Gustafson fishing a pipeline.

Jeff Gustafson has caught a couple of pickerel, which is usually a good sign that bass are nearby. 

He’s drop shotting near a water intake pipe that’s in 18 to 20 feet of water. Gustafson has no way of knowing that Brandon Lester has already put 20 pounds on the leaderboard. But he’s well aware that the hot start he was hoping for has not materialized.

Gustafson in search mode

Jeff Gustafson has been hopscotching since those two early catches, without success. We’ve followed him for three stops since then. He’s within sight of Red Jacket Marina now. Chris Zaldain is visible in the distance, as he has been all morning. 

The band is back together

It’s been awhile since this band has been together on the water. We’re calling ourselves “Three Dawg Day” - photographer James Overstreet, boat driver/photographer Ken Golub and me. 

The last time the three of us were on this lake, we documented Greg Hackney’s final day victory in 2014. 

In other words, Jeff Gustafson’s got this tournament in the bag.

Zaldain on the board

Chris Zaldain is back on the steep ledge he’s been fishing all week and he just scored his first bass of Championship Sunday. The 2-pound smallie isn’t the big largemouths he’s really looking for, but it breaks the ice. 

Zaldain is using his electronic to mark pods of small baitfish that he said are critical to his bite. 

“They are the base of the ecosystem,” he said before blasting off. “If you don’t have that. It’s not worth fishing.”

Gustafson hoping for hot start

This tournament has been like day and night. Thursday and Friday were day, and Saturday was night, especially for Jeff Gustafson and several of the other leaders who struggled yesterday. 

“I’d like to go out and put the hammer down early,” Gustafson said before today’s 6:30 takeoff. 

Maybe he will. Gustafson put his first bass in the boat at 6:45, a 2 1/2-pounder. 

Gustafson is within a long cast of David Mullins, close enough for some friendly chatter back and forth. They’re within a mile of the Frontenac Park takeoff. 

Gustafson added another fish about the same size five minutes later.

The Cayuga Navy

A growing group of boats is arriving at the weigh-in site in Union Springs.  Some have swam over to check out the expo but plenty seem content to listen to the reverberations of Dave Mercer from their pleasure boat.

Cory's redemption

After a disastrous event on the St. Lawrence River, in which he was plagued with boat issues, and ultimately accrued a costly penalty that made him miss the cut, Cory Johnston has rebounded this week at Cayuga Lake.

What is ironic is that his BASSTrakk score of 19-2 ranks as the heaviest thus far of the day. That is stark contrast to when there were 16 limits weighing that much or better (mostly better) on Friday.

The good news is that Cory is sixth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year rankings. Today’s catch is braced by a pair of 4-pound class bass, with the remainder of the limit in the 3-pound range. A/nd should he fish tomorrow he can regain some of the AOY points that were lost last week.

This isn't the first time Cayuga has gone cold

Cayuga Lake has seemingly gone cold for the Elite Series anglers today, after two days of big bass and big bags. This lake has shutoff in the midst of an Elite Series tournament before.

It happened on Championship Sunday in 2016. There were 16 bags of 20 pounds or more weighed during the first three days of that tournament. Big bag of 23-6 and the big bass, weighing 6-3, were caught on Day 1. On the final day, however, a bag of 15-12 was tops among the Top 12. And big bass was a 3-12.