Rivet saved his season yesterday

Tyler Rivet is undoubtedly fishing a bit more relaxed today than he was the previous two days, and he's got this keeper smallmouth to show for it. The 25-year-old Elite Series rookie from Raceland, La., came into this final regular season event ranked 50th in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings. Then he finished 46th on Day 1 at Tenkiller with three bass weighing 6-13.

"All my buddies I stay with were like, dude, you're not the same right now," Rivet said. "I had a big knot in my gut because I was so nervous."

He wasn't too nervous to do a little creative thinking yesterday. Rivet decided to try something different - a Blackjack Lures custom painted crankbait, a model than runs about 15 to 18 feet deep.

"I tied it on and caught that 5-3 on the first cast," he said of the 5-pound, 3-ounce fish that took big bass honors yesterday. "The next cast I caught another keeper. I figured something out with that."

Rivet finished with 14 pounds even, the second-biggest bag of the day, and it rocketed him into 11th place. Most importantly, it clinched his spot in the top 50 for the AOY Championship on Lake St. Clair.

"I knew I had to catch 'em (Friday)," Rivet said. "It was all or nothing."

Talley’s second bass

Frank Talley pulled up to a point and started whacking on small fish with a swimbait, but he seeded through them to put bass No. 2 in the livewell.

“It’s a keeper spot,” Talley said with a laugh. “Eight ounces. I’m not going to big-eye it.”

Bumpy pond today

Starting to get really bumpy on this little pond. Not Great Lakes bumpy, but 2- to 3-feet bumpy in places.

On clear water lakes in the south that’s a good thing this time of year. It will likely help the bite for everyone. But it comes with its problems.

Some of that is boat positioning. Some of it is getting around easily. We’ve seen with Zaldain, who has close to a dozen spectators, it makes it hard to keep them off key spots.

Regardless, all of us would rather have the bumps today than have the searing heat of a few days ago.

2nd keeper for Zaldain

Chris Zaldain just added his second keeper to the well. After a lengthy measuring he plopped what appeared to be a largemouth into his well.

Given that it’s 16 inches we expect it to be close to 2 pounds. Certainly not under 1 1/2 pounds. That should be enough to regain the unofficial lead and we have a lot of time left.

Tenkiller level suddenly stable

There's something new happening at Lake Tenkiller today - a stable water level. After water releases of 3,500 to 3,700 cubic feet per second the previous 24 hours, that has slowed to a trickle this morning.

The Elite Series anglers haven't fished on anything but falling water since they got here for practice, nor has anyone else on Lake Tenkiller since the water level peaked at 663.67 feet above sea level on June 27. The lake level dropped almost 10 feet over the last 22 days at a steady rate of half-a-foot a day. It will be interesting to see how the bass react under suddenly stable water conditions.

Wind concerns

Frank Talley tried to fish main-lake stretches of bank, but he didn’t stay long before finding protected pockets.

“I like wind; it’s why I’m getting some of my bites,” Talley said “But it’s keeping me from fishing some of my spots. You can’t fish a topwater in that extreme wind, and I only have confidence I’m going to get bit on a topwater in those spots.

“It’s blowing a good 6 to 8 mph harder than it was yesterday.”

He still has just one 2-pounder in the livewell.

Zaldain's three-act show

Chris Zaldain just put on a three-act show wrapped around one 4-pound plus smallmouth.

From the hookset to the fight Zaldain was vintage excitement. It took what seemed like forever but was only a few minutes long. Then the landing at the side of the boat accumulating into a better than average fish in the boat. The final act is still going on with Zaldain all a jitter with excitement and information passed on to the “Live Show.”

I’m sure it was as much fun to watch there as it was on the water.

That fish puts him close to the lead, just ounces behind Cory Johnston and Keith Combs on the unofficial BassTrakk leaderboard.

I think his weight there is a little light. But that can probably be said for Combs and Johnston as well. All of that is for this derby.

The over-arching story in the AOY race is getting more interesting by the minute.

Zaldain looking a big picture

True competitors always look at the big picture, and that is exactly what Chris Zaldain has in mind.

“This is a big tournament for me, and I’ve been up here in the standings four times already this season,” he said. “But this final event of the year is big, really big because it’s the last regular-season event of the year.”

Now, it’s even bigger. On the strength of his position in the official standings on Friday, and now in the third place with BASSTrakk, As of yesterday, Zaldain moved into second place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year rankings. He is just five points behind overall leader Drew Cook, with 758 points.

Zaldain has four Championship Sundays and a possibility a fifth on the way. Even though he stands the chance of being in contention to win, there is another greater prize on his mind.

“The next 10 days will now be the biggest of the season for me,” he said. “I am a contender for the AOY title, whereas before this week I was just content to be in the Classic.”

And possibly be in contention to finally break the near-misses of this season, and take home the coveted blue trophy.

Palmer off to a good start

Coalgate, Okla., angler seems to feel right at home at Lake Tenkiller. He's off to a good start with this 3-pound smallmouth bass. Palmer doesn't have a lot on the line this week, as he's solidly in the middle of Bassmaster Classic qualifiers, 24th in the latest AOY standings. He made the top 35 cut yesterday in 27th place with a two-day total of 17-11.

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