Tenkiller's falling water level

Several factors figured into the low winning total weight predictions at Wednesday's anglers' meeting. A five-bass daily limit weighing 12 pounds, which usually wouldn't make the Day 2 top 35 cut at an Elite Series event, was frequently mentioned as a winning formula over the next four days.

The combination of 90-degree water surface temperatures and falling water levels makes Lake Tenkiller a particularly tough challenge. And, man, has Tenkiller had a huge rise and relatively rapid fall this year.

Since Sunday, the lake has fallen 1.51 feet. Since August 29, it has dropped 8.88 feet. And since June 27, it has plummeted 30.19 feet. It was at the end of June when Tenkiller rose to 663.67 feet above sea level. The top of the flood pool is 667.

The "normal" or conservation pool level here is 632 feet above sea level. Recently there has been a steady release of 3,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second from the dam, and that will probably continue until the 632 conservation pool level is reached. In other words, the lake level will continue to fall another foot and a half during this tournament.

"You're really going to get your skills tested," said Chris Zaldain.