would have been seventh going into the final without the penalty.
"I've never done that before in the 15 years I've been fishing," LeHew said. It may not have happened to him before, but it's something that happens about a half-dozen times a year on the Elite Series.
"I was on a place where I caught one bass yesterday," LeHew said. "I hadn't really thrown a crankbait. I picked up a Berkley Dredger, just a 14-foot diver. I was fishing a place that came up to 11 (feet deep) and dropped off to 14
"I went to catching 'em every single cast. I guess in that massive flurry I forgot to cull."
While LeHew won't be fishing tomorrow, his 25-pound bag indicates what's possible during Saturday's final. And it included the big bass of the day, a 7-pound, 4-ounce bass that was just one ounce shy of the big bass of the tournament so far. There were 15 bags over 20 pounds weighed on Day 1, 10 on Day 2 and another five caught on Day 3, when the field was reduced to the top 40 anglers.
While leader Scott Canterbury's 4-pound, 3-ounce lead over second place Caleb Kuphall makes Canterbury the favorite Saturday, Shane LeHew gave the rest of the top 10 proof that anything can happen.