Davis off to a big start

In a tournament where 3-pounders are a pound better than the average bass brought to the scales, a 5-pounder, obviously, is a game-changer. And there's nothing like the feeling of having one of those in the livewell at 8:20 a.m. That's exactly what Clent Davis has done this morning.

The 33-year-old Montevallo, Ala., veteran angler returned to the Elite Series this year after winning the FLW Cup last year. He started the day in 11th place.

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Calm before the storm

Kyle Johnston and I were pleasantly surprised when we pulled up into one of the areas that has played so big in this derby.

With a boat ramp just a few miles away and a parking lot full of empty trailers, we expected this place to be full of boats. Nicely enough there’s not a boat in sight. 

It’ll be another 15 or 20 before any Elites get here.  

Crowded docks

My camera boat driver, Kyle Johnston and I have a bit of trepidation as we put in this morning.

We are launching close to Luke Palmer, Lee Livesay, Clifford Pirch (all in the Top 10) plus a few more. Each day the boat ramp has been fairly sparse as you would expect way out in the boon docks.

This morning that’s not the case. The parking lot is full. And according to Johnston it appears as if there’s a tournament going on in this area. That’s not good news for these anglers heading this way. But it is something they deal with all the time.

Now it’s clear as to why there were more local boats spilling into these areas yesterday.

Video: Start of Day 3

Bill Lowen is boat number one and here is his plan. Take a look at Luke Palmer, Patrick Walters, Cory Johnston, Hunter Shryock, and Jason Williamson break down their Day 3 plan on BASSCam.

Unsung heroes--the JM cameramen

Dave Mercer puts the spotlight on the unsung heroes. They are the Bassmaster LIVE cameramen who will be with the top anglers on Semifinal Saturday.

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Easiest derby day?

Beautiful morning at the launch ramp for the start of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay.  Wind is starting to pick up but no rain predicted.

I hate to write because it will surely jinx it. But looking at the forecast for today and comparing it to the two previous days, today might be the easiest day of this derby. 

The wind is relatively calm, coming out of the south. That should make for a decent boat ride for those making the long ride. It’s also going to be warm, relatively speaking. Absent an east wind, the tide will fall quicker. 

All in all, those who survived yesterday’s moving day, whether you either jumped up or stumbled down, are getting a little reward today. What remains to be seen is what they do with it. 

This derby has been tight. And only 10 will remain after today. While Friday’s are always called “moving day,” we may see more moves than ever by day’s end.  

We saw Lee Livesay jump into the top 10. We saw Luke Palmer struggle and move up. We saw Jason Williamson stumble. And Bill Lowen jump forward. 

The whole field was jumping or stumbling yesterday. The wind has calmed. The day is nice. From my standpoint, it’s just going to be more comfortable as I watch more jumping and stumbling all day. 

Winyah Bay holding true to form - again

As both a history buff and a numbers freak, I enjoy compiling comparisons like the one below, which contrasts the Winyah Bay Elite Series tournament in 2016 with the one here this week. Friday’s results provided further evidence that this unique tidal fishery has changed little over the past three years. For example, in 20th place after two days in 2016 was Matt Herren with a total of 20 pounds, 8 ounces. In 20th place after two days this year it’s Tyler Rivet with 20 pounds, 7 ounces. (Herren, by the way, is consistent here too. He’s in 12th place with 21-11 after two days this year.)

There are some differences that catch the eye. Day 2 in ’16 was a monster of a day for Winyah Bay. Kelly Jordon weighed a five-bass limit of 24-7, Britt Myers had 21-7 and Brett Hite came close to making it three 20-pound bags that day with 19-11. But those were the only three anglers after two days in ’16 that had more than Bill Lowen’s Day 2 total of 27-3 this year.

Remember, there were 109 anglers on the Elite Series in 2016, and the Day 2 cut was to the top 50 then. There are 75 Elite Series anglers now and the Day 2 cut is to the top 35. So these comparisons will be harder to make over the next two days.

4/12/19     4/8/16

1st place       

27-337-15

10th place    

22-1221-14

20th place    

20-720-8

35th place

17-518-11

50th place 

15-1517-1

Anglers/limits    

80.0%

68.8%

Ave. wt./bass           

  1.94 lbs.    2.08 lbs.

Big bass  

       6-8    7-10

Big bag

 17-3       24-7

4/11/19    4/7/16

1st place   

15-1119-11

10th place   

11-311-6

20th place 

10-79-13

35th place

8-108-12

50th place    

7-58-2

Anglers/limit

82.6%53.2%

Ave. wt./bass 

1.85 lbs1.95 lbs.

Big bass   

6-108-9

Saturday forecast update

A small chance of showers and thunderstorms will remain possible as a warm front will begin to move northward in advance of a dynamic system that will be moving into the southeast on Saturday. Skies will be mostly cloudy with the chance of rain around 30% throughout the fishing day. Temperatures will start off in the upper 60s at take-off and rise into the upper 70s by the end of the fishing day. Winds will be out of the south at 5-10 MPH with a few gusts up to 15 MPH possible late. Dewpoints will start off in the mid-60s and quickly rise into the upper 60s. Moonrise will be at 12:29 pm and sets at 2:03 am, with illumination at 52.3%.

A dynamic storm system pushes into South Carolina on Sunday, but the good news is that it should hold off until well after the tournament and weigh-ins are through. Still, the weather will be unsettled and a few scattered showers and thunderstorms remain possible throughout the end of the fishing day. Chance of rain will be around 30% during the mid-afternoon hours but greatly increases after 6:00 pm. Skies will be mostly cloudy throughout the day with a few more breaks in the clouds during the morning hours. Temperatures will start off in the upper 60s and rise into the lower 80s for the high. Winds will be out of the south at 10-15 MPH with gusts up to 25 MPH possible at times. Dewpoints will start in the upper 60s and will rise into the lower 70s. Moonrise will be at 1:33 pm and sets at 2:58 am, with illumination at 64.0%.

Hunter Shryock with a game changer

We've talked about the risk vs. reward strategy this week. Hunter Shryock didn't make the run to the Cooper River and he didn't stay super close to Gerogetown, but he's right in the middle. With one fish all morning he was ishing all alone in the Santee River and contemplating his decision to make a move. He hooked up with a 4 1/2 to 5 pounder and it seemingly made his decision worth it. With two fish in the boat for 6+ pounds he knows he is fishing tomorrow in the Top 35 and he mentioned "now we have to figure out how to win this tournament." An electrifying moment on Bassmaster LIVE.

Palmer saves his day

Luke Palmer finally said goodbye to the bank in the Cooper River that had been so productive for him on Day 1 when he posted a third-place total of 14-2. He was looking for maybe a couple of two-pounders to cull the dinks he had in his livewell. So the 28-year-old Elite Series rookie from Colgate, Okla., was overjoyed when he landed a 4-pounder at 1:15.

"That's not at all what I was expecting," Palmer said. "I needed it. I've struggled big time today."

What Palmer doesn't know is that a lot of others have struggled today. And that 4-pounder should keep him near the top of the leaderboard, near where he started the day.

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