Smallest limit of the week?

Of course, there's emphasis on the heaviest 5-bass limit in any bass tournament. Lake Travis has produced four 20-pound bags the first three days, with Ray Hanselman's 21-15 on Day 1 topping the list.

But as further proof of Brandon Palaniuk's quote about the fine line between 6 pounds and 26 pounds on Lake Travis, there's this: The lightest 5-bass limit caught this week belongs to Cliff Prince, who had five 14-inch keepers that weighed a total of 6 pounds even on Day 1. The second-lightest limit was Matt Lee's 6-5 on Day 1.

Few have been immune to a light limit on Lake Travis. Gerald Swindle had five weighing 7-1 yesterday, and Kelly Jordon had a limit of 7-5.

Wheeler's been a fish-catching machine

Jacob Wheeler has apparently changed tactics a bit today, looking for quality instead of quantity. But if this tournament were decided strictly by number of fish caught, Wheeler would be running away with it.

Wheeler estimated he caught 75 fish yesterday, and according to photographer Gettys Brannon, that's a conservative number.

"On three casts I caught six bass," said Wheeler, referring to three straight doubles. "I caught catfish, Guadalupe bass, crappie, white bass."

The crappie was a good one - 14 inches long - and it came at a depth of 42 feet. That's an indication of the wide range of depths that Wheeler is fishing - from the surface to 40-plus feet.

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Top 5 Big Bags of the Week

Lake Travis has exceeded numerous anglers expectations with the number of big bass that swim in the lake. There has been at least one angler to catch 20 pounds each day of this event. On Day 1 both Ray Hanselman and Bobby Lane landed 21+ pounds, Day 2 Jason Christie had 21 as well and on Day 3 Drew Benton managed 20 pounds too. Will there be an angler that catches 20 pounds or more on Championship Sunday?

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Why Benton left the dock late

For those who watched Bassmaster LIVE on Day 3 at Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefitting Texas Parks and Wildlife, Drew Benton had a flurry of catches in a marina on topwater. One of those hooksets resulted in him bumping a dock and falling in the water. After putting his rod in the boat and maintaining contact, he crawled his way back in the boat. All of those actions were perfectly fine in the spirit of keeping the rules, but what transpired after is why he had a 15-minute delay at takeoff for Championship Sunday.

After climbing in the boat he put the majority of his weight on a floating dock to reach his rod into a dock slip and retrieve his lure. What he didn't know was the fish he hooked was still on and he swung it in the boat. It weighed 1-8 and was his fifth keeper of Day 3. He culled that fish out a few minutes later, but it was a violation of Rule C15, which outlines keeping more weight in the boat than another object.

All is well on Championship Sunday as Benton left the dock at 6:30 a.m. CT instead of 6:15. He was off and fishing and landed a few non-keepers to start his day. His first keeper came at 7:38 a.m. and it weighed 4-10.

Wheeler lands a 5-7

Jacob Wheeler lamented the fact that he was able to cull a 3-pound bass on Friday, but didn't even catch one that big on Saturday. But he was confident he'd be able to catch one today. He's done that already with a 5-pound, 7-ounce bass, which tops the 5-1, his previous best of the tournament.

And he's just getting started, apparently. After adding a 2-9, Wheeler looked over at photographer Gettys Brannon, smiled and said, "They're going to have to catch 'em today."

Wheeler is catching his fish on a Whopper Plopper.

Watch out for Keith Combs

Granted he's got a big mountain to climb, starting the day in 10th place, almost 11 pounds out of the lead. But Keith Combs climbed a big mountain yesterday, jumping 32 places in the standings with his 17-pound, 6-ounce bag.

And there was no one more confident of what he could do today than Combs. These cloudy skies are exactly what he needed to succeed in a big way.

"I'm cranking real deep, throwing big stuff," Combs said. "I had a really good practice, but when it gets calm and sunny I don't get any quality bites. (Saturday) I fished the same water and jacked 'em. I think the clouds helped more than the wind. We had that the first two days of practice and I did really good."

Combs is a noted deep-cranking specialist. That's how he won his first Elite Series tournament on Falcon Lake in 2013. And when Combs is on that bite, there's no lead he can't overcome, especially on a lake like Travis, which has already yielded 8-, 9- and 10-pounders this week.

"If I catch 24 or 25 pounds, I'd have a legitimate chance to win," Combs said yesterday. "That's the way I'm fishing. And that's pretty much what it took to win any team tournament on this lake this year, or even more - 28 pounds.

"You take a bag like I had today, and you add a 10-pounder in there and you're there. You cull a 2-pounder with a 10-pounder, and you've got eight more pounds."

By 7:40 a.m. today, Combs already had a bag almost equal to what he had yesterday. He'd caught 13 bass, and the best five weigh 14-13.

A 20-pound bag every day?

Jacob Wheeler predicted there would be multiple 20-pound bags caught in this tournament, but no individual angler would catch more than one over the four-day event. That has proven to be true over the first three days.

In the following statistics, you can see a gradual downward trend in the results from Lake Travis. The first category – fish caught – includes only the five bass that were included on the scorecard in each angler’s limit. The first two days there were 108 anglers competing; on Day 3 there were only 50.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Fish caught 507 502 245
Average wt. (lbs.) 2.31 2.21 2.13
5-bass limits 91 91 46
% catching limits 84%  84%92%
20-lb. bags211
Big bag  21-1521-13 20-4
Big bass 10-59-27-1

Lake Travis' fine line of success or failure

Brandon Palaniuk stated it best earlier this week when he said, "There's a very fine line between 6 pounds and 26 pounds on this lake."

While no one has weighed that entirely-possible 26-pound bag on Lake Travis yet, we've seen numerous examples among today's Top 12 of the fine line between success and failure, like 6th place Ray Hanselman catching 21 pounds, 15 ounces on Day 1 and 8-4 on Day 3, 5th place Bobby Lane catching 21-2 on Day 1 and 9-2 on Day 2, and 9th place Jason Christie catching 21-13 on Day 2 and 8-11 on Day 3.

So who is going to be able to step over that fine line today? Leader Drew Benton has improved his total each of the previous three days, from 13-15 to 16-13 to 20-4. But Benton admitted he didn't think he could continue that trend.

Jacob Wheeler starts the day in 2nd place, only 2-10 behind Benton. He too has seen those ups and downs of Lake Travis.

"I culled a 3-pounder (Friday)," Wheeler noted. "I didn't catch a 3-pounder (Saturday)."

But he'll start the day with a different mindset than the previous three. That's what making the Top 12 does - it gives everyone the opportunity to go all out with no major repercussions when the worst you can finish in this tournament is 12th.

"I'm not looking to finish second," Wheeler said. "(Saturday) I was in that mode to try and maintain. (Sunday) it's 100 percent you become the hunter. I love that feeling."

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