Wheeler’s lineup

Jacob Wheeler is gradually moving up the standings and I’m not surprised. He’s fished Pool 7 and is anal about staying in contact with the lock master. That’s a wise move and so is his lure lineup, which allows him to cover all strike zones in play this week. Here’s the lineup.

For topwater action he uses a 2.5-inch Terminator Walking Frog. Another choice is a 5/16-ounce Accent Jacob Wheeler Game Changer Buzzbait, rigged with a 3.5-inch Gene Larew Jacob Wheeler Hammer Craw for a trailer. He also uses a Gene Larew Biffle Bug, 4/0 VMC Ike Approved Wide Gap Hook and 5/16-ounce VMC Tungsten Flipping Weight.

Powroznik up to 17 pounds

Jacob Powroznik just crossed the magic 17-pound barrier. He landed a 3 1/4-pounder at 11:41, which gives him 17-2 today, according to BASSTrakk. Only six anglers have topped 18 pounds in the four Elite Series tournaments here, and that's the next hurdle for Powroznik.

As further proof that the Upper Mississippi River is fishing better than in has in previous events, there have been only 16 bags over 17 pounds in the four-tournament history, and eight of them have come this week.

Mystery with Martens

Aaron’s search shallow didn’t last long. He caught the one keeper plus a couple short fish. Now he’s back in the main river channel fishing a drop or hump. We’re not really sure.

But that didn’t last long either. He’s now idling and looking for another offshore spot to drop on.

After a bunch of circling and idling he’s now moved up to a dock. His spectators are thoroughly confused.

Finally on the board

Aaron is finally on the board. He went up shallow a little bit ago and it paid off with 2 1/2 pound keeper, flipped out of a flooded willow tree.

Hopefully that will key him in and get him started toward a limit.

Lunch break

The lunch break is on the ride today, and a little earlier than planned, but Randall Tharp came through on his promise of providing lunch.

That’s of course with thanks to his wife Sara.

Tharp has a limit and is thoroughly picking apart brush with a jig in an area just outside of takeoff.

Yesterday, his flurry of larger bass started between 11-12 CT, during the Bassmaster LIVE break.

He’s ahead of schedule and believes the bass could be moving to him.

The perseverance of Ish Monroe

Ish Monroe thought his tournament was over on Day 1 when he missed a turn in the driving rain and ran his boat onto a sandbar.

"I mean completely stopped, from 50 miles-an-hour to nothing," Monroe said. "My day is done. But I got the boat turned around, then I got out and put my back to it. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. And pushed. An hour later, I got off the sandbar, but I'm just beat.

"So I dropped my trolling motor and just started fishing. I'm a mile-and-a-half away from my starting spot, but it looked good, so I just started fishing. Ten minutes later I've got a limit that weighs 12 pounds.”

Monroe has expanded on that area and moved up the standings every day since - from 20th with 15-6 on Day 1 to sixth with 16-11 on Day 2 to third with 17-4 on Day 3. He's got one rod on the deck, fishing 65-pound braid tied to a River2Sea Ish's Phat Matt Daddy Frog. And he's catching 50 bass a day, culling up by ounces in the process.

If Monroe had thrown up his hands when stuck on the sandbar Thursday, which would have been easy to do, look what he would have missed. Perseverance has definitely paid off for Monroe this week.

"I'm excited," said Monroe yesterday.

The frog bite is started to turn on today. Monroe has a limit weighing 10 1/2 pounds, which has him in third place at 10:30, according to BASSTrakk.

Head scratcher

I’m sure a lot of folks are scratching their heads wondering how Aaron Martens could be sitting on a zero in a fish factory.

Few have scratched harder than we have in the camera boat. Martens, though, seems to have gotten hard headed as far as the places he’s chosen to fish.

Many of them are the spots that produced so well in the first two days. And were good enough to scratch out a limit yesterday. Martens, though, caught his heavier fish later in the day then.

We are only guessing but we assume he’s counting on those later-biting, heavier fish for the afternoon. What he may not be counting on is how well the fish are biting for the rest of the field. They are all shallow, real shallow, and getting the type bites that are moving them around in the standings.

Aaron has almost exclusively kept off the bank fishing spots that seem more suited for falling water than rising water. But we’ve learned to never second guess anglers like Aaron. We assume he’s wanting to fool one of those La Crosse giants that are just lurking in the shadows before heading to shallow cover.

We’ve seen him graph a lot of places. Looking for the right off shore place and even graphing the places he’s fished once more before moving on

But it’s past the halfway point in this day and Aaron likely needs to make a move toward putting fish in the well.

Powroznik "cookin' with gas now"

Jacob Powroznik started the day in a fifth-place tie with Casey Ashley, 1 pound, 11 ounces behind leader Randall Tharp. But he's taken a big lead early by putting 15 pounds in the boat before 9 o'clock.

"As my buddy back at home Woo Daves would say, 'We cookin' with gas now,'" said Powroznik after landing a 3 3/4-pounder at 8:48.

Powroznik is fishing in areas that were on dry ground a week ago, and maybe even as recently as two days ago. He's catching everything on a topwater frog, and it's making for some great "Bassmaster LIVE" action.

Ashley: 22 pounds is possible

In the four-tournament history of the Elite Series at La Crosse, no angler has broken the 20-pound mark. Seth Feider came closest to doing so in 2016 with 19 pounds, 5 ounces on Day 2.

However, that doesn't mean 20 pounds is impossible. Casey Ashley's bag of 18-4 yesterday is the heaviest limit weighed-in so far this week. Ashley thinks as much as 22 pounds is possible.

"These fish are so short and fat," he said. "This is the healthiest bass population I think I've ever seen. If you catch one that's on a four-pound frame, he's going to weigh 4 1/2 pounds - at least.

With that caliber of fish, you could catch 22 pounds.

"This is the only place I've ever seen that largemouth don't jump. They're so fat and so healthy, they just dig and dig and dig and dig. The smallmouth will jump, but the largemouth will not. It's opposite world. I enjoy it. This is a cool place to fish."

Only six bags over 18 pounds have been caught in the four Elite Series tournaments on the Mississippi River at La Crosse: 1. Seth Feider, 19-5, 2016; 2. Casey Ashley, 18-4, 2018; 3. Brandon Palaniuk, 18-4, 2013; 4.Takahiro Omori, 18-4, 2016; 5. Ott Defoe, 18-2, 2018; 6. Jamie Horton, 18-4, 2012.

How Day 1 leaders have fared

Watching and producing Bassmaster LIVE gives insight into tournament fishing that we've never had before. The trends of anglers up and down the leaderboard daily and hourly shows how easy/hard it can be on the water. Seeing how Chad Pipkens fared in this event after his big Day 1 is interesting. People see his 25th place finish and think it was just a slight drop off over Day 2 and 3, but in reality it could've been much worse. After 6+ hours with no fish he was headed for a missed cut and a 70th place finish or worse. It made me think about the Day 1 leaders from this year and how they fared the rest of those given events. Only two Day 1 leaders this year have made it to the Top 12 with Ray Hanselman Jr. finishing 9th at Lake Travis and Greg Hackney going wire-to-wire to win the Sabine River.

Lake Martin: Cliff Prince (48th)

Grand Lake: Takahiro Omori (27th)

Kentucky Lake: Chris Zaldain (18th)

Lake Travis: Ray Hanselman Jr. (9th)

Sabine River: Greg Hackney (1st)

Mississippi River: Chad Pipkens (25th)

We've seen three different leaders at the Mississippi River this week and we may see a fourth at the Final Day weigh-in. It's a stark contrast from the last event when Greg Hackney dominated his way to a title at the Sabine. Lake Martin featured two leaders the entire event, Grand Lake had three leaders, Kentucky Lake showcased three different leaders, Lake Travis had three and as we know the Sabine had only one.

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