Fukae needs an upgrade

Shin Fukae, Day 1 leader, slipped to 5th place after Friday's action, but he was just 1 ounce behind the three-way tie for 2nd place.

Fukae busted 16-10 on Thursday to jump ahead, but with an hour and half left of fishing time he only has 9 or 10 pounds by his best guess.

He knows he needs a big bite, but it's been elusive this week for so many. If he does catch one he will get back in the hunt for sure.

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Morris having a good day

Rick Morris, former Elite Series pro, is having a good day on the James River. He started the day with just a 3-12 deficit and believes he has 15 pounds today.

A big bite means everything here and Morris knows that for sure. That's why he was tickled to inform me he caught a 6 pounder and 4 pounder this morning. Those 2 will help make up the deficit tremendously. He's got average keepers to fill his limit so any solid fish will help him cull.

He is certainly in the hunt to jump from 8th place and possibly steal this win away.

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DiPalma found

Made a long run to the Chickahominy River and found Greg DiPalma, who started the day tied for 2nd. He has a limit, but lost his best bite of the day. He estimated that he has 11 pounds or so right now. He caught a fish off an old submerged barge, but it didn't help the cause as the cull beam showed.

DiPalma is calm and confident in his approach and knows another couple upgrades aren't out of the equation.

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Paquette with four

Garrett Paquette started the day in a tie for 2nd place, 2-5 behind Pete Gluszek. Paquette has dialed in a pattern on the James River and his 1-2 punch has included a topwater and flipping approach. He has four fish in the boat, the first two keepers of the day were small, but his most recent catches were slightly above average.

He told us he had a 5 pounder break him off earlier and then a 4-pounder came off at the boat. He exudes confidence in this area and feels that he will be alright when the tide starts coming back in.

We are at dead low tide up near the ramp and after it slacks off for 15 minutes it will start filling back up.

Word from some spectators is that Gluszek did indeed fill his limit and his 5th keeper was around 3 pounds, his best of the day.

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Gluszek's tidal background

Pete Gluszek didn't just find some magical success on the James River overnight, but rather his entire fishing background helped him get to this point.

Gluszek fishes multiple days per week on the Upper Chesapeake Bay, where the Elite Series will compete in 2018, and has extensive knowledge on places like the Potomac as well.

In his three trips to the James River for past Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens he has finished 27th (2012), 6th (2013), 82nd (2016) and holds the lead going into today's final day.

When asked about his Top 12 back in 2013 he mentioned he was doing a totally different pattern down in the Chickahominy River and that he switched it up this time around.

The 3-time Classic qualifier is trying to notch his fourth today. Only time will tell, but with 4 small keepers he knows one big bite will mean the world to him today.

He fished his past Classics on Logan Martin (1997), Louisiana Delta (1999) and at Grand Lake (2013).

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Gluszek with three

Day 2 leader Pete Gluszek has three early keepers in the boat, but all three are small so they are probably three pounds total.

He caught two pretty quickly and said "now I have a 4-pound lead." Gluszek started the final day with a 2-5 lead on a trio of anglers in 2nd. Most of our Top 12 are making a decent sized run so they were still driving when he caught those two.

His third was much like the others as it was probably just 1-pound in size. Gluszek noted he caught his big ones yesterday around 9 a.m. so today that may be pushed back to around 10 because of the 50-minute change in tides today.

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Championship Saturday is underway

The Top 12 pros and co anglers head out for the final day of competition. Pete Gluszek holds s 2-pound, 5-ounce lead over 2nd, which consists of a three-way tie. Garrett Paquette, Matt Madlener and Greg DiPalma all had 28-11 to tie for the runner up position.

An interesting development happened at takeoff. Gluszek had an insurance issue and was delayed 10 minutes from leaving the dock.

He's heading to his first spot and I am in pursuit. He caught 20-2, the biggest bag of the tournament yesterday to vault him to the top.

Oh my!


Two Top 12s for Kenney?

JT Kenney is known for his fishing prowess when it comes to picking bass out of vegetation, but the 2017 Northern Opens will push Kenney's full gamut of tricks. He's already notched a Top 12 at Oneida Lake to start the three-tournament season. That was basically a smallmouth event even though it was won with largemouth. It seemed that at least 90 percent of the Top 12 were focused on the brown fish.

This week, Kenney is feeling at home on the James River. He grew up down the road from here and may just fish three days on this fishery. He's got a decent bag with at least one squeaker that he needs to get rid of, otherwise the day has gone as he planned.

If he makes the final day cut that will be 2-for-2 on the Northern schedule so far. His last test would be at Douglas Lake this fall.

Three diverse fisheries like Oneida, James and Douglas should push the best overall anglers to the top since each event will have its own twist and are regionally different from each other. 

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Latimer lands a big one

Brian Latimer was just out of check range on Day 1 as he was mixed in with the 9-pound bags in 51st place. He only had two fish in the box when I arrived, but hooked up with a third keeper pretty quick, which was his biggest of the day thus far.

He mentioned the stretch of bank was good to him on Thursday and hoped to catch a few more. His co-angler Jeremy Moye hooked up and landed a nice one from the back of the boat.

Moments later, Latimer struck gold with a 5+ pounder. His fourth keeper was a game changer and has him definitley in the check range and now has him one bite from possibly getting a Top 20 or even better a Top 12.