Williams with a limit

Elite Series pro David Williams has a limit under his belt and he did so early this morning, but useful upgrades haven't gone his way so far.

He's one of the only anglers to fish solely below the I-40 bridge all week. He has really junked fished this week and utilized a buzzbait, spinnerbait and a jig. The jig has put some quality fish in his boat this week, but with the shad showing up and flickering this afternoon he has thrown a spinnerbait, buzzbait and a shad patterned swim jig hoping to trick a big fish into a reaction bite. There are plenty of places for a big one to ambush shad where Williams is fishing.

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Ott on fire

I followed Ott DeFoe this morning, but left to prepare a gallery around an hour ago. And wouldn't you know it, he caught fire after I left. My boat driver Bryan Harvey reports Ott has a limit, and just caught a 3 pound or better fish to fill it out. When I left, Ott had two and felt like he was struggling. He was clearly more patient than me, and knew the bite would turn on. 

The question is, can anyone catch him if he finds his typical 15 pounds up the French Broad River?
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Eyes fixed on Hartwell

Brian Latimer came into the final day in 5th place, 5-11 back of Ott DeFoe. Latimer has had a solid year in the points race, but isn't quite in contention for an Elite Series invite. One thing he is in contention for is a GEICO Bassmaster Classic berth on Lake Hartwell. His sole focus is doing whatever it takes to come from behind and win this event because Hartwell is his home lake. Getting the opportunity to fish the big dance on your home lake is probably one of the coolest feelings and he hopes to turn the dream into reality here at Douglas.

He now has 3 in the box so far with 2 of them weighing roughly 3+ pounds.

Hitting a flurry has been big for him this week. It hasn't been easy, but Latimer has capitalized on his flurries and it has him in the hunt. He is waiting for that 30 to 45-minute window where he can catch a couple fish in short order and fill his limit.

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Add another for Shryock

He now has 4 in the livewell and I believe you could call him the unofficial leader at the moment.

His 4th keeper was another 3+ pounder and it gives him roughly 9-10 pounds. With leader Ott DeFoe sitting on two fish for probably 5 pounds they are technically deadlocked.

2nd place Drew Benton is sitting on zero so far as well.

5th place Brian Latimer has 2 fish in the livewell and probably has 5 pounds as well.

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Shryock boats 3

Hunter Shryock needed the sun and he got it a few minutes ago as it finally rose above the nearby hills. It began heating up the surface water in his very shallow area and he immediately caught two quick fish. He broke the ice with a small one and then boated a 3 1/2 pounder. His co-angler Bobby Drinnon caught his 3rd keeper in that same quick flurry and he filled his co-angler limit.

A couple minutes later Shryock landed his 3rd keeper of the morning and said out loud "Knew I needed the sun."

There isn't a cloud in the sky and Shryock has nothing but time if he wants to make the jump to the top of the standings.

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DeFoe with his first fish

Leader Ott DeFoe finds his first fish. DeFoe stopped in a different place than what we were expecting this morning, fishing a little deep hole behind a shoal. It looks like about a 2-pounder. I'm sure he will want to cull it later. It's been a slow start for DeFoe and Drew Benton, who is also in the area.

Final day is here

Championship Saturday at Douglas Lake is off and running. The Top 12 pros and co's from this event survived and are competing for a win today.

The Top 5 are within 6 pounds of Ott DeFoe, but after that is a much bigger margin. 6th place Toshinari Namiki is a massive 9 pounds, 7 ounces off the pace. Crazier things have happened in the sport of bass fishing, but it seems as if the Top 5 are the only anglers with a realistic shot to win. That is all contingent if DeFoe let's off the gas pedal. He has put together two bags this week and both were 17-5.

His nearest pursuer in the standings and on the water is Drew Benton. They are the only two anglers with aluminum boats in the Top 12. Most everyone else has ran as far as they can in the river without running aground. A few chose to fish the lake and go south of takeoff.

We always say that anyone can win as long as they are within the big fish weight of the tournament. The Top 5 of DeFoe, Benton, Hunter Shryock, David Williams and Brian Latimer are exactly within 5-11 so that old adage may ring true today.

Surprise attack

Working my topwater through a pocket and this bird came out of nowhere and smashed it. 

Update by Greg Dipalma

Shryock with a limit

Hunter Shryock was elated with his Day 1 performance of 14-4, which had him in seventh overall. His strategy and motivation for this event is solely aimed at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

With a stumble at Oneida Lake his points contention for an Elite invite went to the wayside. He is in very good position on top of the Southern Open points race with Smith Lake left.

His goal is always to win, but even more so this week at Douglas Lake. He's one of the few fiberglass boats to make a run into skinnier water and he is making it work so far.

He landed his third, fourth and fifth keepers since I've watched him and all seem to be more on the quality side compared to just normal keeper. One of those went roughly 3-plus or so pounds and the others aren't far off that weight too. Add in a slight cull and he is rolling right now.

He and his co-angler just doubled up in a major way.

Shryock has all but punched his ticket to another Championship Saturday in the Bassmaster Opens.

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Skylar kicking himself

Skylar Hamilton is one of the Elite Series locals in the field this week and he is among the group that used a tunnel-hull aluminum boat on Day 1. It didn't fare so well for him as he zigged when he should've zagged, literally. He decided to take a left and go up the Nolichucky River, a place where numerous local events are won, but it didn't go well as he brought two fish to the scales.

In the 10 minutes I've been with him today he has probably verbally kicked himself a dozen times.

"I only have 22 years of experience on this fishery," Hamilton said. "You figure I would've made a better decision than what I did."

Today he is in his standard Express aluminum boat and he left his tunnel hull at the house. He is still up in the river portion, but is well short of where Ott DeFoe, Mike Watson, Drew Benton and Bryant Ailor have been fishing.

He's trying to make the best of it and salvage a check in his backyard. He has two fish in the box so far, equaling his Day 1 total, but lighter than yesterday's bag.