MDJ with three

MDJ made a 5-minute run downriver, stopped, and quickly hooked up. That largemouth made two, one of each. It has to take the prsessure off a little.

After catching a short fish, MDJ made a short move and added No. 3 to the live well. He had to work it on the measuring board for a while, but it's a keeper.

Of course, he doesn't know what Ike and others are doing. But with three before 10 a.m., he's on his way to amassing a decent bag.

First fish for Zaldain

Chris Zaldain has been running all over the map this morning, making nine stops and finally catching a smallmouth bass. He measured it twice, then slid it back into Fort Loudoun Lake. Smallmouth must be 18 inches to keep.

Zaldain told us earlier he wasn’t going to “his juice” until 10:30.

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Stop No. 2, fish No. 1

At his second stop, MDJ finally hooked up and put his first fish in the boat, a beautiful 3 1/2 pound smallmouth.

The ice is broken, the sun is popping out and the water is glass calm. He has three spectator boats plus us, although that number may rise or fall with his forthcoming success or struggles.

MDJ celebrates bronze as captured by Andy Crawford.

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Currently, no current

Local favorite Ott DeFoe made a few pit stops along the way from Knoxville to Tellico Reservoir. We’re now just a mile up river from the dam.

He’s got two small fish, which is a start, but there is a big difference today that will largely impact the bite: Very little current.

If you spend any time bass fishing on water-generating reservoirs, you know the fish bite best when water is being pulled down river. It’s not that big fish can’t be caught, but they are far more inactive without the current.

It’s Sunday and the dam is closed for the day. Standard operating procedure. They may open things up later in the day, but at this point things are pretty still.

That means a couple of things: First, Wheeler’s smallmouth pattern could fizzle out and Feider’s flipping game could turn on — maybe, maybe not.

Also consider the fact that with the bright sun, the fish may stage in more predictable locations. That could compensate for the change in their position due to lack of current.

For DeFoe, time will tell. The river is in the best shape it’s been since anyone got here, so the Sunday conditions could play to his advantage.

So far he has been working a jerkbait with some activity, but it’s not fast yet.

This one will end as a tight race.

Zaldain will be one-rod Todd today

There's no doubt about the primary bass forage in Fort Loudoun Lake right now. It's gizzard shad, six inches long or bigger. If you were watching "Bassmaster LIVE" yesterday, Mike Iaconelli showed the tail of a gizzard shad sticking from the throat of a bass Iaconelli caught on a crankbait.

Not much looks more like a 6-inch gizzard shad than an albino pearl Megabass Magdraft 6-inch swimbait. It's long been one of Christ Zaldain's favorite lures.

"I really got in the zone with it (yesterday)," Zaldain said. "This is the absolute key - rock transition banks on the main river - transition from chunk rock to gravel, and if it has got laydowns on it, that's even better."

Zaldain will probably be one-rod Todd today. This tournament is going to come down to catching a big one, and a big swimbait is a proven big bass lure, especially in Zaldain's hands.

(Above: In the middle of a 4-inch swimbait (top) and a 6-inch Megabass Magdraft swimbait is a gizzard shad, the primary bass forage here now. Photo by Chris Zaldain)

MDJ cranking

MDJ has arrived at his first spot and is carefully cranking down the bank.

This is the first time I have followed him on the water and the thing that has stood out the most so far is his casting ability. He is able to get tremendous distance and accuracy on his casts. I've watched KVD bomb a crankbait and Jason Christie skip a Chatterbait under floating docks, and i'd bet he is their equal.

A Classic first?

Unless my memory is going haywire, the Classic has never been won on a swimbait. Chris Zaldain is hoping to change that today.

The California native is primarily relying on a Megabass MagDraft in the albino color. He said there's no mistaking it when they bite -- they just about rip the rod out of his hands.

Prepare for some awesome footage.

Ike's gift from Ott

One of the two crankbaits that Ike is relying upon for most of his bites is an out-of-production Rapala DT Flat 3. 
Apparently fellow competitor Ott DeFoe amassed quite the collection of them and makes some key modifications for specific situations. Rapala is working to reintroduce the updated bait, but as of now Ike said that only he, Ott and Brandon Palaniuk own any.

It is unclear whether he will have to pay Ott a commission or royalty if he wins on it.
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Day 2 a copy of Day 1

Day 2 was almost an exact copy of Day 1 in this tournament on the Tennessee River and Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes. Well, maybe we should just say on Fort Loudoun Lake, because that's where all the leaders are fishing now.

Before the event began, Chris Zaldain predicted it would take right a three-day total of 50 pounds to win, adding, "It's going to be hard to be consistent."

Both predictions are closer to reality today, and Zaldain is a prime example of the inconsistency that has prevailed the first two days of the Bassmaster Classic. He caught only 4 keepers weighing a total of 9 pounds on Day 1; he weighed the biggest bag of the tournament - 21-12 - on Day 2 to put him only 1-10 out of the lead on Day 2.

Day 1 leader Ott DeFoe did just the opposite. Catching the only 20-pound bag on Day 1 to lead it, then faltering with 10-5 on Day 2 and dropped into fourth place, 2-1 out of the lead.

That's the thing that stands out in comparing Day 1 to Day 2: The totals in numbers caught and total weight were almost the same. It was who caught them that changed.

— Total number of bass weighed-in on Day 1 - 217; Day 2 - 213.
— Total weight of bass weighed on Day 1 - 501-15; Day 2 - 508-10.
— Big bass on Day 1 - 6-0 by Ott DeFoe; Day 2 - 6-3 by Mark Daniels Jr., and Edwin Evers.

"I think somebody is going to catch a 6- or 7-pounder two of the three days and win," Jason Christie said before the tournament began.

That prediction also appears close to reality. If you include, Zaldain's 5-14 largemouth as close enough to 6 pounds, the top four anglers in the Day 2 standings have caught a 6-pounder in this tournament. Whoever catches one today will probably win the 49th Bassmaster Classic.

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