Herren on the move

Matt Herren made quite a few passes across his spot, caught seven or eight fish and decided it needed an hour break.

He made a 4-mile run up the river to put his jig to work along a river ledge. Over the past few days he said giving those bass a short break paid off. He’d return an hour or two later and make a couple other big culls in the afternoon.

He needs two big upgrades to have a shot, and maybe he can find one here in the deeper water before heading back into his juice.

We plan to stay with him until he makes a substantial upgrade and/or heads back to where he started.

Lots of day left for Herren.

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Hartman moves shallow

It was a wild ride to catch up with him but I finally found Jamie Hartman, the current leader, fishing beneath a bridge that spans the upper end of the lake.

The main lake channel where he had been fishing has gotten incredibly rough. It must’ve been a struggle to stay on his feet while fishing the grass edge along the main channel.

Caleb Sumrall, who had to swap boats with someone else in order to continue fishing this afternoon, stopped and asked Hartman if he planned to fish a grassline ahead of him. Hartman said he did, and Sumrall politely drove away, out of sight. 

Right now Hartman is working a frog across a grass mat, and both of us expect to see a bass explode through the cover any minute.

Kelley Jaye's quotes of the day

Kelley Jaye lost about three hours of his eight-hour fishing day Sunday due to his well-documented hook-in-the-hand incident. However, he never lost his sense of humor. He mentioned how the numbness in his hand from the localized painkiller continued to affect his casting and reeling ability after he got back on the water.

"Has the numbness left?" he was asked.

"The dumbness?" Jaye replied. "No, it's still there. It ain't going nowhere."

But I really cracked up when Jaye was asked how the hospital attendants removed the hook from his hand. Did they push the hook through and cut the barb off? Part of the humor was in the matter-of-fact way Jaye answered, saying, "Nah, they just pulled it out, meat and all."

There's your catch-phrase for the day: "They just pulled it out, meat and all."

Getting back to business here, Jaye has a solid chance to win this tournament. It's a jerkbait kind of day on Lake Guntersville, although every day is a jerkbait kind of day for Kelley Jaye. His 24-pound, 12-ounce limit on Day 2 remains the biggest bag of the tournament.

"If that holds up for this tournament, I'll be surprised," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if somebody busted 25 or 26 pounds (Monday)."

So far Jaye's got a limit weighing 13-12. A 4-pounder is his big bass, and he's got three 2-pounders.

"I still had a chance for a big bag (Sunday)," Jaye said. "I weighed-in a couple of 2 1/4s and jumped a 4 and a 5 off. I could have had a really good day."

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Arey working back to the top

Jamie Hartman's early fireworks came with a qualifier: He started the day 7 pounds, 2 ounces behind leader Matt Arey. And Arey has methodically worked his way near the lead again. He'd caught 10 bass by 9 a.m. The best five weighed 13-12 and put him within 1-1 of Hartman.

His biggest fish is a 4-12 that came on a Strike King 8XD crankbait. It had a single treble hook in its mouth when Arey landed it.

"I changed hooks on that crankbait last night," Arey said. "That is a healthy fish. We've got to get right back in there. We might smash them."

Zaldain with two

Chris Zaldain just put a second bass in the livewell, but he still hasn’t gotten bit on the spoon.

He was working a jerkbait on the main-lake point he’s been hammering, and the 2-pounder struck right at the boat.

Zaldain is moving around off the point, but he’s not moving his boat far. His key spot seems to be less than a 100-yard stretch of water.

His estimated weight is 4-4, according to Basstrakk, and is an estimated 12-12 behind current leader Jamie Hartman. So Zaldain has some work to do to clinch a win.

Livesay weeding through small schooling fish

We happened along Lee Livesay just down the river from Hank Cherry and Kelley Jaye, and we’ve seen him set the hook several times.

Trouble is, all of his fish have been of the small schooling variety.

There has been plenty of schooling activity in the area, with lots of fish running bait all around our boat. They would be great if you were just fishing for fun, but they’re not helping him move up the standings.

He has one fish in his livewell for 3 pounds.

Hartman keeps culling up

Jamie Hartman was going to fish this patch of aquatic vegetation just north of Goose Pond no matter what the weather was this morning. But he hadn't planned on throwing a topwater walking bait, like a Zara Spook, until he arrived on saw the low light, windy conditions. And he is having a magic topwater morning. Hartman just keeps culling up. He's got 21-15 now, and his smallest bass is a 3-1.

"There's a little grass patch on a shell bed that I'm throwing over and they're creaming it," Hartman said.

Hartman was the last man in the Top 10 yesterday, edging 11th place Seth Feider by two ounces. He started the day 7 pounds, 2 ounces behind leader Matt Arey's three-day total of 62-13. So Hartman's must have a huge day to overcome Arey and eight other finalists by weigh-in time. But he's doing it now, with an unofficial BASSTrakk total of 77-10.

Zaldain on the board

Chris Zaldain is finally on the board with a bass that went just over 2 pounds. But that’s the first bite he’s had this morning. 
And it didn’t come off the spoon that was so productive yesterday. Instead, the bite came on a dropshot. The heavy cloud cover likely made the fish less inclined to eat the flashy spoon.
However, the light is getting brighter, and he has plenty of wind to activate the fish. The sun is even breaking through every now and then. So things could turn around quickly. 
He’s rotating lures every few casts, trying to find what his bass want. 
He’s got a lot of company, with seven spectator boats and four camera boats watching. 

Herren dialed in

Alabama native Matt Herren has caught the majority of his fish this week just a few hundred yards from launch at Goose Pond. He’s been saving a lot of gas this week.

As the competition days have gone on, he has specifically narrowed down where the bigger fish have been coming from. The densest patches of milfoil seem to be the ticket.

It’s an interesting tactic considering the focus this week on the famous Guntersville ledges, but if Herren can flip a Spicy Beaver into heavy veg, he’s happy.

He’s got three fish, including one pushing six pounds so far.

Yesterday he said he’s been working this spot over, but not very hard in order to leave some opportunities for today if he made it here. His game plan is to pick apart every inch of the milfoil mats. Meticulously.

With today’s weather change: Impending storms, clouds, wind, and lower temps, he said this place could be awesome.

In other words, his pattern could get even better.

Herren is not one to follow the crowd, so anytime you can find him this close to the title, and on his own terms, you can bet he’s onto something special.

With nearly a full day remaining, Herren is in the hunt.

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Hartman: 1 hour, 8 bass, 27-12

Jamie Hartman's best five weigh 21-0, but he caught 8 bass weighing 27-12 in the first hour today. Under cloudy skies and a breeze, Hartman is on a topwater bite of his dreams.

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